Theo and I climbed out of the car and rushed into the hospital in an effort to get away from the rain quickly.
As soon as the sliding doors sealed shut behind us an emotional impact immediately hit me.
It’d been months since I’d been here, and I automatically felt like a terrible daughter. I should’ve went to the community college to be closer to him and visit him everyday.
I read somewhere that being with someone throughout recovery can actually help them. But my priorities seemed to out of order.
My selfish self was too busy trying to get into my dream college with the benefit of getting away from here.
“Amaya?” The nurse at the front desk asked.
I plastered on a sickly sweet smile and walked up to her.
“Claire!” I went around behind her desk and hugged her tight.
In the first few weeks after the accident Claire had been the one to help me understand everything and comfort me through the emotional pain. I had grown to know so many nurses and doctors in the facility, but Claire had always been my favorite since she was always like a second mother to me.
“It’s been too long, young lady.” She told me as we both pulled away from the embrace.
“Yeah I know. College has been hectic and all.” I told her, but it sadly seemed like a lie.
“Oh you kids grow up too fast...and who might this be?” She smirked looking behind me to Theo.
Theo strode up to the desk beside me and lended a hand to Claire.
“Theo.” He said with confidence evident in his voice.
“Claire.” She said back. “Is this your boyfriend, Amaya?”
My face immediately burnt red before I averted my eyes to everything except Claire.
“Haha. Unfortunately I’m not her boyfriend, she’s far too good for a punk like myself.” Theo laughed beside me.
“Ah. Our Amaya here is one of the sweetest girls I know. Although you seem to be clearly decent yourself and mighty handsome if I may so myself.” Claire chuckled.
She was such a mischievous woman for her age. I knew she’d been quite the flirter back in her day from the stories she had told me whenever I was having a bad day which in the early stages had been quite frequent.
Claire was always there to cheer me up when no one else was. My mother had been in her own grief so I had relented in sharing with her my emotional problems to prevent her from having anymore unneeded stress.
“That’s mighty kind of you, Claire. And I thank you. Your husband is a lucky man.” Theo told her.
“That he is.” She agreed.
I watched as Claire went back behind her desk and picked up a file and read it thoroughly.
“Well although I’m an amazing conversationist and extremely attractive, I don’t think you two came to see me. Your father’s been holding steady, Miss Amaya. Going to see him?” Claire asked.
My throats seemed to close up just at the thought of seeing him, but I cleared it and straightened my back. I needed to be strong. It’s what my dad would’ve wanted. He didn’t raise a girl who back down from a fight. “Yeah. Me and Theo.”
“Well go on up. I’ll see you two later, okay?” She said as she walked past us but not before patting me on the shoulder.
“Will do.” I said to her retreating figure before smiling.
I owed so much to her. She had done so much for me, and I’d always be grateful.
I turned back to Theo. “Ready?”
“As I’ll ever be.” He grinned back and held my hand in support.
We got in the currently empty elevator and I pressed the button my finger had been so use to before leaning against the silver wall. I was so nervous.
He probably wasn’t healing since he’s been here all by himself. He was probably all lonely being here in the hospital without me or my mom.
With her job that she had to double up on shifts with since my father had been hospitalized. We no longer had his steady income, and with the new hospital bills, my mom needed more money.
I offered to get a job to help out, but she refused. She said she wanted me focused on my schoolwork and maybe even a social life, but with everything that had happened I think she knew deep down that there was a slim chance of me going after prom queen.
So with her extra work she hardly ever got to see dad. I took it upon myself to come keep him company. Almost every day after school I’d come sit with him and talk about life and do my homework. I’d stay for at least an hour or so before packing up and heading home.
There was never a day that went by where I didn’t blame myself and today was only bringing up all those memories and stabbing feelings.
“Hey, princess. I’m here for you. Everything will be okay.” He told me as he wrapped an arm around my back and held me.
“Thank you. For everything, Theo.” I leaned into him.
“You don’t need to thank me, princess.” He kissed me on top of the head just as the doors to the elevator popped open.
“Oh. This is our stop.” I say while looking up to his towering frame.
“You ready?” He asks.
“As I’ll ever be.” I reply with a sigh.
We pass door after door until we finally arrive at my dad’s room. It’s open, but I remain still and try not to peek.
I need another moment.
I take a deep breath, gather my nerves, and push myself into his room.
So much had changed since I last saw him. The tightly wrapped bandages around the back of his head had clearly been removed. The scratches that covered his face had cleared up completely, only some of them had transformed into scars. The large, dark bruises that covered the strong arms that use to carry me around everywhere as a child had faded and his light complexion was back.
He looked so much better. He seemed to have almost recovered fully. All except for waking up.
My dad had been in a coma for almost a whole year. Doctors said they were surprised he even pulled through with the extent and how many injuries he sustained from the crash.
With the concussion and the contusions on his brain from the impact of the car they expected him to die that night. He’d been taken into surgery to clear up the bleeds on his brain and they nearly lost him, but my dad was strong and pulled through.
But since the crash had done a number on the rest of his body, the doctors decided to put him into a medically-induced coma to help him fully recover without causing extra stress on his body.
I told Theo all of this as I sat on my dad’s beside while he stood behind me ready to offer comfort.
“But anyways, enough medical talk. Theo, this is my dad, Patrick Dawson. He’s great with the grill, loves your football team, and I’m sure he would love to meet you.”
“I wish I could meet him too. If anyway can raise someone as crazy as yourself, I think I’d need to meet him.” He chuckled while playfully bumping into my arm.
“Hey, now! You and I both know I’m not crazy.” I rolled my eyes.
“Yeah okay, sure.”
I grabbed onto my dad’s hand and gave it a tight squeeze. It’d been so long since I’d seen him and I had missed him so much. So much had happened.
“Hey, Mya?” I hear Theo ask from behind me.
“Yeah?” I ask not even turning to make eye contact.
“I’m going to grab some coffee. Want some?” He asked.
I knew the only reason he was going was to give me some time alone with my dad, but at the moment I didn’t care. He was right. With everything that’s been going on, I seriously needed some time to be with him.
Awake or not I still needed it.
“Yeah, sure. Thanks, Theo.” I turned to give him a grateful look.
“Anything for you, princess.” He smiled back before turning on his heel and heading off for our hot beverages.
I didn’t have the heart to tell him that the quickest way to the cafeteria was in the complete opposite direction of where he went, but he’d figure that out on his own...eventually.
I turned back to my father with the grin still on my face.
“Wish you were awake to meet him, dad. He’s actually a great guy. I think I might even more than like him. He’s so compassionate and kind, despite what I had stereotypical thought of him at first. I think even you’d like him, and that’s saying a lot considering you’re a picky old man.” I chuckled.
I sat there in silence as the echoes of my laughs wore off. Normally my dad’s loud laughs would be bouncing off these white walls along with me, but he was currently asleep.
I thought about all the positives that had come from everything. At least my dad lived past the crash and had survived brain surgery. He was even breathing on his own. He didn’t have machine after machine keeping him alive. He wasn’t on life support and didn’t have brain death.
He was doing great. All he had to do was wake up.
“I wish you were awake to meet him. Or so I could tell you all about college. I know I told you I got in and everything, but going for a campus visit versus actually living there are two completely different things. You were right. It’s amazing there, and I love it.”
We sat in more silence before a doctor came strolling in a pristinely clean white doctor coat.
He looked up from his clipboard and saw me sitting there.
“I’m sorry, miss, but this man’s family requested that only family were allowed to visit.” He stood up straight before closing his clipboard of information.
He must’ve been New because I had never seen him walking the halls when I had last been to see my father. Also because all of my father’s doctors knew who I was and my relationship with the man laying in bed beside me.
“Oh. Well actually I’m his daughter. You can ask the nurse or other doctors. I use to come here almost daily to see him.” I admitted standing up.
“Oh goodness. I’m so sorry, Ms. Dawson. I had no idea. I’ve only been on your father here’s case for about a month since I’m new here.” He said with an apologetic look on his face.
“That’s quite alright. I’m Amaya.” I introduced myself before sticking out my hand for him to shake.
“Doctor Ramsin.” He shook my hand with authority.
“Nice to meet you, sir.” I told him before turning back around to my father.
“I came to check up on your father stats to see how he’s doing.” He said before stepping further into his room and looking up at the colorful monitors.
“How’d he been doing lately?” I asked curiously.
I had gotten use to bad or even unchanged news, so I braced myself for either or.
“Actually his brain activity has shown more activity than usual.” He told me before turning to look at me.
I stood there unsure of what that exactly meant. Was that a good thing or a bad thing??
“I’m don’t know a lot, so what does that mean?” I asked.
“Well to be honest we aren’t quite sure just yet. Nothing seems threatening. We do have your dad here scheduled for a head CT. It’ll tell us everything we need to know and we can give you an update later tonight.” He promised.
“Well actually, I’m going to have to go soon. So you’ll probably just be telling my mother.” I told him honestly.
“Then I’m sure your mother would give you an update. It was nice meeting you, Ms. Dawson.” He shook my hand once more before glancing at the monitors one last time and leaving.
I sat back in my chair beside my dad and held his hand again.
My dad had been here all by himself with the occasional drop by of my mother and had to recover mostly on his own.
“I’m sorry, dad.” I said as a single tear drop down my cheek as a revelation came to me. “For the longest time I believed the whole reason you’re in here is because of me. That it was my fault, and I’d go on and on about how really sorry I was about it. And I am still sorry, but the reasons you’re in here isn’t my fault. The events leading up to us getting in the car that night were on me, but us crashing and you ending up in a coma aren’t mine. It’s the stupid guy who decided to drive drunk’s fault. So I am forgiving myself and I hope you forgive me too. But I am sorry I haven’t been here with you while you’ve recovered. I haven’t really been in here since the day I graduated.
As soon as the ceremony ended I sped over here just to show you my cap and gown. Not seeing you in the crowd broke me down. I’d always dreamt of the day I graduated high school. You’d be sitting with mom applauding as I walked across the stage and I’d smile out to you as I grabbed my diploma and mom would snap the picture for her scrapbook and then afterwards we’d go out to eat and celebrate.
But none of that happened. Your seat was taken by Jimmy Tran’s grandmother, who mom later told me only talked about her cats the whole time in vivid detail and with pictures, but guess what dad? It’s okay. It’s alright that you’ve missed so much. I forgive you for that.
I just want you to get better.
I just hope you’ll be awake for my college graduation, my wedding, and the birth of your first grandchild.
I just want you to fight through this. I know you’re strong enough to do it.
I love you, dad.”
I leaned over and kissed him on the forehead just as Theo walked in with two steaming hot cups of coffee.
“Took you long enough.” I chuckled as streams of hot tears poured down my face.
I was happy. I had gotten over my past problems and forgiven myself. I could look my dad in the face know without feeling nothing but guilt. And I had Theo.
Theo was the one to thank for everything. He stuck by me when I told my tale, and didn’t judge me whatsoever. He was there to hold my hand, tell me it wasn’t my fault, and gave me the confidence to admit that to myself.
Theo Thompson was truly my knight in shinning armor.
“You’re welcome, princess.” He smiled back before pulling me in for a big hug.
I held onto Theo as some nurses eventually came and wheeled my dad away from his brain scan. I gave him a big kiss on the cheek and told him I loved him and goodbye since I would’ve already be gone when he returned to his room.
I held onto my dad’s hand as long as I could before the nurses wheeled him completely out of the room.
“He used to always call me bug.” I admitted to Theo while watching the door that my dad had just been taken out of.
Theo probably thought I had lost my marbles, but he didn’t show it. He simply walked up behind me and wrapped his arms around my waist before kissing my cheek. “Why’d he call you that?”
I turned my head to look at him with a small remembering smile. “I use to spend all my time outside as a child in our backyard picking little bugs out of the dirt with my bare hands. Other young girls in the neighborhood called me a weirdo and refused to play with me, but my dad comforted me by spending time outside with me. We set up our own labs and everything inside the backyard shed and called ourselves the “dynamic Dawson doctors duo.” I smiled at the memories. “I had a such a fascination with insects as a child that he told me I might turn into one. That’s how I became “bug.”
“That’s cute. Your dad seems like a great guy.”
“He is.” I leaned back into him while closing my eyes.
It had been an emotional day for me with everything that’d happened. It made me even more exhausted than I was. All I wanted was to plop in the seat that had resided beside my dad’s bed and sleep I knew I couldn’t.
And although I loved being with my dad I knew I needed some time away. Even if I did want to stay, I couldn’t because we had been in the hospital for hours while my mom was currently having a meltdown about me not being there.
I told Theo we should get going before freaking out about Gracie. I had totally forgotten about my own dog.
“Don’t worry. While on my long coffee expedition, I walked Gracie. She’s totally okay. I promise.” Theo said before grabbing my hand and walking alongside me.
We had walked back down to the lobby where we came in and we had been sure to tell Claire bye before going over to the doors. They automatically swooshed open to reveal a sunny, clear day.
An exact opposite of what I had left when I came in. It’s like the weather had cleared up with my emotional life, and that made me smile once again. Today had went from terrible to pretty good.
Too bad it’d be back in the toilet within only a timeframe of twenty minutes.
“Ready to go?” Theo asked beside me.
I simply nodded but with a smile on my face.
I gave Theo directions from the hospital from my house and it wasn’t long before he was parking across the street from my family home.
“Ah so this is where the princess grew up.” Theo admired the house before shutting the car off.
“Yep. Nothing too fancy.” I admitted while looking at it with him. “Just your average American home.”
“I like it. Wish I could’ve grown up here.” He says.
“Why? It’s just a regular house.” I said.
“Yeah but this neighborhood feels like a place where everyone’s friendly and cares for each other, meanwhile in my neighborhood all anyone cared about was who had the most cars, the biggest pool, or the most expensive kitchen tiles. It was like a life was a constant greed competition, so yeah. I’d take regular and average over fancy and rich any day.” He told me while gazing around the neighborhood in fascination.
“Well you’re welcome to stick around here as long as you want...maybe not the playground though. The parents might think you’re a creeper.” I chuckled.
“Haha, very funny, Mya.” He retorted sarcastically.
I laughed along with him, but eventually the humor seemed to leak out of the car windows and a new tension was brought in. I felt a question in the air. A question I knew was coming.
“So...Amaya. Have you made up your mind?” He asked.
“About what?” I asked playing dumb.
“Whether you want me to stay down here or go back with Gracie?” He “reminded” me.
“Oh, right.” I pondered out loud.
To be truthful, I still hadn’t made up my mind. There was lots of pros and cons in making my decision.
On the pros side, Theo had drove me down here, helped me through so much, and was nothing but sweet and kind.
But on the cons side, Theo had hurt me. I wanted it to seem like the event had taken place years ago so I didn’t have to even think about it, but sadly it wasn’t all that long ago.
Yes, I had forgiven him, but that didn’t mean my emotional state was completely intact again.
I was just about to give Theo my final answer when the witch of all witches came striding out of my house.
I tried my best to duck down out of sight, but my luck was about as great as a guy whose radio had just accidentally fell into the bath with him.
“Mya, what are you doing?” Theo looked down at me as I slide further and further down into my seat.
“Hiding! What’s it look like I’m doing? Knitting a sweater?!” I exclaimed.
“Whoa. Talk about zero to a hundred.” He chuckled.
It wasn’t long before the girl was right next to the car and curling up her long witchy-like nails into a fist before beating her knuckles on the glass.
“AMAYA!! IT’S ABOUT TIME YOU GOT HERE. HOW COME YOU MOVE AT THE SPEED OF A TURTLE?! I’VE HAD TO SPEND MY WHOLE DAY DOING ALL OF YOUR JOBS BECAUSE YOU WERE OFF DOING GOD KNOW WHAT!” She shouted probably waking up the whole population of China.
I rolled down the window and flashed a smile quickly before taking it right off. “Gloria. How are you on this fine day?”
“Just get your ass in the hou-” Her words immediately stopped spewing from her mouth when she leaned in closer and caught a glimpse of who was in the driver’s seat.
“Oh,” She immediately fluffed her hair and propped up her boobs in her tight tank top. She seriously had no shame. “I didn’t know you had company, Amaya.”
“Yeah. No, I usually drive from the passenger side of the car.” I grin sarcastically and I hear Theo’s snickers from behind me.
I climb out of the car and go to the trunk as I start taking my belongings out. Theo gets out as well in an attempt to help me, but on his way he gets intercepted by my slutty cousin.
“Hi. I’m Gloria.” She extends her hand to Theo and he politely shakes it.
“Theo.” He nods back to her.
“Well aren’t you a buff guy. You work out much? I do too. Back in high school I was cheerleading captain!” She annoyingly giggles.
Why the frick was she giggling?? She didn’t even say anything funny.
“That’s nice.” Theo said in reply.
You could tell he was really just trying to be polite, but in honesty he was everything but interested in her conversations.
“Yeah. I was also homecoming and prom queen. Me and Amaya here graduated the same year, but she wasn’t exactly popular material. A bit of a nerd!” She said the last part with a smirk on her face.
Somewhere in her crazy brain Gloria thought that if she brought up every one of her high school achievements to guys in comparison to my loser-ness she’d automatically get the guy in bed.
The sad part is that it actually worked on most guys.
My cousin had quite a track record of guys she’d gotten into bed with. But hey if that’s how she wanted to live her life then so be it.
“So what are you doing here, handsome?” She asked pinning Theo up against his car with her claws already digging at his chest.
What the hell? Did she inappropriately touch all guys that she had just met? Or was it just Theo?
She had no right. I met him first. Why must she always take a chance to take all guys out from under me?
Yeah. After the crash he stopped talking to me and only looked at me with sympathy.
She had her filthy paws all over him two weeks after my dad’s accident! And the sad part is that she meant for me to catch them in the act...which I did.
Why did she have to pick the library of all places?? That was my place!
I shook my head to clear it.
Dillon was no longer my worry. I longer had feelings or even cared about him, but Theo on the other hand meant so much to me, and my cousin having her nasty hands all over him made me explode in anger.
I had always turned the other cheek when it came to situations with Gloria, but today was a new day and college had apparently transformed me into a new Amaya.
“Gloria!” I shouted.
Her head snapped up from Theo and over to me. Her creepy attempts of being seductive melted away and was replaced with a look of annoyance, compliments of myself.
“What do you want, Mayo?” She stared at me with a bored look.
Yes. My stupid bitch of a cousin called me Mayo because the middle three letters of my name were the first three letters of mayonnaise. Clever duck, wasn’t she?
“My name is not Mayo. It’s Amaya. Get it right. Maybe if you didn’t spend your whole high school career under the bleachers with a new guy every week maybe you’d know how to spell and sound letters out.”
I watched her mouth drop open in shock, but I wasn’t done just yet.
“So why don’t you get your slutty hands off of Theo there, and go back in the house?”
“And why should I?” She took a step closer to me and crossed her arms.
I was stumped for a few seconds. What reason could I give her that could really knock her on her ass? Show her she was so far from right that it was absolutely embarrassing for her?
That’s when it hit me.
The perfect idea to, for the first time in human history, make Gloria jealous of me.
“Gloria I think it’s a whole new level of hoe to be feeling up your cousin’s boyfriend the first second you meet him. Wouldn’t you agree?” I wondered aloud.
The look on her face was absolutely priceless. I had never seen Gloria’s eyes pried that far open in my whole life.
“But...how could you...he’s so hot...you’re just a nerd. I don’t understand.” She stuttered through her words.
That’s when Theo came up behind me, wrapped an arm around my waist, and kissed me on the cheek. “Ya know, Gloria? Not all of us college football players go after ex-cheerleaders?”
Her face somehow looked even more shocked. She was probably wondering how on earth little Mayo could wind up with a hot guy, let alone a football player.
But she quickly snapped her mouth shut and gave a nervous smile before running back up to the house.
Seeing Gloria run away from me was just the icing on top of the cake. I had never stood up to her in my whole life, and today I had.
Theo’s hold tightened a little bit and that’s when I remembered how I had lied my ass off just to push Gloria’s buttons. I had really stooped to her level.
But the real problem was that Gloria not only was a major bitch, slut, and absolute bragger, she was also a huge blabber mouth. Which meant...at this exact moment she was inside telling my mom everything.
And I knew my whole scheme was about to fall in on me. I watched as my mom rushed out of the house before looking around and catching sight of me. She scurried down the sidewalk and was about to cross the street to us when Theo whispered something through his teeth.
“So I’m your boyfriend, huh?” I looked up in just enough time to see him smirking and waggling his eyebrows.
“Play along, and I won’t kill you.” I whisper replied with a sickly sweet smile.
“Aye aye, captain.” Theo told me just as my mom fast walked up to us.
This was going to be the longest Thanksgiving break of my lifetime.