Thursday ~ September 25th
As I walked through my front door I was engulfed by the shouting of my parents. I slipped up the stairs to my room, locking the door behind me, as if it would block out the noise. It didn’t help. I sat on my bed and stared at my homework. I couldn’t focus, so I slipped my earphones in and turned up the music. That was better. No more fighting. My pencil scratched across the paper but my mind wandered to places other than algebra. This was the third fight this week, and again it was about some stupid little thing that didn’t even matter. I didn’t understand why mom and dad couldn’t just work it out like any other civilized couple. My stomach growled, interrupting my thoughts. I was starving but I wasn’t going to chance being caught in the middle of that argument. I could wait. I went back to algebra and continued to scribble out answers.
The next time I looked up from my homework it was almost ten. How did time go by so fast? I glanced at the stack of homework on my bed and sighed. Just one more paper and I’m finished. However before I got the chance to start on my English assignment my stomach growled, again, and it hit me that I am extremely hungry.
“I’ll finish you after I eat.” It’s said with a laugh, as if the unfinished paper cares when it’s written. That’s absurd, because papers don’t have feelings.
I tramped down the stairs, through a hallway, and into the spotless kitchen. There’s a cat asleep on our counter, he’s not our cat though. Jack belongs to our neighbor, but somehow he always ends up sleeping in our house. It’s kind of weird if you think about it, and I laughed again.
The fridge is practically empty and so are the cabinets. I was just about to go back to the fridge when the phone rang. I waited expecting one of my parents to answer it, but they didn’t. I ignored it assuming it was no one important. That is until the answering machine came on.
“This message is for the family of Denis Grant, from the Tallahassee Capitol Medical Regional hospital…”
The word hospital caught my attention and before I had a chance to process what I just heard my hand is snatching at the cordless phone.
“Hello?” I forget all pleasantries. Do they even matter right now?
“Hi. I’m calling to inform the family of Mr. Denis Grant that he has been admitted into our facility and-” but the rest of her words don’t register with my brain. My mind is spinning the moment she says my dad is in the hospital.
“I…I…” but there is nothing I can say. I simply drop the phone with the nurse still on the other end, and run out my front door. This is Tallahassee Florida, not New York City, so of course there are no taxies looking for a passenger. I’m not thinking straight, so I run with all my energy, towards the hospital. If my head were clear I might have taken my bike and gotten there faster, but that is the last thing I was thinking about. I huffed and puffed the whole way; I am definitely no runner. My side cramped and has forced me to a fast walk, but I don’t stop, I can’t.
I can see the giant hospital sign in the distance. Five more blocks, I keep walking. Two more blocks, and now I’m pushing myself to go faster, and faster. Finally I reach the automatic doors and slip inside. It smells of cleaning chemical, and nothing else. The feeling in the air is depression, and fear. Sitting in front of me is a massive desk with several tired nurses behind it, and a pitiful vase full of wilted flowers. I approach one of the nurses nervously, with an anxious expression on my face.
“Excuse me?” She looked up with a tired smile. Her nametag says “Amy.”
“Yes dear?” Her voice is soft and comforting, as if she knows the only reason I’m standing in front of her now is about to break my heart.
“I…uh got a call earlier about my dad. Do you…um know who I could talk to? Or if I can see him?” She sighs.
“What’s his name dear?”
“Denis Grant.” I can’t stop biting my bottom lip, and like so many times before I broke through the skin. It tasted bitter, complementing my fearful mood.
“He is in surgery sweetie. I can have a nurse take you to a waiting room and possibly get you some information on him.” I just nod. I can’t speak; my mind won’t allow me to. It’s whirling too quickly to allow words to pass my lips. And besides what would I say? She looks at me with a sorrowful expression, before calling to another nurse. This time it’s a man. He places his arm around my shoulders and guides me gently to an elevator. We rise three stories in complete silence; his arm still resting on my shoulders. I’m sure the gesture is meant to be comforting, but the weight of his arm only adds to the weight of my fears that are resting on my shoulders. The elevator dings, and the doors slide open, again in silence. Thankfully he removes his arm, and my body floods with relief.
He guided me to a small sitting area, and gestured to a seat.
“I will see if there is any information on your father’s condition.” I nodded, and watched as he walked away.
Millions of scenarios flash through my head of what might have happened to my dad. A car wreck possibly. Did he take his car? I can’t remember if it was in the driveway when I left or not. What if he walked instead and got hit by a bus? Wouldn’t he be dead if that happened? Or maybe he got beaten up by some drunken man? I kept biting my lip harder and harder; the bitter taste of blood filling my mouth. Everything around me was fuzzy. Voices sound like low buzzing and the lights are dimmer than I know they are in reality. It’s like my brain is trying to block out all the other information coming from this room, and solely focus on the fear that has captivated my heart.
I didn’t notice the nurse standing in front of me. At least I didn’t until he shook my shoulder slightly.
“Miss?” I blinked in an attempt to focus on the man standing before me.
“Yes?” I asked and drew in a shaky breath.
“Your father is still in surgery. Someone will let you know how he is doing when he is out.”
“Okay. Um, do you know what happened? Why is he here?” I couldn’t keep sitting here making up wild stories. I would go mad, like the little guy who drinks tea in that adventure book I read when I was ten.
“He got in a fight at a bar.” I didn’t say a word, just nodded. He was drinking again. That was the only thought in my mind now. He was drinking.
The nurse left me sitting there, waiting for more concrete news. It felt like I had been sitting in this plastic chair for hours. Nurses rushed back and forth and the occasional janitor sulked past. How did they do this every day? How did they watch so many people roll though those doors, never knowing if they would make it back out alive? Was it easier if you didn’t know them? I wasn’t sure. My eyes drooped shut, attempting to lure me to sleep, but I forced them open again. As I did, I glanced at a group of scrub clad people, and realized that one of them was pointing at me. I watched silently in fear as a beefy man approached me, with a grim look plastered to his face.
“Miss Grant.” His eyebrows raised in question.
“Yes sir. How is my father?” His face turned to stone for a moment, completely expressionless, as I scanned it for answers. This made me anxious, and my heart beat even faster. Just before he spoke it softened into a sympathetic frown.
“He…didn’t make it though surgery. I’m truly sorry Miss. We did everything we could.” I felt numb. How could he be gone?
“Is there any other family I should speak to?” I stared at the floor through tear filled eyes.
“Um my…mom.” I had forgotten all about her. Where was she? Surely she should be here.
“Why don’t you go home, and get some rest. There isn’t anything you can do here. We will get in touch with your mother.” They seemed like empty words, words without meaning. I nodded mutely and watched as he walked away.
I don’t know where my mind was. After the doctor left me I wandered down several halls looking for the elevator. I was clearly lost, but it was as if I were invisible because no one helped me. I was nearly trampled by several nurses running with a gurney, their patient leaving a trail of dark blood on the floor. A janitor attempted to mop the blood up, but it only smeared. I watched as it swirled along with my thoughts. What had happened? The motion of the mop and the dark red color were mesmerizing. It took me a while to realize that I was now treading quietly down yet another hall. I passed several monitors, all of which were playing accidents around town, or flashing alerts. I didn’t pay them much attention, until a woman’s face caught my interest. She was reporting from a crash sight. The screen read “one dead, one severely injured.” My mind flashed back to the racing nurses and the trail of blood. Then it trailed back to my dad, conjuring images of his face, bruised and bloody. Then he disappeared. I bit my lip until I tasted blood again. It was a pathetic attempt to stifle the sob that escaped my mouth a second later.
“Daddy!” My mind shut down. I couldn’t think anything. I just ran; down one hall then the next, until finally I found my way out of this labyrinth of death.
The cold night air was a stark contrast to my warm cheeks. It swirled around me; embracing me in a chilling hug, numbing my body further.
I allowed my body to carry me wherever it pleased. I didn’t know where I was until I realized I was standing still. My eyes searched the familiar door that faced me. This was my home. My hand shook violently as I gripped the knob and pushed the door open. There were no angry voice to greet me this time; just cruel silence. I slipped up to my room, and sank down onto my bed. There was nothing left for me to do now so I pulled the covers around me tightly, I cried myself to sleep.