Reading Between the Lines

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Chapter 10

Despair. Emptiness. Confusion. These are just a few of the emotions I’ve felt since hearing the impending news about my mother. Tears had been spilling out of my eyes and down my face for almost an hour. I didn’t care. I didn’t care about anything. The one thing I truly cared about in the world, besides the bookstore and Hazel, was dying in a hospital bed and there wasn’t a single thing I could do about it. It absolutely fucking sucked.

After watching my mother's pale, passed out body in the hospital bed for nearly an hour I walked out of the room. I knew with this latest news I’d be in no shape to run the store for who knows how long. I had to call Hazel and tell her.

As I waited for her to pick up the phone, my eyes drifted down the hallway at the surrounding people. I’ve always hated hospitals. They were cold, unemotional, ruthless places filled with nothing but people going through the worst moments of their lives.

After a few moments, Hazel finally picked up the phone. “I was wondering where you were. I knew you left with Michael, but I was thinking to myself that there’s no way you could be gone for this long- “

“Hazel- “My voice broke as fresh tears fell down my face. “Moms in the hospital. It’s a long story but- I need you to close down the store for the rest of the week. Lets our distributors and customers know as well.”

“Holy fuck. Yeah, of course, Cassandra. I’ll take care of everything. Do you need anything from me? Anything at all?”

“If you could drop by the house and grab a bag of some clothes, toiletries stuff like that for me that would be- great.” I cleared my throat before continuing. “I don’t know how long I’m going to be here.”

“Sure. I’ll be there in a few hours after I close the shop up. I’ll stop by and grab some dinner too. I know how much you hate hospital food.” A sad chuckle escaped my lips as I began to walk back towards my mother’s hospital room.

“I know this is probably the wrong time to mention this but- Samuel stopped by again looking for you. By the worried expression on his face, something tells me he knew about your mother. I’m sure he’ll be tracking you down now.”

“Great, just fucking great.” I roughly ran a hand through my tangled hair. “Alright, thanks for giving me the heads up.” I ended the call just as I entered the hospital room.

As I approached my mother’s hospital bed, I prayed that there was some change since I had last been in the room. Nothing. Not even so much as a finger moving in her sleep. The doctors said she’d be out for a while with the pain medication they gave her but gave me no indication of when that would be.

I pulled one of the rickety wooden chairs to the side of her hospital bed. I propped my feet up on the metal rungs of the bed, preparing myself for the long night ahead of me

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It was thirty minutes until midnight and there was virtually no change. Mom had woken up for 20 minutes, enough to coherently get a grasp on the situation then promptly fell back asleep. After she fell back asleep, I pulled the chair away from the bed just enough to get some breathing. Hazel brought the bag when she had just woken up, so she was able to talk to her as well.

As I watched Hazel interact with her, I couldn’t help but feel slightly selfish in my actions. Hazel thought of her as a mother as well, how could I think that I was the only one that mattered to her?

My eyes were glazed over at the small television that hung on the wall. A rerun of the Big Bang Theory was playing but I wasn’t paying attention to it in the slightest, my mind was too clouded with distraction. I wasn’t distracted enough, however, to not change in my pajamas which consisted of a ratty old t-shirt and a pair of sweatpants that have seen better days.

I was so distracted in fact that I didn’t hear the knock at the door and the subsequent footsteps of someone entering the room. Turning my head, I saw Samuel slowly approaching me and my mother, as if we were bombs ready to go off.

“Pre-warning, I’m not in the mood for your bullshit tonight,” I spoke gruffly, my eyes glued to the screen. Samuel chuckled as he moved to stand beside me.

“Fair enough. How long have you been here?”

“Since she’s gotten here. And I’ve up since 6 AM.” As if on cue, I yawned, stretching in the small chair.

Samuel’s eyes briefly laid on a couch tucked against one wall of the room. “Why don’t you get some sleep, Cassie? She’ll probably be out for the rest of the night.”

I raised my eyebrow as I looked at him. “How would you know?”

“Because I may or may have not told the RN on duty that I was one of the reporting officers on scene and that I needed to know of your mothers’ condition for the report.” He shrugged his shoulders as he approached me.

Without saying anything, Samuel grabbed my hand on his way past me and pulled me out of the chair. He walked over towards the couch with me in tow behind him. Once he was comfortably seated, Samuel pulled me over to lay down, my head resting on his lap.

“What the hell are you- “

“I’m making sure you get some sleep because I know the second, I leave this room you won’t.” As he spoke, Samuel ran his fingers through my hair. Hesitantly at first, then eventually eased into it.

I hate to admit it, but after a few minutes the lulling motion of his hand through my hair, I began to yawn. The tension slowly left my body as my eyes started to shut on themselves.

“Why are you doing this? Why are you here?” I managed to get out between yawning.

“Because Cassandra, you need to let people take care of you for once. Especially in times like this.” Samuel’s voice dropped to a whisper as his fingers stopped moving. He leaned down to gently place his lips on my forehead. They stayed there for a few moments before he pulled away, his fingers resuming their repetitive motion through my hair.

“I’ll be here, every single time you need me.”

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SURPRISE UPDATE!!! Because we all need a little Cassandra and Samuel to help us through this dilemma that is COVID-19. At least, that's what I hope so anyway ;)

~Miranda~

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