Excerpts from 1000 Deaths

I am posting an excerpt from writings I began several months ago. It is a true story, written in the present tense, of life after burns, yet the story in its entirety does tells of the accident,  subsequent hospitalization and such. The title 1000 Deaths is a temporary, working title at this point.

 

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Dr. Greenhalgh, my burn doctor next to me in August 2012 at UCDavis Medical Center, Sacramento, California.

            1000 Deaths

I stand proudly before the oven in our newly constructed house. We’ve moved into it three days ago and this is our first home-cooked meal––roast beef with roasted carrots and red potatoes. I secretly gloat at the memory that as a licensed Real Estate agent, I earned a commission for buying my own home.

I open the door for a peek at the goods and I wheeze from the heat-blast, and I’m shaken and tossed. Like a soldier with PTSD, I am standing in the blaze screaming for Frank.* He tells me my hair is smoldering, but it is my hand I notice, melted and deformed.

Someone yells, and I about-face to find off-duty firefighters suiting-up––but they stop, frozen. The fuel tanker explodes, and they shed their gear. They tell me to lie down on the sizzling asphalt.

Once there, they douse me with saline. I am howling, animal-like for more. They say they are out and I plead for water. But they say they can’t because water might cause the burns to become infected.  I yell that I don’t care.

I see the treetops burning as I lie on the asphalt, waiting for my seven-winged bird.   I’m reassured the Medi-Vac helicopter is on its way and I hope. Black smoke floats higher and higher above the flames.

I see Frank on the ground to my right. He has arms in the air and my stomach churns at the sight of the skin falling from his forearms. Rows of vehicles line the road, watching, waiting for the danger to clear, gawking at the unlucky ones. I turn my face to the left and a camera is inches away.  Behind the camera, a woman is crouching and flashes light the air. I yell for her to stop. How dare she?

And I begin to yowl.

The sound of Frank’s footsteps on the hardwood floor and his worried cry catapults me into my world of roast beef, carrots and potatoes.

“What happened?” he demands, “Are you alright?’

It’s nothing dear, wash up, and please, set the table. Dinner is almost ready.”  I turn to smile at him then turn away and wipe the tears away with a dish towel.

*This character’s name has been changed.

 

 

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