Chapter 6: Proud
Unravel Us Playlist on Spotify.
Song; (Aquilo- Losing You) & (Secession Studios- Reprise)
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“Get the surgery room ready in the ICU.”
“It’s done, they’re waiting for her, Sir.”
The bright white walls seem to flash as we run.
It didn’t help that the squeaking wheels coming from the gurney added to the chaoticness of it all.
We’re moving quickly, through winding pillars and long hallways. Hailey remains on the gurney with doctors and nurses on either side of her, constantly monitoring the situation.
“Start chest compressions!”
Then I see it.
The doors to the ICU.
We reach it, and it slides open, however before I can step inside, one of the nurses stop me, her hand pushing me back.
“I’m sorry, but you have to stay here.”
“Hailey-” They take her away from me despite the protests rising to my lips. No. I want to stay with her.
Her limp figure disappears around the corner and the door closes, leaving me to stare at my blurry reflection.
You’ll be okay right Hales?
Bringing a shaky hand to the surface of the glass, I place my palm and rest it there.
You’ll survive, right?
She had the best help available.
She’ll make it.
Squeezing my eyes shut, I have to steady my body against the glass as everything seemed to spin.
I can feel it in the way my fingers twitch.
I can feel it in the way my heart beats; thump, thump, th-thump.
Then, there’s this ringing. This incorrigible... ringing.
I swear, I can still hear the sound of the electric pulses from the defibrillator, the momentary flatline before they’d jumpstarted her heartbeat, forcing her back to the land of the living.
I almost lost her, then.
Will I lose her now?
“Sweetie, did you hear what I said?”
Something snap in my brain like an elastic band.
I blink away the confusion and refocus on the scene before me, realizing the nurse from earlier is still here.
She’s an older woman, with greying hair and a compassionate face. The nurse’s attire looks slightly large on her, yet it did not make her look any less professional.
Something tells me she’s tried to get my attention but hadn’t succeeded until now.
“Let’s sit down.” She reaches for my arm, the one that had been hooked to Hailey’s blood bag earlier.
It must have come undone when they wheeled her in.
I’m dripping blood to the floor with the tube still connected to my vein.
“I’m sorry-” Astonish, I grab my arm from her and held the bleeding in place, keeping the pressure steady. “I’ll clean up the mess.”
“Oh, don’t worry about that,” Sliding her forearm around the back of my shoulder she presses me against her side, keeping her touch light. “Why don’t you sit down? I’ll bandage your wound. Your friend is in safe hands now, you don’t have to worry.”
Yeah... she’ll be okay.
Hailey will be okay.
The nurse leads me to the waiting area and sets me down onto the benches. Her worry is obvious as she grasps my arm and inspects the unusual paleness of my skin.
I must come across as fragile towards her, probably, with the way, I felt, much less looked.
My appearance couldn’t have been good either.
“I’m going to take out the tube now,” She tells me, rummaging around her front pocket for a medical bandage and a couple of wipes. “You might feel a sting.”
I waited for it.
But when she takes out the tube and blood flows out, I still feel nothing. I’ve become numb. Numb and cold.
She straightens my arm and wraps a compressive bandage over it, ensuring that it wouldn’t unwrap should I move. “There, all done. Do you have any other injuries?”
I shake my head.
Minor cuts and bruises are nothing life-threatening.
“Even if it’s something small, you should clean it up. Infection is no laughing matter.” She sits beside me, one hand on my uninjured forearm.
Oh, I knew everything about infections.
The scar on my side is a daily reminder of that.
But I’m not in pain, at least not physically. It’s the mental torment that’s taking a toll on me.
Exhausted, but okay.
The nurse isn’t satisfied with my answer, but she’s accepted it. There was no way I could give her more than that.
I am drained beyond means.
“How long have you been out there?” Her aged fingers caressing the top of my head feels lovely and comforting. She doesn’t realize how thin my inner thread had gotten, or maybe, she knew, which is why she was talking to me.
“Hours.” Came my raspy response.
She sighs at the statement, having expected it.
After all, I’m covered head to toe in ashes and the volunteer tag is still on my arm.
“Do you have anyone you can call?” Her suggestion does nothing to ease the heat clawing up my throat. “Maybe someone can stay with you while you wait for your friend.”
I had no one.
David had left with the helicopter earlier after ensuring we were safely dropped off. I hadn’t remembered why he had to go, as Hailey was more important.
“There’s... no one.” Shaking my head, I bite the inside of my cheek and held in a breathy gasp. “S-She’s all I have and I lost her-”
“You didn’t lose her,” The nurse declares firmly. “You didn’t, do you understand? She’s still in there, they’re doing everything they can to save your friend.”
The tears are edging now, brimming. I put my head down and gaze at my lap, saying nothing.
She exhales carefully. “You’ve gone through a lot haven’t you?”
If any other person said those words, I would’ve locked up and refused to say anything back. But something about the way she speaks... Gentle, kind, assuring, loving; it breaks down all my walls.
“It’s okay,” She pats at my head, smiling sympathetically. “You’ve done a good job.”
Have I done a good job?
The tears build and build, then finally, fall, trickling down my cheeks, my chin, and onto my clenched fingers.
“I’m proud of you.” She says.
Everything finally, comes crashing, everything finally hits, as the pain, the exhaustion, the absolute weakness I feel for what’s happen consumes me whole and I have to pull my knees to my chest where I sob earnestly for dear, life.
Relief, heartache, pain, resentment, fear, I feel it all, I feel everything.
I sob and sob until I can’t breathe, until I can’t see, until I can’t think of anything but crying and crying some more because that’s all I want to do, that’s all I can do-What else can I do?
Absolutely nothing else, I can do.
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Eventually, I sit here until the night is over and dawn approaches.
Nurse Selene, as I came to know, constantly checked up on me every now and then, ensuring I was okay and comfortable.
She’s brought me bottled water, some snacks, little things that will tide me over until Haileys leaves the surgery room.
Just when the sun has fully risen, the doors to the ICU finally opens.
I stand up, startled at the suddenness as my heart leaps to my throat. I’ve moved so quickly that my limbs lock up in discomfort.
“No, sit down, it’s okay.” The doctor, obviously noticing my distress, gestures me to sit as he will come to me. He had been the one in charge of Hailey’s surgery.
“How is she?” I plop my ass back on the chair that for sure, had a permanent indentation from how long I’ve sat still. “Is she okay?”
He wipes his sweaty brows and rearranges his glasses to the top of his nose. He was obviously exhausted, with his attire disheveled and untidy.
“I’ve done the best I can, but she’s still in critical condition.”
“So, what does that mean?” I have to fists my palms to keep my body, still. “Is she going to pull through?”
He stares at me grimly and I realized I’ve just asked a hard question, one he cannot answer.
As a doctor, saving patients was your job, it’s what you’re good at, it’s what you strive to do, but sometimes, circumstances forbid, you can’t save everyone.
“Two days,” Lifting two fingers, he lets them fall, slowly. “If she doesn’t respond to any tests by that time, then she won’t at all.”
“She’ll be braindead?” My voice is quiet.
“I’m sorry,” He bows his head, fully apologetic. “As her friend, I think it’s best you call her parents. We need to prepare for the worse.”
Prepare for the worse, he says.
Prepare for the worse, because from his point of view, there is no hope.
But there is hope.
There are still two more days.
As long as she reacts in the next 48 hours, she’ll live.
“Can I see her?” The desperation in my actions gives way to the hope I hold. “If only for a little while, I swear I won’t bother her, just let me see her.”
“I’m sorry, but so as long as you’re not her legal guardian, I can’t let you in.”
Of course... it was an official policy.
I’m not related to her by blood, I’m just her friend.
So I can’t do anything else but wait.
“Uh... okay, I’ll just wait here then. Can you inform me if anything happens?”
“Perhaps you should head home,” He suggests, smiling supportively. “Freshen up and come back-”
“No, I’m staying.” I declared. “I’m staying until she wakes up.”
Where would I go anyway?
He obviously doesn’t like my answer from how his eyebrows twitch and his feet shuffles. “Miss, you must be exhausted, you can’t force yourself to continue if you don’t get any rest.”
Shaking my head, I run two hands down the back of my hair. “I’m fine, it’s my friend that’s not. So please don’t ask me to leave, I need to be here for her.”
The doctor opens his mouth to say something but stops himself upon realizing it was useless. He nods stiffly before sighing. “If you’re staying here, perhaps it’s best if you visit the clinic and get your injuries checked out.”
“I’m not that hurt-”
“Please Miss, if you can’t do it for yourself, do it for me. My consciousness won’t be able to stand it.” There’s a plead to his tone and I can’t help but feel guilty.
Did I look that bad?
“Okay,” Sighing in defeat, I nodded. “I’ll get myself checked out.”
He’s visibly relieved at my decision and leaves, presumably to continue with his duties.
For a moment, I debated on doing as I was told or simply staying here, but the memory of Nurse Selene nagging makes me cringe. Not only that, but I’ve also received a personal request from a surgeon to get my injuries cleaned up.
It wasn’t worth it.
Standing up, I grimace at the dull and sharp pain throbbing within my aching limbs and slowly limped towards the clinic downstairs.
I might as well do something to keep me occupied.
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Sleep came very little to me.
Sometimes I would doze off only to be startled awake. Sometimes, I would just stare at the wall and waited for the drowsiness to take me but it never does and the process simply repeats.
I’ve been here for almost a full day now.
Daylight turned to night, there’s still another 24 hours to go and Hailey remains unresponsive.
It’s uncomfortable sitting in this chair for so long, but nothing beats the itchiness coming from the bandages wrapped around my body, all hidden beneath the shirt Nurse Selene borrowed me.
They’ve found bruises lining the entirety of my back, some deep cuts by my outer thigh, and skinned palms from having fallen so many times.
The side of my face has also been patched up as I was bleeding there too. I must have gotten it when the news camera slammed into me.
Still, these are all injuries that can heal.
It’s the experiences that won’t.
Sighing tiredly, I rub at my face and crease my eyebrows together as a headache pondered the back of my mind.
I’ve had a bit of water and some chocolate bars but no solid food.
When Nurse Selene offered me a burger, I took a bite and nearly threw up. My stomach simply couldn’t handle anything right now, not after what’s happened. I swear if I focused hard enough, I still feel the heat and the smoke.
Under than the fact that I’m stuck here, I’ve also been paying attention to the news. Of course, I couldn’t bring myself to see the television, so I simply listened in.
From what I know, authorities have gotten the fire at Mazereen Apartments under control and they’ve put it out. Now a rescue to gather the dead and missing is underway.
An investigation is also taking place to understand what caused the fire.
Conspiracies of arson, the Government, terrorism, all sorts of things were popping up and when that happened, I simply turned a blind eye.
No point listening to unnecessary stuff, the horror I’ve experienced is more than enough for a lifetime.
Besides, I had other things to worry about, other things to figure out.
Spending time by yourself does that to a person I suppose. You start to see things differently because there’s no one else around you to tell you either wise.
At first, I was angry.
I was angry at myself, at the fire, at my men, at this whole situation, but eventually, the anger disappeared when I finally calmed down and realized it wasn’t anger I felt.
It was resentment.
Resentment for not being able to see this coming, resentment for being so useless and just plain, human.
I realized my mistake now, and I realized it too late. What’s happened, happened, and now I have to amend it.
I’ve been so cocky, thinking I was on top of the world, that I had everything under control, that everything will always go my way, but that’s not how reality works.
If only it didn’t hurt so much.
What happened to Hailey was caused by my own selfishness, but everything else that happened wasn’t.
I have to find the answer by myself.
And I think I know who to ask.
Slow footsteps sounded from down the corridor of the ICU. I lifted my head, watching a figure appear all dressed in black.
He stops in his tracks, figure impending and still as he takes off his baseball cap and lets it hang by his fingers.
I was wondering when he’d show up.
It wasn’t hard.
Once you spent a lot of time with a person, you start to understand their patterns, their little details, the kind of things that makes them memorable.
In this case, it was his pride.
Battered as it was.
“Hey Red,” Those dark eyes find mine, swirling with concern and hesitance. “You’ve seen better days.”
It would have been easier if he disappeared off the face of the earth, but his pride wouldn’t let him walk away.
“You and I both know the better days are long over,” Giving his attire a once over, I am unable to stop the ice seeping through my aura at his appearance. “Marlen.”