A Miracle At ChristmasbyNephylim©
"I thought I'd find you here."
Eden looked up and smiled at the girl who walked softly across the floor in the almost reverential way that almost everyone adopted in that room. Eden had spent too much time there to feel that any more. "Where else?" he said returning her smile. Then he turned away to gently stroke the hair and cheek of the boy who lay sleeping in the bed. "It's his birthday. He's twenty one today."
"Twenty one?" the girl exclaimed. "Has it really been three years?"
"Almost exactly. It was three days after his birthday, just before Christmas, three years ago. I spent the whole of Christmas and New Year here."
"And almost every day since," she commented sadly.
Eden smiled tightly. "Hardly. I've not been here much recently."
Suzi could hear the sadness and guilt in his voice. "Eden; it's been three years. It's right that you should move on."
"Move on?" he asked genuinely confused.
"Move on from here, from him. Stop spending so much time here and get on with your life. Go and make a future for yourself."
Eden smiled and ran his fingers over the marble still face before running them through the soft as silk white locks of hair that framed it. The electromagnetic field crackled and tiny sparks glittered across his hand.
"Eden, there's no life here any more. You can't spend the rest of yours in this room, living in the past and waiting for something that is never going to happen. There's a wonderful future waiting for you out there."
"For us, Suzi," he corrected softly.
Suzi sighed. "Isn't it about time you faced the fact that there is no future for him. Let him go Eden, let him go and move on."
Eden smiled gently, and shook his head. Suzi sighed again. "Eden, the last thing Summer would want is for you to waste your life because of him."
This time Eden laughed. "I'm not wasting my life Suzi. I'm waiting for him. No, I'm waiting with him. There's nowhere else I want to be."
"Well," Suzi said in exasperation, "at least you've finally gone to university. That's a start."
Eden's face darkened for the first time. "That was a mistake. It's too long away from him. I miss him and he misses me.""
"He doesn't miss you Eden. He doesn't know if you're here or not."
"He knows," Eden said with such a degree of certainty Suzi shook her head and sighed for the thousandth time but didn't say anything; there was no point. Instead she watched Eden take one of the pale hands that lay lifelessly on the covers and lift it to his lips. The magnetic field sparked madly but he didn't seem to notice.
Raising her eyes Suzi looked at the boy who was the focus of Eden's world. There was no denying that he was beautiful; mesmerizingly beautiful, all the more so because it was an entirely natural beauty which needed no enhancement at all. The most striking thing about him was his hair. It was mostly a rich burnished chestnut, thick and lustrous, but there were two panels at the front that were so white that in the right light they looked like metallic silver. That too was entirely natural.
She remembered the emerald green of his eyes and the way they twinkled and crinkled slightly in the corners when he smiled. Summer was always smiling and he laughed at everything, including himself. He had an infectious lust for life that made him fun to be with. Everyone around him was infected with his overwhelming delight in simple pleasures – the moon on a puddle, a walk through the leaves in the autumn or snow in winter, the petals of a flower, or the sound of rain. He loved rain and stood for hours on the doorstep watching it fall. At least he'd used to.
Christmas was Summer's favourite time of year. He started preparing months before and got wildly excited to the point that his friends were ready to strangle him by the last few days. On the first weekend after his birthday, which was on the 15th, he almost religiously dragged Eden and Suzi to a nearby forestry park to skate on the lake and cut down a tree for decorating. Most people now had artificial trees, but not Summer, not even the ones that were so realistic birds tried to nest in them. No, Summer was all for the natural.
They'd been on their trip when 'it' happened. Suzi had always been wary of the journey. It always snowed and the roads were icy and dangerous, but Summer would not be dissuaded. That year was particularly bad, with heavy snow and freezing conditions but Summer still would not be deterred.
Summer had been excited by the falling snow and couldn't wait to get to the park. Suzi had had her eyes closed for the whole journey but her relief when they reached the car park had been short lived when the car hit a patch of ice just inside the gate and skidded. Somehow Summer had managed to keep control but it spun in almost a complete circle before the tyres bit tarmac and he'd guided it into the nearest parking space.
Eden and Suzi had been shaken but not Summer; he'd thought it had been great fun and wanted to do it again. They'd filed out of the car, slipping and sliding , with Summer and Eden playing like children in the snow as they'd crossed the car park towards the path which led through the trees to the lake.
As they'd reached the treeline Summer had realised he'd forgotten his skates, which was pretty typical for him and had headed back towards the car while the others waited near the trees.
Suzi and Eden had been laughing and chatting together when they'd heard the teeth clenching sound of screaming brakes as a car, coming into car park way too fast hit the same patch of ice that had troubled them. Unlike Summer the driver had completely lost control and the car spun madly.
Summer never had a chance. By the time he'd heard the screech and looked up the car was on him. Suzi never forgot the sickening sound of car hitting flesh. It haunted her in nightmares and she hadn't been able to drive for weeks.
They'd both been certain he was dead as they'd run across the space, slipping and sliding on the ice and snow, falling but not caring.
The driver had remained in the car in complete shock and Suzi had always been glad of that because if he had been in reach of Eden's hands it would not have gone well with him.
Eden had slid to a halt next to Summer and had been too frightened to touch him. He'd been lying like a broken doll, feet from the car. He had rolled over and over across the ice and was lying half on his side, face down with his limbs at odd angles.
Ignoring the blood that had been starting to pool under his head Eden had tenderly pushed away his hair so he could see his face. The snow under his cheek had turned pink but, as they'd later learned, had probably saved his life by lowering his body temperature and slowed the bleeding.
Incredibly Summer had not only been alive but conscious and had even tried to smile at Eden. He'd looked demonic with blood staining his lips and running from his nose but when he'd smiled he could have been nothing but an angel.
"I'm sorry," he'd whispered, his words muffled and gurgling. "Shoulda... should... be... caref..." He'd coughed and blood had splattered the snow, and Eden, who'd ignored it. For a moment Summer had frowned, a puzzled look on his face, then he'd taken a breath and smiled. "Don't... worry... home... Christmas." Then he'd sighed and his eyes had closed. That had been the last time they'd heard his voice or seen his eyes in three years.
Amazingly he hadn't died there in the snow. Neither had he let go in the following hours and days when his life hung in the balance. Through hours of surgery and regeneration he'd somehow kept breathing.
Medical science had improved so much in the last fifty years and things which would have been fatal to their grandparents or even their parents were no longer beyond the abilities of doctors. And so they had managed to knit his broken bones, regenerate muscles, tissue and ligaments and even the surgical scars had been erased. Within ten days of the accident his body had been healed and whole.
However, what they couldn't do; what no doctor had ever been able to do since the beginning, was to understand the complexities of the brain. No one could tell them why but Summer had never woken up.
It happened. After a catastrophic head injury it happened often and it was one thing that medicine had been able to neither fathom nor prevent. Some remained in a coma for only a few days, some for months or years, and some never woke at all.
The way that coma patients were treated had radically improved. Many of the invasive methods of treatment and maintenance were no longer necessary and for the most part entirely automated. Nutrition was provided by absorption and ionised metal bands around the upper arms, wrists, waist, neck, thighs and ankles provided all required data from body temperature to blood pressure and were used, along with an ionised electrical field which surrounded the body to regulate them all as well as preventing contact sores, muscle atrophy etc.
The data collected by the bands and field was fed into a computer which displayed it on screens behind the bed and, with minimal human input regulated the functions of the body automatically with the only invasion necessary being two IV lines to carry drugs and fluids into the body.
In many ways Summer had simply slept through three years. Suzi watched him sleep, his perfect face perfectly at peace. His chest rose and fell gently and he was relaxed and serene. It was almost painful to remember that even though he looked as if he might wake at any moment, with a smile on his lips, there was every change he would sleep until he died.
Although the mechanics would keep him in inertia for as long as necessary he would still get old and was still as susceptible to illness and disease as anyone else. He didn't have the strength or immune system of a healthy person and had already fought off pneumonia twice.
They had almost lost him so many times but he had been more stable this last year which was why they had been able to persuade Eden to leave his side for long enough to start his Degree course. However, despite the fact that his physical condition had stabilised there had never been the slightest indication that his coma was lightening in any way and no one, not even his medical team had any illusions about his chances of recovery.
Although not out of the question altogether, after three years with no improvement whatever, hope had faded to a distant dream. If it hadn't been for the fact that Summer's parents were extremely rich and able to pay for private care, he would have been dead by now for although the technology existed it was beyond the reach of all but the very wealthy.
Suzi sat down on the other side of the bed to Eden and thoughtfully stroked Summer's hand. It was warm and soft little sparks danced over both sets of fingers. Sliding her hand under his she curled her fingers around it. It was completely lifeless, just like the rest of him. Holding on tightly she closed her eyes.
"Eden, you know that he's not coming back don't you?"
Eden looked up and smiled. "Don't be silly, Suzi, of course he's coming back."
"It's been three years Eden, three years. Don't you remember what the said at the beginning? Most improvements happen in the first twelve months. After that –"
Eden shook his head stubbornly. "Have faith Suzi. He's going to be okay."
"Okay? Open your eyes Eden; he's in a coma. He's been in a coma for three years. He's not coming back."
"You don't understand," he said patiently. "He promised."
"What do you mean 'he promised'?" she asked.
"We both promised, a long time ago, that if we ever got separated we would always find a way back to each other again. So that's what he's doing; he's coming back to me." He turned again to gaze adoringly at his sleeping beauty, unable to stop himself from touching his face. "They say that he dreams sometimes. But I know what he's doing; he's trying to find his way home."
"You're fooling yourself. What's the point in doing a Degree then wasting it by sitting here for the next three years – or thirty?"
"You're right," he said and for a moment she hoped. Then he smiled again, his eyes consuming every inch of his lover's face. Distantly, he said "It's killed me these last couple of months. I won't do it any more; I won't leave him again."
"You're going to give up?"
"No, that's the point – I'm not going to give up."
"Eden, you're insane. What do your parents say?"
"The same as yours: Summer's too. They've all tried to force me, persuade me, threaten me, beg me but I haven't listened to anyone."
"You never do."
"No, I never do."
"Will you at least spend Christmas with me?"
He looked up and gently shook his head. She could see only a shadow now, of the bright, happy boy he used to be. A part of him had died that day in the park. She was afraid it would take a miracle to see it live again.
"You know that I won't, Suzi. I can't imagine spending Christmas without him; it's our time."
"Eden, it's not healthy; spending Christmas here all alone."
Eden laughed. "Alone? Are you crazy? People are in and out all day. They feed me until I feel sick and insist on talking and playing games and watching TV when all I really want to do is sit and talk to Summer. It's our special time and I like to lie down next to him and tell him everything that's been going on all year. I save up all the best bits. It's the only time I get that close.
"The first year, that time was the only thing that kept me going: to lie there and touch him and talk to him. I don't know if I could have got through if not for that. I've done it every year since and it still gives me hope. Even thinking about it gives me hope."
"But it's not healthy Eden; it's not right. You bring in all the Christmas presents you bought each other and put them under a tree you get from the park and then you lie down and hold him and hope for... what? That he'll wake up and hold you back? It's not going to happen Eden; it's never going to happen."
"Don't say that!" Eden snapped, losing his cool for the first time. "I'm sick and tired to people telling me that. What makes you all think that you know what's best for me? I'm sick of being told what to do and what not to do. It's my life, Suzi and if I want to 'waste' it here I will. I thought that you at least were a good enough friend to accept that and support me."
"I... Eden, of course I'll support you. I'll support you in whatever you want to do. It's just that it's hard for me to see you wasting away here when... I know you believe Eden, I know you do and I think it's wonderful that you've kept your faith in him all this time but... You're not..." She sighed and shook her head. "I'm sorry Eden. You're right; it's your life to spend as you want. If you want to spend it here I'll support you. I'll come and keep you company on Christmas morning and chase everyone away to give you the afternoon."
The smile she received made her feel warm and guilty at the same time.
They were interrupted by a nurse in a crisp white uniform, pushing a trolley which bore a large bowl of hot water, sponges scented oils and huge fluffy towels. Although the electric field could heal and sustain the body it could not clean it and, although he obviously didn't get dirty as such the energy field made him hot and sweaty.
It was Eden's favourite occupation. He had long since taken over from the nurses and when he'd been away he'd spent nights dreaming of it and feeling stabs of jealousy when he thought of nurses touching that beautiful body. He'd almost abandoned the Degree and came home right then.
"I think I'd better go and leave you to it. Are we going to the park on Saturday?"
"You know I am. If you want to come it would be great, but don't feel you have to."
"Of course I have to."
Getting to her feet Suzi bent and kissed Summer gently on the forehead and then walked round to give Eden a hug and more robust kiss. She paused to look down at Summer, with her arm around Eden. "I wish I had your faith Eden. I miss him so much. My life feels empty and..."
Eden put his arm around her waist and briefly rested his head against her hip. "I trust him. I know he's going to come back to me but..." He paused and turned his face towards her, rubbing it against the rough material of her jeans. "Sometimes it's almost unbearable."
She kissed him on the top of his head "I know, hun."
"I hate to see him like this Suzi; it's not right."
Knowing Summer and the energy he'd used to project she understood exactly what he meant. "I know hun. I don't know what to say. I can't tell you it's going to be alright because I don't think it is. I respect your belief but..." Watching the way that Eden was holding Summer's hand, cradling it almost reverentially, his thumb absently caressing the back touched something deep inside and she had to leave. When she reached her car she sobbed.
As soon as Suzi left, the nurse helped Eden manoeuvre a waterproof sheet under Summer, turned off the magnetic field and then left him to it. There was something so intensely personal about washing Summer's face and body that it made Eden feel closer to him than he ever had been and more sure that sometime soon they would be wholly together again.
Carefully rubbing soap into Summer's naked body Eden closed his eyes relishing the silky softness of the skin under his hands. But today, somehow the excitement he usually felt when running his hands over the curves of his lover's body was gone, or at least muted. He didn't feel the usual thrill, the tingle through his fingers when he stroked them over Summer's body. There was something missing and it scared him.
Summer was so still. There was nothing there, no energy, no life, no twitch or tremble. He might as well have been touching a doll, or a lump of clay. He'd never felt that before and the more he tried to find the closeness, to get back the intensity, the more it seemed to be slipping away. Desperately he tried to recover the closeness by stroking his thighs and groin but there was nothing there and in the end he sank down on the seat, lay his head on the bed and wept.
The nurse found him there half an hour later and gently moved him to the sofa and lay the exhausted boy down while she finished bathing and wiping Summer. She felt desperately sorry for them both. She had been working with Summer for about eighteen months and had developed a strong admiration for the devoted boy who spent so much time at his side.
The love between the two boys was undeniable. Eden shone with it and seemed only to be alive when looking into his face. And as for Summer, even deeply unconscious there were subtle changes in the reactions of his body to Eden's presence that made it obvious there was a deep connection between them. Not only that but they were really cute together and there was something about the way that Eden was with Summer that touched her.
Carefully arranging Summer's arms at his sides and smoothing out the bedclothes she caught herself looking into his face and wondering what he was like. He must be something special to have elicited such devotion from his family and friends. He looked like a sweet boy but unconscious it was impossible to tell. Taking a comb from her pocket she combed his hair smooth and straight.
The white streaks were shining silver and she let them run through her fingers. It was getting long now and Eden refused to even consider getting it cut. It had been shaved off for the surgeries on his head after the accident but over three years it had grown back thick and glossy. It was as beautiful as he was. Smoothing the last strands into place she turned and pushed the trolley out of the room.
Three days later Suzi drove Eden to the park to collect the tree. They didn't skate any more, that would have been too much as there were just too many memories there. As it was Eden started crying before they even reached the car park and was sobbing so much as they cut down the tree that Suzi took the axe out of his hand.