• He won't open his eyes. The shapes and shadows are far too frightening. He would much prefer the darkness, the safety that lies behind his eyelids. If he opens his eyes now, he knows he will see nothing but blurred images, colors and shapes and space and time all merging together. He does not want to be reminded that he is dying.

    Sometimes he feels himself slipping, and knows it is for the best. He lets go and allows himself to be pulled into the abyss that was waiting, always waiting, just beneath him. Though he has given himself over to it entirely, he is always pulled back up towards the light, towards the world he was only a moment ago glad to leave. Back to the pain, of course, and yet back to life at the same time. He understands and expects no more. Life is pain, after all. Why should this be considered any different?

    Therefore he does not fight the hand that saves him. He has no strength to fight anything anymore, whether it be death or life. He considers himself at the mercy of both. It is perhaps a gratuitous thing that he does not recognize this particular hand that sweeps his forehead or rests on his cheek, jolting him to life and reminding him of the existence of sensation. He has the feeling that it is someone that he knew before he got sick. The idea that he has forgotten a person he once knew so well pains him, and he never entertains it for long. Whoever they are, they certainly remember him. They touch him as if they had touched him in the exact same manner every day since the dawn of creation. Perhaps he has been sick for just that long. He can not tell. The fever has blocked out all but the present moment.

    He wishes he could see them, and then perhaps remember them. He can not, however, because he does not want to open his eyes. It would be far too frightening, and only remind him that he is dying. Even if he took the risk, he would not see them. He would only see shadows.

    The hand was not gentle and weak, but strong and experienced. He imagined that it could hold the weight of the entire world if it were given the task. At least it held up his own world, prevented it from being dropped and shattered all over the ground. He knew he would not be able to hold on much longer. He feared that a time would soon come when not even the touch of salvation could make him resurface. He wasn't afraid. He didn't want to float in a feverish cloud for all of eternity, and knew that he would not be able to even if it were his desire. He also knew that he might be able to heal one day, if he had the strength. Of course, he didn't. The hand could perhaps lend him some strength. It may be able to guide him and support him on his way to recovery.

    But he knew more than anything that such wishful thinking would get him killed faster than doing nothing at all. One day he would sink and never rise again. It was only inevitable.