Chapter 30: Scared
Unravel Him Playlist on Spotify.
Song; (Zack Hemsy- The Way [Instrumental])
“Passengers flight 2517, please proceed to arrival hall, I repeat, passengers flight 2517, please proceed to arrival hall, thank you.”
The air is awfully cold this morning.
One look out the glass windows confirmed my suspicion as to why that is.
Gentle falling snow that decorated the morning sun in brilliant light.
Glancing up at the stewardess who flashes me a polite smile, I can’t find it in me to smile back.
She gestures me to leave the airplane. “The exit is just ahead.”
Collecting my jacket and purse, I headed for the exit, feeling my heart thud heavily in my chest.
I make quick work leaving the airport, having known it by heart.
How long have I lived here?
How long have I memorized these streets?
Several familiar vendors are still located in the same place as they’ve always been in.
It’s a warming and welcoming sight.
However I’m not here for a reunion.
I’m here for something else.
Arriving at the arrivals hall, I raised my hand and signaled a taxi before dutifully climbing in.
“No, luggage, Miss?”
“No,” I shake my head, stuffing my passport into my purse so it was hidden.
Looking outside, my gaze followed a family who embraced each other on impact and smiled.
My heart stalled. “NorthVille General Hospital, please.”
You would think after almost a year being gone, the small town I once lived in would have been developed at this point.
But nothing had changed.
Sure, maybe a few details has popped up here and there but nothing too major that made me think; “Wow,”
It was just NorthVille.
Small, familiar, home, NorthVille.
The taxi signaled right and there it was, the building.
NorthVille General Hospital
In bright bold letters.
I open the flap of my jacket to retrieve my purse only to quickly zip it back when I see spots of blood all over it.
“Keep the change,” Quickly exiting the cab, the driver looks at me strangely but pocketed the cash regardless.
He drives off after a second, leaving me in the entrance lobby where people walk in and out.
I took a deep breath.
Here goes nothing.
Slipping my hands into my pockets, I strode in only to be hit by the stench of medicine and anti-disinfected liquid.
Nausea swept through me but I gritted my teeth and kept walking.
I didn’t have time for this.
Keeping my eyes in front, I made my way to the counter where a nurse sat, filling in a file.
I cleared my throat.
She glances up and our gazes lock.
There’s only a split moment of silence before she stands up, eyes wide, mouth agape.
NorthVille was a small place. Everyone knew each other.
I remember her as the nurse who sat next to me after my father was wheeled in to the morgue.
Brown hair, tan skin, aged beyond her years.
Kind. That’s what she was.
She struggles to retain her composure and quickly folds her file back on the table. “How are you back? I thought you moved?”
“Yeah,” My voice was croaky so I coughed to clear it out. “Something came up. I’m here to see someone.”
“Give me his name and I’ll find it for you.”
Swallowing hard, I can’t help but hesitate for a while, not wanting to believe he was really here.
“E-Ethan. Ethan Lane.”
Her brows furrowed into concentration as she types away on the computer.
She scans the file that is pulled up and after a beat, that same frown, evaporates into a solemn gaze.
“I’m sorry, Vanessa he-”
“Is he alive?” That’s all I needed to know.
The nurse takes a deep breath and moves around the counter. “Yes, but... he’s been taken into the ICU.”
“When?” I demanded, struggling to keep my voice low as patients and visitors walked around.
“Yesterday morning. Mr Lane suffered a terrible relapse so he’s in critical condition now.”
Okay. Okay, this is fine.
This is fine.
I knew he was sick.
He’s sick so he’ll recover right?
People recover everyday.
“Can I-” My voice cracks and I quickly swiped away the tears that had gathered. “Can I see him?”
“Of course. You’re written down as family for him,” She nods encouragingly, then walks towards the elevator, beckoning me to follow.
The whole way up, I’ve retreated inwards, unable to bear the thought of not knowing what has happened to the person that raised me after my father died.
He was everything to me.
For me not to know he was sick...
It kills me.
The elevator doors open and Nurse Iris steps out onto the floor.
The first thing I’m aware off is how quiet it is. How... cold, it is.
I’m shivering so I quickly folded my arms together, not wanting heat to escape me.
She stares at my actions but doesn’t say a word.
“Ms Vail, if you would follow me.” Nurse Iris banks left and I am greeted with rows and rows of open doors.
Each housing a patient that is either dying or comatose.
He can’t be here.
It was a mistake.
Ethan is healthy.
He wanted to see the world.
Travel, that’s what he wanted.
He wanted that.
Nurse Iris stops at the very last door plated 223. It’s closed and looked to be a private room.
She twists the knob and the door creaks in response by what she did.
A grey curtain shielding me from seeing who lays on the bed.
I hold my breath as she follows me in, keeping my emotions to myself.
This must be a mistake.
It was stupid.
Ethan is well.
He’s out in Rome, looking at the Colosseum’s. He’s in China, walking the Great Wall.
He wanted to travel.
He can’t be here, it was stupid-
Nurse Iris swipes the curtain and I have to resist falling to my knees right there and then.
“E-Ethan-” My voice is a whisper for the figure laying motionlessly on the bed.
His features are pale, thin, sunken in.
His usual grey hair is now fully white and practically bald.
The hospital gown sticks to his skin like paper.
His eyes are close, his lips are chapped and dry through the oxygen mask.
All types of tubing and machinery are hooked into his hands. The subtle beating of the heart machine and his low EKG is more then enough for me to take.
He was here.
He was right in front of me.
He has always, been here.
Shakily, I gaze at Nurse Iris who nods her head at me, confirming my worst fears.
He won’t make it.
“H-How long-” I can’t say it. I can’t say what my brain is forcing me to know.
How long has he been here, like this, broken, weak.
“8 months, he was diagnosed with leukemia 2 years ago.”
Around the same time he told me to move.
The corner of my vision flickers violently to black and I fall to the ground, one hand holding onto the railings of the bed.
“Don’t.” I stop her, holding my hand out. “Just... Just leave me with him.”
Nurse Iris falters in her steps, features worried and pale.
I look up at her and didn’t hide the pain.
I allowed her to see my vulnerability, my fear, my everything.
With a hesitant gaze, she retreats to the entrance of the room and slowly stepped out, before closing the door behind her.
Then it was just me and Ethan.
Regaining my footing, I re-stand on my feet, keeping my hands clutched together in fear of doing something I might regret.
How could he hide this from me?
How could he ask me to move, knowing fully well he was dying?
How could he?
Stepping closer to the bed, I rest my hands against the bars, to afraid to touch him.
He looked too fragile. Too weak.
I couldn’t stand it.
The Ethan I know was stubborn. He was strong. He called me out on my shit, he raised me, protected me, made me who I was.
And yet here he was today.
Taking an even breath, I raise my fingers in an attempt to push the strands of stray hair that had fallen on my shoulder away only to fail as they were shaking too much.
“Goddammit,” I cursed, as I tried to cease the shaking.
It only got worse.
Closing my eyes, I fought to stay sane. I fought to keep myself grounded.
Ethan was here. I had to be strong for him. I had to stay in line. I had to do what’s right.
But what happens when he’s gone?
What happens then?
The tears start to fall.
Silent, painful, burning tears cascade down my eyes, falling further down my cheeks and onto the floor.
“Why...” I swallowed hard. “Why did you hide this from me?”
The figure on the bed remained motionless. Unmoving.
My hands clenched harder against the bars and I let it happen, not wanting to let go. “You asked me to move Ethan. You told me you’d be fine. Then why are you here? Why, are you here?”
It was painful.
It was so, so painful.
Releasing the bars, I began to pace the room.
I couldn’t sit still.
I couldn’t not, do anything.
There had to be something right?
A way out?
Why didn’t he tell me?
“What, did you think I couldn’t take it?” I demanded, twisting around to view his frozen state. “Did you think I-I wasn’t strong enough? D-Did you think I’d break?!”
The force of my voice echoes the room and still he is quiet, peacefully sleeping, blissfully unaware of the war that is in me.
Frustration billows out of my expression, my breaking point nearing it’s expiration.
No. He’ll make it.
He’ll make it, this is Ethan.
I’ll just have to remind him.
Yes, I’ll remind him.
“You wrote me a note. You wrote me a note do you remember?Y-You-” Desperately, I zip down my jacket and pulled out a stuffed letter.
The very same letter he gave me before he left New York that I’ve kept at the bottom of my bed.
“You said, to forgive those that hurt me.” I listed, my breath coming out in short burst of gasps. “To forgive my mom, my dad, even myself. Y-You said, you went to New York because I needed you and-”
Crushing the paper, I buried my head onto my hands and fisted my mouth, struggling hard to keep the screams at bay.
This wasn’t suppose to happen.
All of it.
“I can’t.” Gasping for air, I release my hands and retreat backwards. “I-I’ve lost, everything and everyone a-and I can’t lose you too, so wake up, okay?”
I’m floating, with no line to guide.
I’m restless with no light to shine.
This isn’t real.
Surely it’s not?
“You can’t force me,” Shaking my head, I allowed myself to be delusional. To believe, he’ll get better soon, regardless that he is already too far gone to save.
“You can’t, force me to go through with this, because I won’t...”
My heart is stalling in my chest. My lungs are collapsing in on themselves.
Was I going to lose him too?
I didn’t care if Veronica lied to me.
I didn’t care if Thomas doesn’t trust me anymore.
I didn’t care if Mason thought I was a good person.
I didn’t care.
Because none of it matters.
Because Ethan is dying and I can’t stop it.
I can’t stop it.
“You’re wrong, I’m not strong, I-I-” Shaking my head, I let out a loose chuckle, feeling it air out of my lips and join the bleak atmosphere.
“I’m only pretending, to be strong. But deep down inside, I’M SCARED!”
I am scared.
I've always been scared.
Because that’s all I ever feel.
That’s all I ever am.
“I’m scared, Ethan! And I need, you’re help, I need you’re help so please! Please, don’t, leave me...”
Hurting Travis, Veronica, Ravana.
That was the start.
The start of something I can’t control.
He had to be there for me.
He had to be there.
It didn’t matter what it took.
Ethan couldn’t leave.
I wasn’t ready.
“Time,” Muttering lowly to myself, I rubbed my temples and bowed my head. “I need more time, give me more time...”
I didn’t have time when my Dad chose to die.
I didn’t have time when my Mom started drinking.
So I needed time now.
“Ethan, please... please...” Begging relentlessly, I’m on my knees once more, fingers clasp in a prayer formation as I pleaded with anyone out there to help me.
Help me just this once.
I’ll do anything.
I didn’t care anymore.
I didn’t care for myself.
Everything I’ve ever believed in, everything I’ve chosen to go too has always turned their back on me.
But not him.
Ethan will understand. When he wakes up he’ll tell me I did the right thing walking away from those people.
I’ll just wait because that’s what I should’ve done.
That’s what I should’ve done months ago.
The heart monitor abruptly spikes and I glance up, alarmed at how fast his EKG has risen.
In slow motion, I watch every single machine hooked up to his body release a high pitch shrill and flashes red.
I place my hand on the bar and struggle to lift myself up only to be startled by the entrance door slamming open, revealing several nurses and doctors all alerted by Ethan’s condition.
“Ms, please step back,” The doctor orders striding in to take Ethan’s pulse.
Nurse Iris is there and although she locked gazes with me, she’s too busy trying to help the others in figuring out what’s happening.
“It’s not looking good,” One of the nurses’s note, her tone clipped as she checks the machines.
“We knew this was coming,” Another mutters. “If it wasn’t last night, it’d be this morning."
No, no, no.
Nurse Iris notices my blank expression and quickly ushers over to me. “Leave the room. You don’t want to see this.”
“I’m not leaving him,” I hissed.
I’ve left him before.
I’m not leaving him now.
The doctor who has a stethoscope to Ethan’s heart is frowning hard. “Get the De-fib ready.”
A few moments later another nurse wheels in a defibrillation machine and everything happens too fast for me to comprehend.
They open up his shirt and apply cold liquid onto his frail chest before pressing two handles below his collarbone.
Wake up, Ethan.
Wake up, please.
Wake up, Dad...
The heart monitor is going crazy, my mind is spinning, my vision is loosing.
I feel the ground beneath me shake and know it’s just me.
I’m on the verge of passing out and yet I still held on.
Because the world isn’t so cruel.
The world isn’t so cold.
Not to me.
Not to Ethan.
The fourth time they did it, I couldn’t take it anymore. I push my way forward and shoved the nurses aside to grasp Ethan’s hand.
I hold it tight, begging, pleading, crying.
Please, don’t go.
“Save him,” I’m choking on my own words.
I needed more time with him. It wasn’t fair.
They have to save him. They have too.
I don’t want to hear what the nurses are saying. I don’t want to hear what the doctor is saying.
“There’s nothing we can do.”
“You have to let him go.”
“He’s suffered for so long,”
All I see is Ethan.
Ethan’s cold, white, pale face.
“Save him, please... Please, just save him...”
“Ms, I’m sorry-”
“SAVE HIM, I’M BEGGING YOU!” The roar is out before I could stop it, a whirlwind of unconstrained emotions.
I’m breaking down.
I’m falling into the void.
The hand I held suddenly twitches and I stopped breathing.
My whole world rests on that one moment.
That one, minuscule moment.
A pair of bright brown eyes opened slowly, half open but there.
“E-Ethan?” My voice is soft, but the joy.
The joy I felt, it meant everything to me.
He blinks, once and twice to adjust.
For a second, we’re suspended in time.
He sees me.
I see him.
A glint of recognition fills those familiar orbs and I laugh, holding his hand close.
His lips struggle to move through the mask.
Breathy, croaked, weak.
“I’m here,” I respond, happy tears falling down my face.
He looks warmly at me and I’m reminded of the time when we’re back in the Skating Rink.
“You’re getting slow Vanessa!” Despite the fact that he was yelling I knew his tone was playful.
“Oh, over my dead body old man!” Racing along the edges the ice skates I wore rattled dangerously but I paid no heed.
Leaning forward, I press my lips to the back of his hand and rest it on my cheek. “I’m here, Dad.”
I’m not going anywhere.
Ethan smiles, the edges of his eyes turning up, revealing the ghost of a man that suffered for things he could never control.
“I... m-missed... you...”
The last of my tears fall and I shut my eyes, feeling his hand loosen against mine. “I missed you too.”
The EKG stutters, beeping loudly.
Then flat lines.
“Time of death, 10.33 A.M. 8 January 2019.”