Holding On: Chapter 23
Catch up on Chapter 22 right here!
I open my eyes and try to sit up—and excruciating pain rockets up my side.
I’m on a stretcher?
I breathe hard, trying to ease the pain, which is quickly turning from bad cramp pain to something like knives. Touching it only makes it feel worse and I lie back down, glancing from the nurses carting me around to the stretcher next to mine—it's carrying Sam. But she’s asleep.
“Shh, it’s okay.” A nurse look at me sympathetically, pulling me into one of the rooms. “Just rest. Everything will be okay. We’ve already given you something—”
“—For the pain. You’ll be getting sleepy again.”
I’m too confused and tired to argue so I reluctantly nod, closing my eyes and breathing out.
“Can I see them?”
The nurse is starting to look a little annoyed, shaking her head as she walks down the hallway. I know what she wants to say, something like, “No, idiot, you asked five minutes ago and the answer is gonna be the same until I say you can come in myself,” but I really can’t help it. I hate that I have to wait, you know? I know they’re doing tests and stuff but it’s driving me crazy, not knowing if they’re gonna be okay. A few hours have gone by since they were brought here, long, long hours.
I didn’t see Sam move at all when she was taken out of her ambulance, for those few seconds that I saw her. She had something wrapped around her head. I didn’t see her bleeding when Alice was holding her so I don’t know how bad it is.
I didn’t say everything that I wanted to say to her, barely anything at all, actually. We didn’t exactly leave off on the best note, either...
They said Alice is okay though, so that’s good. They just avoided telling me what’s wrong with her. I think it was because of how insane I looked and they were pretty sure I’d attack a wall if anything pushed me further over the edge.
I’m getting calmer now, a little bit. Sort of.
The nurse comes back up the hallway and straight into the room where Sam and Alice are. I don’t know if that’s standard procedure. Do they usually dump two patients in one room? Is this normal? Oh great, I bet something’s wrong—
Yeah... okay. Calming down.
A nurse I hadn’t known was in the room pokes her head out. “You can come in. Samantha is asleep but Alice isn’t yet. She will be in a minute, though, so this’ll have to be a quick visit.” She smiles apologetically, looking like a nurse out of a soap opera with perfectly overdone makeup; something inside me squirms at the thought of her taking care of Sam and Alice but it’s not like I really have many options at this time in the morning.
Alice is propped up on some pillows and drinking from one of those cone shaped paper cups when I come in. Her fingers squish the cup once she’s finished it. Her eyes are fixated on the wall and she doesn’t turn her head to look at me, looking completely frozen.
She blinks and breathes, dropping the paper cup in her lap. “Hey.”
I don’t know what else to say so I look at Sam’s bed next to Alice. She’s asleep and the injured side of her head is facing up, making it too easy for me to see the red stain on the bandage. I shudder and stare, unable to look away. I really hope she’s okay. I hope it’s nothing permanent. I wish I’d gone to her house sooner, I wish I’d said—
Nick, it’s done. They said she’ll be alright.
Yeah, but they don’t know everything.
Is worrying useful?
I roll my eyes and move towards Alice, making myself look at her rather than Sam. Wheelchair is right about this, at least, and I try to force myself not to think about her right now because I know I’ll just freak out. And that’s probably not what Alice needs.
“You’ve been seeing him too, haven’t you?” Alice looks at me expectantly, somehow thinking I know what she’s talking about.
She plays with the paper cup, growing quieter again. “Dad.”
I’m quiet too, then, trying to digest this without losing my mind. So she’s been seeing him too? So I’m not crazy?
I wouldn’t be too sure about that.
As a psychiatrist-like entity, I feel the need to point out the improbability of a ghost, Nick.
As the owner of a wheelchair that shouldn’t really be talking at all, I feel the need to come up with my own opinion. And you’re the one who’s calling him a ghost, right?
“Like a ghost?”
Alice looks at me with something that looks like relief before she bursts out into tears.
What am I supposed to do now? I lean forward and hug her awkwardly from Wheelchair, annoyed that the one time I need Wheelchair’s advice, he stays silent. I haven’t seen Alice like this in ages. Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Alice like this at all.
She nods into my shoulder, grabbing me tighter and crying for another minute. I’m not good at this stuff so I pretend to be and pat her head or something, feeling like a jerk because I don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing and hoping that it wasn’t my fault.
She goes on like this for a little while and I’m crying too but I have no idea why. It’s kind of weird. I don’t know how to explain it, it’s like... I don’t know. Maybe only people who’ve been in the same situation will get it. Not that this particular situation is that common.
“Sorry.” Alice leans back and wipes her eyes. “I don’t know what came over me.”
“It’s okay.” I try to smile and squeeze her hand. “It’s really okay.”
“I’m not the only one.”
We both laugh a little bit, somehow. Laugh. Isn’t that weird?
The soap opera nurse pokes her head in the room, goofy lipsticked lips making me want to laugh harder. “It’s time to go, Nick.”
Alice hugs me again, much more naturally than last time, before settling back into her bed. “Love you.”
I smile. “Love you too.”
This nurse waits with more patience than the other, smiling warmly as I roll out.
“Will Sam be okay?”
Her smile falters but she nods, going into the room as I go out. “She might have a minor concussion but she’ll be fine.”
I breathe deep and nod as well, replaying the word “minor” in my head so I don’t have to worry so much.
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