The last thing he remembered was lying down, staying still-- and for what felt like an eternity of many days, he doesn’t do anything.
Couldn’t do anything, really. Except cry, whimper helplessly, and wish to die.
He couldn’t even kill himself, because he couldn’t move.
From the neck down, his limbs had lost function. His fingers never twitched.
And underlying everything, the agony never ended. They called it phantom pains, even though it feels like acid is corroding through every vein and rupturing every bone-- there was nothing they could do to stop it because it was psychological.
And when he cried too hard he couldn’t even clear his sinuses on his own.
He was useless. Deadweight. A burden.
On life support.
He remembered the line of flowers by his bedside, the cards his mother would read to him each day, that he stopped listening to.
They always said the same thing, anyways. Something about missing his presence on the field. Condolences for his injury. (Injury. They’re calling this an injury?) Prayers for that miracle he needs to get well.
(Because he needs a miracle or he’ll never play again.)
Fate has a way of playing pranks on the earnest ones.
They see a star, rising up in the spotlight, basking in the cheers of his success, reveling in the fruits of his hardest efforts--
And it will bring that very spotlight down, physically shattering his cranium and rupturing his spine in what people would call a freak incident .
And that very star will remain strapped to a bed for the rest of his life, spun around every half day to avoid bedsores, rotting alive because everything below his neck was paralysed.
Fate has a way of being a total piece of shit.
Simply staring at the screen of a television that grew boring over time, he breathed, breathed, and simply, only breathed .
Maybe he still dreamed of the court. Maybe inside him, somewhere, he imagined leaping for the ball, stilling at the whistle, and cheering loudly in exhilaration when the ball shudders through the hoops. Or crying in upset when they ultimately lose a match.
Maybe something inside him wants to feel the warmth of those hugs, the love of those interlaced fingers.
Perhaps, that was why he woke up.
For a painful second, he feels his limbs again. He squeezes his fingers into a fist and curls his toes and he gets out of the bed-- and he’s standing .
Maybe his hands are a little smaller than he remembers, but he hasn’t seen them in a while, so he doesn’t think much of it.
He palms his own face, hugs himself, and he realizes this feeling on his skin is warmth . He feels the pulsing of his heart through his arteries and--
--and he drops to his knees and cries .
Runs stronger, faster than the wind, and feel the breath of winter break through his lungs almost painfully, but his heart tells him he hasn’t had enough.
Tucked into an indigo jersey he found, he ignores how his hair is much longer-- bluer -- than he remembers, and races himself across the streets that aren’t familiar.
He doesn’t recognize the towns, but somehow, he can read the language of the words-- it’s Japanese, he knows a little of it from his international games.
He’s not sure where he is, but he only wants one thing.
He yearns so deeply for only one thing right now and he’s willing to shove aside common sense just so he can go for it, go for it before this illusion breaks apart and he wakes up from a dream he will call a nightmare.
Before this-- this whatever it was, stops working.
He’s barefoot. But the pain from scrapes and blisters are nothing compared to the crescendo of agony he’s so accustomed to. This is nothing.
He scoops up a discarded basketball in an outdoor court, resting the weight in his hands just a little longer than necessary-- then he throws it down and catches it when it bounces back up. He dribbles towards the goal post on the opposing end, anchors a foot to the ground-- and he soars.
He can’t reach the hoop like he usually does, but he swings back and hurls.
It swirls around the rim, and sinks in.
He lands on the ground, and his breathing is laboured. His heart palpitates so rapidly he’s never heard it beat so quickly in years. His eyes burn with tears and the icy air almost hurts to breathe in. His hands are red, numb and shivering from the effort; his knees tremble like a newborn lamb. Yet the smile on his face is so wide.
He realizes he loves it. He misses it so much.
He misses mobility, activity, and something as simple as moving and running and-- and feeling empowering his every nerve.
Power surging through each and every shove and push, he drags his arm back, skids his feet around, turns and leaps-- and repeat.
In time he’s lying on the ground, eyes on the sky so impossibly filled with stars. His hair so long, it’s sprawled across his figure and wrapping around his lithe build.
There are friction burns between his fingers. Burning scratches under his feet.
But through it all the stars are so beautiful, the moonlight is so gentle on his skin, the sores he feels around his body feels so good and different and-- and so, so right .
If this was a spell, he would never want to wake up. Set free from the bonds of a quadriphlegic nightmare, this little nighttime excursion is like a dream come true.
He can play basketball again and it sounds so scarily impossible.
Father Lord, we pray for healing. For a miracle, that you would restore him.
He’d heard so many of those sermons. One of them told him he would stand up again. Another told him he may not-- but surely, there was another purpose for him. The skeptics blamed him for not believing enough-- that’s why he wasn’t healed yet. Another had dared to accuse him of a vital crime of sorts-- whatever she had been trying to make him repent for, the nurses chased her out before she could cause more of a ruckus.
And the last told him this.
That he would stand again, but it will not be down in the mortal world of sin and corruption.
Restoration would come after death, that one promised, but that one wasn’t sure if it would be in heaven or something else. Maybe in the waiting place, wherever it was. However it was. He didn’t claim to understand it fully-- after all, he’s never died before!
That had been the first day in years he’d cracked a chortle through the pain in his chest.
That man had been the nicest man among all those unwanted visitors. But he never came back-- maybe mother didn’t like him because he was a preacher. He was a fun guy.
After so long of just laying there, appreciating the cold cement under his skin and the throbbing ache of adrenaline in his brain, he realizes this isn’t a dream. This isn’t an illusion, nor is it temporary or a figment of his daydream--
This is life .
He sits up, and looks at his hands that aren’t just thin and malnourished-- they’re young . Couldn’t be older than six or seven years old, this was a child’s body.
His memories told him he was almost turning thirty in a few months. So what is this?
Something in him answers almost immediately.
This is a Miracle.