Through Pain

by Enola Jones

My head hurt again.

Fourth day in a row I'd woken up with a headache. Every day it was just a little worse, and today it was pounding so hard I equated it to a cross between a drumming contest and a hatchet.

And the hatchet was winning.

So once again, I raided the bathroom for the pills and staggered into the living room -- and stopped cold.

Jim was in the living room, on the phone, pacing as he talked. Nothing too unusual there. But what stopped me short was the blue glow surrounding his body.

He stopped and looked over at me. "Chief?" His voice sounded too loud, almost booming.

I squeezed my eyes shut and shook my aching head, grabbing it before it rolled off my shoulders. When I opened them, Jim was much closer, reaching for me, and his face was contorted with worry.

And he was still glowing.

"You're blue." Oh, real nice, Sandburg! Just come right out and say it!

"I'm what?" I couldn't help but wince, his voice was so loud. "Sandburg?"

"You're glowing blue.... and your voice...." My hands went to my ears. "Head hurts...."

"Again?" Jim asked. At my nod, he hung up the phone and called Simon.

I could hear him on the other end! Every word! When Jim hung up, I told him this.

"You can what?"

I nodded. "And you're not blue anymore, but the walls.... I can see the cracks in the paint and ----"

I don't remember much of anything else for awhile after that.


When I woke up, my head was feeling better -- but everything was far too bright and too loud. "Jim?" I whispered.

He was sitting on my bedside a moment later, also whispering. "You feeling better? You had a spill out there."

"No." I sighed. "Headache's having some... interesting... effects this time."

"Am I still blue?"

I smiled slightly, looking at him. "No. No, you're not glowing anymore. I'm sorry, man, I don't know where --"

"Your headache, like you said." He checked my pulse. "It's late... if you're no better tomorrow, I'm taking you to the hospital."

"Nnnnoooo...." I rolled my head in a shake, becoming nauseous.

He held my head while I embarrassed myself again, laying me down gently and going wordlessly for some towels.

"Sorry...." I tried again.

Jim shook his head firmly. "Nothing to be sorry for. Close your eyes and rest, Chief. I'll be here when you wake up."

"Kay...." And I barely remember saying that, I was so near asleep anyway.


Morning came, as it's known to do, and I didn't know it.

Jim told me the reason he rushed me to the hospital was that he couldn't wake me up. He'd tried everything, he said, and I'd just curl up and whimper, my arms going over my head.

I hadn't known how much time had passed when I opened my eyes. I just know that I was very very tired, but I had to wake up. I looked around at the white, heard the beeps, and knew I was in hospital.

I didn't know until much later for what.

My first waking was just long enough to process where I was and that Jim was beside me, then I was asleep again.


Jim came into my room, grinning. "Ready to head home?"

I glared at him. "You bring my stuff?"

He lifted my backpack and heaved it beside me on the bed. "Clothes, shaving kit, everything like you asked." His grin became a gentle smile. "How are you doing, Chief?"

That earned him another glare. "Very funny, Jim. Calling me Chief after I've been scalped."

"You have not been scalped. It'll grow back."

I sighed and ran a hand over my sore head. The bandages were mute testimony as to what had happened to me. The hair would grow back, and the bandages wouldn't last long. I'd just have to endure till then.

"Hey, I'm gonna go get the paperwork taken care of, and --"

I nodded. "Go ahead. I'll get dressed."

He smiled and headed for the nurse's desk.

I sighed and began to dress, reflecting back on the last few days. Looking back, it made perfect sense.

Sight, hearing -- enhanced cause the nerves in my brain were being hyperstimulated. Perfect sense, considering there was a tumor the size of an egg in there. Touch, they thought, would be next to be enhanced.

But it was caught, removed, and I would be fine. The doctors said I could even go back to school in two or three weeks -- though the station would take longer than that. The less stress, the better, according to them.

They don't know me very well.

I'd asked them if they'd gotten all the mass, and they said they had. Jim had left to go get my clothes when the doctor came in and told me what he called the 'bad news'.

They'd gotten the tumor, but they couldn't repair the damage it had already done to one area of my brain. It was permanent. I'd not told Jim yet; I'd not had the chance.

Bad news, the doctor had called it.

But as I finished dressing and listened to Jim and the nurse exchanging relieved small talk at her station three rooms down the hall, I realised I didn't think it was bad news at all.

I'd call it life taking a turn for the decidedly interesting.


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