The first week, everyone visited. Everyone who knew her and worked with her and claimed to be her friend arrived at the hospital. Her parents recognized few faces but drew some comfort from the thought their daughter had made a difference in so many lives. Her sister started limiting length of stay and considered a rota system.
The second week, her bruises had paled and the visits tailed off. Tubes and machines weren’t as exciting as blood and scarring but those who didn't manage last week came along. This week her mother knew more of the faces, but she didn't trust her mind on how long she’d recognized them. They can’t all have been in her life all the time, even if it seemed as such. There was the best friend and the boss and the work friend. Nobody knew if there was a boyfriend but they guessed not.
The third week her mother had little company to listen to the beeps with. She read to her, mostly. Read the books they shared at bedtime years before hoping they would reach into her sleep and touch a memory. Read those because she couldn't quite remember when her daughter had last named a book she owned. And read those because 50 Shades of anything was hardly ICU reading. She read the Famous Five and the Secret Seven, not aware it would have been one or the other, never both that a young child liked.
The fourth week only family came, except from a single visitor from her office. She stayed only a short while and placed a note from the boss about return to work policies on the cabinet. The best friend counted as family now and she came every day so her mother could go outside in the daylight, even just for a few minutes. Her mother still read to her, beginning the same stories again and again just like she had when she was a child.
The fifth week apparently started but nobody really noticed. It was always one long present day with dark and night merely variations. She woke up on that day, not just a flickering eyelid and twitching finger, but properly awake. “I knew you were there Mum,” she said. “I could hear you and feel you touch my hand. I wasn’t scared because of you.”