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Point of retreat, p.29

  Point of Retreat, p.29

   part  #2 of  Slammed Series

Point of Retreat
 


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  “Kel,” I say, shaking him awake. “I’m going to get something to drink. Do you want anything?”

  He nods. “Coffee.”

  He must not be a morning person…just like his sister. When I pass the nurses’ station, one of the nurse’s calls my name. I back step and she holds out her hand. “These will help your head,” she says. “Your mother said you needed them.”

  I laugh. My mother. I pop the pills into my mouth and swallow them and head to find coffee. The double doors in the lobby open as I pass them, sending a swarm of cold air around me. I stop and look outside, then decide some fresh air might do me some good. I take seat on a bench under the awning. Everything’s so white. The snow is still falling. I wonder how bad our driveways will be by the time we get back home?

  I don’t know how it happens; how the thought even creeps its way into my head…but for a second I wonder what would happen to everything in Lake’s house if she dies. She doesn’t have any family to finalize anything for her. To finalize her banks accounts, her bills, her insurance, her possessions. We aren’t related and Kel’s only eleven. Would they even let me do that for her? Would I even legally be allowed? Am I even legally allowed to keep Kel? As soon as the thoughts register in my mind, I force them back. It’s pointless thinking like this, because it isn’t going to happen. I get pissed at myself for letting my mind get carried away, so I head back inside to get the coffee.

  ***

  When I return to the waiting room, Dr. Bradshaw is sitting with Kel. They don’t notice me right away. He's telling Kel a story. Kel's laughing, so I don't interrupt him. It's nice to hear Kel laugh. I stand outside the door and listen.

  “Then when my mother told me to go get the box to bury the cat, I told her there was no need. I’d already brought him back to life,” Dr. Bradshaw says. “It was that moment, after I resuscitated that kitten, I knew I wanted to be a doctor when I grew up.”

  “So you saved the kitten?” Kel asks him.

  Dr. Bradshaw laughs. “No. He died again a few minutes later. But I had already made up my mind by then,” he says.

  Kel laughs. “Well, at least you didn’t want to be a veterinarian.”

  “No, clearly I’m not cut out for animals.”

  “Any news?” I walk into the room and hand Kel his coffee. Dr. Bradshaw stands up.

  “We’ve still got her under anesthesia. We were able to run some tests. I’m still waiting on the results, but you can see her for a few minutes.”

  “Now? We can see her? Right now?” I’m gathering up my things as I reply.

  “Will…I can’t let anyone else in,” he says. He looks down at Kel, then back at me. “She still hasn’t been moved from recovery yet…I’m not even supposed to let you in. But I’m doing some rounds and thought I’d let you walk with me.”

  I look at Kel. I want to beg Dr. Bradshaw to let me take Kel with us, but I know he’s already doing me a huge favor. “Kel, if I’m not back before you leave with Sherry, I’ll call you.”

  He nods. I expect him to argue about not getting to go with me, but I think he understands. The fact that he’s being so reasonable fills me with a sense of pride. I bend over and hug him and kiss him on top of the head. “I’ll call you. As soon as I hear anything, I’ll call you.” He nods again. I reach over and grab something from my satchel, then turn back toward the door.

  I follow Dr. Bradshaw past the nurse’s station, through the doors and down the hall to the double doors that lead to the surgery area. Before we go any further, he takes me into a room where we both wash our hands. When we get to her door, I can barely catch my breath. I’m so nervous. My heart is about to explode through my chest.

  “Will…you need to know a few things first. She’s on a ventilator to help her breathe, but only because we’ve got her in a medically-induced coma. There’s no chance of her waking up right now with the amount of medicine we’re giving her. Most of her head is bandaged. She looks worse than she feels…we’re keeping her comfortable. I’ll allow you a few minutes with her, but that’s all I can give you right now. Understand?”

  I nod.

  He pushes open the door and lets me in.

  As soon as I see her, I struggle to breathe. It’s like all of the air is knocked from my lungs when the reality of the moment hits me. The ventilator sucks in a rush of air and releases it again. With each repetitive sound of the machine, it’s like my hope is being pushed out of me.

  I walk to her bed and take her hand. It’s cold. I kiss her forehead. I kiss it a million times. I just want to lay down with her, hug her. There are too many wires and tubes and cords running everywhere. I pull the chair up next to the bed and interlock her fingers with mine. It's getting hard to see her through my tears, so I have to wipe my eyes on my shirt. She looks so peaceful…like she's just taking a nap.

  “I love you, Lake,” I whisper. I kiss her hand.

  “I love you,” I whisper again.

  “I love you.”

  The covers are pulled tightly around her and she's got a hospital gown on. Her head is wrapped in a bandage but most of her hair is hanging down around her neck. I'm relieved they didn't cut all of her hair. She'd be pissed. The ventilator tube is taped over her mouth, so all I can do is kiss her cheek. I know she can’t hear me, but I talk to her anyway.

  “Lake, you have to pull through this. You have to.” I stroke her hand. “I can’t live without you.” I turn her hand over and kiss her palm, then press it against my cheek. The feel of her skin against mine is surreal. For a moment, I wasn’t sure if I’d ever feel it again. I close my eyes and I kiss her palm again and again. I sit there and cry and kiss the only parts of her I can over and over.

  “Will,” Dr. Bradshaw says. “We need to go now.”

  I stand up and kiss her on the forehead. I take a step back, then take a step forward again and kiss her hand. I take two steps back, then walk two steps toward her again and kiss her cheek.

  Dr. Bradshaw takes my arm. “Will, we need to go.”

  I turn around and take a few steps toward the door. “Wait,” I say. I put my hand in my pocket. I pull out her purple hair clip and walk back to her bed. I open her hand and place it in her palm and close her fingers over it, then kiss her on the forehead again before we leave.

  ***

  The rest of the morning drags by. Kel left with Sherry. Eddie was discharged. She wanted to stay with me but Gavin and Joel wouldn’t let her. All I can do now is wait. Wait and think. Think and wait. That’s all I can do. That’s all I do.

  I wander the halls for a while. I can’t keep sitting in that waiting room. I’ve spent way too much of my life in there….and in this hospital. I was here for six solid days after my parent’s died when I stayed with Caulder. I don’t remember much from those six days. We were both in a daze, not really believing what was happening. Caulder hit his head in the wreck and broke his arm. I’m not sure his injuries were near extensive enough to warrant six days in the hospital, but the staff seemed like they didn’t feel comfortable just letting us go. Two orphans, into the wild.

  Caulder was only seven at the time so the hardest part was all the questions he had. I couldn’t get it through to him that we weren’t going to see them again. I think that six day hospital stay is why I hate pity so much. Every single person that spoke to me felt sorry for me, and I could see it in their eyes. I could hear it in their voices.

  I was here with Lake for two months off and on when Julia was sick. When Kel and Caulder would stay at my grandparents, Lake and I would stay here with Julia. Lake stayed most nights, in fact. When Kel wasn’t with me, he was here with them. By the end of Julia’s first week here, Lake and I ended up bringing a blow-up mattress. Hospital furniture is the worst. They asked us to remove the mattress from the room a few times. Instead, we would just deflate it every morning and then blow it up again every night. We noticed they weren’t so quick to ask us to remove it when we were asleep on it.

  Out of all the nights I’ve spe
nt here, there’s something different about it this time. Something worse. Maybe it’s the absence of finality…the lack of knowledge. At least after my parent’s had died and Caulder was here, I didn’t question anything. I knew they were dead. I knew Caulder was going to be okay. Even with Julia we knew her death was inevitable. We weren’t left with questions while we waited…we knew what was happening. But this time…this time is much harder. It’s so hard not knowing.

  ***

  As soon as I begin to doze off, Dr. Bradshaw walks in. I sit up in my chair, but he takes a seat next to me so I don’t stand.

  “We’ve moved her to a room in ICU. You’ll be able to visit her in an hour during visiting hours. The scans look good. We’ll try easing her off the anesthesia over time and see what happens. It’s still touch and go, Will. Anything can happen at this point. Getting her to respond to us is our priority now.”

  I can feel the relief wash over me, but a new sense of worry creeps in just as fast. “Does…” It feels like my throat is squeezed shut when I try to speak. I grab my bottle of water off the table in front of me and take a drink, then try again to speak. “Does she have a chance? At recovery?”

  He sighs. “I can’t answer that. The brain is the most delicate organ in the body. Right now the scans show normal activity, but that may not mean anything when it comes to trying to wake her up. Then again, it could mean she’ll be perfectly fine. Until that moment, we won’t know.” He stands up. “She’s in room five in ICU. Wait until one o’clock before you head down there.”

  I nod. “Thank you.”

  As soon as I hear him round the corner, I grab my things and run as fast as I can in the opposite direction to ICU. The nurse doesn't ask any questions when I walk in. I act like I know exactly what I’m doing and head straight to room five.

  There aren't as many wires this time. She's still hooked up to the ventilator and she's got an I.V. in her left wrist. I walk around to the right side of her bed and pull the rail down. I climb into the bed with her and wrap my arm around her and lay my leg over her legs. I take her hand in mine and I close my eyes...

  ***

  "Will," Sherry says. I jerk my eyes open and she's standing on the other side of Lake's bed.

  I stretch my arms out above my head. "Hey," I whisper.

  "I brought you some clothes. And your vase. Kel was still asleep, so I just let him sleep. I hope that's okay. I'll bring him back later when he wakes up."

  "Yeah, that's fine. What time is it?"

  She looks at her watch. "Almost five," she says. "The nurse said you've been asleep for a couple of hours."

  I push my elbow into the bed and lift myself up. My arm is asleep. I slide off the bed and stand up and stretch again.

  "You do realize visitors are only allowed fifteen minutes," she says. "They must like you."

  I laugh. "I'd like to see them try to kick me out," I say. I walk over to the chair and sit. The worst thing about hospitals is the furniture. The beds are too small for two people. The chairs are too hard for any people. And there’s never a recliner. If they would just have a recliner, I might not detest it so much.

  "Have you eaten anything today?" she asks.

  I shake my head.

  "Come downstairs with me. I'll buy you something to eat."

  "I can’t. I don't want to leave her," I say. "They've been reducing her meds. She could wake up."

  "Well, you need to eat. I'll grab you something and bring it back up."

  "Thanks," I say.

  "You should at least take a shower. You've got dried blood all over you. It's gross." She smiles at me and starts to head out the door.

  "Sherry. Don't bring me a hamburger, okay?"

  She laughs.

  After she’s gone, I stand up and walk to the vase. I take out a star and crawl back in the bed with Lake. "This one's for you, Babe." I unfold the star and read it.

 
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