The boat sailed all night. By midday she was told they were halfway to land, and just as dusk approached they arrived. The docks were empty when she stood on deck. The medics pulled Vince on his bed, and another vehicle was waiting to take him.
She turned to see Tabitha walking quickly to her.
"Elisa had me come meet you until her and that stupid boss of hers came back."
Selendra looked back to see Vince being put in, and made a motion that she had to follow.
"No, no. It won't do you any good. The ambulance is going to be crowded. I'll drive you to the hospital. Come on," Tabitha took her hand and pulled her away.
Selendra numbly followed.
"Is he in bad shape?" There was hesitation in Tabitha's voice, but she had to ask.
Selendra tried to tell her what happened. Instead she broke down and began sobbing uncontrollably.
"It's my fault. I shouldn't have left him alone!"
"It's not your fault, don't blame yourself! You're the reason he's still alive. If you weren't there…" Tabitha swallowed, then looked away. "He's been a friend of ours for a long time. I know Elisa and I both don't want that to change any time soon."
Selendra wiped the tears from her eyes as she nodded. She had forgotten how close they were.
"We're going to go to the hospital, make sure he's in good care, and then wait for him to wake up, ok? And when he wakes up, you'll be there. I promise that when he sees you he'll be lying through his teeth that he's fine just so he can get out to spend more time with you."
Selendra couldn't help but laugh. Tabitha smiled and went to give her a hug, but noticed the dried blood on her pants.
"Are you bleeding!?"
She quickly shook her head. "No! It's from when I rescued Vince." It was a lie, but she couldn't find the strength to convince Tabitha she didnt need any medical attention.
"Let's get you home and cleaned up first. If you walk into a hospital like that you'll attract every nurse and doctor in the building."
"I don't have a key on me," she frowned. "Everything was left on the boat."
"Vince gave us one a few years back," she replied with a sad tone. "Just in case."
At first Selendra didn't know what she meant by just in case, then she remembered the scar on his arm, and the story behind it. She hadn't realized how dark that time had been for him. Worry and guilt tugged at her heart. What if he was experiencing that now and she hadn't noticed? What if that's how he got hurt?
The trip home was silent and uncomfortable. Tabitha didn't want to question Selendra any further than she had, and Selendra didn't want to share. Once they pulled up the driveway, Tabitha began detaching a key.
"Spare key. If it's ok with you I'll wait in the car." Even though they hadn't done much, she looked and sounded exhausted.
Selendra took it, muttered a thank you, and numbly entered the house. It was empty, silent, uncomfortable. For the first time she noticed the squeaks in the floor as she walked to his room, and the warm air was heavy with humidity. She pulled out a fresh change of clothes, and a towel to clean up her leg.
The bathroom looked dull and lonely after she hit the light switch. The water echoed as she turned the shower on. With care, or perhaps it was exhaustion that caused her to move slowly, she pulled her pants down. The fabric stuck to her leg around the wound, but it didn't hurt as she peeled it away. The skin was shiny at the edges, and the exposed layer had already started healing. It looked raw, bright pink, but no longer bled. She took the rest off, inhaled deeply, and reluctantly stepped into the water. It washed away the dried blood, but also brought pain. Her leg felt like it was on fire, and continued to get worse with each drop that hit.
When she finished cleaning up, she stepped out and dried off as quickly as she could. Selendra put her towel on a hook and noticed the last of the water running down the drain had dark streaks of blue. She looked down and noticed a few small drops of blood emerging. If she didn't do something now, she would bleed all over her clean clothes and cause panic. Knowing time was short, she pulled out another one of her shirts, ripped it into a long rag, and tightly wrapped it around her leg. It would have to do.
Selendra pulled on everything else, then practically ran out the door. She locked it behind her and stopped mid-step when she saw Tabitha in the car. She was staring out the windshield with a dazed look. She cautiously walked over and opened the door.
"Is everything ok?"
Tabitha jumped and quickly wiped her eyes with a nod.
"No, yeah. I got a call he's going into surgery. Just a few fractures here and there, only one really needs to be fixed. He really must have taken a hit," she trailed off.
The thought of Vince being opened up made her skin crawl. It also made that awful nausea return, except this time she couldn't hold it back. She turned away and made it to the lawn just in time.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to upset you!" Tabitha unbuckled herself and rushed over to Selendra. "He'll be fine, don't worry, ok?" She pulled her hair back.
Selendra nodded and took a few deep breaths.
"I'm ok," she muttered after inhaling deeply. "I just want to get to Vince." She wiped her mouth with the back of her hand and noticed Tabitha looking at her strangely, as if she was purposely trying to find something different about her.
"Can we go now?" Selendra hoped that would snap her out of it. It almost worked.
"Yeah. Yeah, let's go," she gave her an odd smile and got back in the car.
Tabitha tried to talk about how the hospital would work, what they could and couldn't do, and not to be alarmed of Vince looked different. Selendra just kept nodding. Fear was attempting to change her mind, but she couldn't. She had to be there for him.
Selendra kept close to Tabitha on the way in. The white walls were unwelcoming, the smell of the cleansers irritated her nose, and the amount of doctors she saw frightened her. It took a few tries for Tabitha to snap her out of it.
"Sorry, I don't like doctors," she admitted quietly.
"It's ok, just stay with me. We can go see Vince in a minute. Surgery just ended so he's in recovery now."
She was right. A nurse appeared and motioned for them to follow. The room he was in was quiet and small. He was hooked up to monitors and an IV. Without a second thought Selendra ran to his side.
"Careful!" Tabitha rushed after her.
"I'm so sorry, Vince," Selendra sobbed. "I shouldn't have left you alone."
He just lay there, unresponsive.
"His vitals are good, there's no brain damage that we saw. We expect him to wake up soon, but he might be out of it for a while longer due to the painkillers and recovery from the anesthesia," the nurse said factually. "If you need anything just let me or the other nurses know."
Selendra carefully held his face. There was more color in it than before. She gently kissed his forehead and pulled back.
"I'll wait for him to wake up," she sniffled. "You don't have to stay."
"No, I'll stay, too. You don't have to be alone," Tabitha sat down in a chair next to his bed. There were tears in her eyes, but she fought them back so she could take care of Selendra until Vince woke up.
"Alright," was all Selendra could say as she stood there staring at him.
An hour passed, and Selendra hadn't moved. Tabitha had fallen asleep in the chair. The nurses that were around became fewer in number. Still Selendra stood and watched him, then her heart flipped. Vince moved.
She bit her bottom lip to keep herself from forcing him awake. Her patience, though little, was rewarded. His eyes opened and he raised a hand to his head as if it hurt.
"Vince?" Her voice was timid and weak, but hopeful.
It took a minute for him to digest everything, but when he saw her his eyes lit up.
"I'm so sorry," she began crying again.
"No, no, not your fault," he muttered as she buried her face in his shoulder. "It was just an accident," he continued as he tried to sit up. Instead he winced in pain and laid back down.
"You're hurt, you shouldn't move too much," she frowned as she wiped her tears away.
"It's not that bad," he sighed with a half smile. "Just a little sore. Nothin' unbearable."
"I'm glad you're awake," she smiled weakly.
Tabitha stirred in her seat. Despite their quiet voices they had woken her up. When she saw them together she smiled, and a wave of relief swept over her.
Vince went to kiss Selendra but she stopped him.
"I got sick before we got here, I need to clean up first," she mumbled, embarrassed.
"Again?" Vince frowned. "Maybe you're gettin' the flu or somethin'. We can get a doctor to make sure."
Tabitha frowned and watched Selendra carefully. Again? That meant this wasn't the first time. Her mind began to wonder.
"I'm fine. Just...just the stress of everything and I haven't slept." She rubbed her forehead as she tried to think of more excuses.
"Why don't you sit and rest? I'll watch him," Tabitha stood up.
"Oh, hey," Vinced weakly waved. "Didn't see you there. Sorry."
"To be fair I was sleeping," she laughed softly. "Come on, Selendra. Go sit."
She hesitated, but with encouragement from Vince she did as she was told. It didn't take long for her to fall asleep.
"So she's been sick," Tabitha observed as naturally as she could.
"Yeah, when we were on the boat. The waves were pretty rough," he shrugged. "I hope she's ok, I don't like her feelin' bad."
"I think she's fine," Tabitha couldn't help but smile. "I don't think she has the flu or anything like that."
"Good," Vince sighed with relief as he watched Selendra sleep.
"The question is, are you going to be fine?" Tabitha examined his arms but didn't see any major wounds. "You have a lot you need to deal with."
"If I don't get fired, I'll be fine."
"I can't promise that. But if it makes you feel better Elisa said Colten was freaking out."
Vince laughed, then winced. His chest was sore.
"Go back to sleep. I'll be here til we get kicked out or Colten and Elisa get here." Tabitha sat down next to Selendra.
"Great," he muttered sarcastically as he closed his eyes. Soon he was fast asleep.
Tabitha looked between them both. She couldn't help but laugh to herself. They were both oblivious, and she knew Elisa would call them irresponsible when she found out. Part of her wondered if she should bother saying anything at all.
[Just wanted to say thank you for everyone who's read this story!
It will have a mini hiatus while the holidays are fast approaching but will have a return by end of Dec/early Jan
If you want to show support, please make sure to fav and/or follow the story or me.
You can also donate to my ko-fi if you'd like to support me there, too: ko-fi .com /justcallmeinsane ]