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Chester's Short Story: Where Am I?

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When Chester next opened his eyes, he felt almost like himself. He felt alert and clear-headed. The pain was only a persistent ache, rather than unbearable agony. The ceiling above was sharp and crisp and he smelled eggs. Voices were talking quietly on the other side of the curtain.

“Hello?” he spoke in a dry, cracking voice. He hated the sound of it. His voice sounded like it had a year before when his voice first started to deepen. It made him feel like an especially large bullfrog pretending it were human. He hated having no control over his own voice, so much of his life was outside his control already.I love all of this; the descriptions that were used have 'shown' me this reader, many things. Chester's age, and his feeling of not
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Did it… Am I?”

He trailed off again, the question becoming a lump in his throat as he tried to find the words to complete it. Was he going to die? Was his brain damaged? Would he be able to live a normal life? Most importantly, the detail that would help him know if he’d really heard their thoughts or just imagined it: Was there a metal plate in his head?

Chester floundered on his words, trying unsuccessfully to swallow the lump in his throat as he looked between his parents. Finally, after what felt like an eternity, his father spoke gruffly, “The doctor said you’ll be fine, boy. You’ve just got to heal. They said when you could talk, you could move to a lower priority room, start getting ready to come home in a few more days.”

Chester nodded slowly at that, swallowing another time. He focused on breathing deeply and slowly to hold onto his tenuous composure. His question wasn’t answered, not the one that would tell him if he were mad. He almost didn’t want to know. Would it be better not to ask if there was a metal plate in his head? After all, if they said there was not, it would be proof that he was
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She smiled sadly and said, in a voice of false cheer, “You’re gonna be even more hard headed, Chessy. They put a big metal plate in your head.”

The false cheer didn’t last. By the time she reached the word ‘metal’ she was already tearing up again, and the final word turned directly into a choked sob as she turned and buried her face in her husband’s shoulder. The burly man moved to soothe her, resting one hand in her hair as he murmured to her.

Chester was too stunned to watch them. He began to calm down as the realization sunk in. He could hear their thoughts. The possibilities seemed endless. He’d have to think, he hated to make decisions recklessly. Quietly, Chester began to eat. Soon, his mother calmed enough that they were able to spend the afternoon together without further weeping. He was distracted with ideas of how his life might change, much of the time. Maybe high school wouldn’t be so bad, anymore. His parents forgave him his withdrawal. He was traumatized, after all. Very easy to
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