1

Oak Berry

Lacy moved with no sound through the hospital doors. Her shoes were silent against the ugly grey linoleum. Spoken words were lost as they tumbled through the passers' mouths, and Lacy pretended she was aware of the noises around her. Someone waved, said hello, their lips moved and Lacy interpreted the words, ignoring the swish of color that sloshed across her vision to focus on the woman's movements, body language, her hand pointing in the direction of the hallway door reading 107. The woman smiled, patted Lacy on the shoulder like a long-ago friend and walked away, already chattering her silent words to the next person she passed. Lacy paused in her pursuit of the water fountain to meander towards room one-oh-seven, opening the door with a quiet shade of grey that rippled up across the floor. A purple, aging man lay snoring on the starched hospital bed, the only signal to Lacy of his sleeping sounds were the soft puffs of green that floated up away from his mouth to stain the water leaked ceiling with bright lime fuzz.

She walked towards him quietly, only white zigzags following her footsteps like ripples in a pond. Her suede ankle boots were hard to be completely silent in. Lacy took a breath, a breath she couldn't dream of ever hearing, and planned out her sentences before opening her mouth.

Mr. Burner? She spoke, but heard nothing. The only sign to Lacy that she had spoken at all was the light spiraling magenta strings that danced from her lips and the feel of breath leaving her lungs. The grey man stirred, his cracked lips opening and closing with soft little salmon swaths floating into the open air. She took another breath and tried again. Mr. Burner, it's time for you to wake up. It's lunchtime. Again bright magenta twisted through the air, touching the sleeping man, wrapping him and then disappearing. Her voice was always fuchsia colored, unless her mood fluctuated violently.

Finally the old man woke, his eyes cracking open to reveal watery, pale pupils. Lacy smiled lucidly down on him, informing him again in a darker colored tone so the man could hear, that his lunch would be arriving shortly. He growled grumpily, but thanked her half heartedly, his tone arriving in quick olive green fumes, uglier than the color of his sleeping snores. Lacy nodded, and tried another smile before exiting the room. Outside the door she looked on upon the bustling scene of the hospital, color swirls dancing and moving and twisting across the normal scene like fireworks. She reached into her purse, fishing out the shiny royal blue 'volunteer' badge, before pinning it lethargically to her denim jacket. Lacy flicked the pin annoyed, and sighed closing her eyes until finally the room was gone, lost in world of black.

Shane was late. Again. He groaned as he had to stop for another traffic light, trying to peer around the line of cars by sticking his head out the window. "Shit." He muttered, retracting his face from the breezy outside before running a hand through his hair nervously.

When the light finally turned, Shane slammed his foot against the gas and almost hit the car in front of him, rousing another blast of swearing. Horns blared behind him, and he swerved out of the lane and into the next one, racing down the street towards Oak Berry Hospital.

He shoved his arms into his pale blue vest with his name tag pinned on the breast as he sprinted towards the glass front doors of his employers, trying vainly to tuck in his shirt as he ran.

He spared one insignificant moment outside the doors to catch his breath and compose himself before he flung the doors open and slipped inside.

"You're late." Janet's voice made him cringe and stop, standing straight and smiling guiltily at her. Shane cupped the back of his neck nervously.

"Er, yeah. Sorry, but traffic was awful, and my dad needed help at the lumber yard because his truck broke down and—"

"Cut the crap, Shane. You and I both know I don't care. I punched your card in twenty minutes ago, but it's the last time, young man." Janet glared sternly up at him, and Shane relaxed his lanky form to grip the woman tightly in a bone-crushing hug.

"Oh, thank god, Janet, you're a life saver." He declared dramatically, and she screeched and swatted him.

"I'm sick of playing mommy, young man." She wagged her finger disapprovingly at him as he grinned goofily back.

"Sure, sure, Jan. I got you covered." Shane started slinking down the hall, flashing her one last flirty smirk. "Wont happen again!" He called and jogged around the corner, racing to his 12:00 post. Janet shook her middle-aged head, but as she walked away a small smile graced her frowning lips.

"God dammit Shane. You're late." Shane's friend Dylan muttered as he entered the kitchen, barely dodging a rushing nurse carrying a food tray.

"Sorry man. Got held up." Shane replied easily, slinking over to the sink where Dylan was buried in mountains of dirty dishes. Shane ran a hand through his dark hair, raising his eyebrows at the stacks of sloppy plates. "Rough day, today, eh?" Dylan rolled his eyes, and groaned heavily.

"You have no idea, dude. I've actually been here for our entire shift." He griped, and returned to scrubbing some spoiled spinach crusted upon a yellow plate.

"Oh, come on. You know I've got to job at the lumber yard too. If I want to go to collage and not wash dishes for the rest of my life, I have to work hard now." He grabbed a rag and tossed it over his shoulder tiredly, ready to join his friend. He picked up a plate with some goopy brown beans plastered to its surface. "Unlike you, your parents want you to have a job to build character." Shane mocked, in a high falsetto voice, smacking Dylan jokingly on the back of the head with his washrag.

Dylan laughed nervously, and shut up about the whole late fiasco. He knew Shane had another night shift at Crazies bar and grill later.

"Wait, hold up man." Shane paused just as he was about to sprint out the doors of the hospital, ready to hit on pretty girls and bring the dishes to the dishwasher instead of wash them himself. He shifted back towards Dylan reluctantly.

"Come on, Dy, you know I have to be somewhere." Dylan rolled his eyes.

"Oh, please. As if you're not ever late." Shane sighed and swung around.

"Okay, make it quick." He snapped, and his friend grinned, nodding his head down the visitors' hall.

"Let's go."

"Tell me again, why are we whispering?" Dylan shot Shane a look that clearly stated he was a moron.

"Dude," He said, exasperated. "If Janet sees us down here she'll have our balls."

"Why?" Shane protested. "We are off shift."

"I know, but last time we were in this sector, us 'rowdy boys' engaged in a round of spoon hockey—your idea, by the way—, which got us banned from this wing, and we had to replace and entire set of spoons—again, thanks to you." Shane laughed at the memory, slinging his arm around Dylan's shoulders, shaking his head as if lost in reminiscence.

"Good times, bud, good times." Dylan rolled his eyes and shoved Shane away.

"Anyway, come on. I think they're in the staff lounge." Shane followed his blonde counter part down the hallway.

"Speaking of which, why aren't we allowed in the staff lounge?"

"Dude, again, Spoon Hockey."

"Riiight."

The two boys soon reached a red painted door (not a great color for a hospital), with a little round window peaking into the room beyond. The kind of window someone would picture on an old fashioned boat. Dylan waved Shane to look in with him, and together they peaked into the little retro, needy-of-new-furniture room.

Dylan pointed to the only two people in the room, one was Janet, who was speaking her usual speed of light, and the other was a young woman who was trying pathetically to keep up with Janet's speed of conversation. Shane noticed immediately that the girl was pretty, with her chestnut-gold hair, and her soft delicate features, she was quite something to look at.

"You see her?" Dylan pointed to the young stranger. Shane rolled his eyes.

"No, I'm clearly checking out Janet right now." He said sarcastically, "Of course I see her." He rolled his eyes again.

"Just making sure," Dylan put in defensively. "You never know with you. But, anyway, that's Lacy Chambers, she just started volunteering this morning." Shane's eyebrows shot up in surprise and he turned towards the boy next to him.

"You're kidding me. That's Lacy Chambers?" He looked back towards the girl with new interest. "The Senator's daughter?" Dylan nodded and looked in the window. The two women were deep in conversation, or at least Janet was, Lacy Chambers looked like she was drowning under the weight and quantity of the words. They seemed too busy to notice the Peepers.

"Yeah, she'll be here for the rest of the month, if not more. Apparently charity brings good press, who'd have known." He shrugged. Shane rolled his eyes.

"Not like this isn't great and all, you know, lurking outside the hospital lounge, but I really got to go, Dy." Dylan sighed, as if he could see this coming.

"Alright, alright. Since you're break up with Ashley, you've been sort of…down. What you need is a distraction, and I thought…"He nodded his head towards the direction of Lacy Chambers. "Our Senator's daughter might be the perfect challenge." He raised an eyebrow as if daring Shane. Shane only frowned at his friend angrily.

"I have not been down. I broke up with her, remember? And what I need is a warm body, not a rich snobby daddy's girl."

"What you are is bored! Come on, you've practically got every girl on campus crawling on you, which is not a bad thing, by all means, but you need to get out. Give her a chance, she seems nice. Who knows, she could be a defiant rich girl with a bad side…" Dylan trailed off suggestively. Shane only shoved his friend away and started walking away from the little round window.

"Even if she is different, the last thing I need is to be neutered by the Senator for screwing his daughter. I have to be somewhere," Shane said as he neared the front doors, tossing his jacket over his shoulder. "Ill see you tomorrow."

AN: So, first part of a new story. Tell me what you think! I have the next part ready if you want it.