Why couldn’t the pair understand he could hear them clearly? They were so distracting it hurt his mind… He huffed with desperation before the confusing thought caught him that he wouldn’t have to sigh or pant as they wouldn’t hear it at all anyway. And his mind couldn’t –
“Oh, for heaven’s sake!” He scolded himself. I twas confusing on best of times, why was he trying to understand it now, when he didn’t have time to lose?
He had to finish this, he pressed, he had to get his body back to moving before the drugs wore off and he lost control over the rigid body parts. But even two hours later he wasn’t anywhere near fixing things. Instead, he sensed something was off in the back of his mind. It wasn’t loud at first, but after a while, he could not avoid the pinning sound on the back of his head, the low steady clink like pecking.
He decided to ignore it and concentrated back on the mantras he’d learned, hoping that would reconnect whatever was sending the signal, because he couldn’t turn back and redo the connecting. It was either now or pray they’d find the letter he’d left on the bed declaring he wanted to be burned if this went wrong. No machines keeping him alive. He would die and that would be it. He couldn’t help but think on how painful it would be to feel his own body burning and a single tear ran down his cheek, prompting Marc to come kneel next to him and press his hand against his wrist, checking for pulse. Or maybe he was simply feeling it, for he didn’t try to move the hand, only pressed on it gently.
“Let go!” Efren demanded in his head. “Next time I’m definitely doing this alone, in private, locked in!”
But god his cool hand felt good against his! He wished he could crook his fingers and entwine them with his.
Which, in one long swing, would have also meant that would be the last time he could move it and for now he accepted the beauty in not being able to move a finger.
This time Marc didn’t go back. He let go of his hand, but instead of going back to sit with others, he slumped down on the sun with him, far enough to sense his body heat, but far enough that he wouldn’t knock him in any way. He kept wiping his nose and avoided glancing in his direction, but he wouldn’t leave. Efren knew he did it so he wouldn’t feel his worry, although he couldn’t hide it very well. Didn’t even try.
The problem with the rituals tended to be that they never looked as grand and spectacular as the onlookers would have liked. There was no firework, although one could add it for extra effect, but what was the point of it? So he could understand Marc’s frustration waiting next to a silent mannequin with no way to tell if everything was going according to the plan or not. He guessed it must have been a lot like waiting for an operation to end on Debra. Helpless.
After a minute, Efren decided it was safe to continue and he did, safe now that his blue eyed family was there. With him. He would console him later, after this was over, but first he needed to focus, block him out and try fix what he could so his clumsy hands could shake him, hug and cares him.
The mantras took him another hour to finish. Meanwhile Marc had got up, walked around him in circles, which he was sure to give him a kick for, for it was seriously distracting, then snapped some leaf from nearby honeysuckle and sat back down, pinching pieces from it.
It had been some time when he suddenly realized he didn’t feel small in his body anymore. As if he’d expanded and taken the shape of the shell again. He could feel the skin locking on to him, clack after a clack. His lungs followed his breathing pattern his soul was making and he could feel the nails and fingertips again.
But something was amiss. There was still that painful pulsating he couldn’t place. It hadn’t disappeared together with the sense of wholeness. It was still there, aching. He tried to pinpoint down, where it was coming from, but it was all over the body. He sensed the panic take over, the rush of heat rising from his belly as he tried to stay in control. It wasn’t real. The body was still too dimmed to have physical reactions to emotions. Yet it didn’t subside with the next round of mantras and he started to panic for earnest as the impulses became a steady source of pain filing up every crack he had still left between the shell and his soul. It was coming from his middle, lower than he thought, but that was OK, for that meant it wasn’t his heart nor his lungs. Although, the alternatives weren’t more desired.
He couldn’t wait any longer. He forced his muscles to move, the loud pinging sound getting louder by the second and he knew there was something seriously wrong with him which he could not fix. Something that if he waited for his body to come out of the ritual on its own would kill him before he gained his full mobility. So he tried to move his eyes first, turn them, lock them on Steven behind Marc. Steven straightened immediately. Good, he thought, he had his attention. His body shook as it gave in to the shivers rocking his slim frame from the mere effort it took to move his eyes. He tried his mouth next. Steven had to hear him!
“Hospital… stomach…” he whispered hoarsely, tears filling his eyes.
Last thing he remembered was the sound of Marc’s sneakers scratching the sandy floor and his body being lifted up.