Jason saw all of this. As if he was standing in a corner of the room. He saw – more than heard – his mother cry out his name as she ran and tried to reach for him. His father had stopped her, forming a barrier between his wife and their dead son. His face was stoic, jaw and neck tense, and tears ran down his face as he stared emptily at his son.
Neither really noticing the doctor give them his condolences. Nor the nursed as the removed all the tubes and wires from Jason’s body.
Jason wanted to scream. To tell his parents that he wasn't dead. He didn't know how to explain to them that he wasn't when he so clearly was. Jason wanted so much to hold the hand his mother was desperately reaching out to him. He would give anything to ease the tension in his fathers’ jaw and neck, but he could not move.
Jason truly tried to scream, but he could not breathe. He gasped for air. Inhaled as strongly as he could, pulling in every dry breathe he could. He felt like there was a weight was on his chest, keeping his lungs from inflating.
“This has ... to ... be a ... dream,” he choked on the words, clutching at his chest, “it just has to be!”
Jason woke up swallowing a scream, choking on stale air. He started to cough, his chest and throat burning. He covered his mouth with his hand to try and muffle the sound. He didn't want to wake his parents. He winced in pain with each a cough.
Jason felt something moist hit his hand as he coughed. He didn't need to look to know that it was blood. Jason could last the salty, metal tang of it. He tried and failed to fight back a few more coughs and he drew his hand away from his mouth. There was enough light in the room to make out the dark reddish stain on his palm. He inhaled dryly and heavily and cursed as he reached for the box of tissue on his nightstand.
As he was getting his breathing back under control, Jason heard the sound of hurried footsteps coming from down the hall; his parents. He quickly wiped his hand and hid the tissue in the pocket of his pj's. He swung his legs off the bed and made like he was he was about to stand.
“Jason!” His parents called, as his father rushed into the room, Jason’s mother following closely behind.
“Are you ok?!” His mother asked as she hit the light switch and rushed to his side.
His parents were at his bedside before he could answer. He couldn't stand the look of fear and panic on their faces.
“I’m feh-,” his voice was hoarse and dry. “I’m fine,” he lied.
“Don’t lie,” his mother shot back,” we heard you coughing.”
“Did you have another episode?” his father asked, laying a hand on Jason’s shoulder. “I know you don’t want to worry us, but…”
“I’m fine. I just woke up with a dry throat. All I need is a cup of water. That’s it—ok?”
“Jason…” his mother began.
It took a few more lies before his parents gave in and left.
His excuses sounded weak, even to him, but he didn't want his parents to worry. He could see it in their eyes that they wanted to believe him. They wanted to believe that Jason was okay; that their son was not slowly dying before their eyes. Jason wanted to reassure them that he wasn't going to ... at least not tonight.