An innocent victim of a drive-by shooting, he’d been in a coma for six months. Attached to intravenous drips, a ventilator, a catheter, with various electrodes attached to monitor his life functions, the twenty-year-old Rafael, to all eyes, professional and personal, looked like inert material that needed to be cared for in the coma unit of a large hospital.
What nobody understood is that Rafael, though confined by his body because of the trauma, walked freely in the city. Through divine intervention or via his mind transcending the physical, Rafael was a free man.
Rafael visited his parents, other family members, and his friends, but his most frequent place to go was the boardwalk out along the bay. He knew that’s where he would find her, the love of his life, Gemella. Gemella took early morning walks there, then came back and had her lunch there. She strolled along, looking at the city with a distant look on her face. As she ate her salad or munched her sandwich her expression grew happy, then sad, and often there were tears.
You see, the boardwalk was where Rafael and Gemella first met, when they shared a bench at lunch time one sunny afternoon. Gemella came here as often as she could. Visiting Rafael’s inert body at the hospital brought her only grief and depression. Here her beloved came alive again, which sustained her hope. If only Rafael could let Gemella know he was still very much alive in spirit. He walked beside her, sat beside her, and tried to touch her face.
One day, she appeared to feel his caress, as her hand flew to her face then lovingly rubbed her own cheek. What she didn’t know was at that moment the machines at the hospital began to beep and the squiggles on the screen began to jump.
Rafael could feel himself being pulled back to the hospital, which happened in an instant. He heard a loud pop at the same time as his eyes opened. He was back. The nurses, alerted to the beeps, quickly removed the ventilator.
“Gemella,” he croaked out, then died.
Sadje is the host of What do you see?