The car must have rolled a dozen times before it came to a stop at the bottom of the ravine. The only survivor a thirteen year old male, unconscious
and with massive injuries. He was airlifted to the nearest hospital and there he lay in a coma for three weeks. When he finally awoke to the panic of
bright lights, a tube in his throat and all sorts of needles and wires attached to him, the duty nurse very nearly had to sedate the boy as his heart
rate soared into dangerous territory.
Over the next several weeks he came to learn that his mother, father and little sister had died in the crash which the Highway patrol had attributed
to his father's high blood alcohol level. He was denied even the small comfort of being able to blame someone else for ripping his family and his
world away. He overcame the debilitating fear and depression of finding he had no sensation in his legs...Of learning to use his left hand for all the
things his right, now missing, had been used for previously....The nurses were kind, sad faced angels who looked on the broken being with compassion,
but little hope and it started to occur to him that there was no one left. Both his mother and his father had been only children, there weren't any
uncles or aunts to claim him, no friends of his parents visiting to tell him he would be living with them. A counsellor told him he would probably go
to state care and that “hey, it's really pretty neat in the homes, kid, you might just like it.” With that insincere cheerfulness of one who knows
that the real truth is sometimes just too bitter a pill to swallow,
It was after one of these meetings, a day before Thanksgiving, when one of the nurses he hadn't seen before suggested she take him down to meet some
other kids for a few hours. He wasn't keen, his brown eyes dark and brooding as she wheeled him down the long corridors, seemingly never ending until,
with a suddenness that almost took his breath away, he saw the sign above the double doors. “Pediatric Oncology” He was a clever boy and his brows
knitted as he wondered what the hell she thought she was doing bringing him here. He looked down at his dead knees, covered by the blue blanket as she
pushed him through, the hum of the air conditioning a constant thrum that he thought was keeping the building alive in a similar way to the
ventilators keeping people alive in some of the wards.
He sighed quietly on rolling into the common room. Cringed at the desperate cheerfulness in the nurse's voice as she introduced him to the other staff
and the dozen or so kids around the place. Some laying in day beds, some in chairs like his, some up and walking about. He shared a look with them,
that jaded slight raise of the chin and barely perceptible curl of a lip that said “Hey, I suppose we gotta humour them, eh?” Just as he was
wondering how long he would have to be an interloper in this place he was aware of her leaving him and only just resisted the urge to turn in panic
and call after her.
He focussed in front of him, muttering a resigned, “Hi” to a group who neither needed nor wanted to get to know him and felt his heart lurch as a
strange voice near his ear said “Jenny said she was bringing us someone to pad out our Thanksgiving dinner..You don't look like much of a dancer
though. I'm Sophie, ya been in the wars huh?” And without another word, she took the handles of his chair and wheeled him into the centre of a
group of five other kids. He looked around in shock at the expressions ranging from bored to slightly interested on the faces of the four boys and one
girl. The names just rattled past him and he barely put each to a face before Sophie spun him around and continued the introductions. She was
obviously the leader down here, among the kids, anyway and when she had finished, she took him back to the first group and put him between a couple of
chairs while she sat in front of him on a low table.
She looked a little punky, with her spiky black hair tipped blue and dark eyeliner. A little older than him and waaaay out of his league he thought,
even before his accident and he smiled self consciously, just enjoying feeling the way he did right now. A way he hadn't felt in what seemed a
lifetime. Her blue eyes sparkled as she gave him a rundown on everyone he'd just been shown to and promptly forgotten and though she smiled, he saw
the light fade in her eyes and noticed her breathing become laboured.
“You OK?” he asked, concern making his voice a little less sure and manly so that he mentally kicked himself and she nodded, her hand on her
“Yeah, yeah, gimme a minute, I get outta breath and ….uhhh....just need to take a break. Its the chemo.” she panted and forced a little smile
to put him at ease.
“Oh..you want I should call one of the nurses?” He offered, his skin prickling with discomfort and she shook her head.
“No, uhhh..no Its cool. They leave us be mostly, we have like our own little kingdom here....Its kinda neat.”
Her breathing began to slow and the colour came back to her cheeks and she swallowed, her eyes looking way older than they should have for a moment
before she continued. “This is the terminal ward, well, they don't call it that, but that's what it is. Maybe one in twenty of us makes it out of
the front door. I've been here the longest, 8 months now so am kind of everyone's big sis” She grinned self consciously, obvious pride mixed with a
little embarrassment before she brightened again and said “Hey! Wanna see my room? We all have our own so we get a little bit of privacy, our own
space.” before he could say anything, the walls were almost blurring past him as she pushed him along in a rush of energy towards her room and he
sat there, looking from the Green Day poster to the notepad where she had been drawing what looked like a picture of someone in ballpoint pen and,
with a flush of his cheeks, over to a little blue blue bra on the bed.
“Oops, cleaner ain't been by yet.” she said with a laugh, scooping the bra up and tossing it into the partially open wardrobe then flopping down
on her bed, leaning her head in one hand and eyeing him expectantly. “I know a bit about ya, car crash, yeah? Sorry 'bout your folks, that must be
He felt his eyes burn and raised his left hand to rub angrily at them, surprised how much hearing that had hurt and snapped angrily “What the hell
would you know?” Then, seeing the hurt in her eyes he shook his head and said “Sorry. I uh, I don't wanna talk about it, I get enough of that with
Andi the counsellor. Always going on...”
“You need to lighten up.” she replied. Nodding to the open door “Out there, everyone's looking death in the eye, how'd ya think that feels? You
think you got it bad losing your mom and dad? Imagine every time they look at you seeing their heartbreak in their eyes cos they know what's coming?
Imagine knowing from the minute they get here to the time they go home that they are just counting the seconds until they can go home and drink until
it doesn't hurt so much. You think you got it bad? I am a plus two, at least you are gonna see another summer. I won't.”
The shame he felt drove him to skip most of that and he simply nodded and asked “What's a plus two?” Just to move the conversation on from the
part where he felt like such an idiot if nothing else.
edit on 28pThu, 16 Nov 2017 16:21:28 -060020172017-11-16T16:21:28-06:00kAmerica/Chicago30000000k by SprocketUK because: Day for days