You are believed to be in a coma, but in truth you are conscious and unable to 'wake up'. One day, you hear the doctor discussing with your family about pulling the plug. [RF]

"I'll leave you time to think about it," says Doctor Griffiths. It's louder than the hushed, sombre murmurs of before. Then there's a stillness, punctuated only by the soft clack of his shoes against the hospital floor, as he leaves my room to give my family a measure of privacy.

I've been here for close to 6 months now. Maybe less, maybe more. I lose track of time. When there's silence around, my consciousness drifts, as though unmoored from the physical frame of my body. Maybe it really is unmoored - maybe the thing I call me now is only a remnant, anchored onto reality by the barest sliver of life that the softly beeping machines around me are working so hard to maintain.


I'd be lying if I said I'd never contemplated this before. The opposite is true. I contemplated it for far too long. With resistance, at the beginning, then with a relentless, oppressive fury at the injustice of it all, then a desperate terror that felt as though it was choking off the very air the tubes keep pumping through my lungs, then a bleak, endless apathy, and finally... understanding.

I've had enough time to make my peace with this.

"Rachel," my dad says softly after a few moments have gone by.

My mom doesn't say a word, but I can hear her shaking her head. I can practically see her, eyes rimmed with red and puffy from tears, her trembling fingers pressed to her mouth. From the beginning, she refused to talk about this, refused to contemplate that this is the decision that my family would have to make.

"Rachel," my dad says, lower.

"She wouldn't have wanted this," my mom says. The words are as fragile as slivers of shattered glass and glitter with edges that are just as jagged. They sound as though they are torn from her throat.

There's a pause. "None of us ever wanted this," says my dad.

My mom takes a deep, hiccuping sob of a breath.


A chair creaks. The heavy tread of my dad's shoes on sanitised tile. A moment later, the door clicks open.

"I know... it's a hard decision to make," Doctor Griffiths says quietly, after my dad returns. His footsteps are measured - tentative. "It's hard to- to give up hope."

My mom is crying. Her breaths are ragged, shaky, every one of them painful.

The nurses are silent as they follow her in. Some of them, I know by name. Tali, who talks to me when she does her checkups, apologizing every time for how cold her fingers are. Colin, who comes by every night at the end of his shift, footsteps stopping at the door for a few minutes before slowly turning away. Amira, still in training, who talks about the morning news under her breath whenever she's assigned to my room, a little clumsy at times but always, always quick to apologize when she realizes.

They, and the rest of the hospital staff with them, have been with me and my family from the very beginning of these past six months, from the day a drunk driver running a red light crashed into me and sent me into this surreal, unchanging limbo. They know what this means for my parents. They know what this means for me.


I take a breath.

The beeping stops.

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