Tingling. Like primal fire. Every inch of her was sparking like a lit fuse. She heard voices muffled by her distance to consciousness, and smelled the scent of hopeful absence she knew was the scent of a hospital. She could tell through still-closed eyelids that the room was dark.
The voices became clearer. It was her father ...
"What are you telling me, doctor? Is she cured or not?"
... talking to Doctor Ogdonovich.
"She is cured, Mr. Cartheson. What I am telling you is that we were unable to supress the side effects as you requested."
"I'm awake," she breathed. "You can stop talking like I'm not here."
Her father continued, talking right over her as usual. "You're telling me she ..."
Dr. Ogdonovich let her father's pause hang for a moment of tension before continuing. "Initial tests are showing that she has most of the same ..."
"I'm RIGHT HERE!" she yelled, sitting up and looking furiously for the two men ignoring her. They were ALWAYS doing this. They ...
... weren't there. The room, except for her, her hospital bed, and all the familiar monitoring equipment, was empty. Empty, confused seconds passed, measured by the steady tones of her heart-monitor.
Light from the hallway and Nurse Yang burst together into the room. "Are you alright, dear?" she asked, coming quickly to the bedside and checking the monitors.
Still confused, the girl in the hosptial bed said, "Where's my dad? Where's Doctor Ogdonivch?"
"They're on their way. I called them as soon as I heard you yelling. What made you do that?"
"No," she said, finally locking the nurse's dark eyes with her own intense green stare. "Where were they when you called them?"
"Down in the waiting room, dear. But they'll be here any second. Now what made you yell?"
The waiting room. That was two floors down ...
"Haley?" The girl looked past the nurse to see her dad standing in the doorway, Dr. Ogdonovich just behind him. "Haley, you're awake!" He brushed past Nurse Yang like she wasn't there and enveloped his daughter in his arms. He wasn't squeezing very hard, she noticed. He pulled back and held her shoulders. "Dr. Ogdonovich was just telling me that the process worked! You're completely cured, darling!"
"That's not all he said, dad."
Doctor Ogdonavich sighed. Nurse Yang took a step back. Mr. Cartheson, her father, put on his lie-face. "What? What do you mean, Haley?"
"I heard you. I heard HIM say that there were side effects! You didn't say anything about side effects, dad! All you told me was that this would cure me!"
Mr. Cartheson could make the whole world believe him on TV, but he couldn't make his own daughter believe him when he was standing right in front of her. Still, he was trying. "I don't know what you're talking about, Haley. You must have had some kind of dream ..."
"Yeah, dad." She felt her face burning. "Sure. A dream where you said, 'What are you telling me, doctor? Is she cured or not?'" She pointed an accusing finger at the doctor. "And where HE said, 'She is cured, Mr. Cartheson. What I am telling you is that we couldn't supress the side effects like you wanted.' THAT dream."
"'We were UNABLE TO,'" the doctor quoted himself. "I said, 'we were UNABLE TO supress the side effects.'"
Haley just glared, stunned to silence at his honesty. She gripped her blankets. They felt as cold and uncaring as the world.
Mr. Cartheson whirled in fury on Doctor Ogdonavich. "I swear to you Ivan, I told you ..."
"Not to tell her? Do you think she won't find out? Look."
Everyone in the room followed the doctor's finger. Haley looked down where she had been gripping ... where she thought she had been holding blankets. In her hand was the railing of her hospital bed, twisted and crunched in her grip. She slowly let it go and looked down at her unmarred hand. "That's why they felt so cold," she whispered. She looked up at Doctor Ogdonovich and asked, "What else can I do?"