And here it is: There is a girl – pale, brooding – who gets bitten by a bat – dark, brooding – named Heathcliff that unfortunately carries pneumonia. Heathcliff is a pneumonia-pire and this was likely caused by flying in the rain and living inside a dank church bell but it’s probably also hereditary. The girl, whose name is Malady, would just like to not have pneumonia anymore. Or ever again.
“Hello, how are you doing . . . oh shit,” his voice trailed off. “You look like sh – I mean, you’re sick, aren’t you?” I nodded. “I have pneumonia,” I announced flatly, feeling like adding “And I am not long for this world.” He took two large steps backward quickly, almost instantaneously.
I can overcome this feeling, I told myself. It may be sadness but sadness can only exert so much physical influence, only so much – and suddenly I was lurching forward, reaching for the steps in front of me although there was no doubt I would meet them. I was falling fast, but it felt slow and the colours smeared at the edges.
“I think you’re depressed,” my doctor told me, has been telling me for a few weeks. I shook my head “I keep telling you I just can’t breathe,” I panted out. My old friends the fluorescent lights glowed wanly at me. “I can’t – I feel like something heavy is sitting on my chest,” I choked out. He frowned. “Classic, textbook depression.” he folded his arms, looked me up and down. “Why do you keep half-heartedly patting your chest? Sorrow?” I shook my head, again. “I tell you I just can’t – just can’t – ”
When I woke up my face had been commandeered by something they called a ‘nebulizer.’ I saw a new nurse looking at me with pursed lips. “Pneumonia,” she whispered, with a shake of her head, like I was a bad little girl who’d gone out and caught it against all advice, like it was an STD or a baby. I nodded, said ‘whatever’ but the sound was lost to the whirring machine.
I took the deep breaths my doctor requested and focused my attention on a brown spot in the fluorescent light to the left. His brows were furrowed. I think you could even say ‘deeply furrowed’. “How long ago was this – what did you call it?”
“Wintry boating accident?”
“Mm-hmm. ‘Wintry boating accident.’ How long ago was that?” I looked back at the spot. “Years? Few years?” Thinking, of course Just read my chart.