M - Warning for abuse
The shifting beside her on the narrow hospital bed woke her from the dreamless sleep. It has been days now that she had ebbed in and out of consciousness, yet the lack of change in the room held no clues for time except for night and day.
Perhaps the thing that she was grateful for not changing was the cause of the shifting; a dark head of hair, its owner slumped onto the bed while seated on the chair beside her. His presence; difference between the flowers in her bedside, or whether the blinds are drawn closed at night and open during the day. Those little things and his hand clenching hers, motionless and strong.
His hand is a sign of reassurance. She did not know what the future held, but his presence holding her would ensure that she could move on. The steady beeps of the ECG machine and the solitary IV drip on the other side of the bed was a stark contrast to the mass array of machines that kept her alive mere days ago. The sun was starting to rise, from the cracks in the blinds, she could see the first ray of light, and hear the bird song of the dawn. Another difference; symbolic even with the rain and cold she remembered feeling on that night.
The memory had her fighting back tears, she closed her eyes and clenched her fist. The action waking him.
"Three weeks, and four days." his words were muffled by the bed things he was sleeping on; her sweater and a white pillow. "Two broken ribs, a busted knee – your left one – a concussion, and the internal bleeding." he continued, still resting his head.
Yet she felt none of these injuries.
Trying to take stock of her 'busted knee' or even the broken ribs, she opened her eyes and looked at her legs, silhouettes beneath the white sheets. She could move her right leg slightly, but her left was motionless.
Her eyes traced the sheets, stopping on the way to meet his, tired dark brown orbs staring up at her; the corners of his lips inching up into a small smile.
"You're stable, and I missed you."
She smiled as he took her hand up to his lips and held them there. She felt, rather than see, his sigh like warm air on the back of her hand. It was just like he did that night, one of last solid, if unfortunate, memories; sitting beside her in the back of an ambulance. She was struggling to breath then, from the panic or the pain in her side.
She could remember the yelling, her mother cowering in the kitchen leaving them in the living room.
"You slut! After everything I've done for you!" his words were slurred, it seldom ever was not. Her father had been a drinker for as long as she can remember. His massive frame pushed her down, kicking at her knees till she fell on her back.
"Daddy, please," her pleading cut short as she felt his heavy boot impact on her side. She felt streams of tears from her eyes fall onto the carpet, darkening its surface with every drop. She could barely groan, let alone scream but she could hear it; the sirens of an approaching police car.
She remembers the cold fear of it being too late, one last kick almost numbing as she sputtered blood from her mouth, covering the tear stains on the floor. Then nothing.
"Hey?" The soft question broke through her thoughts, "He's gone, you know. Your mom's been in and out here too, apparently she called the cops when, you know, she thought it got too much." The bitterness at the end of his words was different. She knows he always hated how badly she was treated at home, but he never knew how badly till that night.
"My mom?" she chuckled, throat dry and scratchy. He wordlessly held up a straw and a small cup of water to her lips. She nodded her thanks.
"Yeah, she should be in at lunch." He placed the cup down at the bedside table, next to a tattered, leather bound book. Her journal.
"I didn't read it." His voice was small, almost far away as they both gazed at the small book. "It's just that it looked important"
She nodded again, lost for words. Closing her eyes, she succumbed to tiredness and darkness.
The next time she awakened it was late afternoon, judging by the orange hues streaming onto the white sheets from the open window. The beeping of the machine was still there, accompanying a soft melody. It was familiar; she turned towards the sound and saw him leant back in the chair, softly singing to the music coming from the small speakers on the beside. His eyes were closed, and his hand still held hers loosely on the edge of the bed, his other hand drumming his fingers to a beat on his lap.
"Before you ask, yes I've been sitting here for all of the time you've been there on that bed." His smile was real this time, like those mornings where she would make them breakfast because they both knew their mother was not up to it. "And your mom says hi."
"She's your mother too." She stated simply, knowing too well that this argument Is not worth it.
"She never takes this seat, she just stands over you, kisses your forehead and leaves. Sure she does that six times a day, but yeah." He avoided the argument this time.
She nods in reply, tearing her eyes away from him and looking back on the window.
"It's not your fault, you know. I know he wouldn't take it well that you want to move out. I just got in the way. It wasn't your fault."
He opened his eyes, staring at her as quiet tears form and break from her eyes to her cheeks. Her face was impassive, but the pain was obvious enough.
"And now that you're awake, I can move on, yeah?" phrased like a question, but sounding like a good-bye.
She clenched her hand again, but there was nothing. Just an empty space in her hands, and her life. But she will be fine. It felt less than convincing as sobs racked her body and his spirit moving on.