The next morning, when Ronald woke up, he was sore all over from the accident the day before. The strong pain medication the doctors had given him had worn off during the night, and they hadn't prescribed him anything more to take during the day.
Ronald's first thought was that he should get some Tylenol from the bathroom to numb as much of the pain as he could, but when the old man tried to sit up, pain seared through his head, his arms, his abdomen, his legs, and everywhere else in his body, so that all that Ronald could do was moan and fall back into bed, immobilized.
Suddenly, Gretchen appeared in the doorway, dressed in a fuzzy sweater and dress pants that she tended to wear to school as often as she could. "Are you OK?" she demanded, an open and yet-unused tube of lipstick in one hand.
"Tylenol," Ronald sighed. "Give me some."
Worry apparent, Gretchen disappeared back into the bathroom, and in a second reappeared with the bottle of pills and a small cup of water. She offered the remedy, but when Ronald was unable to sit up and drink, she needed to hold his head up in her firm hands while he forced back nausea and downed two pills and the drink.
"You don't look well at all," Gretchen needlessly observed after Ronald had swallowed the last of his glass. "I think I'd better take you back to the hospital."
The thought of getting up and dressing, sitting up during the entire car-ride, and then of spending more endless hours in the hospital again sounded even more unbearable than staying at home and dealing with his pain with only the assistance of over-the-counter remedies. "No," Ronald sighed, adopting as much nonchalance as he could. "I'm just sore. I'll be fine."
"Are you sure?" Gretchen pressed, still obviously concerned. "Maybe I should take the day off work."
This, too, sounded like a bad idea, as Ronald weighed the benefits and down-sides to an entire day spent with his wife. "Go to work," he urged. "Those kids need teaching."
"Pish-posh," Gretchen responded. "There are plenty of substitute teachers who can fill in for me. Besides, yesterday they told me that they'd completely understand if I wanted to take the next couple of days off to take care of you."
"Who told you that?"
"Mr. Dutchman," she said, naming the principal.
Still eager to be rid of her, Ronald insisted, "I'm probably just going to sleep all day anyway; you'll be bored. Go to work."
"Absolutely not," Gretchen said with a familiar sense of resolution that Ronald had long-ago learned not to argue with. "I'm calling in right now." Without leaving room for further argument, she marched out of the bedroom.
With great effort Ronald rolled over to a more comfortable position. He could hear Gretchen calling the school from the kitchen, all though he couldn't make out her words. It didn't matter. He'd have to put up with her all day anyway.
As he lay there, Ronald imagined that he could see his entire future stretched out before him. Nothing made him feel quite so old as waking up unable to get out of bed, and Ronald foresaw the rest of his life being filled with all those myriad aches and pains, even after he'd recovered from the accident as much as he could.
With a bitter laugh, Ronald remembered how a mere two weeks before, he'd begged his wife to go into early retirement to help him alleviate his boredom. Now, she was with him, and he only wanted her away. Plus, with his current inability to walk Ronald couldn't even escape to Amy.
Ronald sighed, and prepared himself for his certain dismal future.