Life After You

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Chapter 6

Why is waiting so excruciating? We spend half of our lives just waiting. Waiting to wake up, waiting to fall asleep. Waiting in line for your movie ticket, waiting at a red light that takes far too long or waiting on the rain to stop outside so you can continue your plans for the day.

It seems like no matter what you do, you are always waiting. However, the one thing that seems to stand out the most is waiting to die, or... waiting to live.

Landon is currently in that predicament. I, however, am waiting for a miracle.

Landon has been in a medically induced coma for three days now. It has been three days since I have been in this hospital. Three days since I have seen sunlight. Three days since I have been sitting in this chair beside Landon’s bed, not willing to move until he wakes up. Three days of misery.

Riley has been here numerous times checking up on me and offering to drive me home so I can get some real food and some sleep.

Tori comes by after class and fills me in on all the pointless gossip that’s happening around campus, as if I really care how many times Noah has asked about me or about all of the condolences the other students have been giving for Landon.

The truth is I cannot leave this hospital unless Landon is leaving with me, his hand in mine.

I know that isn’t going to happen anytime soon.

I keep placing my warm hand over his lifeless one. I keep waiting for him to show any signs of improvement. Even just a twitch would suffice.

Apparently, the impact of the car that hit him did a lot more than just outer damage. While his right arm was shattered and placed in a cast. His whole right side is also covered in deep purple bruises, including some faint scratches around his face that have almost cleared up. The real danger he faces lies within his head. The impact of the car to his door caused his brain to rattle inside his skull, hitting the front and the backside causing severe swelling and bruising.

They placed him in the medically induced coma to give his brain time to heal properly, though; they still have not given me a time frame of when to expect him awake.

The nurse’s response still gives me nightmares every time I try to get some sleep.

“Could be days, weeks... even months.”

What am I supposed to do? How am I supposed to go on living my life as if everything is fine? I cannot do it.

I won’t do it.

That’s why here I stay. Seated next to Landon, not moving an inch. I want to be the first person he sees when he wakes up. I want to be the first person who tells him that everything is going to be alright. I want to be the first person he hugs, the first person he speaks to.

It is going to be me.

My dad stayed with me the first two days, keeping me company. Due to work, he had to leave this morning even though he wished he could have stayed longer. I helped him go by promising to call him the minute something happens. If something happens.

Landon’s parents are currently staying in a hotel not too far from the hospital, coming by to check on him every few hours. His mom scared me the most. Ever since I saw her walking out into the E.R. waiting area just three days before, her whole demeanor has changed.

The once loud, outgoing, enthusiastically driven woman that everyone knew was now a living ghost. Her emotions are on lockdown and she hardly ever smiles anymore. Except at me. She always smiles at me.

My thoughts were interrupted as the hospital room door slowly swung open.

“Ah, Ms. Harper. How are you today?” The kind nurse asked as she grabbed Landon’s chart from the small slot placed on the foot of his bed.

“Fine. How are you Claire?” I asked, not looking up from Landon.

“I’m doing alright. Any changes?” She asked, though she knew the answer.

“Nope. Still nothing.” I sighed, having repeated the same answer numerous times already.

“Don’t lose faith my darling, these things are unpredictable but they always work out the way they’re supposed to.” She tried to reassure, leaving a small squeeze on my left shoulder.

“Landon’s numbers look good this afternoon.” She said with a warm smile after checking a few machines.

I let a small smile escape my lips, but having heard this same information yesterday, it didn’t really spark any hope or enthusiasm.

“I’ll see you later sweetie.”

“Goodbye Claire.” I waved and before Claire left the room, she pulled a small package from her pocket and placed it on the counter giving me a wink.

Once the door clicked shut, I got up to see what it was. My legs were a little wobbly from sitting so long, so I gently balanced myself using the edge of Landon’s bed.

When I got to the counter on the other side of the room, I picked up the package of golden Oreos and smiled. This was the only thing I was able to keep down. I have not had a decent meal since my birthday party on Saturday. Claire noticed I was only able to eat these cookies so she made sure to bring me a pack every time she came to check on Landon.

I loved her for that.

Other than Tori and Riley, Claire has really been there for me during Landon’s road to recovery. She was Landon’s nurse the instant he got to the hospital, and has been every day since.

Sometimes at night, she will even come in the room and sit with me just to talk. I assume she is just trying to take my mind off things, even if it is just for a little while. Still, the gesture is completely appreciated and I hope she continues being Landon’s nurse through the duration of his stay.

I opened my package of Oreos and took a bite when my phone started buzzing on the small bedside table. I picked it up and answered despite not knowing the random number displayed on the screen.

“Hello?”

“Olivia.” I knew who it was instantly.

“What do you want?” I asked coldly.

“I just wanted to see how you are doing and ask if there’s anything you need?”

Is he serious right now?

“I don’t need anything from you, and haven’t for a long time Noah.”

I heard a sigh through the speaker.

“Olivia, please. I just want to make sure you’re okay.” He pleaded.

I scoffed. “Oh, now you want to make sure I’m okay? You should’ve tried that four years ago Noah!” With that, I ended the call and slammed my phone down on the bedside table.

The nerve.

I immediately picked my phone back up and dialed for Tori.

It only rang once before she answered.

“Olivia. What’s going on? Is everything okay?” She sounded a bit panicked and I realized I haven’t called her once since I’ve been in this hospital. Usually she just stops by unannounced and sits with me after school.

“Tori calm down. I’m fine. Landon is the same. I just needed to talk to you.”

I heard her sigh through the speaker. “Damn Liv, you scared me.” The sound of my nickname coming from my best friend seemed to calm me.

“Sorry. Anyways, guess who just had the nerve to call me!”

“Who?” She pleaded.

“Noah!”

“No way... why did he call you?” She demanded, sounding a little annoyed by it.

“He wanted to know if I was okay and if I needed anything.” I said sarcastically.

“Wow, he really does have some nerve. Why couldn’t he ask you that four years ago?”

I laughed. “That’s exactly what I said! Don’t worry, I told him off before hanging up.”

Tori laughed too. I realized then that I had not laughed at all since Saturday and it felt really good.

“I love you Liv.”

“Love you too, Tori.”


The sound of the door clicking open jolted me awake. I instantly felt a pain in my neck from the way I was sleeping in the chair.

Rubbing at my neck, I looked up to find Riley.

“Hey sissy.”

“Hey Rie.”

“You really need to get home and sleep on a bed.” He teased.

“Riley... I can’t.” I looked down at my fidgeting fingers.

“Olivia, Landon is going to be okay. If anything happens, the nurses have you on speed dial. You can’t stay in this room forever.” He pleaded.

“If Landon has to stay in here, then I’m staying with him.”

Riley sighed but nodded.

“Wait! I have an idea!” With that, he left the room in a hurry without another word.

I rolled my eyes and looked at Landon. His face was the same as it has been. Lifeless. The scratches have fully healed now and the bruising on his body was becoming fainter.

His eyes remained sealed shut and his body hasn’t moved an inch. The only thing giving me reassurance was the small movement of his chest going up and down with each small breath the machine makes for him.

The beeping noise from the machine next to his bed has been engraved into my brain. Hearing it is a comfort. Hearing it reassures me that he’s still alive in there, somewhere.

Everytime I look at him, I get a little weaker inside. The beeping from the machine isn’t enough to make the dread decrease within me every second that he doesn’t wake up.

About twenty minutes later, the door swung open and what I saw almost caused me to explode in a series of tears.

Riley and a male nurse pushed in a couch from one of the Labor and Delivery rooms upstairs. They pushed it into the corner of the room next to Landon’s bed. Once they placed it in the right spot, the male nurse pulled off the cushions, and I instantly darted into my brother’s arms wrapping him into a tight hug.

“You got me a bed!” I exclaimed.

“Why of course!” He cheered, hugging me just as tight, careful not to hurt his arm that is still in the cast.

The male nurse finished setting up the bed and after placing three pillows on it and a blanket; he left the room with a smile and a wave.

“You’re the best, you know that?” I stated, nudging Riley’s shoulder with mine.

“Well duh.” He laughed.

Once the laughter died down, we were left in silence again with nothing but the beeping sound to fill it.

Riley sat beside me, tapping his fingers against the arm of the couch.

Finally, he shot up and it nearly gave me a heart attack.

“C’mon Landon. Wake the fuck up! You can’t just lay here for the rest of your life!” He exclaimed, causing me to jump to my feet.

“Riley, calm down.” I pleaded, reaching for his arm.

He yanked away from me and paced to the other side of the room.

“Why isn’t he waking up Olivia?”

“I... I don’t know Riley. Maybe he just needs more time to heal. Maybe he is waiting until he is fully okay before waking up. Maybe he’s having the world’s longest dream.”

Riley huffed and clenched his fists. I saw the glint of a tear rolling down his tan cheek and my heart cracked just a little bit more.

“But you know what Riley...” He looked at me for a second, waiting on my response.

“We can’t keep dwelling on the whys and what ifs. We just have to wait and be patient. We have to stay strong and make sure we are okay so when he does wake up, we are there to help him understand what has happened. We have to make sure we are okay so he will be okay.” I paused, swallowing the lump that made its way into my throat.

Water burned around the rims of my eyes, but no tears fell.

I gently grabbed Riley’s arm and pulled him back over to the couch that is now my bed. I sat him down beside me and gently placed my head against his shoulder.

“We just have to be patient Riley.” I said softly.

I was almost amazed at how well of an actor I was. There was no way I believed anything I said to him.

I was on the verge of falling apart, but maybe if I pretended to have it together, it would actually happen.

“I just...” Riley started, placing his head in his hands.

“What Rie?”

“It’s my fault.” He choked out. “If I hadn’t of taken my eyes off the road, we wouldn’t have gone through that red light. Landon’s gonna die because of me.”

Hearing the words ‘die’ set me off.

“No! Okay, no he’s not going to die Riley!” I rose from my seat and began shouting.

“I can’t believe you would say that to me!” The tears that threatened to fall earlier began flowing freely now. Unable to stop them I quickly placed my hands over my face.

Riley immediately grabbed me and yanked me down into his arms, hugging me tightly.

“I’m sorry Olivia, I’m so sorry.” I clenched my fists around his neck and let out a series of painful sobs.

“He can’t die Riley... he just can’t.”

“I know, and he’s not gonna. He’s going to wake up any day now and tell us he wants pizza.”

I let out a muffled chuckle and pulled myself away from Riley.

“I hope you’re right.”

“Am I ever wrong?” He teased.

“Well....” I trailed off, a tiny smirk on my face.

Riley laughed and nudged my arm. “I’m going to get back; I have a lot of missed work to catch up on.”

“Alright. See ya.”

Riley stood up and hugged me one last time before placing his hand over Landon’s for a quick second. He then walked over to the door and pulled it open.

“Oh, Olivia...”

“Yes?”

“Get some damn sleep!” I rolled my eyes as I heard the door click shut.

I walked over to Landon and left a sweet kiss against his pale cheek.

“Goodnight Landon. I love you.”

I turned the lamp off that stood on the bedside table and I kicked my shoes off before laying down on the couch bed. Despite the springs, it was actually quite comfortable. However, anything is better than the plastic chair I’d been sleeping in.

I engulfed myself with the blanket and while my stomach started to get queasy, my eyes fluttered until they closed, Landon being the last thing I saw before drifting off into a much-needed slumber.

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