Title: Dying Alone.
Author: Girl Who Writes
Characters: Mimi; ensemble.
Word Count: 814.
Rating: PG.
Genre: Angst, tragedy.
Summary: When you're in the hospital long enough, you're going to wake up alone, eventually - you should probably just be happy to wake up at all.
Disclaimer: Rent and all recognizable characters, locations and scenarios belongs to the estate of Jonathon Larson, and I make no profit from this purely fan-based venture.
Spoilers: Musical and movie.
Warnings: Angsty; bizarre new writing style.
Notes: I've had writer's block for ages, and I was so sick of not writing, I forced this out of my unwilling muses for lj's rentchallenge. Experimenting with style, it's influenced a little by the books I've been reading - Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones, and Kevin Brockmeier's The Brief History of the Dead. And I know most of my work lately has focused on Mimi - I have a nice long Roger fic coming soon, I promise :)

When you're in the hospital long enough, you're going to wake up alone, eventually.

But then, if you've been in hospital that long, you should probably just be happy to wake up at all. I know every time I blinked and rolled over, focusing on the beeping sound of the machines keeping me alive, and the anemic blue of the hospital blanket, I breathed a sigh of relief that I wasn't gone yet.

And then my lungs would rebel against me and the machines, and I'd cough, choking, and wonder if I'd only woken up to be the witness of my own death. I try my hardest to suck in as much air as I could between gasps and spluttering, wrapping my arms around my body and I'd wonder how many people died alone.

I expected to die alone. Most likely, I'd be cold, because I'm always cold. But it's easy to say you're 'always cold' during a New York winter – come summer, with the windows flung open and our coats left in a dusty pile in the loft, the cold is pushed to the back of your mind, like your darkest days. I can list the bad times now – my first hit, the day the test results came back positive, withdrawal and days when the cold feels like it's seeping into your bones and no matter how many blankets are piled on top of you, or how close you sit to the tiny little heater, you'll never ever be warm again.

I'd be alone, and I'd be cold. There'd be a fifty percent chance I'd be in my bed, and a fifty percent chance I'd be in the park or on the street. I never decided exactly where. I always thought my level of lucidity would take care of details like that. Where ever I'd be, I'd look up and I'd try to find the stars, which is damned near impossible in the city.

I never pictured I'd be hooked up to machines, wrapped in blankets, with people hovering over me at all moments. I see my friends, the dark circles underlining their eyes, the frown lines around their mouths and the sheer exhaustion in every movement they make, as they slip into this room, and drop into one of those uncomfortable plastic chairs.

I'm too selfish to let myself tell them to go home, get some sleep, have something to eat and come back in a day or two. Because when they do pry themselves from those chairs and leave me alone with the beeping of the machines, the low murmurs of the nurses and the possibility that I'll go to sleep and that it'll be it, I am struck with the sort of complete and utter terror that makes me cry into my pillow, and has the doctor talk in low, soothing tones and administer sedatives that I try to fight; it feels like trying to swim to the surface of a swimming pool, and never breaking the surface.

And the nightmares stalk you – that's from the nurses shining flashlights in your eyes as you sleep, as the drugs pump around your body, as you get sicker and more tired. You stay awake, and you stay alive.

I choke and splutter again, trying my hardest to breathe and my vision swims. An arm props me up as a mask is slid over my face, my hair stroked off of my face.

"You're okay, Miss Marquez." The nurse's voice is reassuring as she helps me lie back down, and turns to press some buttons on the machines. "You sleep now, honey."

My vision is still blurry, but I can make out the doctor at the end of the bed – the white coat with the black hospital insignia – scribbling on my chart. I close my eyes and take a breath, feeling like something is tightening around my chest.

"I'm giving her something to help her sleep." The doctor's voice is low, and reminds me of the nightclubs Roger's been playing in lately. It's interesting how a sound or voice can remind you of an entire place, or event.

"She won't have long now, poor girl."

When you're in the hospital long enough, you're not going to wake up, eventually.

But then, if you've been sick that long, you should probably just be happy that it's all over – that the pain, the suffering and the sheer frustration of a long, slow death is over. The repetitive beeping of the machines is gone, the heaviness in your limbs from lying still for so long, the tightness of your chest as you try not to suffocate – it will all be gone.

The beeping of the machines seemed further away then before, and I breathed a sigh of relief that I was going soon.