“Day five-hundred and two. You can talk a little now, right? Why don’t you give those new sentences a whirl?” She says, with a smirk. As much as I know she hates being here, I appreciate her effort to cheer me up. She visits much less often than before now, but she still comes, which is strange.
“O-okay. Pemma.” My mouth over exaggerates the shapes I want it to make, so I can speak clearly. “Why. Are. You. Still. Here?” I gasp for air.
“How rude. I thought you were going to compliment me about what a wonderful young woman I’ve grown to become.”
“So. Confident. Now.”
“Your friends saw to that. After they noticed I’d been visiting you more than anyone else had, they decided to reach out to me, regardless of how scary I was at first. I literally threatened to break Colin’s arm once, when he patted me on the shoulder to comfort me.”
My mouth forms a perfect ‘O’ shape. “…Wow.”
“I know. But they’ve showed persistent kindness, no matter how annoying I think it is. I’m not afraid to talk to people, anymore. I even hung out with your friends sometimes.” She looks down, obviously pleased with herself.
“Also, I’m here because I promised I’d stay until you’d gotten better. You need to work on your speech and physical strength, so you’re still not better yet.”
I can tell she’s lying. She’s a really bad liar, fortunately, and it fills me with the sort of shallow, fake happiness, knowing that Pemma isn’t leaving anytime soon.
“Y-you are lying. Why. Are. You. Still. Here?”
I can physically see her guard drop, like she doesn’t have to keep a charade up anymore. “Fine. Because Colin said that as long as I stay around until you get out of hospital, he and his friends won’t bother me ever again.”
“Is that… what you want?”
She answers too quickly, too sharply. “Yes.”
“Well, t-thank you.” Was all I could muster, as she offers me a small smile and leaves.
“Day five-hundred and twenty. I’ve been told you can actually speak normally now. Care to say something?”
“Hey, Pemma. I’ve missed being able to talk.”
It took almost a month of excruciating mouth and face exercises, until one day, everything just unlocked for me. I’d been pushing up against a huge wall, until it finally broke, and all my unspoken words washed over me. I rang up practically everyone I knew, just to prove to myself I could talk like a human being again.
“I’m glad. It means I can insult you without feeling bad, because now you can reply.”
“Ever so kind.”
“Now that speech is out of the way, how has physical therapy been going?”
Almost as soon as I had woken up, I was placed on scales, and given daily exercises to do. My body had long forgotten how to move, and I had to teach it again. At first, it was frustrating, like teaching an overgrown baby to walk. I stumbled, and my body did things I didn’t want it to do, and didn’t do things that I wanted it to. Although my body was mine, someone else was controlling it.
Darcy was the most helpful, holding me as I walked on treadmills, making sure I was eating all the protein-filled foods I should do. She even brought her own weights from home for me to train with, as she complained the hospital ones were far too heavy. Since I’d woken up, I’d really seen Darcy’s caring side. I always thought of her as the fun loving, party friend, but it’s like I’ve discovered a whole new dimension to her personality. Regardless, she parties on weekends anyway, and tells me all about it during the week.
After another few weeks of daily stabilising training, and muscle-building, I began to feel like myself. Pemma and Darcy came every day, supporting me as I made painfully slow steps back and forth across the training room, sometimes for hours on end. I wanted to push myself- I wanted to be normal as soon as possible.
Now, it’s day six-hundred and one. Pemma reminded me this morning. I can walk without any help, and I can run for a short period of time, before tripping up. I can lift medium weight objects, and my body finally feels like mine again. I’m in control.
“Day six-hundred and two. I’m leaving. You’re better, and will be discharged soon, so I’ve done what I needed to do. Don’t try to follow me or talk to me ever again. Goodbye, Glenn.” I’m kind of used to her saying goodbye now; she’s tried leaving me so many times the novelty’s worn off. But for some reason, this feels different. Now I know there’s nothing holding us together, no promise from Joel, no sense of responsibility tethering us together. Now I know she’s leaving me for good, but I don’t feel anything at all. Maybe that was her plan? To start detaching from me slowly, so when it finally came to her leaving, it wouldn’t hurt as much? Typical Pemma, putting my own feelings before hers.
I’m discharged from the hospital on day six-hundred and five, and I have to spend my days at home. I live alone, because my parents work abroad, so my friends take it in turns to care for me. Sometimes, they even stay overnight to make sure I’m okay.
Monday and Tuesday is Darcy’s duty, Wednesday is Colin’s, Thursday is Joel’s, Friday and Saturday is Eden’s, and Sunday belongs to Adrienne- much to my disapproval. An endless loop, I know exactly who’s coming to look after me and when, even if I don’t have a calendar.
Today is a Sunday, and I’m woken from my light nap on the sofa by a shrill, but now common, voice. “Hey! Today it’s just you and me, wanna watch a film or something? I brought drinks!” Her perfectly manicured hands hold up three bottles of some kinds of spirit. I shouldn’t drink as I’m still recovering, but I’ve never been known to turn down a drink.
My parents have pretty well paid jobs, so my apartment isn’t exactly shabby, and the fridge is always well-stocked, thanks to mother hens Eden and Darcy, so I can handle myself. But the others don’t seem to think so.
I swing my legs over the back of the sofa to face her, taking in the blonde, windswept hair, the thin, pale lips, and the icy blue eyes. She must have some kind of Swedish in her, or something. Her presence is significantly less annoying than the first time she talked to me, as we’ve gotten to know each other. She, too, has parents that work abroad and knows how difficult it is to keep a household running on your own while still having to go to school, and she is quite an open-minded person, despite her first impressions. She gets along really well with most of my friends, but for some reason, Joel can’t stand her. He’s usually a friendly guy, but it must be his problem
We sit in comfortable silence for most of the day, her blabbing on about some recent drama with her friends, I nod at regular intervals, fixated on the daytime television we’re watching. Some old couple are being interviewed about a new romance documentary, or something. Both of them look positively mortified. I don’t notice it turn dark, but when the channel suddenly turns black, I realise it must be movie time.
“So, how do you think I should talk to Danielle? I mean, she literally bought the same jacket as me, despite me telling her not to.”
I hadn’t heard any of the story but I advise, “You should treat her nicely. Don’t lose a friend over a stupid jacket.”
She sighs. “You’re right. Thanks again, Glenn.” She sounds genuinely grateful as she fumbles in the dark toward the TV, carefully avoiding the coffee table. The screen bursts into life, and although I don’t recognise the film, I know it’s a generic chick flick. I didn’t expect anything else, to be honest.
Before the title screen’s even finished, Adrienne has two shot glasses in hand, full of a clear liquid, and passes one to me.
“Bit soon to be doing shots, isn’t it? Don’t you even want to remember the film?”
She suddenly looks tired- her happy façade crumbling away. “No, I’d rather forget today,” she lifts her shot glass to clink with mine, “to old friends, and making new ones.” I’m sure she’s talking about Danielle, regardless of the advice I gave her, and I feel a pang of regret- I should be doing this with Pemma, not Adrienne. Although, Pemma would never agree to something like this. No matter how much she pushed me away, I know she wants to still be by my side, so why did she leave?
Several shots later, and I can’t even control what’s coming out of my mouth. I’m mostly blabbing on about how blonde Adrienne’s hair is, how nice her lips look from the light of the TV, or the way her long pale lashes shine from the artificially illuminated streets outside, and she sits there, not taking a sip. She really does look beautiful, to me. Like one of those angels in the bible, her blonde halo of hair, the pure blue eyes, her round, plumped face. It’s as if I was so blinded by Pemma, that I didn’t realise what was really around me. She looks at me with cunning eyes as I unknowingly get drunker and drunker by the minute, until she asks, in a perfectly sober voice, “Are you still in love with Pemma?”
I know this was some sort of trap- Adrienne never wants to drink with me usually. But of course, blind drunk, I lose control of what I say. In an overconfident, slurred voice, I proclaim, “Yes! Yes, I am in looove with Pemma whatshername. I reeeally miss her… y’know.” My words are pretty much unintelligible after this point. Through my blurred vision, I see Adrienne’s eyes sharpen like blades.
“…I see. And are you sure nobody could change your mind?”
Drunk me is definitely an idiot. “I don’t know, could someone chaaange my mind?”
She leans over to me, lips parted. I want to pull away, but I know my body will protest. I’m going to regret this in the morning. Then, I pass out.
Waking up on a sofa with a pounding headache is never a great thing. However, waking up on a sofa with a pounding headache next to someone who you don’t have feelings for, topless, is even worse. I shake her awake and throw her t-shirt at her, which was thrown haphazardly on the floor.
“Get changed, and get out of here!” I hiss, my head pounding.
Adrienne tries to give me puppy eyes. “A one night stand? You’re so cruel, Glenn.” She coos.
Then, anger bursts from inside of me. I don’t yell because I don’t think my head can take that at this point, but I spit venomous words at her. “You tricked me into that. You got me blind drunk and took advantage of that. You know I don’t love you yet you did that. What the hell is wrong with you? Do you want to be some kind of toy passed around from person to person knowing that there’ll be no attachment? Because I don’t. Now. Get. Out. Of. My. House.”
My last sentence makes it pretty clear, as she scurries out the room and shuts the front door behind her. I hope she’s ashamed, because certainly am. How could I have just given myself away like that, knowing that I had feelings for someone else? I feel used; I’ve never let anyone get that close to me before, despite my popularity. I can’t believe what I’d said to her last night. I can only remember confessing about Pemma, I don’t remember what other secrets I might have spilled. And, knowing a person like Adrienne, she will use this for blackmail.
I know I should rest, get rid of the headache and this awful taste in my mouth, but the only thing I need right now is Pemma. Only, I know my feelings are unrequited.