The Hip Trip
“This has been, like, the worst spring break ever!” Angela’s whine echoed in the hospital parking garage.
“I’m sorry the timing hasn’t been more convenient for you,” she said in a tight whisper. “But Nana Rose needs someone to watch out for her since her nursing home was damaged in those earthquakes. And you weren’t doing anything but hiding in your room anyway.”
“But that’s not my fault!” came the whine. “It’s that stupid Jane the Snitch’s fault! She hit ME in the face, remember? With, like, a roller skate? Remember?”
“Yes, dear, I remember,” her father grumbled, leading them to the hospital's entrance.
“Why does Nana Rose have to live in Indiana, anyway?” Angela continued, oblivious to anything but her own pain. “This place is for losers! Hicks and losers and boring people!”
“Angela, dear,” her mother tried again to keep from snapping at the 14 year old. “Why don’t you look at the bright side? You’ll be…able to tell your friends all about the plane ride and the drive here…”
“To Loser-ville?” Angela scoffed. “No, thank you.”
“This is not ‘Loser-ville,’ Angela,” her father sighed, finally finding the right door and putting down the suitcases to unlock the door. “I grew up here. I’m not a loser, am I?”
Angela rolled her eyes and looked away.
“This is so unfair!” Angela sniffed, following her parents into the hospital. “Why am I getting punished like this?”
She felt miserable. She had two black eyes, a totally gross bandage that covered her nose and half of her face, all thanks to that stupid Jane the Snitch’s rollerskate and her mom had forgotten to pack her hairspray so her hair was flat and hideous.
Could her life get any worse?
Nana Rose was asleep when they finally got up to her room. The doctor said they had her on some serious medications that just made her, like, really sleepy all the time, but when Angela asked why they were even visiting her if she was just going to sleep the whole time, her mom told her to go get a soda from the vending machine.
Her parents were, like, completely incapable of understanding how hard her life is!
She walked down the hallway, passing a room with some boy reading to a girl in a cast on, like, everything. Maybe someone should tell him the girl is clearly asleep and he’s obviously wasting his time. Plus that book sounded super boring. At the end of the hall, she found the vending machine, but they were out of diet. Exhausted, she sat down in the nearest chair and put her head in her hands.
“You okay?” a woman’s voice asked. She sat up and looked at a concerned lady with red hair in a flannel and jeans.
“No,” she whined. “They’re out of diet.”
“I think there’s another pop machine on the first floor,” the woman sniffed. “I don’t know if they’ll have diet, but they might.”
“Fine, I guess I’ll try that next,” Angela stood up and started walking away.
“Did that happen in the earthquake?” the woman asked. Angela stopped and looked back. The woman pointed at her nose.
“No, I was attacked by a girl at my school,” Angela whimpered. “I don’t even know why.”
“Oh, that’s awful,” the woman soothed.
“My dad pressed charges,” Angela went on, welling up tears. “But she, like, vanished or something because the paperwork was never, like, processed, I guess? So, I’m really scared she could attack again.”
“That must be terrible,” the woman shook her head. “Do you know her name? Does she go to Hawkins High? I’m sure my—my daughter’s friends could look out for her…”
“That’s so sweet of you,” Angela nodded. “But this happened where I live. In California.”
“You might be safer there,” the woman went on. “I mean, well, with all that’s happened here…maybe a school bully isn’t as bad as you think.”
“It’s still, like, really bad,” Angela scoffed. The woman nodded and pointed at the room where the boy was still reading to the girl in a body cast.
“That’s my daughter in there,” she explained. “She loves to…loved to ride her skateboard everywhere. Now she’s in a coma because of an earthquake that…we were prepared for earthquakes in California. How did it happen here? In Indiana? They don’t even know if she’ll ever wake up…or…” the woman stopped talking with a sob. Like Angela needed to hear her whole life story.
“Yeah, that must be hard,” she nodded. “I better go. Bye!” She turned on her heel and walked off to the elevator.
There were people everywhere. And they all kept asking the same question, “where were you when the earthquake struck?” She was so bored of them all. Earthquakes happen, like, a lot. These backwards hicks didn’t even know to stand in doorways? Please. That was on them. By the time she found the only soda machine in the whole hospital that had any diet options, she was so tired of hearing about broken dishes and weird lights and missing friends. She opened her Diet Coke and sat down in the nearest waiting area and stared at the TV in the corner until her mother came and found her. The news was going on about some local loser who had been committing murders in the days leading up to the earthquake.
Angela decided it was probably because he was so bored.
Nana Rose woke up finally around three, which was hours after they had arrived, and she was only awake for, like, ten minutes before she got another dose of morphine or something and fell asleep again.
Angela had painted her nails and read the same magazine twice before her parents finally decided it was okay to go to dinner around five-thirty. They drove outside of town to some gross diner. Angela’s dad said it was on the way back to the hotel, so it was easier on all of them. But it wasn’t easier on her, since the only thing she could eat and stay on her diet for cheerleading was limp lettuce with four cherry tomatoes.
It was like her parents were trying to sabotage her at every opportunity.
At least when they got back to the hotel, she was able to call her boyfriend Jake. She told him how miserable the whole trip was and he told her how much he missed her and how Jenny R was throwing a party that he was going to have to go to without her because Courtney and Jenny Q and Tommy and Rider were all going and he didn’t want to be a loser who stayed home all the time just because his girlfriend was out of town. Then her dad told her to hang up because it’s long-distance and he didn’t want to pay an arm and a leg to overhear her teenage woes.
The next day was the same. Up and dressed at 8:00 to drive forever to the hospital where Nana Rose was sleeping soundly and Angela was completely forgotten about. The magazines her mom had picked up in the hotel shop were from, like, two months ago practically and she still hadn’t found her brand of hairspray, so her hair was still limp and flat and this morning, there was a new zit on her cheek – probably because of that gross greasy diner they stopped at for dinner!
She finally got permission to go to the vending machine on the first floor again and sat in the small waiting area with a Diet Coke and an out-of-date magazine and barely listened to the soap opera on the TV in the corner.
“I thought you said that appointment was for your leg,” a new voice cut into her train of thought. Angela turned and saw two guys – one really cute with amazing hair and the other one a total nerd. She immediately decided they were, like, brothers, maybe or possibly cousins, because there was no way they could hang out for any other reason. The older one was a total hottie. The younger one? Total loser nerd – with braces, no less.
“Steve, you have got to have those bites checked out,” the nerd was saying. “They could be infected!”
“They’re not infected!” the hottie with the hair – Steve – was insisting. “I think by now I know how to tend a wound.”
“But they’re, like, seeping,” the nerd was saying, his face scrunched up. “I don’t think that’s normal.”
“They’re open wounds, okay? They bleed and that’s why you have to change the bandages regularly…” Steve said, completely oblivious to how Angela was sitting up and playing with her hair. Usually she didn’t have to work so hard, but she remembered the stupid bandage on her face. Steve glanced over his shoulder before continuing the conversation in hushed tones.
“Besides, what am I supposed to tell the doctor? I was bit by large bats from another dimension?”
“What did you tell people about your neck?” the nerd asked. Steve crossed his arms and looked away.
“People? You mean the guy at KFC yesterday? I said the seatbelt malfunctioned,” he muttered.
“The seatbelt…mal—ok, that might not be the worst thing you could have said…” the nerd shook his head. Angela took the opportunity to investigate Steve’s neck. She could barely see a thin red line along the side of his neck. The nerd was shaking his head.
“Whatever, let’s just go check on Max and Lucas,” Steve suggested. “I mean, if you can walk all the way to the elevator. Do you need me to get you a wheelchair…?”
“Ha, ha, ha,” the nerd replied flatly, limping towards the elevator. Steve waited for his little brother (cousin?) and only then glanced back to see Angela. She smiled at him. He nodded and looked away, heading to the elevator. Angela took the meaning and picked up her magazine and can of soda and followed them.
She got there just as the elevator doors opened, swiftly nudging her way in between the two.
“Oops, sorry,” she smiled. Steve half-smiled and nodded again.
“What floor?” the nerd asked. She barely paid him any notice as she said the floor Nana Rose was on.
“Oh, same floor as us,” the nerd announced. “Are you going to visit Max?”
“Who?” Angela asked, turning to face him finally. “Oh, yeah, Max. We’re old friends.”
“Wow, I’m sorry, I didn’t see the bandage before,” the nerd said. “Are you okay? Did that happen in the…the earthquake?”
“No, a girl at my school attacked me for no reason,” Angela whimpered, glancing up at Steve. He raised an eyebrow at the nerd and nodded again.
“That sucks,” he said finally.
“It really does,” she sniffed.
“What girl at your school?” the nerd boy asked. Angela looked back at him with disdain.
“You wouldn’t know her,” she said icily. “I go to school in California.”
“That makes sense,” the nerd boy nodded, glancing at the lights indicating the floors of the elevator they were passing. “Max is from California.”
“Right,” Angela blinked. “Obviously.”
The elevator dinged and the doors opened. The nerd boy held them and flourished his hand like a total loser trying to impress her.
“After you, milady,” he smiled and she finally realized he had a weird smile. She let out a small laugh and stepped off the elevator into the hallway. Nana Rose’s room was to the left. She stood and waited to see which way Steve went. He stepped off and didn’t even look back at her. He just turned to the right and walked slowly so that Sir Nerdy Limps-a-lot could keep up. The nerd looked back expectantly.
“Aren’t you coming? Max is this way,” he pointed. Steve glanced back. She nodded and started walking towards them.
“We’re some of Max’s best friends,” the limping wonder babbled. “I’m Dustin, this is Steve. It’s really nice to meet some of Max’s old friends from back home.”
“I’m Angela,” Angela breathlessly smiled at Steve, who didn’t seem to notice. He was so good at playing it cool. “How is Max doing? It’s been such a long time since we hung out, but we…haven’t talked in a while. I mean, maybe I shouldn’t be here?”
“Max is still in the coma,” Dustin said softly. “But we’re taking turns reading and at least one of us visits every day. Aside from Lucas. He’s here every day without fail.”
“The doctors said it’s good to hear familiar voices,” Steve shrugged. “So, it might help to have you here.”
“Angela?” Angela’s mother called from the other end of the hallway. “Angela, Nana Rose is awake, come say hello.”
Angela’s eyes nearly popped and she stood still as Steve and Dustin glanced back at her stupid mother. She could feel her jaw drop open as she turned around and glared at the annoying woman. She collected herself and turned back quickly.
“My grandmother is also staying at this hospital,” she said quickly, feeling her face get hot. “But when I learned Max was in a coma here, I couldn’t not visit. I am like, one of his oldest and best friends and I couldn’t possibly stay home knowing my grandmother and Max were both in need. I just need to see my Nana Rose and then I’ll be right in to see him and meet all of his new friends. What room is he in, again?”
Something wasn’t right, Angela could see. Dustin and Steve exchanged looks and then looked to her with confusion.
“Max is…a girl…” Dustin said slowly. “As one of her ‘best friends from California,’ wouldn’t you know that?”
“Now it’s making sense,” Steve nodded. “You didn’t seem like someone Max would hang out with at all. You have no idea who she even is, do you?”
“Are you even from California?” Dustin asked.
“Angela?” her mother’s voice called again. “Angela, who are those boys?”
“I think it’s time for you to go, Angela,” Steve said, tapping Dustin’s shoulder. “We have a friend to visit.”
“Angela!” Angela’s mother’s voice ricocheted down the hall to embarrass Angela even more. She turned away from the “boys” as her called them and walked hurriedly to her Nana Rose’s room, to isolation, to boredom and to more suffering.
The only cute boy she was going to meet in this hellhole of a town and now he would never speak to her again, because of her stupid mother! She couldn’t possibly be more humiliated!
And Jake didn’t answer when she called him that night from the hotel! She tried three times before her dad said she had to stop and just go to bed.
This was the WORST SPRING BREAK EVER...