Mom, I'm tired of waiting. This is what happens when I wait for you: I get stuck in some place where it's dark and no one can hear me. It started getting dark, and I knew I had to get home. But this isn't home, I know – not as if it matters. I'm tired, and I'm giving up.
Does Ricky know where I am? What if he's trying to call me? My cell phone battery's dead. I should have just gone home with him. Then I wouldn't have had to walk. I wouldn't have had to cross the highway. Those flickering lights wouldn't have come barreling towards me. Is anyone in here? Can anyone hear me?
Someone, just bring Ricky in here – he'll be able to hear me. Don't worry. I'll wait for somebody who actually shows up and stays.
Dr. Charest had a bad habit of tapping his ballpoint pen against his clipboard when he was anxious, and everybody knew it – even his patients knew it. In fact, anyone spending a great deal of time in the hospital lobby that night would have known it, for he stood for the second time in the open doorway to his office, waiting. This time, though, he didn't know precisely what he should be expecting. Surely not another tall, brunette woman with a schedule so tight she couldn't adjust it for her comatose daughter, not with a name like Ricky. He tried to picture a boy about Jamie's age named Ricky. Tall or short? Thin or overweight? He couldn't decide.
A young man in his late teens sauntered through the revolving doors, looking as if he didn't have a care in the world. He wore cargo shorts and a white Bob Marley t-shirt, and his hair was just long enough to curl around his ears protectively. Behind him, a nearly eight foot tall goth tumbled into the lobby. This boy looked like he had just broken out of prison, judging by the number and thickness of the chains hanging from his black jeans and around his neck.
Dr. Charest sighed. "Let me guess which one is Ricky."
The goth tripped over to the nurse's station and began inquiring about a girl named Jamie Velasquez.
"Are you family?" the secretary asked. She had clearly endured an endless day.
"No, I'm her- I'm her friend."
The nurse rolled her eyes. "No non-family visitors, sir," she grumbled. Dr. Charest still lurked in the doorway to his office, partially testing the young man's perseverance, partially working up enough courage to speak to a seventeen year old who could easily strangle him with the chains hanging from his belt. The pen continued to tap.
"Please!" Ricky begged. "I'll… Is there anything I can do to-"
"You can leave, sir," the nurse snapped.
"Look." He bent down to look at her eye to eye. "This is really important. Like, a matter of life or death, okay?"
"Sir, let's remember where we are, shall we?"
"You don't understand!"
Dr. Charest considered Ricky's initiation into room 107 complete. He approached the nurse's station cautiously, as he did with most situations, and said, "Tracy, let me deal with him."
The nurse's nose wrinkled. "Fine."
Ricky's height unsettled Dr. Charest. Of course, even at six feet tall, he had encountered people taller than he, but the six inch advantage combined with the chains, black clothing, and massive plaid jacket just put him off. "Are you Ricky?"
"Yeah, are you the guy on Jamie's cell phone?"
"I am indeed."
"Is she really here? Was she really in a car crash? Is she really in a coma? Is she going to be okay? Gosh, I feel like such an idiot! I offered her a ride home!"
Dr. Charest slowed his pace towards room 107. "What do you know about this?"
"Nothing! I mean, we were at a movie, right? And Jamie doesn't have her license yet, you know, so I offered to take her home, but she's like, 'My mom's coming.' But her mom never comes, especially not on time, and we both know it! Gosh, I should have just forced her to come with me! She lives like seven blocks from my house! This is all my fault!"
"No, Ricky, no, it's not at all your fault." Dr. Charest began to see past the chains. "In here. Room 107."
Ricky hurled the door open and slid to his knees as if Jamie's bed were home plate in the bottom of a ninth inning. He grabbed her hand and held it close to his face. "Jamie, Jamie, come on, don't do this. You can be okay, right? This is just like when you ate to much popcorn that one time, remember?" Desperately, he bowed his head and pressed the back of her hand against his forehead. "Doc?"
"Can she hear me at all, do you think?"
Ironic, wasn't it, that this young man, however he was affiliated with Jamie, seemed to care more about her well-being than her own mother? Dr. Charest was about to spout his typical coma patient rhetoric when he thought better of himself. "I don't know, Ricky. I don't know."
Ricky! See, I told you you'd come. Take me home, Ricky.
Why are you just sitting there? I can feel you holding my hand, you know. That guy doesn't know what he's talking about at all. I'm right here. All you have to do is take me away from here, and I'll be able to see you.
I bet you're not surprised to hear that you were right about my mom. Again. She actually did show up here for a while, you know, but then she left. I heard her cell phone ringing. I tried to tell her I'm tired of waiting for her, but she didn't hear me. Or maybe she just ignored me. I am, I'm tired of constantly wishing she'll show up. I told her I'm giving up. She didn't listen. I am, I'm giving up.
You're listening, aren't you, Ricky? I'll never have to wait for you like I have to wait for her.
Ricky looked up for the first time in what seemed a millennium to find that the doctor had deserted her. Good. He didn't trust the man. Anyone who formed opinions based on his choice of wardrobe could never be trusted.
That was one of the many things he loved about Jamie – her disposition to form first impressions on things other than clothing. Otherwise, he probably wouldn't stand a chance with her. Everyone expected honor students to wear those geeky sweater vests, khakis, and Hush Puppies. Not Jamie.
He let go of her hand and leaned over the bed, twirling some of her black hair between his fingers. "Come on Jamie, don't do this to me. Please. You're going to fine. Just fine."
Just fine? What's wrong with me? Ricky, you're talking like there's something wrong. Nothing's wrong! I'm already fine! Especially now that you're here. You know that, right?
Ricky clenched his teeth around his tongue to keep from breaking down, even if no one but the comatose Jamie was with him. Didn't all those stupid hospital dramas on TV say to talk to people in comas? Wasn't it supposed to stimulate them or something? What could it hurt? "Jamie, remember all those good times we've had? That one time when you made me watch all three 'Back to the Future' movies in one night because you didn't want to go back home and be all alone, remember that? Or the time after I got my license and we just drove for hours and hours, just the two of us? You turned up the radio really loud, and whenever a song you liked came on, you'd wail it at the top of your lungs, and then you'd make fun of me when I tried to do the rapping parts. Or, remember when I'd drive you up to the lake every weekend last summer, and we'd sit on the sand in the dark and talk all night long?
"You know," he continued, saying the first thing that came to his mind only in order to keep talking to her, "you once apologized for ordering me around so much. But I like it. I love it. Because I love you, even if it doesn't always seem like it. Those nights up at the lake, or falling asleep in front of the TV on my couch next to you, doing horrible renditions of Eminem… well, I could always count on you to make me forget about all my problems, whether for a whole night or just an hour, it didn't matter. I just…" He stared at her. "Please don't make all those nights just memories."
The two had known each other since the middle of seventh grade, and in those five years, never once had he ever acted in any way that would lead her to believe that he could ever feel the way he did about her. That night, for the first time in his life, Ricky leaned over and gently rested his lips on top of Jamie's. Her face twitched, and he quickly pulled away, chest pounding.
"Ricky?" she mumbled almost inaudibly.
He heaved a gigantic sigh of relief and stroked her forehead. "You are a heavy sleeper," he laughed anxiously.
"You would know… Ricky?"
"I don't have to wait for you."
He nodded, not having the slightest clue what she was talking about.
"I'm…" She didn't move.
You listened to me, Ricky. I knew you would. I felt you kiss me. I knew you would. Why can't the whole world be more like you?
Ricky sat back on his heels, steadying himself with the edge of the mattress. He knew she was back into her coma, or however the official terms went, but his confidence had been renewed.
The door banged open, and the tall woman he recognized to be Jamie's mother toddled into room 107, looking about ready to tip over in her high heels. "Ricky!" she said in surprise. "What are you doing here?"
"Hi, Mrs. Velasquez," he greeted politely. Politeness was as much respect as he could muster for that woman. "Staying with Jamie." Something you've failed to do, I notice, he added to himself.
"How did you know about this? Did I call you?"
"No. A doctor here did, using Jamie's cell phone."
"David," Mrs. Velasquez muttered.
Mom. What are you doing here? I thought you left for a meeting or something. Just go home. You don't need to be here. I'm sure you'd much rather rest up for another big day at work tomorrow than stay here and talk with Ricky, wait for me to wake up.
Wait for me? There's a switch. I'm always the one waiting for you. Maybe… maybe you'd like to just see what it's like to wait a while, huh? Ricky, make her go away. Make her think that I'm stuck in this darkness forever. Make her wait. Or I will.
Dr. Charest awoke from a short catnap he had let himself take in his office chair. A stack of paperwork stared at him from the other side of the desk, but he ignored it. Before that, before anything else, he wanted to check on Jamie.
To his shock, not only was Ricky still in the room by her bedside, but so was Meredith, dozing quietly in the chair in the corner of the room. He opened the door, then knocked, and Ricky looked up almost guiltily from his position on the floor. "Ricky, what are you still doing here?" he asked.
Ricky shrugged. "I don't have to go in to work till three, so I figure I've got some time."
"Has anything happened?"
"Not really… she woke up like an hour ago; right before Mrs. Velasquez got here. But she fell asleep. As you can see."
Dr. Charest tried to hide his ridiculing glance at the sleeping woman. "How long was she awake?"
"Not very. Like, fifteen seconds."
Meredith started awake. "David! What are you doing in here? Get out- Oh."
"Good morning, Meredith," he responded coldly.
"What time is it?" she demanded.
"I suppose that doesn't much matter-" The heart monitor buzzed loudly and then fizzed into darkness.
I told you I'd give up, Mom.
Dr. Charest rushed to Jamie's side, nearly shoved Ricky out of the way, and pressed his fingers against the side of Jamie's neck.
"Doc, what's going on?" Ricky demanded anxiously. "What happened?"
Meredith clopped across the floor around to the other side of the bed and took Jamie's limp hand in hers. "Jamie, darling? Jamie?"
(Author's note: on my Microsoft Word document, there were spaces in between the italicized paragraphs and the normal paragraphs, but they didn't show up here, so I'm sorry if there was any confusion on that one. Anyway, how did you like it? If you haven't noticed, I'm sort of a fan of unresolved endings… ~not Ross)