The Girl in a Coma

Free The Girl in a Coma by John Moss

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Authors: John Moss
power to enforce God’s laws. But King George was losing the battle. So my family came north to Upper Canada because the King was still in charge up here and everyone was free—slavery was against the law here, over seventy years before it was illegal in the United States.
    Upper Canada became the Province of Ontario in the Dominion of Canada. And I became a vegetable in a hospital in Peterborough, with a bullet hole in my brain.
    I don’t think Russell Miller wanted to hurt me. I’ve decided it must have been Russell Miller. He just wanted me dead.
    In his screwed up mind, then I would be his.
    But he would have had to kill himself to join me. I wonder if he thought of that?
    Good question, Allison. When I get better, I’ll have to ask a shrink. Meanwhile, he watches over me. Russell does. It must be him. I don’t know what he’s told the night nurses. They must know he’s here.
    They probably think he’s my long lost lover, on a deathwatch .
    Rebecca and her people had their God. I have Russell Miller.
    But what about the witness, the other guy in the car, the guy who yelled “Stop?” Where’d he get to? Maybe I just made him up, maybe I want to imagine Russell has a conscience, so in my memory I’ve created the other guy to try and save me. He’s what they call a figment of my imagination. I thought of fig newton cookies when Mrs. Muratori first told us about making up things on purpose. She could have just said, “intentional hallucination.” Sometimes words have no meaning, sometimes they mean too much.
    I’m thinking in circles, like a figure skater going faster and faster as the circles get tighter, the closer I get to the truth.
    I’m drifting off to sleep. Where is he? It must be evening. Yeah, David was here a couple of hours ago. My mom didn’t come in.
    The door into the hall opens and closes. I can feel the air in the room moving. I can hear him breathe.
    His breathing is getting louder.
    Is this it, Allison? Is this the end?
    The breathing is slowing down. He must be sitting in a chair. I listen and listen. Good grief, he’s snoring.
    My night stalker is asleep.
    He snores again.
    Oh, my good glory! I’d recognize that snore in a hailstorm.
    It’s Jaimie Retzinger.
    By the time Washington’s army reached Philadelphia in pursuit of the British, Rebecca was trudging through familiar landscape. She had found Madge to say goodbye but missed Edward. Madge had put together a respectable outfit for her from borrowed clothes and packed up some brown bread and fillets of smoked fish caught in the Schuykill River. She had hugged her when they parted, like Rebecca was her own daughter.
    As Rebecca entered familiar country, she thought about her mission. She knew enough of the world by now to realize it would do no good to announce Jacob’s innocence, simply because he didn’t know his father was dead. Peter Jonas had told her to follow the horse. Somehow, Old Bess could prove that Jacob had committed no crime—apart from leaving his community, defying their God, and joining the forces of a great revolution.
    Rebecca stopped at the end of the long lane into her family’s farm. She was wearing a blue muslin skirt and a blouse of light green cotton. She had the gray woolen shawl, the one she had taken with her when she left home, draped over her shoulder.
    The fields were lying fallow. They hadn’t been plowed or planted. The barn doors were open. In the distance, she could see her brothers and sisters. Daniel, Luke, and Matthias. Sarah, Rachel, and Ruth. Christian would still be away in Massachusetts, studying at Bible College in Concord outside Boston.
    They were busy loading up two Conestoga wagons. Her mother came out of the house and gazed in her direction. Her mother waved.
    It was a friendly wave to a stranger. Rebecca knew it would not have crossed her mother’s mind that her own daughter was

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