The truth is, I wanted to be rescued. That's what the doctors and counselors and therapists said. It was only ever a ploy for attention.
They used to warn me that I might actually succeed.
I usually said, "Good."
They never seemed surprised.
That beeping of a monitor as I came to wasn't sounding very promising. My eyes flicked open and then shut tight again. Unless the after-life featured mint green walls and beige blinds on their windows, I was in the wrong place. I rolled my head to one side and saw Dad sitting in a chair, my right hand between both of his. His tan face was contorted awkwardly as if he was trying not to cry and his graying brown hair was in need of a comb. If one frazzled parent could look like this at the bedside of their half-drowned delinquent of a daughter I could only imagine what state I was in.
"Mags," he said in a slightly strangled voice- stuck between relief and terror.
I blinked as I tried to keep him in focus, my head was throbbing. This wasn't surprising since the last thing I remembered was cracking it on a rock.
He squeezed my fingers so tight they hurt. "I thought you were done with this! Never again. Isn't that what you told me?"
I wanted to promise it again. Tears began to roll, so surprising and abrupt that it hurt. Of course, on the list of things that now hurt, it wasn't much.
I knew I was medicated. I wasn't a stranger to a hospital bed. This unsettling mix of smells - of instant mashed potatoes and cleaning sprays and rubber- was as good as home to me.
I recognized the crinkle of a hospital gown, and wires that put my vitals on full display. I knew that the aching sensation that stretched down my left arm, and throbbed into the left side was a shadow of true pain, courtesy of the finest painkillers insurance could pay for.
"You're in rough shape, Magpie," Dad said.
"I didn't drown." I winced as pain stabbed me from the left side of my rib cage.
He squeezed my hand even tighter as he leaned his forehead to it with a curse on his breath. "Drown? That creek they pulled you out of was practically a puddle- you fell on rocks, Maggie. Concussion, wet- dead of winter- you're lucky somebody pulled you out right away or..."
"I was rescued?" I asked, my voice was gravelly as if my vocal chords were dying. "By who?"
"I don't know," he admitted. " Who ever it was dialed 9-1-1 from your phone and left before the ambulance got there.I guess they didn't want to stick around for the hero treatment."
"Who would do that?" I asked. It seemed a little strange and not altogether worthy of the term 'hero'.
"I don't know." Dad shrugged, rubbing his eyes. "There are all kinds of strange people in this world. Maybe you have a guardian angel or something. It doesn't matter. All that matters now is that you're safe."
Safe? That was an odd way to put it. I was my own worst enemy, after all.
"She's on her way," he said, quietly. He looked at a loss and a vase of pink carnations with a tacky teddy bear holding a plastic heart that said 'Get Well Soon' caught his eye. "Veronica and Bastion got you that, isn't it nice?"
"Yeah, sure..." I said, with out much enthusiasm. Bastion was a dog. The fact that I had to share a father with a chihuahua because his new wife was as fertile as a block of cement was, if possible, more depressing than my latest attempt on my life. Bastion got annual photos- framed and placed on their mantle beside me and my younger sister as if he were a brother to us. Veronica liked to dress him in sweaters she bought from high end pet boutiques and prepare all of his meals like he was a person. I swear- that dog ate better than I did.
"Yeah.." Dad echoed, dismally, rubbing the back of his head. "So.. we should probably talk about therapy again-"
"Dad!" I groaned.
"-I don't get it Mags... two years- you went a whole two years and now out of the blue- who is Ophelia, anyways?"
"Hamlet," I murmured.
"She's a woman in Hamlet," I said, a little stronger now. " She drowns. It's Shakespeare. Everyone knows that."
"Oh," he didn't sound convinced. "Well I'll tell you this, we're getting you a new therapist. One who actually does his job. We're going to get through this together."
I sighed and nodded slightly.
"Yeah?" he smiled, with that ever hopeful light in his eyes.
"Yeah," I said. "And you're sure you don't know who rescued me?"
"Let it go, Maggie," Dad said, patting my cheek gently. "You know how you get."