Hidden Deep

Hidden Deep

A Story by Heidi

I actually had a dream about this last night, and couldn't shake this part and had to write something about it.


                Gregory placed a firm hand on David’s shoulder, guiding him through the doors of the hospital.  David reacted placidly, staring straight ahead and keeping his arms tightly to his sides while still maintaining something of a slouch.  Gregory had long ago given up trying to teach the boy good posture.  In fact, he was grateful that his nephew-in-law hadn’t displayed more difficult autistic symptoms than poor posture, which wasn’t a regular symptom either, and his lack of social integration.  Other than all that, he was a very good boy who liked to read and plunk on the piano and watch people. 

               Gregory opted to take the stairs over the elevator this time.  He needed the exercise, and David hated the elevator.  On days like today, he tried to really pamper David, in order to keep his mood cherry.  David’s big feet in his big shoes pounded up the stairs, one banging step after the other, his dark, blue eyes dull and listless.  Wherever his mind was, it wasn’t at the hospital, it wasn’t on climbing the stairs, it wasn’t on anything that surrounded him at the moment.  Gregory sometimes wished for the ability to transport himself mentally to someplace other than where he was.  As it was, he got anxious not being up to speed with his environment every second he thought about it.  He was very much a “for the here-and-now” kind of man, especially since David's parents had died and he'd begun to put on some weight.

                Turning out of the stairs onto the desired floor, Gregory reached for David’s hand, which closed around his automatically.  Gregory considered this part of the game, as most eight-year-old boys wouldn’t be caught dead holding a guardian’s hand, but it was a gesture of simplicity and wholeness to the distressed family they were about to meet.  David blinked and seemed to root back into reality a bit, and his hold on Gregory’s hand tightened.  

                A woman of about thirty-five met them at the corner of the hallway.  She had sandy blonde hair, tired blue eyes and looked like a lady who usually was impeccably dressed, but the stress of the moment lead her to abandon her usual abolutions, opting for frumpy-looking sweats and old tennis shoes.

                “Gregory McKinney?” She asked of Gregory.  He took her offered hand in a gesture of kindness, and presented David.

                “Yes, that’s me, and this is my nephew, David.” She smiled warmly at David, her face beaming with a bit more light as she did.

                “It’s wonderful to meet you finally, David,” she purred at him, offering him her hand.  David looked up at her, quiet and thoughtful, and unmoving.  Gregory laughed, and the woman began to look slightly uncomfortable. 

                “Shake her hand, dude!  She’s not going to bite you!” Gregory said, ruffling David’s hair a little.  Mechanically, David raised his hand and floppily shook hers. 

                “David Little.” He said, his voice soft and quick.   She accepted his handshake, and then stood up to look at Gregory, but she looked still the more uncomfortable.  Shrugging, and anxiously slapping her hands against her hips, she said,

                “Well, I’m not sure what happens now.”  Gregory smiled again and motioned for her to continue to the pediatrics unit.

                “Lead the way.  David can take care of the rest.”  She turned and began to walk, and David soon detached from Gregory and reattached to her.  She looked down, surprised, when his largish hand grabbed her own, but she held onto him.

                “Are you in school, David?” She asked.  He mumbled something not even Gregory could make out, but she acted as if she understood.  “Ah, I see.  Do you play football, David?”  This time he looked squarely into her face.

                “What’s your name?” He asked, and she balked slightly at his suddenness.

                “My name is Marcy.  The girl you’re about to meet is named…”

                “She can tell me her name,” he stated, matter-of-factly.  Marcy shook her head.

                “No, she can’t because she’s been sleeping for a long time…”

                “Do you like cars?” David interrupted.  Marcy humored him, and they talked for a few moments about cars and planes, which were David’s current reading obsession.   Gregory strolled along behind, glad that David was coming out of his shell a bit.  He did that, at times.  Not that he really paid attention to what Marcy had to say, but still. 

                They turned another corner and Marcy lead them to the end of the hallway.  Stopping at the last door, she quietly pushed it open and beckoned the two inside.  David still held her hand, and Gregory had to take it from her in order to shoo David inside.  Marcy followed them, and they were greeted by about five other family members, and the small girl lying on the bed, a ventilator in her mouth and scars spread over her head.  Marcy introduced Gregory and David to the family, and then introduced them in turn.

“And her name is Mia,” she said, indicating the debilitated girl.   There was a moment of silence, and Marcy looked to Gregory to take charge.

                “Ok.  This is what needs to happen.  We need to vacate the room, leave just David and Mia in here alone.  We probably should also push the bed out from the wall a little, as much as those chords will allow.  Yes, that’s right!  And maybe lower the bed and put a chair back there…it just makes it easier.  Yeah, ok, David?  Can you go sit on that chair, please?”  David carefully maneuvered through the chords and tubing and sat squarely on the chair, looking like a guardian angel over the poor little girl. 

                “Ok, what happens now?” Marcy asked, moving to sit on the other side of the bed.  Gregory motioned her away.

                “No.  David needs to be alone.  I won’t even stay in here.  Let’s all go out into the hallway.”  The family cast dubious looks at one another, at Gregory, at the boy with the dark curls, large blue eyes and large hands, feet and ears, and only moved upon Gregory’s physical insistance. 

                “How will we know when he’s done?” Someone asked of Gregory, as he began to quietly shut the door.

                “He’ll let us know,” Gregory responded, not looking at anyone.  “He will be sure to let us know.”

                Inside the room, all was quiet, but for the soft breaths through the ventilator.  The room was darker, due to the bright morning sun, and the blind was pulled down over the window with only the dim, gloomy golden light from the bar behind David’s head.  He sat on the chair, hunched over, looking down at Mia’s hair, which was missing in some places due to nasty-looking scars.  She was young, probably only six or seven.  Or, maybe she was just small for her age.  David didn’t know.  He hunched down further, resting his arms on his knees, the big hands dwarfing his skinny calves.  He bent over until his chin rested on the top of the mattress, and he looked down his cheeks at the tip of the girl’s nose, which was the only part of her he could see from this angle.  He straightened again, and readjusted the closeness of the chair, and then bent completely over the back of the mattress, and rested his chin on the top half of her pillow, his nose nearly in her hair.  He was sure not to touch her.  That made him uncomfortable.  He waited for the river to pass by, for a window to open.  Mia. He thought.  Mia.  Mia Thompson, your name is Mia Elizabeth Thompson.  Not Amelia, just Mia.  Your hair is browny-blonde, and I think you have brown eyes.  Mia.  Mia.  He closed his eyes.  Mia.

                All at once, he leapt through the tear in the river and found himself standing knee-deep in water.  It was dark, all around.  He felt a slight breeze, a cool breeze, and the water lapped oddly at his ankles.  The smell of the ocean hung heavy in the air, and he had a faint notion of the moon, or some other bright white light, somewhere above his head.  A mist wrapped all around him, and it was hard to tell anything but the depth and temperature of the water.  The breeze blew more mist towards him, and then he saw another light, several feet out from where he was.  Deep down in the water.  He took a deep, slightly panicked breath.  The light was deep in the water, not very far out.  He would have to swim.  He would have to swim in the cool water, with the cool mist and the cool breeze.  He shivered.  Rubbing his arms with his hands, he braced himself for a plunge.  Licking his lips and tasting the salt, he tasted something else, something that came from his tongue: Mia.  Mia.  Mia.  Mia. Her name.  Breathing out slowly in a long oooh, he began to wade out until the water lapped at his ears, and then he dove. 

                He didn’t have far to dive, at first.  The bottom was coral, and the fish were angry at his big feet kicking up their nests and foliage, blackening the water.  The waves and breeze and mist would soon sort it out.  David clung to the bottom, careful not to touch fish or eels and not to break the coral.  He didn’t feel a need to breathe.  He wasn’t really in the ocean.  He was in the ocean of Mia’s mind.  Breathing was easy to do, like breathing while sleeping.  He stopped thinking about it.  It broke his concentration.  He picked his way along the bottom, noting the temperature changes of the water and his descent, until he came to a large hole in the coral, almost a perfect ring around.  The light from the water emanated faintly from here, faintly enough he could make out the cylindrical edges but nothing more, but for the occasional flicker of a curious fish or the gentle wave of a sea fan. 

                David slowly made his way to the pit, which was more what it resembled, and saw that the tube extended for hundreds, perhaps thousands of feet.  All along its walls, there was broken coral and flickering fish and slithering eels and gently abrasive sea flora.  Sometimes the tube changed shapes, got skinnier or got wider, though it got skinnier a lot more often than wider.  David began to sink down the tube, following the light.  Looking back up, he saw the white light above him, a beacon, much more visible from underwater than from under the mist.  David was careful to not touch any of the animals or plants on the sides.  A firey fish had come out and stung him, and he tried not to get angry as he sunk further, gently wriggling to avoid traps and tight spots. 

                He continued down for what felt like hours, on and on, watching for the light, watching for fish or plants that could hurt him, watching for everything.  A huge sea turtle nearly brazed his head at one point, and it startled him enough that he tried to backtrack, but the turtle began to pass regularly over his head, not allowing him through.  David continued down, the light steadily growing brighter. 

                Through a tight spot, a near encounter with a giant sea fan, and he saw Mia, suspended in the water, not moving.  Her hair was much longer, and she wore a long and flowing white robe that also lay suspended in the water, all around her.  Her eyes were closed, and her face was perfect.  No scars, no ventilators.  She looked like the princess from a fantasy movie he had seen once, only without the pearl crown thing.  She emanated the light, and it was much brighter down there.  As David approached, she opened her eyes and noticed him.     

                “Oh!  Who are you?” She asked, completely nonchalant.  David shrugged, and reached for her arm.

                “I’m coming to save you.” He said.  She looked up at the tube with a bit of frightened contempt.


                “You shouldn’t be afraid, Mia.  I’m here to help you.” 

                “But who are you?”  David shrugged again, and took a gentle hold of her arm. 

                “We’re gonna take you back now.” David said, beginning to swim upwards and tugging her after him.

                “But, we can’t go back through there!  I’ve tried!  It’s too scary!” Mia ripped her arm from him and buried her face in her hands.  David didn’t respond, but took hold of her arm again and began to maneuver her through the tight nooks and crannies, avoiding the sea fans and fish.  She never moved her hands, and she moved easily, like felt sliding on a polished wood floor.  David carefully managed to avoid the large sea fan, and an enormous school of dark blue fish that came shooting down the tube, tucking Mia safely in his arms and guarding her with his head.  One fish pinged off his neck, which made it sting fiercely.  Once he saw the school taper off, he looked back up.  There was the turtle, swimming back and forth, but what was worse, was that it was descending, pushing them down, and even worse, there were five others above him.  David took Mia much more tightly in his arms, nearly folding her up and compacting her, so that she could fit snugly under one arm, and he slowly, with a great deal of trepidation, began to kick upward.

                Gregory leaned against the wall and began to tap out various rhythms that occurred to him. Mia’s family stood around in contemplation, and her close aunt and uncle stood off to the side, quietly ridiculing Marcy and her husband for bringing David in.  What was the point?  Mia was certifiably braindead, at least, according to three doctors out of four.  Why couldn’t they just let the little girl go without bringing in all these weird, supernatural hijinks?  Gregory tried not to get angry, or even to laugh.  Really, David’s gift was wonderous but no laughing matter.  Soon, they would be proven wrong.  Unless, not even David could call this girl back.  It had failed to happen yet, but it worried Gregory every time. 

                Suddenly a frightened yell erupted from the room, and the family descended on the door like ravenous hyenas, each one yelling at the other to get out of the way.  Gregory slid his body over the handle, a trick he’d just now come up with, his girth being a good deterrent to further assaults on the door.  The family stepped back, angry, he could practically see the red steam rising.

                “That was just David!” Gregory said, holding his hands up to stop them as they began forward again.  “Sometimes, it’s a little painful, but I promise that Mia is absolutely ok!”  The family stopped, confused.

                “But he sounded hurt!” Marcy protested, trying to edge past Gregory.  He slammed his buttocks under the handle, and she jerked her hand away.  It was horribly uncomfortable for the handle to be embedded in his back the way it was, but it gave Gregory a good excuse not to be too worried about his weight or body image.  No one likes to touch a fat man, and Gregory understood better than most how David was not to be disturbed. 

                “There’s no other way.  Just like if your gall bladder is about to kill you, and you know surgery will hurt, and it does, but you recover.  There’s no way around it.”  Gregory spoke quickly, trying to passify the family so that he could leave that uncomfortable position.  The aunt and uncle offered then to go get coffee for everyone, and the grandfather, Marcy and her husband agreed, but didn’t leave.  Gregory decided not to move either, for inside the room he could hear sharp inhalations from David, the kind associated with a great deal of pain, and the last thing he wanted to do was alarm the family again. 

                David had to stop a moment.  The encounter with the turtles had nearly been too much, and Mia was still tucked under his arm, passive, frightened, and silent.  The first turtle had wacked him with its flipper, and though he’d managed to evade the next two, the last three had been vicious.  In other people’s fantastical realms, generally the things that keep them from coming back take on bizarre forms, or can do bizarre things, and the most common was that they inexplicably hurt to come into contact with.  David knew this, but it didn’t make dealing with it any easier. 

                Eventually, he felt strong enough to continue, and slowly let Mia unravel and follow him, though she was silent, unmoving, absolutely terrified.  He gripped her arm, and in a long, terribly slow dance, they moved up, up, up the tube until they were nearly at the top.  The shadowy fans and fish danced in David’s vision again, and he could see the moon, far above them and above the mist.  The tube widened, and David stopped at the mouth of it.  Shaking Mia, she slowly opened her eyes.                           

                “Whe--?” She asked, looking around. 

                “Now, I hafta go now, Mia.  But, stay here.  Count to hundred.  No, count to two hundred.  Real slow.  Count like this.”  He began tapping his chest, very slowly, and she began to count.

                “Like that?” She asked.

                “Yeah.  Don’t come out the rest of the way from the tube until you get to two hundred.  Then, go that direction,” he pointed off where he had come, “and then walk out of the water until you aren’t in it anymore.  Then stop.  When Marcy starts to call you, then start walking again…ok?” 

                “Why?  Where are you going, David?” Mia asked, looking panicked and gripping his arm tightly.

                “I can’t stay in here.  You are back, you’re safe.  Just wait here for a few minutes, count to two hundred that slow…then slowly come back.”

                “I want my mom!” Mia said, tearfully. 

                “Just wait a little while, just wait.  Promise?” David took her hand earnestly, squeezing it and looking intently into her eyes.  “Promise?”

                “P-promise.” Mia said, and David squeezed her hand one more time and began to quickly kick away.  Mia began to scream, afraid of being left alone there, and David jerked back.

                “Don’t go down!  Stay right there, start counting!”  Mia was sobbing, and David yelled at her to count, and soon she began.

                “One!  Two!  Three!” She yelled her numbers, and David began to count with her, yelling the numbers over his shoulder, but he swam on, hard and fast.  He had to get out now.  He hurried until he could pop his head out of the water, then he pushed through the water till he could stand, then he ran out of the water—

                Gregory caught the boy before he fell off the chair.  David felt the last number die on his lips; forty-eight.  His head was soaked in sweat, his eyes were rolling a little, he was crying, and he had bitten his tongue at some point and a bit of blood oozed from his mouth.

                “It’s ok, David!  You did great!  You’re ok!”  Gregory said, lifitng David completely over the tubing and wires, cradling the boy in his large arms.  David cried, but couldn’t remember why he was crying.  He did know he couldn’t stop.  Gregory balanced David on his belly, and began to rub David’s face, slowly, with one knuckle, wiping away the tears and the sweat and the blood.  Behind him, Mia’s family crowded around her, looking for signs of life.  Suddenly, she began to cough, the ventilator skipped and beeped, and as she came more and more to herself, she began to claw at the tube in her throat.  Her uncle leapt over to  call for a nurse.  Gregory inched out of the room, still holding David, and made his way out into the hall.  Two nurses came running into the room, and Gregory barely stepped out of their way before they would have run him over.  Soon, another light dinged on above the door, and Mia’s doctor came running.  Gregory decided that all the hooplah in removing Mia’s ventilator and stuff would cause more stress on the family, certainly more than enough for them to step outside and check on David and maybe offer a thank-you, so he walked away. 

                David had stopped crying so much now, but he clutched his uncle like a little baby, saying in his clutch and his face that he didn’t want to be put down.  He was afraid.  Gregory cradled him, ignoring the stares of nurses and aides as he made his way to the door.  The lady at the desk knew him well, and buzzed the door to let him through. 

                “What do you want for lunch, David?” Gregory asked, holding the door open with his foot and edging through.  David’s voice was muffled, but Gregory was pretty sure that he heard "grilled cheese."  As news of Mia’s recovery rippled down the hall, various health care workers stopped what they were doing to glance down that way, or to even enter the room to see for themselves.   Gregory ignored them, and even ignored the desk lady’s signal to wait, that someone wanted to talk with them.  David buried his head in Gregory’s chest, and Gregory readjusted the boy in his arms to a more comfortable position, walked to the stairs. 

© 2008 Heidi

Author's Note

The writing isn't very artistic, nor is it too imaginative. I was going to work with it a little more, but I kind of just like the story, fantastical and impractical as it is. Now, a quiz: who do you think I was in my dream? David, or Mia?

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Oh, and I apparently cannot spell "cords" right today.

Posted 9 Years Ago

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Added on November 21, 2008



Whag, I am just a person who overloads herself on things to do and people to love and goals in life. I'm still young but then not so young, in that though I want to go out and literally see the world.. more..

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