Chapter 18: Amaya
I walk through the automatic doors of the hospital with my heart and chest aching more than I’ve ever felt before. It all hurts so terribly having Officer Prescott show up at the apartment to give me the news that Shawn, Xavier, and Aaron are now in the hospital.
It was the hardest thing I had to hear because I knew I could’ve stopped it. If I had gone with them to their grandparents’ house they wouldn’t have gotten attacked on the way to dropping Aaron back home.
But how did they know what time they were going to be back, the only way would’ve been if somebody has been squatting outside the place, watching us, or if someone managed to follow them here without them noticing. That seems pretty likely too since they don’t know what to expect for when a person is following them. No matter how they found out they made a rookie mistake because I’m waiting to get my hands on the Panthers that did this, all I have to do is figure out who did this.
The thought kinda terrifies me but also takes me back to what Shawn had said on the day Aaron was sick. “...all I could think about was what Aaron would’ve done if he saw me at that point. My breaking point.” He was so scared of how Aaron would react to him on the day that I left him, but Aaron has come super close to seeing that breaking point of mine.
I don’t know what’s going to push me over the edge if this doesn’t, but I know it’s coming soon. I can feel it as my blood pumps cold blood instead of the warm-blood that’s supposed to be there instead.
I don’t know what I might end up doing to the guys that hurt Shawn and Xavier. I sure as hell don’t know what I’m going to do to the man that slapped Aaron and forced him into watching that fucked up shit. If people come after me I can handle that, but my family, my family isn’t to be touched and when you touch them you’ve pushed a button of mine that shouldn’t ever be pushed.
I have a feeling that the creepy Panther from the day I visited Derrick in the hospital has to do with this. I just hope what they get in the end is worth it to them.
“I’m looking for the rooms of Shawn, Aaron, and Xavier Harper.” My voice slightly trembles as I place a hand on the reception desk, fighting off the tears that desperately want to stream. Now isn’t the time for me to cry, it’s the time for me to get to my family.
The woman sitting there looks up to me with eyes the color of oak that has light purple bags beneath them giving off the hint that she hasn’t gotten much sleep. Her eyes squinting in the slightest behind the rims of her dark blue glasses.
She doesn’t open her mouth to give an answer.
My heartbeat starts to pick up in my chest as we stand there, staring each other down, almost like we’re having a staring contest since neither of us blinks. I feel myself fighting off some of the vilest words in my dictionary as she doesn’t even try to make a movement, I wish she would though.
I need to know what’s going on with my family and she’s supposed to be the person to give me that information.
I’m literally standing in the same facility as the people I love but can’t be with them because of this woman that won’t open her damn mouth which she gets paid to do. What the hell is this shit!
I begin to furiously tap a rhythm on the desk seeing that it’s just a small distraction from all the words that aren’t so polite. I’ve got a slick tongue that lets the words loose and when you flip your shit you’re less likely to get what you want unless you get scary with it and I don’t want to turn to the terrifying people route to get what I want even when it has to do with my family.
Now is the time to put on the same nice girl routine, well actually it’s not a routine. I’m trying my hardest to be a better person though in my past it wasn’t really my choice to be the way that I was. That’s just how I had to protect myself and I thought I was keeping the people I loved safe with the front too, but lord was I mistaken.
It’s also easier to be mean when people continuously push you like they don’t give a damn about how you’re gonna react.
I feel like a person that hasn’t had their fix in a while, all jittery, ready to beg and plead to get it because it feels like you’re going to die if you don’t have what you have become addicted too.
“I’m looking for Shawn, Aaron, and Xavier Harper,” I find myself repeating myself, keeping eye-contact with her.
“Only family is permitted to see them at the moment, do you happen to be family?” Her voice is full of boredom and irritation towards the question. Keep yourself under control, Wolff, if not for you, for Aaron and any children out in this waiting room that don’t need to hear such vulgar language.
“I am family.”
“In what way?” she asks while inspecting her nails that don’t have a single chip in the pale green polish. Does that really matter?
I reach into the pocket of Shawn’s letterman jacket that I have on me, pulling out my wallet. I open it, pulling out a picture of Shawn, Aaron, and me from before we knew Shawn was Aaron’s dad, flashing it to the lady while also showing her my ID.
“Aaron is my son, Shawn is his father, and Xavier is his uncle.” My left hand continues to tap away at the desk as I now start to grit my teeth as she stares down at the picture. The woman clears her throat before leaning forward, now looking back to me with a judgmental look written all over her fair-skinned face.
I haven’t missed that look.
“Aren’t you a bit young to be a mother?” She looks me over. “You don’t look older than twenty and that boy is four.” Thanks for telling me how old my own child is.
“I’m eighteen actually,” I say shamelessly. I could really care less about the fact that I had him so young, the only thing that matters is that I love him and have always placed him first, keeping him safe from the demons in the world around us.
I could be a terrible parent, but I’m not. At least I’m not in my viewpoint, I’ve done better than I have been given in my past, I mean look at what I come from. I forgive my mom and my dad both, I even partially forgive Derrick because if I don’t I can’t move on from what has happened to me in my life.
That’s not good for me. I need to continue moving forward, but that doesn’t change what they have done to me. Dad abandoned me and Jonah too. He left and had another family, raising them while we were left to a worse situation. Mom watched as Jonah and I were beaten and forced into gang work for years. She did nothing. When Derrick forced himself on me, she didn’t leave him or try to call the cops on him.
She let it happen, leaving room for the shit to happen for a second time, but thank God it didn’t. She wasn’t there for me when I needed her, and for a while, I resented her. I still might feel a bit of it, especially when I look at all the things that Mrs. Harper has done and continues to do for me.
She was the type of mother Jonah and I deserved to have.
Then there’s Derrick, he has done so much that it’s uncountable, but the scars on my body can be counted. All 27 of them. Some are in places where they’re more visible, while others are hidden to the point that only Shawn has managed to see them.
I’ve always told myself that I would be better than that as a parent, and so I’ve been aiming to treat Aaron in the ways that Mrs. Harper has treated Jonah and I both. If he finds himself a friend or friends that are in similar positions to the ones that I have been through, I want to do the same with them.
I want to help those that have been in the same position as me.
“You’re parents are just okay with the fact that you have a child? That is far too young and you- you’re…” she stumbles over words to form.
“I’m what-” I look down to the name tag on her scrubs “-Katelyn?”
“You must be irresponsible to end up in such a predicament at such a young age, you shouldn’t have been experimenting with something so adultlike.” I decide not to comment on that because she’s only half-wrong.
I wouldn’t say I’m irresponsible for what happened, and as for the “experimenting with something so adultlike” it wasn’t the most mature situation I’ve been in. I’ve been part of far more at much younger ages. Making assumptions about me when she doesn’t know an ounce about my life is a mistake on her part, and it does piss me off to an extent, but I’m so used to people judging me without the context.
Her words don’t have an effect on me or my life at all.
“For your previous asked question, my parents were also young parents so it’s not like they could judge me or my actions in the first place. Second, their acceptance of my situation wouldn’t affect me a single bit because his father and I both take care of him in every way that any other parent does.
“Thirdly, though it truly is none of your concern, I know that what I went through might have been wrong timing in the eyes of well… everyone, but I don’t regret it a single bit, so that makes me more than fit to have a child. I know when to admit I was wrong but repeatedly I make sure to do what’s in his best interest which is more than a lot of other parents do.” That last bit gets this Katelyn woman to drop the judgmental look, now clearing her throat, glancing over to the MacBook on the desk.
She mumbles out a few words under her breath before typing away at her keyboard.
“Shawn is in the ICU at the moment, room 302, Aaron and Xavier are in the recovery ward, room 511. You can just go down the hall to the elevators and you’ll see how to get to each room over there.” I nod slowly, about to move to the elevators as I tuck the photo and my ID back into my wallet, placing it in my pocket, but I stop myself.
“Do you know if anyone else went up to visit them?” I ask while turning back to the lady, she pushes her glasses up on the bridge of her nose.
“You’re the first, not unless you include the doctors.”
I mutter out a thank you before venturing off to the elevators, evading everyone that comes even close to me as I move as swift as possible. I need to get to Xavier and Aaron both before seeing Shawn.
I adjust the straps of the backpack I have on my back.
My foot taps away at the ground of the elevator as I try to clear my head for even a moment before I end up outside of the room, but it’s like it’s impossible because every thought that invades my mind is about what happened today. December 9, 2018. One of the people I care about most might be ripped away from me.
Just because Shawn might’ve survived the ride to the hospital doesn’t mean a thing because I don’t know how bad his condition is, all I know is that it must be serious if he’s in the ICU.
He was hurt because of me. Xavier was hurt because of me. Aaron had to see another thing to have nightmares about because of me. How in the hell could I not sit here and think about that shit?
“God I royally fucked up.” I lean against the wall of the elevator as I bring a hand to my forehead, trying to calm the raging thoughts. “Why the hell did everything have to go bad? None of them deserved this... if anything those assholes should’ve come after me. Then if I go after these assholes or even stress that can lead up to me losing this child and that’s the last thing I want or need. God, I’m in over my head, this is too much on my shoulders.
“Haven’t I gone through enough. Help me, someone.”
I can’t handle this on my own, not anymore. Not now that I ended up pregnant again, and certainly not with Aaron. He needs something stable in his life, I can’t keep hurting him. But the only person that can truly help with this is gone, and even if he wasn’t, I don’t think I’d want his help. He has caused me, my family, and Shawn’s family so much pain and suffering that I don’t know. But Shawn, he’s worth whatever the hell the price could be for me.
He might not want me to sign my soul over to the devil, but if it helped him in any way I would do it in a heartbeat.
I would lay my life down a million times over, but I can’t even think of that now, not with a baby on the way. I’m not placing another one of our children in danger.
“Please, whoever may or may not exist out there, don’t take Shawn away from us. Aaron needs his father. Xavier needs his brother. Mrs. Harper needs her son. This child needs a father. And me, I need my best friend, the man that has loved me unconditionally even when I broke him over and over in unimaginable ways. He’s one of the only people that make me want to be better. Please, please don’t take away such an amazing person from all of us,” I whisper out before the elevator doors open, a small dinging sound coming when they open.
I stalk out through them, roaming around the halls until I reach room 511, noticing a tall man with a lab coat walking out. His dark nearly black hair combed all to the right. He turns to me and I’m net with the sight of hopeful, icy blue eyes.
“Hi,” I say once he notices me.
“Are you Xavier and Aaron’s doctor?” the man nods before moving towards me, holding a hand out for me to shake. I take his hand, not shaking as firmly as I usually would, but firmer than people that don’t know how to actually shake a hand. “I’m doctor Thomas Martin, and who might you be?”
“Amaya Wolff, I’m Aaron’s mom and Xavier is one of my closest friends.”
“Wish I could be meeting you under better circumstances, Ms. Wolff, but I do have some good news,” Dr. Martin starts before releasing my hand. I stare at him, waiting for him to continue. “Aaron is free to go home once he wakes up. Nothing is wrong with him, he’s just in a state of shock at the moment. He woke up once but knocked out after we ran some tests to makes sure he’s perfectly fine, now he’s out because of exhaustion.”
“Thank God for that slightly easing information.” Dr. Martin lets out a small laugh.
“Well, some more conclusions that we’ve managed to come to is that Xavier’s got a concussion. At the moment he has splotchy vision, a splitting headache, and he puked a decent amount when he was awake earlier, didn’t help that he got into it with a few of the nurses. The whole time he was yelling about having to make sure his brother was okay.
“We had to give him a mild sedative to calm him down so now he’s gone back to sleep, which might be for the best.” I let out a small laugh of my own. “If he continued with those actions he could make his condition worse.”
“Xavier has always been the type of person to place his family first no matter what condition he finds himself in, we have that much in common.” A small smile appears as I say those words and a similar one comes onto Dr. Martin’s face too.
“That’s a good thing, it means that you’re both good people, but it can also be a bad thing too. Sometimes you need to take time to focus on yourself to save those around you.” His voice becomes a bit smaller as his eyes lower to his dress shoes.
“Seems you’ve learned a lesson.”
“An excruciatingly painful learned lesson.”
“Do you think that when Aaron wakes up I can bring him to see his father?” Dr. Martin nods almost immediately after the question leaves my mouth.
“Of course, he’s fine to go wherever, and I’m going to recommend that you and the family take some time to speak to him. He wasn’t speaking earlier, only nodded his head to the questions we were asking and he’s just been through a lot so it might help him.”
“We can do that.”
“Alright, good, and the paperwork for his release is already in the room. We have to wait for Xavier’s mother or father to release him, but to be on the safer side we might end up keeping him overnight depending on how he is in the next few hours.” I find myself only nodding at the words. “Call for someone if you or either of them needs anything.”
“Okay,” he starts to leave but I gently grab his wrist to stop him. I need to know how Shawn is doing.
“Do you happen to know anything about Shawn Harper?” I ask hopefully. Dr. Martin takes a deep breath, now looking me in the eye.
“Not much besides the fact that he has internal bleeding, a collapsed lung, two broken ribs, and has recently been taken into emergency surgery,” he says the words bluntly before grief washes over his face and I can’t tell if it’s because of the small whimper that leaves my mouth or because of his own moral reasons. “I’m sorry for saying things like that, but sometimes it’s best for me not to sugarcoat things like this, people say it hurts more when it’s dragged out.”
He’s not wrong about that, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t still hurt.
“Do you think he’s gonna survive?”
“I’m not the type to lie, it’ll only hurt more if I do…” I give him the go-ahead to continue on and tell me what he thinks about Shawn’s position. “I’m surprised that he’s actually alive, most people that receive that powerful of a beating would be dead by the time they even arrive at the hospital.
“Shawn is beating odds already, which means that he is a very strong young man and hopefully he will pull through. What I can say is that he’s in some of the best hands.” I shove my hands into the pockets of my sweatpants, feeling myself shrinking further and further inside myself, changing.
I hope more than anything that Dr. Martin is right because I can’t imagine how we would live without him, he’s got such a pure heart.
“Thank you, for not sugarcoating things.”
“Not a problem, Ms. Wolff, and I’ll keep you and your family in my prayers.” I thank him once again before he walks off and I allow him to go this time.
I turn to the room, pulling my right hand out of my pocket to instead place it on the handle of their room door, I slowly push it open. I hold my breath, waiting for the worse and when my eyes land on Aaron it’s like a car ran me over. I never wanted to see him in a hospital bed even for the most minor of reasons.
All of this is a lot to take it.
The blue hospital gown on his body is swallowing him up, hanging off of his shoulders, making him look even smaller. And the bed is huge compared to his small lanky size so he’s right smack in the middle. Those curls of his standing up in some areas, but mostly clinging to his forehead.
I take three baby steps into the room, closing the door behind me and moving further into the room. I find myself now looking over to Xavier as I make my way over to him.
The blankets are pulled all the way up to his chest that slowly rises and falls. His face is full of this innocence that doesn’t always show up when he’s awake and teasing Shawn and me as he’ll occasionally do. The top of his head is bandaged up and I can see the light glow of creams over some of his battered face.
Seeing the damage of him hits me hard too
“Thank you for being there,” I whisper out while placing a gentle kiss on his battered cheek. “You shouldn’t have gone through this. None of you should’ve. I’m sorry.” My voice cracks in the slightest.
I glance down to him one more time before stepping away from him to take a seat across the room from both him and Aaron. I pull off the straps of my bag to go through it, pulling Brownie out to now hold him to my chest despite the new layer of dirt on him.
In a way, he gives me just a sense of comfort, but not by much. He’s not as comforting as having Aaron standing in front of me with that large smile that reaches his eyes and makes them glow in a way that makes them like magic. Seeing that look on his face is better than watching a night sky full of stars which I love to do.
I sit back in my chair before reaching into my pocket to pull out my phone, deciding that I should text Mrs. Harper since I don’t know if she knows yet. Officer Prescott said I was the first to know since they were on the way up to me, but that they were going to go to his house to tell whoever was home what happened.
‘Are you home by any chance?’ I find myself texting her. Three seconds later there an ellipsis shows up, telling me she’s texting.
‘No. I picked up an extra shift at work. Why?’ I swear beneath my breath before standing from my seat and walking to the door.
I click the call button as I walk out into the hallway, skillfully wandering the halls until I find the door that I’m searching for. I push it open, coming to face a gorgeous garden that is full of mostly blooming roses and I wonder for just a moment how they survived the cold so far, but then again, this is California and it hasn’t gotten all too cold just yet.
Mrs. Harper picks up just as I take a seat on one of the large brown stones that surround the flowers.
“Yeah, what’s up?” she asks in this kind voice that I still don’t understand how she can still be so warm towards me when I’m constantly hurting Shawn.
“You need to come to the hospital, something happened,” I speak quickly and listen to the sound of her breathing pick up.
“What happened?” I hear shuffling.
“Shawn and Xavier were dropping Aaron off and on the way in a group jumped them. Xavier is fine, and so is Aaron, but Shawn, he-”
“What happened to him, Amaya is he gone?” she asks me hysterically. I find myself gulping as I look down at the blood-red rose. I remember how Shawn would occasionally hand me roses like this. They used to make me smile, blush even, but not this time. Now all I feel is this immense pain at the thought of Shawn.
“No, he’s not gone, but they don’t- they don’t know if he’s gonna make it. He’s in emergency surgery at the moment.” It’s like I’m forcing each word out. It’s so hard to even think about giving this news to someone, especially to a mother that is so devoted to her sons and loves them more than anything.
When it comes to Mrs. Harper she’s the strongest woman I know, she never lets anything bring her down. The only time she reaches her breaking point these days is when something happens to her family and hearing the news that they don’t know if he’s gonna survive, I remember the pain I felt when Aaron wasn’t breathing when he was born.
This must be worse for her because she has spent so many years with him in her life, she has loved him for so many years and yes, it would’ve been terrible for me to go through life questioning who Aaron could’ve been. Back when he was a newborn if he died I would constantly think about him, but Mrs. Harper mightn’t be able to move forward if she loses him.
“Oh my God,” she gasps out. “I can’t- he can’t go.”
“Shawn’s a fighter.”
“He’s never been this bad before, Amaya, what if he doesn’t survive?” I close my eyes.
“We have to have faith in him. Shawn is almost as stubborn as I am and we both know I don’t go down without a fight, you know he’ll fight to be back to everyone.” I hope I can at least reassure her because I’m not doing such a good job at reassuring myself.
“You said Xavier and Aaron were okay, right?”
“Xavier, he’s not in the best condition, but he’s going to be okay, his face is just a little messed up and he has a concussion. Their doctor, Dr. Martin, he said he even tried to fight off some of the nurses to see if Shawn was okay.” She makes a small sound. “And Aaron, well I think he’s physically okay, but mentally might be a different story.”
“Why? What happened?”
“One of the people that jumped them was holding him, forcing him to stand there the entire time, he also slapped him when he tried to get away. He has started to move past what happened to me, but now, God I’m gonna have to set up an appointment with a therapist and hope he speaks to them.
“Once again, I feel useless and like I can’t do anything to help the situation. I wasn’t there to help Shawn, Xavier, and I can’t help Aaron now. I have tried to keep him in the dark when it came to everything that happened to me and Jonah, but now he’s literally been dragged into all of this.” I take in a deep breath as I stand to start pacing.
“Maybe you shouldn’t keep him in the dark anymore. Tell him what happened to you guys and let him know that he’s not alone, that you guys each have been through a lot.” Her voice shrinks.
“I might just have to do that.”
“I’m going to hang up now, I’ve got to tell Dustin I’m leaving.” She takes in this deep, shaky breath before hanging the phone up. I pull the phone away from my ear, shoving it into my pocket.
I move back to the building, grabbing the silver handle of the door and pulling it open, making my way back to the room I had come from not long ago. I remember each twist and turn I had to make to get where I need to go, speed-walking to cut the arrival time in half.
When I walk into the room the sound of loud breathing meets my ears. I twist around, my eyes landing on Aaron, his chest quickly rising and falling. I move over to him and notice a Ventolin inhaler on a stand beside him that I hadn’t seen earlier. I lift it up along with the note attached to it.
“Don’t know if you knew this or not, but Aaron has asthma and I couldn’t find an inhaler on him so we gave him one. We showed him how to use it. Dr. Martin,” I read the note aloud.
How the hell didn’t his pediatrician pick up on that?
I take off my jacket, placing it on the bed next to Aaron before slowly lifting him up and into my arms, his skin is hotter than it’s supposed to be, but he starts shaking. His breathing is still loud, shaky, and all over the place.
He slightly relaxes in my hold, but his breathing doesn’t become any lighter. I take a hand through those off-gold curls that seem to be turning more and more into waves like a good day near the ocean.
“In and out, Aar, in and out,” I whisper in his ear. Those eyes open and I can see how scared he looks. I repeat myself and demonstrate for him as I hold him just a bit closer; he follows my lead until his breathing goes back to normal and he’s looking up at me with eyes similar to Shawn’s. I never want to stop staring into those eyes. “Me tenías preocupado.”
One of Aaron’s small hands moves to my right cheek.
He doesn’t say a word, but I can see in his eyes that a “sorry” wants to slip out. I take his hand in my own, lifting it to my lips to place a small kiss in his palm. I slowly lower his hand before placing it down, I hold him close to me.
“You don’t need to be sorry about any of this, this isn’t your fault. I know what happened, and when the police showed up to tell me-” I choke up on my words. “God, Aaron, I’m so so sorry that you had to see that. I’m sorry that you and your daddy and uncle were dragged into this mess.” I place a kiss on the top of his head.
His tears start to dampen my neck.
He holds me tight before looking around the room, his eyes landing on Xavier but he still continues to search. Those eyes land on Shawn’s letterman jacket. He reaches out to touch it and I stare at him as he pulls it closer to us to bring it up to his chest.
Those eyes land on me with a silent question in them. Where’s Daddy?
I find myself crying one of those ugly cries that I used to make fun of when I watched TV years ago, I never understood what could make a person cry so hard, but now I do. I wish I could go back to not knowing.
Aaron looks to me worriedly; I only place a kiss on his overly warm forehead.
“Your daddy was really hurt,” I say in a small voice, taking a seat on the bed, “worse than Xavier.” I clear my throat, hating thee new lump building in my throat that makes it harder to get the words out.
I stand from the bed once again before moving to grab Brownie as Aaron clings to me that much more. I hand Brownie over to Aaron and he stares at him for just a moment, the next throwing him but I’m quick enough to grab the stuffed puppy before he hits the ground.
“I take it you don’t want him?” Aaron glares down at the dog with a look I’ve never once seen on his face, hatred, but it can’t be right, Brownie is literally Aaron’s most favorite possession. “Why don’t you want him, you always want him.”
Aaron shakes his head before pointing over to the bed. I move over to it and he picks up the note Dr. Martin used, flipping it over to the blank side. His head moves to scope out the area before his eyes land on a pen, he nods over to it.
I let go of him to grab the pen, now handing it to him. He writes on it, now handing it to me. I read the written word that looks good for a four-year-old writing it. ’Enrico.’
“Who’s Enrico?” I ask confused.
He holds his hand out for the paper again which I willingly hand out, he writes something else down before flashing it to me. ’Held me. Hurt Daddy.’
“How do you know that’s his name?” Aaron huffs out, going back to writing before showing me the note again. ’Another guy said so.’ “Did you get anyone else’s name?” Aaron shakes his head before I nod slowly. I can work with that. He goes back to writing and I guess for now this is gonna be how he communicates with me.
‘He in charge.’
I only nod again and he doesn’t write anything else which I think might be for the best, he doesn’t need to be pushed into speaking about what happened just yet, he’s already been through so much tody.
I guess I just might have to make a deal with the devil after all, but I’m gonna have to find him first which sure as hell won’t be easy for me. The only person that might have a chance at finding him definitely won’t want to, but I know he will if he knows how important all of this is.