Skye lifted herself from the water with the biggest smile that had ever grazed over her face. She could feel the adrenaline rushing through her whole body; a cocktail of excitement and pride. She'd done it. She'd managed first place in the biggest swimming competition she'd ever entered herself into.
Skye had been building up to this moment her whole life and now she'd finally achieved her goal. Her eyes glanced to the side-lines where she saw her brother and sister cheering, alongside her coach. Fog smothered her mind and the next thing she knew, she was stood with a sparkling yet gracious smile accepting her shining, gold medal.
Every inch of her insides were buzzing with joy and it was unlike any feeling she'd ever felt before. This was the feeling that everybody had told her about; the feeling that she would never forget for the rest of her life.
Then everything went black.
Echoes gasped through the room. The sounds were loud but Skye couldn't make out what they were. Was she back in the pool with her head underwater? That was the most similar sound she'd ever experience to this, but she couldn't feel the warm water hitting her body like it usually did. She wiped her hand down her face. No goggles, she definitely wasn't in the swimming pool. After a few more confused moments and various attempts to open her eyes, Skye's eyelids finally fluttered open. With bewildered eyes, she gazed around the room, unable to recognise a single inch of it. She tried to focus on the objects opposite her but it took a few moments before her vision returned. Then she saw it. White walls, a row of beds and other faces; faces of strangers.
She was in hospital.
Of course, she hadn't won anything, she'd just been dreaming. A terribly unrealistic dream that had presumably been caused by all of the drugs that the nurses had given her.
It was sudden, the disappointment that overcame her and it made her mind feel swollen and numb. The competition she'd dreamt about hadn't happened yet, she still had another six days to train before taking part.
Trying hard not to let out a loud sigh, Skye concentrated on the sound of rain toppling down onto the hospital windows. The drips seemed to be getting louder and faster. She didn't much like the rain when she was outdoors in it, but when she was inside it was oddly calming. Skye had never been in hospital before, not overnight or anything. She'd been to the emergency department once or twice with small injuries, but that barely counted. The growing sounds of those around her were as unbearable as the hospital scent and she could feel her mind becoming more panicked by the second. Why was she here? What could have possibly happened? She couldn't recall a thing.
It was the sound of a familiar voice that calmed her anxiety and made her feel more alive. Her brain stopped focusing on the sounds and the smells as her head slid around to view her sister.
"You're in hospital, Skye," her sister, Marcia explained. Skye's eyes tilted suddenly to look at the two people at her bedside. Next to Marcia was her swimming coach, Adam. He was tall and well-build; often called a giant by her friends. You didn't have to look at him twice to know that he was obviously into his sport. You didn't get that much muscle by sitting at home watching television all day.
Skye couldn't remember a time when she'd ever felt this much confusion. Her mind was always so crystal clear and full of life. She was the kind of woman who knew exactly what she wanted and exactly what was going on at all times. She was used to schedules and strict routines. She never stopped pushing herself to be the best person she could possibly be, but this moment was scary and her body had begun to shake; every inch of her wanting to get out of bed and run out of the hospital.
Instead, Skye took a deep breath and rubbed her eyes whilst trying to make sense of what had happened. She knew herself and she would always choose fight over flight. This time she had to remind herself of that. She widened her eyes further and asked, "What's going on?" whilst forcing her memory to kick back into action. It took her a moment or two.
"Do you remember what happened?" asked Adam.
"I... remember a green car speeding towards me." The memory sprung up in her mind so suddenly that it was like she was reliving it all over again. She winced as if a car was going into her at that very moment.
"The vehicle was found dumped, nobody knows whose it was," explained Marcia with a soft sigh. Marcia and Skye had very similar personalities but Marcia was older by a few years. She was a paramedic with a strive to help everybody and whilst Skye didn't have a career quite so important, she still had the same heart-of-gold. "You shouldn't think about that though, you just need to rest up."
"They were drunk, they just came out of nowhere," Skye assumed. Her eyes narrowed, trying to envision more details from the previous night but it just made her body ache more. Adam and Marcia caught eye-contact with one another, both noting what the younger woman was saying.
"I can't stand this," Marcia breathed out all of a sudden; her eyes looking to Adam for the second time. "Please tell her." The older blonde spoke in such a soft yet urgent voice. Her tone was the most comforting tone possible, yet it still wasn't enough to put Skye at ease. In fact, the woman's words made her feel more on-edge than ever.
Skye's blue eyes widened as she looked at the man. "Tell me what?" she asked, in confusion.
Adam sighed before responding, knowing that it wasn't an easy conversation to begin. "You've fractured your femur. They need to do surgery on it and..." Adam took a deep breath. "It could take months to heal."
Skye knew what he meant by this, she could feel her heart drop. The devastation was already visible on her face and the tears were already growing in her eyes but it didn't stop her from asking the question. Until it was spoken aloud there was always hope. "What are you saying?" she hissed, accidentally. She didn't mean to take out her frustration on him. "What about the competition at the weekend?"
There was no way she was going to be doing any form of sport with a broken thighbone, but it was her whole life. Boyfriends and relationships had always come second to swimming. Skye could barely remember the last time she'd been in love with an actual human being. She'd had the odd one-night-stand with a few sportsmen, but nothing serious. Swimming was the one and only thing she went to bed and woke up thinking about.
Under his breath, Adam choked out, "You won't be able to compete on Saturday, Skye."
The big competition. The one that Skye had just won in her dreams. The one that she was perfectly capable of winning in reality. Going from feeling so much joy to so much pain in a short few minutes had been a roller coaster and it was taking some time for Skye to get her head around it. She'd worked so hard for this and so many hours of time had gone into making sure she was fighting fit and ready to get that gold medal. Her parents would be so disappointed. They'd booked the weekend off to come down and see her compete. Now she'd have to tell them to cancel their plans.
Skye's hand fell to her head. "When will I be able to compete?"
Adam sighed with regret. "I can't tell you that. It could be up to a year, if you're lucky six months. Maybe more. It may...never be strong enough for you to compete." He looked away, staring at the floor instead. It was too difficult for him to look into her eyes as he said it and Skye had noticed that. He knew how hard she'd worked for this; he'd been there every step of the way. It was heartbreaking for him too. She was the most professional person he'd ever coached and he knew she could achieve big things. He'd known that since the very first day they'd met. She was always so keen to start training and do her very best. Not many people had that much drive in them. Adam thought she could do even better than he had in his competing days, but now...now all of that may just have been taken away.
Skye could feel tears filling her eyes despite not usually being the type of person who would cry in public. This was the lowest moment of her entire life and she told herself that she was allowed a few tears. Skye was intelligent enough to know that there was a chance she would never be able to compete again, even before Adam had admitted it. Those terrible thoughts were shaking down her body, making her heart feel numb.
"It's okay," breathed out Marcia, reaching over to take hold of her sister's hand. "This will be good for you, you've needed a rest for years. And then you can get back to it and you'll be back and better than ever."
Though she wasn't usually such a negative person, Skye was certain her sister's words were only spoken as comfort, rather than honesty. The blonde bit down on her thumb before throwing her arms down either side of her. She needed a punch bag, or a wall, or just anything she could throw her anger into.
Despite selling her heart to her career, Skye was still a people person. She enjoyed making new friends and socialising with old ones, however, today she wanted none of that. She sent her sister and Adam off so she could get some sleep, still feeling the affects of the crash. Skye could feel nauseating pain surrounding her body and she wasn't even able to get off of the hospital bed without calling a nurse to help her. For somebody so perfectly independent, that was one of most difficult parts of having to rest up in a hospital.
A couple of days had passed of Skye staring at white walls, growing frustrated by other patients and having to ask nurses to do everything for her. By this time she was craving some more friendly interaction so beamed at the sight of her best friends, Cassandra and Niamh arriving. Cassandra greeted Skye with a gentle hug, whilst Niamh took a seat. Niamh didn't want to hurt her friend and could see from just a single look that she was such intense pain.
"Ya didn't half give us a scare," Cassandra breathed out, relieved to finally see her friend in a half-decent condition. "Don't they wash your hair in here?" she questioned with a look of disgust after brushing her hand through Skye's blonde locks.
"Ignore her, we're just glad you're okay," Niamh corrected, passing Skye a friendly smile.
Skye replied with a sigh, "I'm so sleepy, I only came out of surgery earlier." She wished she could find more excitement that her friends were there but her mood was so negative, not to mention speaking caused her whole body to flair up in pain.
"Well you look like you're on the mend," commented Niamh in her comforting, Irish accent. Her beautiful thick, dark hair fell below her shoulders. Skye had always thought she was so naturally pretty.
Cassandra disagreed with Niamh. "She's lying."
"Shut it, Cass. Our girl needs some cheering up."
"I need ya to get better so we can go out. You know Niamh can't handle more than a couple of drinks," moaned Cassandra. You wouldn't think the older blonde was thirty-five years of age. Seven years older than Skye and she still acted far less mature.
Skye shuddered. "I'll have a lot of time on my hands to do that soon." She averted her gaze away from her friends in an attempt to stop her tears. It didn't work very well so she brushed them away quickly with her finger. Even though they'd been friends for such a long time, only Niamh had ever seen her cry and that was only once or twice.
"What do you mean, darling?" Niamh questioned, putting her hand on Skye's knee - the leg that wasn't injured.
"Adam's had to ban me from competing until my thigh heels, which could be a very long time."
Cassandra commented, "Who gives a fuck what Adam says. You'll be the only one who knows when ya ready." She was from Manchester originally so her accent was northern, but she was adopted by a family in Trecco Bay when she was young.
"He's my coach, he knows what's best for me. I can't even walk right now, I can't even move."
"Well all the more time to spend with us. There's a positive in everything, as you always say," encouraged Niamh with a bright smile. Skye sent a similar smile back, their souls were very similar despite their 7 year age difference.
"Every cloud, huh?" she giggled, soon turning her laugh into wheezing at the pain throughout her body.