Oh no, she thought, not again. I’m down the rabbit hole, and know neither how I arrived nor how to escape. She looked up at the two concerned faces peering down at her. Peering down? Ah, I’m lying on the floor; but how did I get here? Lily blinked.
“Lily?” Asked one of the faces. Steve, Lily’s brain supplied, his name is Steve. “Lily, are you ok?” She didn’t answer. The two faces, Steve and the other face, shared a look with each other. The other face gently touched her on the arm, shaking her as if to rouse her somehow. The feeling of those light fingers on her arm was absolutely electrifying. The touch was familiar, but Lily still couldn’t place the face.
“Can she hear us, do you think?” Asked Steve.
“I think she can. I don’t think she’s come all the way back into her body yet,” said the other face.
It was infuriating! Who was he and why did he seem so familiar? Lily thought furiously. She imagined she was furrowing her brow, but based on the expressions of the two men looking down at her, her facial muscles hadn’t moved an inch. Why couldn’t she speak or move? What happened?
“What?” exclaimed Steve. “What do you mean she hasn’t come all the way back to her body? Nothing like this was supposed to happen. You said that this would be safe!”
“It is, I mean, people don’t usually react like this, but I know Lily, she’s going to be ok. I know she’s in there, somewhere.”
It is a very uncomfortable situation to have people talking about you without being able to respond, thought Lily. There was nothing she could do about it though. She would just have to trust that the other face was right, and that her consciousness and essence would fill up her (currently inanimate) frame, and she would become a functioning human being again.
Steve stood up suddenly. He began to pace, running his fingers through his hair. The other face remained in Lily’s field of vision. He was staring at her intently, his eyes probing her own, searching for a spark of herself. His expression was inscrutable; the dark brown eyes contained an expression in them that Lily did not recognize. His hand remained on her arm.
“Jonathan! We have to do something! We can’t just leave her there, lying on the floor!”
Lily’s consciousness quivered at the sound of his name. Jonathan! That’s right. They were partners. Partners and?
“We are doing something. We’re giving her time.”
“I’m not going to be held accountable for this.”
Jonathan hadn’t moved. He had found it difficult to move away from Lily, but Steve was beginning to annoy him. He pressed Lily’s arm firmly before standing to approach Steve. They stood so that Lily could only see part of their shins if she focused really hard.
“Steve, you’re only here because Lily thought you would be able to appreciate our work. I always thought she gave you too much credit, and now it seems that I was right. You knew the risks; Lily knew the risks. I tell you she is going to be fine. If you can’t pull yourself together I’m going to have to ask you to leave.” Lily tried to expand her line of sight. She wanted to watch this confrontation. It was a futile exercise. Her eyes were beginning to hurt, so she resigned herself to looking up at the ceiling and just listening.
“ You don’t know that,” said Steve flatly.
“I don’t know what?” Returned Jonathan coolly.
“You don’t know she’s going to be ok.”
“I’m just telling the truth.”
“You don’t know anything. Get out.” Lily could hear the ice in Jonathan’s voice. She imagined that she shivered, but in reality, her body probably didn’t do anything.
“Fine.” Lily heard a set of feet scuffle along the floor. They paused, a door creaked open, slammed shut, and then they were gone. She heard Jonathan walk back to her prone form. His face entered her field of vision and there was terrible pain in his eyes. He knelt down next to her and grasped her hand.
“Maybe he was right. Maybe we were fools.”
No! Lily wanted to cry out. No! It was worth it! But she still could not speak. She felt a tear of frustration run down her cheek.
“We played with time, and now only time will tell.”