Mell.

My eyes open slowly and I take in my surroundings, a thick, medicated haze overwhelming my ability to process anything properly. I try to sit up but am thwarted by a strong yet gentle hand that pushes me back down. I turn my head to see a friend of mine and my father's smiling softly at me, his eyebrows creased in worry. "Kelvin," I mumble quietly.

Kelvin moves his chair closer to me. "Good morning," He says in a tone that reveals his attempt at being humorous. It falls flat, although I appreciate the effort. "Don't try to sit up right now, the surgeon just stitched you up."

"Where's Lane?" I ask. I'm having trouble keeping my eyes open. "Is Dad okay?" My brain struggles to remember exactly what happened before I passed out.

"Your father didn't make it," Kelvin says. I feel a strange lack of emotion over this news. Maybe it's because he had tried to kill me.

"And Lane?" I ask, not unaware of the fact that Kelvin neglected to answer that half of my question.

Kelvin is silent for a moment, his facial expression giving away the silent battle he's having with himself over whether to divulge any information to me or not. He sighs, resigned. "He's in surgery right now," He says, "Your father put a bullet in his brain. The doctors told me we're lucky that the trajectory of the bullet only passed through the left side of his brain, and not through any of the more vital areas of the brain. He should pull through."

I feel the need to start panicking, but all the pain medication flowing through an IV in my hand makes it hard to feel anything at all. "He has to make it," I say, trying to sit up again. Sharp pain shoots through my entire torso and I sink back into the hospital bed with a pained groan.

Kelvin is silent. I guess my heart starts to race because I'm feeling faint and the machine I'm hooked up to starts beeping erratically. I'm about to shout at him to say something when he opens his mouth to speak again. "Mell," He says hesitantly, "even if and when he pulls through, there's a whole bunch of other complications that could arise. You need to be prepared for the worst, just in case."

"When can I see him?" I ask, ignoring what Kelvin is saying to me. Lane will be fine, I know it.

My question earns a small laugh from the man sitting before me. "You need to focus on recovering before you can see him, and besides, I don't think they'll be allowing many visitors yet anyway. The surgery he's undergoing is pretty serious."

Our conversation gets cut short by a nurse who has heard my heart monitor beeping angrily. She knocks on the door and enters without permission, carrying a syringe of something in her hand. She smiles sweetly down at me and injects it into my IV stream. My heart rate goes back to normal, and my eyes droop. It's not long before I'm out cold again.


"I'm sorry," Lane says, backing up against the wall. My father is screaming at him, spit flying from his mouth. "I didn't mean to."

Dad has a notebook in his hand and is furiously listing off all the times over the past three years that Lane and I have done something to make him angry. In his eyes, we've done it all on purpose. In his other hand, gripped so tightly that blood trickles down his hand and onto the floor, is the remnants of the glass Lane had just broken. He's screaming about how everything took a turn for the worse when we took Lane in. About how it is my fault for convincing him to take Lane in. That Lane is an abomination that must be stopped, and he'll kill anyone that gets in his way.

My heart is racing as I try to figure out what to do. There's a gun on the counter that I need to make sure doesn't fall into his hands, as he's incredibly unstable. I put my hands up in front of me and approach him, slowly.

"Dad," I say cautiously, "This has to stop. Please, let's calm down and talk about this."

Dad whips around to glare at me. "It's your fault!" He screams at me. "Bringing bad luck into the house!"

I take a shuddering breath and look at Lane as I speak. Lane looks back at me, terrified. He's closer to the gun than I am and I give him a look that I hope expresses the urgency of reaching the gun before Dad does. I continue talking to my father, keeping his attention away from Lane while Lane slowly and quietly makes his way to the counter.

I'm within arms length of Dad now and I'm doing my best to calm him down. It seems like I've succeeded when he suddenly lunges at me, barreling into my stomach with his shoulder. I'm winded and fall to the ground, coughing as I try to get back up. He's now running for Lane, who has gotten his hands on the gun.

"Don't you touch him!" I shout frantically, getting to my feet. I stumble forward and knock Dad onto the ground. Lane holds the gun out in front of him, hands shaking, but I know he doesn't have it in him to shoot, even if it would be for self defense. Dad lashes around underneath me, and I almost forget he has sharp shards of glass in his hands until a sharp pain shoots through my shoulder. I shout, trying to wrestle the object from my father's grip. He is stronger than me though, and with a yank of his wrist, the surprisingly durable makeshift weapon drags through my flesh down to my pelvis. He then pushes me off of him, covered in my blood, as my body gives out on me.

I see him walking towards Lane as I gasp for air, the pain making it hard for me to do anything other than writhe on the ground. Lane backs away, but I can tell in his eyes that he knows running won't do him good. Dad is much faster than Lane. I try to get to my feet, and manage to, despite the firey pain I'm experiencing. "Dad, stop," I manage to gasp, taking a shaky step forward before falling again, "Please. We can work this out, you know Lane never means you any harm. I know you know that."

Dad isn't yelling in a crazed frenzy anymore, in fact he looks quite calm as he looks down at me. He smiles at Lane as he takes the gun from him and clocks me over the head. Before I lose consciousness, I hear three loud bangs.


I'm pretty much confined to my bed until the wound heals well enough to not burst open at the slightest movement. Time passes at a snail's pace and I'm anxious to go see Lane. Finally, after about ten days, I'm discharged from the hospital with wound care instructions, Tramadol prescription, and xanax to quell the panic attacks and nightmares that come to me in the middle of the night.

"When can I see Lane?" I ask Kelvin as he helps me get ready to leave. I gingerly put one arm through a long flannel button up, followed by the other arm. I choose not to button it up, since it'll just be uncomfortable with my bandage.

"He's not even awake right now, Mell," Kelvin says to me. He sounds exasperated, and I can't blame him. I've asked him every day since I first woke up after surgery.

"I know, but I know he wouldn't want to be isolated without anyone around," I say with a frown.

Kelvin sighs and rubs his face with his hands. "Okay," He says, resigned, "I'll take you to see him."

When we get to Lane's room, he's awake and staring up at the television. I look at Kelvin who shrugs at me. "This must have just happened," he says.

There's a nurse in the room with him who is changing his IV fluids. She looks up at us and smiles as we enter the room. "Welcome back, Kelvin," She says. Kelvin nods and smiles at her, but says nothing. "He opened his eyes a few minutes ago. I turned the television on for him but I don't think he's actually seeing anything for right now. Or maybe he won't at all."

"What do you mean?" I ask. I move closer to Lane's bedside and sit down next to him. I gingerly take his hand. His heart monitor beeps a little faster for a moment but other than that he doesn't respond. I frown.

"We won't know until he starts healing," the nurse says, "it's just too early to tell right now just how much damage there will be. He is expected to improve, though."

I breathe out hard through my nose. "Well, I know he'll be okay," I say. I look at the nurse. "Can I stay here and keep an eye on him?"

She shakes her head. "I'm afraid you'd just be in the way, dear. I can let you visit for as long as possible every day, though." She smiles at me.

I nod and Kelvin looks at his watch. "Mell, Georgie and the gang are waiting to see you back at the campgrounds, and I need your help going through your father's stuff. There's a lot of it. We can come back tomorrow."

I squeeze Lane's hand and look him over one more time before we go. The nurse is now changing a bandage on his head, and I catch a glimpse of the bullet wound before turning my head away. "I'll be back later," I say softly to him before leaving the room.

Kelvin sets me up in a hotel room near the hospital. The campgrounds are about an hour away, and that's too long to drive every day to come visit Lane. "I'm just down the hall," He says.

"Uh, Kelvin," I say slowly, "I'm not sure I'm going to be able to make do on my own. I can still barely move properly."

Kelvin claps his hands together as if I've reminded him of something important. "Oh! Right! I have a gift for you," he grins at me. "Close your eyes."

I hesitantly close my eyes, and I can hear Kelvin open the bathroom door and whisper something. Soon enough he gives me permission to open my eyes again, and when I do, a girl with mousy brown hair stands before me. I grin and go to scoop her up in a hug, but she stops me. "You're barely healed!" She scolds, "calm down!"

"Shoshie!" I exclaim, gently hugging her, "are you my nurse for the next few days?"

"Well, for as long as we're up here, yeah." Shoshana says. "Kelvin said as long as I study while we're here I could come with him. I wasn't allowed to visit you in the hospital though. Some kind of age thing, nobody under sixteen unless they were family." Her eyes well up with tears and she sniffs. "I'm just so glad you're okay. I hope Lane gets better soon." She rubs her eyes.

Kelvin puts a reassuring hand on her shoulder. "It'll take some time, but he's woken up already. They thought he'd be out for at least another week."

Shoshana grins. "That's fantastic!" She says.

I'm growing weary standing in the hallway and sway on my feet. Shoshana, strong for her small size, catches me and leads me over to one of two hotel beds where she's arranged a large assortment of pillows for me to be propped up against. I lay back against them gingerly and basically sink into the bed. "Thank you," I tell her. "God, this bed is so much more comfortable than the hospital one."

"I bet," Shoshana says. She crawls into bed next to me and snuggles up to me. "I bought us popcorn and 'Paul Blart Mall Cop' one and two. We are watching them both right now." She makes a shooting motion to Kelvin who laughs.

"I see you don't need me anymore," He says with a smile. "Shoshana, take good care of Mell. I'll come get him in the morning to go see Lane."

"Yes sir!" Shoshana salutes him and turns on the television. I only make it a few minutes into the first movie before drifting off.


I hear gunshots in my sleep and wake up screaming. Shoshana jolts awake next to me and works fast to calm me down. "Mell!" She cries, "Mell, it was a car backfiring." I'm breathing heavily and my torso aches. "Please calm down, you're going to hurt yourself all over again."

I look around me and become aware of my surroundings. I'm safe, I'm in a hotel room with the girl who might as well be my little sister. Everything will be fine. Shoshana hands me a glass of water and I take it with shaking hands. I gulp it down quickly and take deep breaths to try to calm myself down. "I'm sorry," I say breathlessly. I put a hand over my chest and wince at the pain. "I'm okay now."

Shoshana scrambles off the bed and returns with another glass of water and one of my anxiety pills. "Here. Everything is okay. Tomorrow you'll get to see Lane, who is alive and will recover just fine."

I take the pill from her and swallow it with a swig of water. "What if he doesn't remember me?" I ask. "What if he's always going to be a vegetable?"

"That won't happen," Shoshana says, "we both know he's stronger than that." She tucks a blanket around me and leans me back into the pillows. "I'll turn the TV on for you, try to get some more sleep. Wake me up if you need anything." She flicks the television remote and then crawls into her own bed. "Goodnight, Mell."

"Goodnight, Shoshie." I say, and pull the blankets up to my chin.

It's quiet for about an hour as I stare up at the ceiling and listen to the trucks speed down the highway outside our window. Ambulances pass by as well, which gets my heart racing. Finally, I break the silence. "Shoshie?" I ask quietly. I don't get a reply, so I say her name a little louder.

Shoshana groans. "What." She mumbles grumpily.

"Do you think things could've been different if my dad hadn't had that accident?" I ask, still looking at the ceiling. "Like, addiction wise? I feel like he would've been just fine if that hadn't happened."

Shoshana lets out an irritated sigh. She's not one for being pleasant after being woken up. "Mell, I'm fourteen. I know nothing of the adult world. Let me sleep." I hear her turn over and say nothing more.

I end up staying awake out of fear the rest of the night.


I must have fallen asleep because I wake up to sunlight streaming through the sheer curtains on the hotel room windows. I can hear Shoshana chatting with Kelvin in the hallway, and I sit up gingerly in bed. "Guys?" I ask, and the voices quiet. After a moment, they come into the main area and Shoshana jumps onto my bed. I groan as the bed shakes, my chest and stomach aching.

"Good morning, Mell," Kelvin says cheerfully, "Are you ready to see Lane?"

I stare at him. "I just woke up," I grumble. The haze of sleep combined with the pain has me grumpy, this morning.

"Well get dressed so we can go. You want all day with him, right?" Kelvin asks. I nod and he claps his hands together. "Good. I brought you some button up shirts so you don't have to lift your arms above your head."

Lane stays the same for a couple days, just almost unblinkingly staring into space. I talk to him and help the nurse give him sponge baths. A chunk of his hair has been shaved off and replaced with stapled and gnarled scarring where they had to open his head up. The first few times I witnessed the bandage change I felt queasy and lightheaded at the sight, but now I'm used to it.


There's a knock on the hotel room door one morning as I'm getting ready to go see Lane. Shoshie answers it after helping me into a shirt. It's still tough to stretch enough to put one on, myself. Kelvin comes in and sits down on the bed. "I've signed up to be Lane's foster father," He tells me.

I breathe a sigh of relief. "Thank you," I say, "I was worried he'd be separated from me. Not to be selfish or anything, but...I don't think I could handle that. We've been together for so long and now, no offense to you guys, but we're all we really have."

Shoshanna puffs her cheeks out. "You'd have me!" She says, crossing her arms over her chest.

"Yes, I would," I laugh, pulling her into a hug, "But you know how I feel about Lane."


I'm napping in the bedside chair one afternoon when I hear a grunt. I open my eyes and notice Lane staring at me. There's a light in his eyes which shows a glimmer of recognition before a look of confusion takes over, and I lean forward as my heart beats faster. "Lane?" I ask, taking his hand.

Lane pulls back and yells wordlessly. My heart lurches as I realize he doesn't clearly realize who I am yet. The doctor said he'd be confused, but I didn't pay that much attention.

"I'm sorry," I say softly with a smile, "I didn't mean to offend you."

Lane looks like he's trying to talk back to me but garbled noises just leave his mouth instead.

I press the call button and soon a nurse comes into the room. "What's going on?" She asks, concern furrowing her brows. She notices Lane staring up at her and smiles. "Well hello there, Lane!" She says, "Nice to have you with us."

Lane looks disgruntled and looks down at his IV. He lifts his hand up and examines it before attempting to rip the line out. Luckily the nurse lunges forward to stop him. "No, you need that a little longer, dear." She says. Lane screams at her and thrashes around. I swallow hard. It hurts to see him like this, but at least he's sentient now.

All hands are needed on deck with Lane for another week and a half as he goes through different stages of recovery. He has just begun to speak, but his sentences won't form properly and he makes no sense. It frustrates and confuses him, and for a while he lashes out violently when we can't understand what he wants. He only recognizes me on occasion, and when he doesn't he yells at me until he gets distracted with something else. Television is a good tool for keeping him placated and happy while the nurses and I are tending to his wounds or when they're changing his IV.

Things take a rapid turn for the better after two and a half weeks. I'm drawing a picture of him when I hear my name. I've been up for two nights straight so I think I'm hallucinating, and then I hear Lane say "Melon!"

I look up to see Lane looking at me, smiling. He holds his hand out towards me. I scoot my chair closer to him and take his hand. "Hey!" I say with a grin.

Lane inspects my hand closely, getting lost in thought for a few minutes before looking up at me and responding. When he responds, it's in a language I don't know.

"I'm sorry?" I ask.

Lane wrinkles his face and shakes his head, swaying a bit. "Hunnery." He tries again. I'm unsure if he's still speaking what I assume is his native language, Korean, or if he's trying to say something in English.

"Hungry?" I guess again. Lane's eyes light up and he looks relieved. "Hang on buddy, I'll get you something. What do you want?" Lane hums and his face screws up in concentration. I wait in the doorway for an answer but his mind wanders and he gets distracted by the television. "Lane?" I ask, to get his attention again. "What do you want to eat?"

"Eds." Lane says. It's not hard to decipher that, and I leave to get him some eggs from the cafeteria.

I can hear screaming echoing down the halls as I exit the elevator on Lane's floor, food in hand. As I get closer and closer to the room, it becomes more apparent that Lane is the one who is screaming. I run the rest of the way there and skid to a halt in the doorway. There are three nurses holding him down while his usual nurse attempts to take his IV out and replace it with a new one in a new site. Every time she tries to peel some of the tape off, Lane lets out a confused, bloodcurdling scream. Tears are streaming down his face. My heart breaks a tiny bit.

"Sedate him already," one of the nurses snaps to another.

"He's moving around too much, I don't want to hurt him by accident," the other nurse says in a calmer tone than the first, "And he can understand you so be nicer."

Lane shakes his head so violently that his bandage loosens up and begins to slip off. He's screaming in gibberish and broken Korean.

I rush into the room and kneel before Lane's bed. "Lane, look at me," I say calmly, "Look. I brought you your eggs!"

Lane stops screaming long enough to gaze at my face. He seems a little disoriented and he looks like he's searching my face for something. Then, without warning, he wretches all over his bedsheets and passes out.

"Disgusting," the nurse I've decided I don't like snaps, and stands up. "I get so tired of these patients sometimes." She dusts herself off.

Lane's regular nurse finishes taking the IV out of Lane's limp hand and peels the sheets off of him. "Mell," She turns to me and smiles, "I appreciate you bringing him food but he shouldn't be eating solid food yet. He's still having trouble swallowing."

"Oh," I say, putting the tray on the windowsill, "I'm sorry. I guess it's good he didn't get a chance to try to eat them, then."

"No worries," the nurse says, "I'll be right back. The reason Lane threw up is probably due to how hard he was shaking his head around. He's dealing with some crazy head trauma so he was probably in a lot of pain from that. I'm going to put a new line in while he's out so I can administer some pain and anxiety medication as needed."

I nod and thank her. I inspect Lane carefully. He doesn't look peaceful in his sleep like he used to. I wipe his mouth with a tissue and take my seat by his bed. Luckily, the vomit seems to have only gotten on the blankets and not on himself. I find myself drifting off in the chair and soon I'm out like a light.


Lane now "speaks" in full sentences, sometimes in broken English and sometimes in choppy Korean. I can't tell if he's speaking 100% correctly in his native tongue, but by the frustration in his face it seems like he isn't. He's graduated from just Ensure to pureed food and softer foods, like the eggs he's been craving. The swelling in his brain has also gone down enough that they've replaced the bit of his skull that had to be removed.

When he looks at me, he seems confused, like he can't see my face. However, he still knows it's me. We're running out of money to keep him in the hospital, and he's made enough progress to where he can get by with a caretaker, so we prepare for his discharge.

I hold Lane's hand as I guide him down the hallway to the elevator. He gets distracted at every open door and attempts to walk into the rooms, but I manage to rein him in each time. "Come on, buddy, we're going to go see Shoshana and Georgie. Kelvin is in the car waiting for us."

Lane looks at me. "Who?" He asks.

"Our friends," I say. "You don't remember them but they love you very much and can't wait to see you."

Lane attempts a sentence but none of the words are actual words. He grunts in frustration and tries again, to the same effect. He gives me an exasperated look.

"They're nice people, you'll love them." I say. I turn to look at Lane, who has stopped ahead of me and is looking at the gnarled scar on my torso. He goes to touch it but miscalculates how fast and hard he's moving his hand towards me, and ends up slapping my chest pretty hard. I'm relatively well healed by now but my vision goes dark for a moment due to the pain, and the next thing I know I'm on the ground gasping.

Lane is crying now, and I get to my feet immediately, shaking off any pain I'm feeling. "I'm fine!" I say to him, forcing a smile. "Look at me. I'm okay! Please stop crying." I wipe the tears from his cheeks."

"Okay." Lane says meekly. He bats my hand away and wipes his eyes on his own. "Why haspened at the not me?" He asks.

It takes a few moments for me to decode that sentence. If he's saying 'not me', he must mean me. And it's not hard to realize that haspened should be happened. "What happened to me?" I ask. Lane nods his head and then sways, dizzy. I steady him. "Um…" I don't really know what to tell him. He thinks we're going back home to my dad, even though I've explained to him that we can't and we aren't. "Lane, Dad did this to me. And he's who did that to you." I point to Lane's head.

Lane gently touches his head where his own gnarled scar and bullet wound resides. "Really?" He asks.

"Yes." I say quietly. I leave it at that, as I know he's just going to ask what happened again in a few minutes. This has become our new pattern.

Lane looks confused when we pull up to the campgrounds instead of our house, and gives me a look. "igeos-eun jib-i anida." He grumbles.

I say nothing, unsure of what to respond. I unbuckle the two of us and get out of the car. I then walk over to Lane's side and open his door. He gets out and looks around. "Come on," I say, taking his hand, "Let's follow Kelvin and Shoshie to our new house."

Kelvin opens the door to a decent sized RV, and I guide Lane up the steps and inside the vehicle. He doesn't say anything, but makes a beeline towards the bed in the back. The pillows are already propped up to accommodate him, and he settles right in and falls asleep. Kelvin chuckles. "Well, I guess he has no objections." He says. He puts down the heavier bags and Shoshana puts down the two lighter bags. Shoshana then leaves the two of us alone to go do homework. "I brought a lot of stuff over from the house that I have in storage," He says, "I'll send Georgie over later with it."

"Thank you for everything, Kelvin." I say. "I mean it. Without you, well, this would be a pretty messy situation."

"Messier, anyway." Kelvin says with a sigh. He runs his hand through his hair. "Here, take a seat, we have some things to discuss." He motions to the small table wedged in the side of the RV. I sit down across from him and he folds his hands together. "We had your father cremated." He says.

I swallow hard and nod. "Thank you."

"We haven't held the funeral yet. Weren't sure what you wanted to do, whether you wanted to be there for it or even have one in the first place." Kelvin says.

"I think I'd just like to scatter his ashes somewhere, instead," I say, "All the money we have kind of went to Lane and my hospital bills, and I don't want you to burden yourself with this."

"You know I would be happy to," Kelvin says, "your father was a good friend of mine. He helped make this campsite the way it is, and I owe him for that."

I shake my head. "The most I can allow you to do is help me with Lane and continue allowing us to stay here on your property." I say. "That's more than enough."

"Oh, speaking of Lane," Kelvin slaps his palm to his forehead, "I almost forgot. I have a good friend, Mickey. He's a caretaker in the medical field. He's willing to help us with Lane's case pro bono." He says with a smile.

I let out a breath I wasn't even aware I was holding in, and my shoulders sag in relief. "Oh my god. Really? That means so much to me." I say.

Kelvin is about to respond when our conversation is cut short by Lane waking up. "Mew?" I hear in a small voice. I turn to see Lane sitting up in bed, clutching the blankets to his chin. Tears run down his face as he sobs quietly. I rush over to him and sit down next to him. He looks up at me and points at his bullet wound. "Dad did they geuneun-i." He says. "Right?"

Tears prick at my eyes as well, as I piece together what I think he's trying to convey. "Yes, Lane." I say. "He did."

"Why?"

There's no good answer to that question. I shake my head and wipe my eyes. "He was very sick, Lane. He wasn't in his right mind." I say. Lane loved my father like he was his own. It must hurt him to come to this realization.

Kelvin stands and stretches. "I'm going to let you get situated." He says. "I'll come by later with Mickey and the kids."

Lane waves to him as he exits the RV, then turns back to me. He tries a few sentences that are just composed of gibberish before managing to force a fairly comprehensive sentence out. "No more going the building?" He asks me. Finally a sentence that I can understand fully. I don't know what happened while he was asleep for that brief time, but it seems like the info has clicked in his mind.

"No, no going back. We live here now." I say.

Lane sighs and scoots closer to me. "Dutong-iissda." He says weakly. He puts his head on my shoulder.

I rub his arm. "Let me get up and get your meds," I say. Lane lifts his head and presses his hands against it while I go off to mix his pain pill with some baby food.

He's still having trouble swallowing. He's whimpering when I sit back down next to him, and I help him grasp the spoon in his hand. He awkwardly and shakily brings the spoon to his mouth. I give words of encouragement as he continues to eat. It's a difficult process for him as his fine motor skills are out of whack, and most of the food ends up on his shirt.

After he eats I help him out of his now dirty shirt and wipe off his face. He makes a face at me as I help him and I smile. "I know it sucks but soon enough you'll be able to do all this on your own again." I say.

"Ednarest at it," Lane grumbles.

"There's nothing to be embarrassed about," I say as reassuring as possible, "you've been shot in the head, Lane, it's only natural that you're going to need some time to heal."

There's a knock on the door and Lane flinches. "Come in!" I call.

A man I've never met comes into the RV, followed by Kelvin. Kelvin slaps the man on the back and grins. "This is Mickey," He says, "Lane, he's going to help you focus on getting better."

"But Mew…" Lane says. He latches onto me. I don't blame him for being wary.

Mickey scratches his neck and grins. "It's okay, Lane, I won't be here 24/7. I'll be here once or twice a week to change bandages and check in with you."

Lane doesn't seem to be paying attention. He's focused on a spider crawling up the side of the bed. I nudge him. "Okay," He says with a smile and looks up at Mickey. I breathe a sigh of relief at the fact that he was listening, after all.

Mickey kneels before us and shines a light in Lane'S eyes. "Can you follow the movements of my finger?" He asks him. Lane has a little difficulty with this task but completes it anyway. He'd just rather be looking elsewhere.

Mickey does a few more things, including some therapy with learning to swallow again, and then changes Lane's bandages. Lane looks exhausted through the whole process, especially with his pain meds coursing through his veins.

Finally, Mickey stands up and stretches. "It looks like you're doing well," He says with a smile. Lane doesn't hear him, his head nodding as he struggles to stay awake.

I hold out my hand for Mickey to shake. "Thank you for stopping by," I say, "we really appreciate your help." I'm feeling exhausted as well.

Mickey nods and the two of us talk about how to care for Lane before he leaves. Kelvin sees him out. Lane loses the battle against sleep and sags against me. I'm feeling weary as well, so I take one of my own pain medications and fall asleep holding Lane in my arms.


Lane and I are out cold until the next morning when I wake up to him squirming out of my grasp. I open my eyes to see him stand and take a few wobbly steps before falling. I'm quick to bolt to my feet and catch him before he hits the ground. "Come on man," I scold, "you know it's gonna take some time before your balance comes back."

Lane grumbles something in Korean. I settle him on his feet and he stands while gripping my arm tightly.

"How about we go for a walk and explore a little? Get yourself used to walking around a lot again?"

"Oats." Lane says, then groans, frustrated. "Oats. No, Okay!"

He keeps his vice grip on my arm as I lead him out the door and down the steps. His lips are pressed in a tight line, already overwhelmed. The two of us do a few laps around the RV first, Lane walking almost like he's had too much to drink. I make sure he doesn't fall and the two of us hold as much of a conversation as possible with the speech barrier between him and myself.

We're walking down one of the campground trails when I hear a shout. It startles Lane, who drops to the ground and covers his head. I look over my shoulder to see Georgie, who has stopped running towards us and now looks concerned. "It's just Georgie, Lane," I say soothingly, pulling Lane back to his feet. He's shaking slightly but nods.

"Is that Lane?" Georgie says, quieter this time, as he approaches us. "I didn't recognize you with your short hair."

Lane looks up at me with a quizzical look on his face. "What is this?" He asks.

"This is Georgie. He's an old friend." I say.

"What do you mean, WHAT is this?" Georgie pouts, looking put out, "I'm not an object."

Lane looks uncomfortable. "I'm osprey," He apologizes.

Georgie looks at me, confused. "What is he saying?" He asks me.

"Lane is having some issues speaking properly," I explain. "He has an appointment with a speech pathologist but right now we're not entirely sure if it's permanent or not. Please be kind." Lane is squeezing my hand and looking gloomily at the ground.

"Oh. I'm so sorry," Georgie says with a frown. "I shoulda realized, since you were shot in the head and all."

Lane winces and wraps my arm around him. "It's oats." He says. Georgie looks at me.

"It's okay," I translate. Lane sighs.

"Come on, let's catch up with Shoshie. She's making dinner right now." Georgie says with a smile.