Celestial Images: Concussed, Confused & Out of Control

by Katherine McNally

Fluttering eyelids. Blue sky, cotton balls. Cotton balls? Clouds, Katherine. Clouds, not cotton balls… Where am I?

Twitching muscles. Green turf, black pellets. Turf? Pellets? Field hockey, Katherine. Field Hockey? What’s happening?

“Do you remember…?” A godly voice booms and rattles through my skull. Remember what?

“Do you remember what day it is?” It’s not God speaking, just a strange man.

“How am I supposed to know what day it is?” I retort. Frustration ignites anger in my voice. I can’t remember what day it is, especially lying here on the ground. Why am I here?

“What is the score of the game, Katherine?” he asks. The game? What game? Is that where I am? On the field. At the game. The game with which I was supposed to impress my coaches. Coach? Oh, there he is, standing over me. Black holes for eyes. Those beady little eyes, staring into my soul with intensity and worry, the kind that leaves a pit of anxiety in the bottom of my stomach.

Black holes for eyes? Cotton balls in the sky? The sky? So strange, these celestial bodies moving in and around my head, up above me, everywhere. Stars in my eyes now, too. Heavenly ignorance to the world around me.

Then I snap back to reality.

They tell me not to sit up, not to move. “I’m fine, I can get up,” I confidently inform the fake God, my coach, and several frightened others who have crowded around me. Their faces are blurry, fluid, and wandering. In and out, in and out, I feel my mind pulsating, pushing to focus and then losing that battle. It’s otherworldly, alienating, really. Why can’t I move? Oh, because it feels like that.

What time is it? Why am I so cold? Why do I feel like I’m going to vomit? Tingles rush down my spine.

Suddenly, that booming voice orders me to perform tests on the side of the silent field. “Excuse me?” I ask childishly, “What do you mean I need to do a series of brain exercises?” Then it hits me: tests—like the chemistry lab I need to complete, the college applications not yet finished, but most definitely due next week. I take enough freaking tests, I think, I’m not even at school right now. “No,” I begin again, “I already told you I think it’s Wednesday but really it could be Tuesday or it could be last year,” I snap, and then I fade out again. Where am I and why am I talking like this…? My thoughts are running rapid laps in my head, back and forth, out of my control. As if from overhead, I witness myself lying on the turf, see the people surrounding my body. Then everything goes fluid, to black, to blank…

That bitch, where the heck is she? Her rhinoceros run, the pounding of her steps right over me. Her force, flipping me backward and around. Landing flat on my back, with a snap of the neck that brings my head to the unforgiving turf. A head rush reverberates within me, but not the good kind. It’s coming back, flooding back, reinvigorating the radiating pulse in my head. She hit me so hard that I flipped backward, through the air, and plummeted to the ground in the least acrobatic of ways, onto my head.That’s what they would tell me later, at least.

Suddenly a jolt, six hands on my back, on my legs, on my arms. “Don’t touch me, don’t move me that way. I don’t even know who you are!” I scream. Why am I like this…I’m never this mean, never this rude. Never this sensitive to the touch.

I look down; green turf, black pellets still there. I look up, blue sky; there are those cotton balls again? Clouds, Katherine, clouds. When they ask you what they are, tell them that they are clouds.

Darting eyes, back and forth, back and forth. Disbelief and worry in their gazes…or in mine? When I squeeze my eyelids shut,,I see the intergalactic innards once again. Salty streams start down my cheeks. There’s pressure in my lungs. I’m drawing breath, short and sharp, short and sharp. I want to scream, but this time I can’t. What’s wrong with me?

With gentle eyes and a soft voice, the unfamiliar man with the booming voice, the God-like protector, outfitted in gray from head to foot, approaches me to calm my wild nerves. “We just need to run a series of tests to make sure your head is A-OK,” he states soothingly. “Everything is going to be just fine.”

I cautiously agree, lift my arm to my face to wipe away the tears. and—on my crisp white sleeve—I see the day’s mascara smudging off. As my makeup runs, my guard comes down. I sit vulnerably on the field bench which has somehow appeared beneath me. The chill of the metal hits me right where my skirt ends and my upper-thighs begin. This sensation makes me tremble; every sense is somehow more fluid, but dulled and confusing.

Everyone is watching me. Why is everyone here? My coach, with his beady, worried eyes and this gray, God-like man with the booming voice who keeps drilling me with questions. Over and over they ask me to repeat a series of words: backwards and frontwards, upwards and downwards. Apples, pillows, elbow, screwdriver? Repeating these phrases is like neuroscience, rocket-science: impossible! “I don’t want to talk to any of you, I’m fine. I’m fine!” I say, with tears flowing. These simple tasks, so effortless for the smart, put-together girl I thought I was, now seem impossible.

Here I am. Disoriented.

Deep breath, Katherine.

Powerless.