Painkillers and Revenge
The soft, tender earth cushions my rigid body while crisp, cold wind surrounds me causing my hair to dance around in the air, defying gravity. I look up at the night sky and notice the bleak darkness that holds not a single star. I let out a sigh. Never mind there being no stars in the sky. There is something beautiful in the eeriness of tonight’s atmosphere.
I feel a gentle touch on my fingertips that sends warmth throughout my entire body. Turning my head slightly to face the direction of the touch, I notice a red light in the distance. I’ve seen that light before, and even though I can’t remember where I’ve seen it, I know that it must have been a special occasion. A smile creeps onto my face.
“I’m sorry,” a faint voice says from beside me. I turn to see the silhouette of a person lying down beside me, shielded by the darkness of the night. Even though I am unable to see the person, I know exactly who it is, and it makes me happy.
“It’s fine,” I reply focusing on the peacefulness of my surroundings. Recalling everything and nothing at the same time, I allow my mind to wander.
“I love you,” the person whispers. “I love you so much.”
“I know,” I say gazing into the darkness above me, basking in its beauty.
My eyes fly open and I begin to take in my surroundings. I am in a small white room. Beeping sounds come from monitors beside the bed that I am lying on and I know, int that moment, that I am in a hospital. I turn to my right and see Naya sleeping on an armchair. She’s still wearing the clothes she wore at the club, which indicates that I haven’t been here for too long. How did I get here, though?
My head begins throbbing and the sensation intensifies the more I search my thoughts. The last thing I remember is a black and yellow car. A taxi, right. And I was running after the taxi, but why? I try to ignore the increasing pain in my head as I reach for the last bit of memory. My eyes widen as I recall the reason for running after the taxi.
“Angela,” a faint whisper leaves my lips. My throat feels dry and I cough.
“You’re awake,” Naya says while rubbing her eyes. When she looks at me, I can’t help but sense discomfort in her eyes. Maybe it’s the drugs being pumped into my blood causing me to hallucinate, but I feel like I can almost see the regret in her eyes. It’s my fault. Naya was having a great time at the club and I ruined it when I decided to run out chasing after my supposedly dead sister.
“How are you?” I ask Naya, my headache only worsening with each word that leaves my mouth. She looks surprised at first, then lets out a nervous laugh.
“I should be asking you,” she says. “You’re the one who got hit by a car.” I allow her words to sink in. Oddly enough, I don’t remember being hit by a car. Naya sees the look of confusion on my face and begins to explain the events of last night. I focus on every word she says, trying to absorb as much information that I can. Turns out, I was hit by an oncoming car and was knocked unconscious. Naya was walking over to join me at the bar, but I ran out of the club. She followed me and by the time she had caught up with me, I was already lying unconscious in the middle of the road.
“Blood was everywhere,” she explains with a sad look on her face. Just what I needed, more pity. “Some people even fainted. You’re lucky to have survived that much damage.” The thought of blood makes me feel lightheaded. I wouldn’t call it luck to have to sit through this headache.
The door opens and a man walks in. He’s wearing green scrubs and holding a clipboard in one hand. The hem of his sleeves molds perfectly around his biceps, revealing toned muscle. A stethoscope peaks out from inside of his pants pocket. Doctor, he’s a doctor, I think. An extremely attractive doctor. Oh god, what has gotten into me all of a sudden?
“Hadley DeWitt,” his deep voice echoes through my body in ways that I cannot explain. I glance at Naya and notice that she’s feeling the same way. The doctor stands on the foot of my bed and looks at his clipboard.
“I’m Wyatt, a senior resident here,” he pauses, “How are you feeling?” I sense concern in his voice. Of course, he’s concerned, he’s my doctor. Finding myself speechless, I manage a smile and a slight nod.
“Alright, so you’ve been in a collision with a car,” he says this so nonchalantly it makes me question how often he has patients who have been hit by a car. “You hit the back of your head on the hood of the car, so you should be feeling some pain there now that you’re conscious. You have a fractured tibia from where the bumper of the car contacted your right leg. We’ve reset the bone so that it can heal properly, but you will still be needing physical therapy.”
“Where can I –” I wince at the pain in my head and my leg. This headache is making it extremely difficult to speak. Naya puts her hand on my shoulder.
“She needs something for the pain,” she says. I’m glad she’s here. After having practically abandoned her all those years ago, it’s surprising to think that she’d still be so kind to me.
“A nurse will be coming by with some fentanyl, don’t worry,” Wyatt smiles at Naya then me. He has a cute smile. I find myself thinking about his smile even after he leaves the room. A nurse walks in and introduces herself as Alara, who turns out to be Naya’s friend from college. The fentanyl takes a while to kick in, but when it does, it is a feeling of pure bliss.
“So, that doctor, huh?” Naya says after Alara leaves.
“What do you mean?” I ask even though we both know that we’re thinking the same thing. It’s just a matter of who will admit it first.
“He is so,” – come on, Naya, say it. – “hot.” There it is. I laugh out loud. How could I have forgotten about her? Feelings of guilt tug at my heart. I’ve been a terrible friend to her for all these years and she isn’t bitter about it one bit. And here we are, gushing over an attractive doctor, as if nothing has changed.
“Hadley, come on, he’s super hot,” Naya says pulling me out of my thoughts. “Of course, you don’t think so, you have a boyfriend.”
“What?” I feel the smile leave my face. Did I hear that right?
“Yeah, your boyfriend,” Naya responds as she sits up in the armchair. “He stayed here until after the surgery, never once letting go of your hand. He left about an hour ago.” The walls of my throat rub against one another, making it difficult to swallow or even breathe. I don’t have a boyfriend.
“Naya, I’m not seeing anyone,” I say. Her eyes widen at my words and she gasps.
“Oh my god! Who was he?” her cheeks flush red, and I can tell that she feels guilty. “He didn’t actually say he was your boyfriend; I just kind of assumed.” Her pupils dart across the room as if she is thinking hard. She perks up suddenly before saying, “Adrian”. My eyes widen at his name.
“Yes, yes that’s it! He said his name was Adrian,” she says looking to me to see if I recognize the name. I just stare back at her blankly, fighting the urge to jump to conclusions.
“Adrian Lancaster?” I ask. Part of me hopes that it was just a stranger named Adrian and not that Adrian.
“I think so,” Naya replies. Those three words are all it takes to send me spiraling into panic. How would he even know where I was unless…I shake my head. He couldn’t possibly be stalking me. All men are the same, I hear his voice again. I’ve noticed that lately, he creeps into my head every time I think about Adrian. It’s as if I’m incapable of moving on.
“He’s just someone I used to work with,” I say to Naya, who is eagerly waiting for an explanation. She doesn’t need to know the whole truth yet.
“I don’t believe you,” she says, and I’m taken aback. “He was literally saying how much he loves you while you were unconscious. Honestly, it’s none of my business, but I find it hard to believe that he’s just someone you used to work with.”
I allow her words to sink in. Adrian loves me. If this is the case, then why would he fire me? Why would he be so inconsiderate about it afterwards?
That’s not love, that’s regret, something I am quite familiar with.
The following two weeks are a lengthy bore. I’m required to undergo physical and mental therapy everyday to ensure optimum recovery. Each day is the same as the last, and the repetitive nature of it is beginning to take a toll on me. The only part of my day that I enjoy is when Flo or Naya come to visit. No offence to the hospital staff, who are amazing people, but I’m ready to leave this place.
I’m doing everything I can to recover as soon as possible. Part of my physical therapy is being able to climb five steps using my crutches without any help. Yesterday, I made it to the last step, but stumbled at the very end, so I had to stay for another day.
Today is going to be the day, I think as I stand at the bottom of the steps, a crutch under each arm. I steady myself after each step, focusing on the next step. Alara stays near me in case I lose my balance. When I reach the top of the final step, I sigh out in relief. I’ve done it. I can finally leave this place.
I turn to Alara, who has a wide grin on her face. Over the past two weeks, she has been extremely patient with my antics. I’ve made a new friend and I have that drunk driver to thank for hitting me with his car and landing me in this hospital.
“So,” I say to Alara.
“So,” she responds.
“Thank you,” I say. I don’t know what I could say at this moment. Goodbyes never come out the way I want them to.
“My pleasure,” Alara says. Her words feel genuine, a feeling I haven’t felt in quite some time.
We walk back to my room, so that I can get dressed. I call Naya and let her know I’ll be discharged in a couple of hours to which she responds with a squeal so loud I might have to get my ears checked while I’m still at the hospital. It’s weird to think how close we’ve gotten in such a short amount of time. Sure, we were friends for most of our lives, but the odd gap in our college years really dented our friendship. I’m glad we’re back to how things were, though.
“Alright, I’ll be there in a bit to pick you up,” Naya says. I thank her and hang up. I lean my crutches against the side of the bed and lay down with my legs hanging over the edge.
For the first week since the accident, the pain was unbearable. No amount of morphine or fentanyl would suffice and since I couldn’t walk, I had to be wheeled around in a wheelchair. It was the most disabled I had ever been, and I despised every minute of it. I hate being unable to take care of myself; it makes me feel weak. But you’re not weak, I hear Angela’s sweet voice. If there’s one good thing that’s come out of this accident, it is that now I know my sister didn’t die in that fire three years ago. With that thought, I close my eyes and fall into a soft slumber.
“It’s time,” Alara’s voice wakes me up. I prop myself up on my elbows, then slowly onto my palms as I sit upright. Although my leg doesn’t hurt anymore, I still try to be careful with my movements.
“Sweet,” I say as I reach for my crutches. I steady myself on one crutch first before taking the second one under my other arm. Once I’m ready, I look to Alara with a huge grin. I can’t contain the excitement. I have too many questions and staying confined to a hospital won’t answer them.
“Just need you to sign the discharge papers, first,” Alara says motioning me to follow her. I try my best to keep up with her confident stride, wobbling along behind her. We reach a desk where she hands me a pen and the discharge papers. I sign the papers, flipping through the pages one by one. When I reach the last page, I notice that it is a receipt for my stay here at the hospital. And apparently, someone has already paid off the expenses.
“Um, Alara,” I say pointing at the page. “Why does this say ‘PAID’?”
“Oh, a woman paid on your behalf,” she replies. I stare back at her, confused. “It was yesterday, I think. She said she was your mother.”
Well, shit. I haven’t talked to my mother in two years. I think about all the ways she could’ve found out about this. Perhaps Naya told her as a courtesy. I’ll have to ask her when she comes to pick me up. I feel my temperature rising and beads of sweat form on my palms. My mother doesn’t just pay for something and expect nothing in return. As I walk out of the glass doors toward the parking lot, I can’t help but think about what my mother wants.
I know exactly what she wants.
She wants revenge.