“We tend to think of simplicity like this: as opposite complexity. A simple object is more usable, pleasing, and less complex. But this is really just a false dichotomy. We don’t really mind complexity.” - Unknown
| l a y n e |
It has been almost a month since I have woken up and found out that Clara, the love of my life, is in a non-medically induced coma. I honestly want to do something but, I am afraid that she will go when we are not with her, and I don’t want that for her.
“Please get better, love,” I whisper. “I need you right now. So much. Harriet and Nick are back here, in Southend, and they hate seeing you like this. We all do. Zeke and Lucy are trying to keep them calm but, Nick almost hit a doctor the other day.”
Clara doesn’t respond, but I swear I see her eyes flicker under her eyelids.
“The doctors told us that someone in a coma can hear us when we talk. I am really hoping that you are hearing this and that it is true. You need to know how messed up our lives have become. None of us can function. Not even Lucy.”
“I can imagine you telling us to quit sulking and grow up, to forget about this. We can’t though, that’s the downside. Nick caught Harriet cutting yesterday and, believe me, none of us were surprised when Nick told us. Yeah, Zuce was angry but, we all understood why.”
Clara looks like she is crying but, I can’t be sure anymore because of how she is. I squeeze her hand tightly and try to find the words to say what I really don’t want to say. The truth is what I don’t want to say because it hurts.
“I honestly don’t want to say this, love,” I sniffle. “I know that I have to though. Jeremy killed himself a few days ago a-and around half the school was at his funeral yesterday. I just know that you are crying if you are hearing this. I know you want to break something. I do.”
“Lucy and Zeke are coming to visit later. They want to see you awake and happy, laughing at all their stupid jokes and arguments. If you won’t wake up for me, then, please, wake up for them. Damn it! Just wake up! Please! Everything is literally falling apart in our lives!”
“There are holes in the walls, the blankets look like they have been shredded, some of the windows are smashed, there are burns in carpet from Zeke. We need you, Clara! Help us put our lives back together!”
I burst out crying and tan, tattooed arms encircle me. I sob into Zeke’s shirt and he rubs my back soothingly. Lucy puts her hand on my knee and I hold it tightly. This is not my breaking point but, it almost is.
“Calm down, Layne,” Zeke murmurs.
“Everything will be fine,” Lucy adds.
“Is she going to wake up?” I sniffle.
“There’s a seventy percent chance, before...”
“So, she is going to die?”
“Yes. Sorry, lad.”
“A month or so if she doesn’t wake up,” Zeke says. “Probably half a year if she wakes up.”
“She needs to wake up,” I sob.
“You need to sleep, Layne.”
| z e k e |
Layne closes his eyes and goes limp almost straight away. I pick him up off the plastic chair and almost drop him when his hip bone digs into my gut. I lay him on the bed next to Clara’s and pull the blanket over him. I kiss his forehead and sit on Layne’s chair next to Clara’s bed.
“What’s the matter, Zeke?” Lucy asks.
“I feel so protective of him,” I sigh.
I nod. “Nick and Harriet as well.”
“They’re basically our brothers and sister. It’s normal.”
“What about Clara?”
“What about her?”
“Sometimes I want to kill her and other times I want to hide her away.”
“She’s the sister I never had.”
“You have two sisters, babe.”
“They’re both older though.”
“Silica and Yui are a handful.”
“Not as much as Clara though.”
“I know, Zeke. I know.”
I smile at Lucy and look over at Clara. Clara hasn’t moved for over a month unless the nurses gave her her daily bath or changed the blankets. As much as I want her to wake up, I don’t want her to be in pain for another half year of her life.
“What’s wrong?” Lucy asks.
“I want her to wake up,” I whisper. “I really do.”
“I don’t want her to be in pain anymore.”
“I get that but, what’s really wrong?”
“I’m tempted to pull her plug and stop her pain.”
“What?!” someone yells.
| n i c k |
“What?!” Harriet yells.
Zeke faces us. “H-Harriet. N-Nick.”
“You want to kill Clara?!”
“She’s in pain, Harriet!”
“That doesn’t mean anything!”
“It’s the nicest thing to do, Miss Smithe,” a doctor says. “Miss Rhode also has a visitor.”
Lucy is cut off by a blonde girl running into Clara’s room, stopping just before she hit the doctor. My jaw drops and Harriet recoils when we see her face; Clara’s face. The girl sees Clara on the hospital bed and rushes to her side, tears streaming down her face. Zeke and Lucy share a look.
“Who are you?” Lucy asks.
“Chloe Rhode,” the blonde introduces.
“Clara and Jeremy’s...?”
“Older sister, Miss Paulson.”
“How do you know us?” Zeke demands, his eyes weary.
“Well, Mr Maybrick,” Chloe states. “You were on the news.”
“Were all of us?”
“Miss Smithe, Mr Hollbrooke, and a Mr Thompson too.”
“Where is Mr Thompson?”
“Layne is asleep over there.”
Zeke motions to where Layne is passed out on the other bed in the room and a soft noise escapes Chloe. I follow her gaze and see the dark bags under his eyes, his bones visible and sticking out through his clothes. He looks sick and terrible.
“Thanks, Nick,” Layne chuckles, his eyes flickering open. “I needed that.”
“I didn’t mean to say that out loud!” I protest.
“I know. How long have I been out?”
“About ten minutes,” Zeke says. “Why’d you wake?”
“Something’s going to happen.”
“What do you mean, lad?”
We all look over at Clara and her eyes slowly open. Her eyes are hazy and are flickering around the room. Her brown eyes are looking for something, or someone. Her eyes meet mine and she mutters ‘wrong blue’ under her breath. Layne chuckles and walks over to Clara’s bed, taking her hand.
“Layne?” Her voice is so fragile.
“Hey, love,” Layne says.
“You look like shit, babe.”
We all burst out laughing.