She steps a little to the side, so I can take a look inside. As I do so, I gasp silently. His head is wrapped up. There is a tube coming out of his mouth. An IV is connected to his right arm. The machines in the room, next to his bed, are beeping steadily. I press my hand to my lips.
I remember getting my appendix out when I was a girl. I was petrified of the operation, and even more so because they said that neither of my parents could spend the night at the hospital. They could be there all day, but at night, they’d needed to let me rest. My mom promised me all the ice cream I could eat once I got out. And, she made good on that promise. But, dad didn’t say anything. He just stared at me in my hospital pajamas and at the place where the wound was, underneath the covers. He didn’t speak much, but he hugged me and kissed me much more than usual. I never thought much of it before. But, now, it all makes sense.
Seeing your loved one in this situation brings out something in you, something primal, some primordial fear about the fleetingness of life, and the fact that it takes one single second to erase us from the chronicles of this life. It’s that easy. And, while you’re walking the streets out in the world, this knowledge is in the back of your mind. You barely pay any attention to it. But, when you’re at the hospital, the constant reminders are there, right in front of you, and no matter how hard you want to close your eyes, they don’t go away.
“Will he be OK?” I ask, sounding like it’s not a question for her, but for the Universe. Only this time, the nurse speaks for it.
“He has everything going for him,” she replies vaguely, but her smile soothes me.
“Thank you,” I take her by the hand.
I quickly let go, realizing how unprofessional that must be, but my gratitude is immense and a mere thank you in words wouldn’t be enough.
“Can I come tomorrow?” I ask her.
“It’s best if you rest,” she advises me. “I don’t know what’s happened, but you all look like you’ve been through Hell and back. Just go home and try to get some rest. We have your contact info, and if there is any change, we shall notify you immediately.”
The last thing I want to do right now is leave my father again. But, I know there is no point in me staying here at the hospital, just waiting. I need to rest. My body has become numb, but once the sensations come back to me, I’ll probably be in a world of pain.
“You’re right,” I nod. “That’s what I’ll do.”
“You can find your own way back?”
“Of course,” I smile. “And, thank you again.”
I turn and walk down the hallway, towards the elevator. I press the button, allowing the exhaustion to take over. Not even those crappy hospital coffees are helping any longer. What I need is a nice, long shower and my own bed.
I wonder if I can sleep in my bed now. Is the nightmare finally over? Am I finally safe?
I reach the lower floors, and see Fynn and Anderson still there. Their presence doesn’t surprise me. I walk over to them, with a smile on my face.
“How bad is it?” Anderson is the first to ask.
“Pretty bad,” I nod. “He looks like a hospital puppet.”
e’ll be fine,” Anderson smiles. “If I know Hugo, and I do… trust me.”
Fynn walks over to us. He looks embarrassed. It’s the look he had when Anderson told him that he was behaving like an asshole, and Fynn knew Anderson was right.
“Listen – “ he starts, but I won’t let him.
I shake my head. I take him by the hand, and I take Anderson’s hand with my other.
“This isn’t the time for more explanations or apologies or anything like that. I just need you guys to take me home. My home. Can you do that for me?”
Anderson looks over at Fynn, then back at me.
“Girl, I thought you’d never ask.”
We drive back home, and I unlock the door. The familiar smell hits my nostrils. It smells like home. It smells like the carpet mom bought when she and dad went to Turkey on their honeymoon. It smells like the old leather chair that dad never wanted to get rid of because it belonged to some important finance guy dad always looked up to, and then found that chair on some charity auction, then paid a ton of money for it, even though it wasn’t worth even half of that. It smells like our bookshelf, like the potted plants on the window sill, still surviving and blossoming, despite everything.
“Everything OK?” Anderson asks, seeing that I just opened the door, but I’m not going in.