“Wow, that’s amazing,” my mom breathed, one hand on her chest as she stared open mouthed at the doctor, blinking slowly.
“Yes, it is unbelievable. Definitely had us scratching our heads,” he said with a laugh. “Well, here is a list of tasks you will be unable to perform for the next six weeks. As well as a number for a wonderful physical therapist who can help you to recover in the meantime.” Dr. Cho said changing the subject, handing me a piece of paper, which I lay down on the bed.
“So, since my whole arm is in a cast,” I gestured with a finger on my free hand, “And I’m right-handed; drawing is probably out of the question. Am I right?”
“Well, it would be painful and difficult to do, but not impossible. But, I wouldn’t recommend it,” he replied deadpan, then smiled and winked, “At least not for a few weeks.”
“I see,” I said, gritting my teeth in frustration.
“Think of it like this, sweetie. After you get your cast taken off, you’ll be ambidextrous!” My mom said with a smile, “Right, Doctor Cho?”
“Right! That’s good thinking. New skills are always a plus,” he grinned at my mother like they were sharing some sort of secret. “Now are there any other questions I can help you with while I’m here?”
I scanned over the list, my mom glancing over my shoulder and answering quickly, “Not about the medical stuff, I don’t think. It seems pretty self explanatory. Kai?”
“Uh no. I understand the instructions, but I do have one or two other questions,” I inhaled a shaky breath and looked up at him. “What about the people in the other car?”
“You mean from the accident?” the doctor cleared his throat.
“Yeah, the ones we uh, hit. Are they okay? Did anyone…?” I trailed off, not wanting to finish that sentence.
“Die?” I nodded and he shook his head, “No. No one died. However, the other person in the car was seriously injured.”
“Oh no. How bad is it?” My mom asked as I tried to swallow a painful lump in my throat.
“I can’t release much information, what with patient/doctor confidentiality. I can tell you they were in critical condition the last I heard,” the doctor eyes flicked over at mine, assessing, but I looked over at my mother instead to avoid his penetrating gaze.
“Oh my,” Mom said so hushed, it was almost noiseless in its tone, as her hand fluttered over her mouth.
“Can I see them? What room are they in?”
Dr. Cho frowned, sympathy swarming over his features. “Unfortunately, I can’t tell you anything further and I don’t know much more than you at this point. I’m terribly sorry, Kai.”
“Thank you doctor. We appreciate your help,” my mother said, shaking his hand, while I sulked against the pillows.
“Is there anything else I can help you with, son?” his intensely dark eyes bore into mine as I contemplated his question.
I started to shake my head, “Oh wait. Uh yes. My dad? How is he? He was the one driving.”
“Right, right. The police took him into custody after we patched up a small cut on his eyebrow. He didn’t sustain any further injuries.”
“Taken into custody? What does that mean?” I asked, licking my lips and leaning forward.
“Honey,” my mom touched my knee through the blanket, “It means he’s been arrested.”
“Arrested?” I asked, my eyebrows knitted together, my brain not wanting to process what it already knew.
“Paging Dr. Cho. Paging Dr. Cho. Please report to room 104,” a nasally voice said over the intercom system.
“Please excuse me. Call my office if you have any further questions, alright?” We both nodded at him before he turned and walked out the door.
“Mom?” I turned my head towards her.
“For driving under the influence, sweetie,” she replied, patting my knee, casting me a pitying look, “And I just want to prepare you…”
“DUI. Of course,” I muttered, looking down at the cast covering my arm all the way to the wrist, “Wait. Prepare me for what?”
“Sweetheart,” she began, petting my hair once more to calm me, which only made me more nervous. “If this person dies, your father could be facing prison time. Reckless driving, driving under the influence, possible vehicular manslaughter charges, child endangerment...”
“I’m not a child,” I deflected the insinuation, crossing my arms.
“I know, but according to the law you are still under age.”
“I got into his car willingly,” I pointed out.
“I know that, too.”
I sighed, “I thought he was actually going to change this time.”
“Oh, Kai,” she cooed, “I was hoping so, too, despite the past. Him going away might be for the best. He needs to learn a lesson.”
“Yeah, I guess so.”
“Although, I wish it wasn’t at the expense of someone else,” my mom’s eyes teared up as she began to sob. “I feel so badly for the poor family. What they must be going through. I can’t even imagine. Well, actually I can. It could have been you.”
“It’ll be okay mom,” I tried to reassure her, but not even I believed the words coming out of my mouth.
“Oh I hope so,” she fretted, sniffling.
“I’ll never forgive him, you know. He’s gone too far this time.”
My mom smiled at me, nodding her head, “I understand sweetheart.”
“I mean, it’s bad enough that he used to...” I continued, pausing for a beat to collect myself, “That he used to hurt me. But I could’ve died this time.”
My mind flashed back to the last time we lived with my dad. He was laid off and drinking, per his usual routine, but this time was different. He wasn’t just angry, he was livid, as if the world betrayed him. I tried to show him my report card, wanting to impress him, but he ripped it up in front of me and called me a loser. He said I would never amount to anything and that I needed to get used to it, because the world was going to let me down. He asked me to get him a beer and I yelled at him, calling him out on all his bull. He hit me and my mom intervened, getting hurt in the process. She managed to calm him down and we left that same night while he slept. We haven’t been back since.
“Kai…” my mom said, pulling me out of my memories.
“No! You know, it was hard enough letting him back into my life after the drinking and the horrible beatings. But now some poor innocent person is lying on a hospital bed, fighting for their life and it’s all his fault. I hope he rots in prison!” I ranted, my face flaming and nostrils flaring.
“Honey please calm down. Your heart rate is through the roof,” she pointed at a machine, “Just lie back and try to relax. I’m going to get some coffee and something terribly unhealthy from the vending machine. I’ll be right back.”
I sat there fuming, not saying a word, but trying to heed her advice. She took one last look at me from the doorway before walking away, her eyes full of unshed emotion. I knew she was right though. So, I closed my eyes and tried to get comfortable on the most uncomfortable bed that I had ever encountered. I must have dozed off for a while because the next thing I know, I was roused by a nurse shaking me awake.
“Sorry to wake you Mr. Bishop. My name is Francine and I’ll be your nurse for the evening,” a well put together brunette said, flashing me her badge.
“Hello,” I croaked, my voice thick with sleep, rubbing my eyes with my good hand, “It’s Kai.”
“Well nice to meet you, Kai. I just need to check your vitals and another nurse will come by in about ten minutes to draw some blood for the lab.” She logged into the system, throwing a polite smile my way, “Also, your dinner tray is right here. As soon as I’m through with you, it’s all yours.”
“Okay thanks,” I asked, clearing my throat, “Uh, where’s my mom?”
“She fell asleep in the recliner over there.” She pointed across the room, directing my attention to my mom snoring softly, “Would you like me to wake her?”
I smiled in the direction of my mom, ”No, that’s okay, thanks. I just wanted to make sure she hadn’t left.”
“I understand. Do you need help to the bathroom?” She probed, studying my face, causing a blush to redden my cheeks.
“No thank you,” I mumbled, trying to hide my embarrassment, but she appeared unfazed. Heck, I’m sure it was routine for her ask.
A flash of something black and furry walking past my doorway caught my eye. I could almost swear that it was a tail. I squinted hard at the door, willing whatever it was to reappear so I could get a good look at it. But I was only more disappointed when nothing happened.
“Hey, um, do they allow pets in the hospital?” I asked.
The nurse smiled, but continued typing into the computer, “Why do you ask?”
“I could swear I just saw a black cat round the corner.” I laughed, finding the idea ludicrous.
“That’s impossible,” she laughed, her eyes lighting up with humor as she looked over at me. “We don’t allow pets in the hospital unless they’re service animals. I have never heard of a service cat.”
“Ah.” Was what I said while I tried to shake off what I thought saw.
While she took my blood pressure and checked my temperature, I overheard the most beautiful singing voice I had ever heard. Outside of a well produced CD, that is. It floated down the hall, melodic and entrancing, capturing my undivided attention. When the new nurse came in and took my blood, Francine typed my information into the computer.
“What is that?” I asked.
“It’s an unopened hypodermic needle package,” the other nurse said, who’s badge said Anna.
“No, no. You don’t understand...” I began, only to be interrupted in my next breath by Francine.
“What? Did you see another cat?” She teased.
“Cat?” Anna repeated.
“Yes. He thought he saw a cat a little while ago, didn’t you Kai?” Francine asked with a smile as I rolled my eyes.
“A service cat?” Anna quirked an eyebrow.
“I guess,” Francine responded and they both got a good laugh at my expense.
“Haha, very funny. No I meant the song,” when she cast a puzzled look at Francine, who shrugged and said goodbye, I tried again. “You don’t hear anyone singing?”
She squinted at me and paused to listen, “Sorry. I don’t hear anything. Maybe someone left their television on?”
“Maybe,” I said as she tapped information into my computerized chart.
“All right. I’ll be back in a couple hours to check on you, okay?”
I nodded, feeling too exhausted to argue. While I ate, I continued listening to the ethereal music. I pushed my tray aside, having finished my meal and heard the voice begin to trail off as I drifted back to sleep. The haunting melody enveloped me and I let the darkness take hold of me. Soon I was being pulled into a strange dream.
I woke up in a pitch black room, unable to see. Did I go blind? It was hard for me to determine. I was laying down, stuck. It felt like I was tied to a bed, my arms and legs bound firmly. It still smelled like the hospital: antiseptic cream, alcohol and old pudding. Gross! The windows began to rattle. The door sounded like someone was banging on it, the harsh shaking sound echoing off the walls. It felt like I, or the room, was shaking, vibrating. There was a flash of light in the distance before it receded into the blackness, leaving a strange spot in my vision that resembled a half moon. I heard whispering voices drawing closer to me, surrounding me.
“You cannot escape me. I am everywhere.” A familiar voice whispered, startling me.
A ghostly hand reached out to me from the shadows, but I shrunk away from it as much as was humanly possible. I flattened my back against the bed. The limb kept growing closer to my face and the whispering soon became louder, closer as well. Someone called my name, but I couldn’t see much, aside from the creepy hand, as well as other transparent hands, moving towards me. The hypnotic song playing before I passed out haunted my dream, weaving in and out of each moment like a snake slithering through the water. The notes rising and falling at random.
A large shadow appeared above me, in the shape of a cat with wings, as if it were some sort of magical creature set to fly away into the night. The noises and images started to overwhelm me, swallowing me whole, consuming my essence. I closed my eyes tightly, hoping it would disappear. Everything was still shaking and I couldn’t decide if it was me trembling with fright or if it was an earthquake. Maybe it was a combination of both. Something feathery touched my face. I cried out in one of those terrifyingly silent screams that leaves you feeling helpless.
“I will be watching…” the creepy voice added as things started to go hazy.
I sat up in my bed with a gasp, having startled myself with my imaginary happenings. I was finally awake, but drenched in sweat and panting. My heart was beating out of my chest and my eyes darted around the room, only to discover I was alone aside from my mom still snoring softly in the corner. Sadly, I noted the beautiful music had ceased as well and that once more I was left with only the sounds of the hospital and the shadows to keep me company.