Tim C Taylor copyright 2012
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The first week after the car crash had taken a fortnight—each second of the coma-clock dragging and echoing in the hospital ward. The hours crawled, punctuated by their imagined flutter of John’s eyes and the frequent trips to the café or toilet. Occasionally one of the three men would stretch and go for a leak and return hoping, even half expecting, to see John sitting up and chatting with the other two. The changes in nursing shifts were unwelcome reminders that time was grinding on and John still had not woken.
Andy, Tom and Leon sat in ICU, sometimes in shifts but mostly together, occupying three chairs, one borrowed from the bed next door. They were a forlorn, unshaven trio of old jeans and faded t-shirts. In a strange way, their banal attempts at individualism identified them as a single unit.
Leon wore his clothes like a coat hanger. The letters across his white T-shirt appeared and disappeared in a concertina of material that on a larger chest would have revealed the once iconic slogan, ‘Free Nelson Mandela.’ His face was a mass of pimples, lips drawn together in a perpetual pucker which containing a pool of spittle held in place by a miraculous meniscus. Although Leon had been an adult for a year now—they were all there when his mum told him what to say at his eighteenth—they all treated him as a bit of a kid brother and sometimes-lap-dog. They looked after Leon, the way mates do; he enjoyed the status afforded by a friendship with older men.