Efren woke up with bright sunlight shining through rib curtains and piercing through his eyelids. First there was quiet peeping sound, but after holding his breath for a long moment, he realized it wasn’t coming from his bed side. He did feel the pinch on his finger that signeted presence of a heart monitor, but the sound came from somewhere far. Wherever he was, it was warm.
The sun was way too bright and he wished somebody would’ve had enough consideration to close the curtains. He must’ve frowned, because a loud clatter jerked him enough to force him open his eyes.
“You took your time, little brother.” He hummed, raising from his seat against the wall.
Efren tried to move his head to see, where he was exactly, but could hardly turn his neck without it hurting. His throat was dry, but that aside, he was fooling pretty good and he heard himself laugh. Quietly at first, but it grew louder when he realized he was alive and by the looks of it, good.
A nurse appeared on the door just as he was marveling his fingers against the sunlight. She fussed around him for few minutes, welcomed him back among living and instructed him to stay still and rest before she would return with dinner later.
“Where am I?” He asked when the woman disappeared behind the door.
“I can see that, but…”
“Don’t worry, they won’t pick on you with needles. Doctor Brighton has experience with private matters. Besides, all he could see wrong with you was fatigue. Marc was very happy.”
“Where is he?”
“I sent him home.”
“Good. Pearl needs her gym clothes and he probably forgot to wash them.”
Steven laughed gruffly. “They’re really gonna be part of the family, huh?” He teased.
Efren nodded. He turned his head, studying the person in the other bed. She had thick frizzy hair which were carefully cared for, even now carrying two braids set on her shoulders between the breathing tubes and monitoring equipment. Her nightgown wasn’t the hospital’s, but complimented her skin tone which had once carried exotic tone one of her parents must have carried, but had now paled due lack of direct sunlight. She was definitely loved, her bedside carrying several vases of fresh bouquets together with few house plants.
Steven’s eyes followed his and he watched him observing her.
“Efren, meet Theresia.” He said quietly, soft smile lingering on his lips. “She was my angel.”
The machine next to her bed beeped few beats faster, then settled back into its regular rhythm.
“She was a lot like you – plants covering every free surface, always found a way around me should something not please her and she cared for everybody and everything. Today would be…” he counted. “19 years since then.”
“I thought you said she died…” Efren whispered hoarsely.
“No. She fell to a coma. Well, I guess it’s not better from dying.”
“Impossible. It’s hardly a miracle if she won’t wake up. But now I at least know, why.”
“While you were out, I had time to do some studying here. You said a lot of the chemicals you got from the plants, right? When she moved in the mansion with Jed, she brought with her her large winter garden and guess what made up major part of those plants? The same ones you’ve scribbled on your side notes. I don’t recall her having the book on this, but she had photographic memory and probably had it learned by heart. I think she was one of your kind. That would explain why her brain is still completely active while her body is slowly decaying.”
Was? Efren’s eyes fixed on the woman’s face, searching for signs of her waking up soon, slight panic raising its ugly head in his stomach and sending his heart monitor off the chart, fast. He was laying next to his worst nightmare and for a second he could see her turn her head, open her eyes and stare back at him, accusing him for breaking his father’s circle, accusing him of succeeding his ceremony while she was stuck in her body. No way out, and kept alive, her fully alive mind stuck in this tiny room as long as they would torture her soul to be stuck here.
Steven’s hand landed on his chest and he cooed him to calm down. A nurse’s head popped in from the door. “It’s ok,” Steven shook his head, “he’s just confused a bit. We’ll be ok.” He sat down on the edge of the bed and continued rubbing his chest and the number on the monitor slowed down. “If to believe what I read from your book, she hasn’t come around, because she missed her ritual and her soul has disconnected from her body. To think if she hadn’t been sick that time, all could have ended so differently.”
Efren felt tears clouding his vision. When he blinked, he noticed that Steven was crying too and Efren tried to get hold of his hand, searching it with his.
“Shit.” He whispered and gave him an encouraging smile. “It has been quite hard to keep her body intact, but you think… If we through the ritual to her… would she?” For a moment he sounded hopeful, but he guessed Steven already knew the answer himself.
“I’m sorry.” Efren whispered.
“Me too.” He patted him gently. He sighed, but it didn’t sound sad to Efren. Instead it was more as if accepting the inevitable. “I love her.” He admitted. “But when I realized I was losing her to the only man I couldn’t compete with, I couldn’t let her go. I didn’t want to hand her over to God. She was mine, my beloved.” He huffed. “To think I was jealous of God for stealing my lover. And now I…” he winced. “Now I know she’s still here, stuck in the hell I created for her, because she loved him more.”