Monday, February 22, 2010

46.) Hospital Visit

Soundtrack Song - Rise Against, Savior

I woke up again, this time after having been sedated. This was really getting old. But when I wouldn't calm down, the doctor had calmed me down for me with a quick injection.

Not thinking and perhaps still groggy, I brought my hands up to my face so I could rub my eyes with the back of my hands, but I hit my brow with my cast and cursed. “Oh fucking hell.”

I heard the deep chuckle beside me before I realized that I wasn’t alone. “Don’t hurt yourself.”

“You mean, don’t hurt myself any more than I already have,” I groaned, dropping my hands down at my sides. Then I grimaced from the pain in my arm. This was going to take a lot of getting used to. I turned my head to the side, glancing at Tubby. He was sitting in a chair at the side of bed, watching me intently. “Hi.”

“Hey. How ya doing, Evel Knievel?”

I looked back down at my bed, seeing pieces of leather stretched across my lap like pieces of a puzzle, laid out and put back into place so it looked like a jacket again. My eyes burned with fresh tears, remembering everything. I scrunched up my face in an attempt to curb my reaction. “Not too good.”

“It’s okay, Jo-Jo. Don’t cry. Hey, don’t cry,” he cooed, pushing off the chair. He sat on the flat portion of my bed by my hip and leaned over me, pulling me toward him and holding me against his chest. His mouth was right by my ear as he whispered, “I know it’s his jacket, baby girl. But it’s only his jacket.”

With my good hand, I held onto his strong shoulder for support and strength. “It was all I had left of him, Tubby. It was all I had left of him that I could touch and hold onto.”

“We’ll get it fixed. Stitch it together. Patch it up, and it’ll be as good as new.”

“No! It’s ruined! Look at what they did to it, Tubby. Just look!” I pulled back from him and grabbed at the leather on my lap. “Three pieces. Three random pieces....”

“They needed to get it off you as quickly as possible. Like tearing off wrapping paper.”

“But I told them no. Ask Dave. I said no.”

“Who’s Dave?” He shook his head and spoke a little more sternly as he looked down at me again. “Doesn’t matter. They were doing what they had to do to fix you. They had to. Your wellness is worth a lot more than that jacket. So please, stop crying, or else they’re going to have to sedate you again. ’Cause then I won’t be able to take you home yet.”

“You don’t understand,” I wept, shaking my head and pulling the pieces up to my chest and underneath my chin, clutching onto them like a child holding a blanket to ward off nightmares and monsters. No one understood. There was only one person on this Earth who would understand. I had completely forgotten about him as I had lain in pain and then cried over James—what kind of horrible girlfriend did that make me? I would make it up to him, somehow, but I really truly needed him right now. “Where’s Kris?”

Tubby turned so his back was facing me, but he was still sitting on the bed. He wiped his hand over his face. “Out in the waiting room. Got some visitors out there, wanting to make sure you’re all right. They’d only allow one person in here ’til you woke up. I’ll send ’em in, and then I’m gonna go get you some clothes to leave in, okay?”

“Okay,” I said, grateful to hear that Kris was here, and also a tiny bit curious to know who else had showed up. But mostly happy to know Kris was here.

“I’ll be back in a few.” He squeezed my arm above the cast, gently so not to hurt my arm, and then he stood and left the room. My eyes stayed focused on the door as I waited for Kris to join me. I heard feet shuffling, and my anticipation grew. First I saw Heather, who sat in the seat where Tubby had been, and then Jordan, who stood at the foot of the bed and peered nervously down at me. Kris trailed behind them and hovered in the doorway, but he wouldn’t look at me.

For a moment, no one said anything. Then Jordan finally cracked, “So, how ’bout them Steelers?”

I tried to give him a small smile, appreciating his attempt at humor. Heather shot him a sharp glance. “Be a little more sensitive.” She faced me and added, “We were with Kris when he got the news. I hope you don’t mind that we tagged along to see how you were doing.”

“No, it’s okay,” I told them. “I’m fine.” Jordan raised his eyebrows, taking in the sight of my broken bones, painful and red road rash, and my tear-streaked face. “Really, I mean it. This is the worst of it. And I’m on Vicodin or something, so I’m just fine.”

“Then why are you so upset?” she pressed.

My fingers curled into the leather, and I looked over at the dark, brooding figure in the doorway. I needed his comfort and attention, his understanding and reassurance. “Kris....”

Upon hearing his name, he looked in my general direction. I know he saw my casts and my cuts, but he still didn't look at my face and see me. My chest tightened as I realized how upset he was, even though he was trying to hide it. I went from needing his consolation to wanting to console him; I hated seeing him in this state, and unfortunately, this was the second time this week he was worried on account of me.

I said his name again, but this time, it was soothingly and beckoning. “Kris.”

Heather stood and grabbed Jordan’s arm. “Glad to see you’re all right, Jo. I’ll call you sometime, and you, me, and Kelsey can all get together soon.”

I nodded, thanking them for coming. It was quiet in the room as they left, and I heard Jordan say, “Why did we come down if we were only going to stay for two minutes?” Then I heard a thump and a groan. I would have laughed if I wasn’t so worried about the way Kris wasn’t looking at me or speaking.

There was so much that I wanted to say to Kris. That I was happy that he was here. That I didn’t want him to look so damn scared, because I was fine. That I was so, so sorry for worrying him, but that he didn’t need to worry any longer. Those words of assurance, though, caught in my throat, and instead I begged, “Please look at me, Kristopher.”

He pressed his lips together and sucked them between his teeth, biting down as he finally met my gaze. I was able to read every emotion in those dark brown, puppy-dog eyes: worry, anger, sadness, relief, frustration, and helplessness. It tore at me.

“Thanks for being here,” I said. Then I subtly jerked my head to the side, gesturing for him to come sit by me on my right side—my good side. I just wanted him beside me, close by.

Kris hesitated long enough that I thought maybe he wouldn’t step forward; however, he did. He perched himself carefully on the edge of the bed, making sure to give me lots of space. I didn’t want space. I wanted him to touch me and comfort me, but he was so tentative and scared. I didn’t mean to scare him. I waited for him to make the first move and let me know what he was thinking.

“How did it happen, Jo?”

“Do we really have to talk about this now?”

“Yeah. Yes. Please tell me,” he beseeched, searching for answers in my eyes.

I sighed. “I was going through an intersection, and a truck came into my lane, so I swerved to miss it. And here I am.”

“That’s it?”

“Um, I guess,” I replied, not sure how to answer to that question.

“It looks bad. Like, worse than what you said happened. Did it hurt bad?”

“Yeah. Pretty bad. But....” I shrugged and puffed out my cheeks, slowly exhaling. What else was I supposed to say? It was a motorcycle accident; of course it hurt. But there wasn’t much sense in complaining about it, because I was in this mess and complaining wouldn’t change it or lessen the pain. I just had to deal with it.

“You’re so lucky, Jo, that this wasn’t any worse.”

That rubbed me the wrong way. I hissed, “What? Don't tell me I'm lucky. I'm not lucky that this wasn’t worse—I'd be lucky if I didn't get into the accident at all! I was being careful, and it still happened. And then look!” I grabbed the pieces of James’s jacket again and held them up for him to see.

He reached out and felt the worn leather, visually examining it and trying to see what the big deal was. “So?”

I realized then that he didn’t know, so I explained. “This was James’s leather jacket. He wore this thing everywhere like a fucking rock star. And now, just look at it.” I cried as I relayed what happened, because it hurt worse than the physical memories of the accident. “The zipper had jammed from the force of the accident, I guess. And they couldn’t get it off, so they had to cut it. And now I can’t wear it anymore, or pull it around me and remember him.”

“Shh,” he hushed quietly and soothingly, letting go of the jacket as I pulled the tattered remnants against me. “It’s okay, Jo. You can still remember him without this. Your memories don’t go away just because you don’t have his jacket in one piece.”

“No, I can’t. When I wear it, it’s like he’s still here. I could smell him and just feel him with me. Without this, he’ll be totally gone. I already miss him so much, and if I don’t have this....”

“It’s not about the jacket. The jacket is just a material thing. It’s something that he wore. It wasn’t him, and it’s not the important part of him, either. It’s not who he was.” Kris shook his head and began to scold me. “I can’t believe that you were in this accident, you’re here in the hospital, and you’re upset over a thing.”

“You were supposed to understand,” I mumbled through my body-wracking sobs, feeling angry that Kris, as the one person who should have known me better than anyone else in the world, let me down. “James is gone, and this was this last thing of his that I had. It’s like he’s dying again. I thought you, of all people, would get it.”

Kris grimaced noticeably. “I do, Jo. I understand exactly how you feel. I know what it’s like to have to relive the worst day of your life and have to deal with the idea of losing someone you care about, all over again.”

Suddenly, it all clicked. He wasn’t distressed over me; he probably was, partially, but definitely not fully. I didn’t understand until this very moment that he was going through, in his own way, precisely what I was going through. The epiphany hit me and sucked the air out of my lungs like I had the wind knocked out of me. For me, this wasn’t just about the accident, it was about James—and for him, this wasn’t just about my accident. It was about Luc, too.

I dropped the worn leather and latched onto Kris instead. He needed me as much as I needed him. “I’m sorry, Kristopher. I didn’t even think.... Oh, fuck, I’m such a moron.”

“I was so terrified,” he whispered, so low that I wasn’t sure if he had really said that. “It was bad enough that I got the news that you were in an accident, but then when I heard it was on your bike?”

I bit my tongue, not wanting to say what was on my mind. He was implying, whether he meant to or not, that it would have been okay if I were in a car accident—but because a motorcycle was involved, it was wrong. I was wrong. However, I let it slide and instead of calling his bluff, I pulled him closer toward me. He looked at my face, his eyes quickly darting down to my lips; I thought for sure that he was going to kiss me, but he pressed his lips against my forehead rather than my mouth before we wrapped our arms around each other and tried to absorb solace from each other.

We stayed that way and held each other for a while, neither talking nor moving, until footsteps interrupted us and we pulled away. “Sorry,” Tubby said upon his return. “But I brought clothes, so we can get you checked out and home.”

“Good,” I sighed, ready to leave this temporary hell. “I can’t wait to get out of this damn paper gown. But, I’m going to need some help.” I hated having to admit that I wouldn’t be able to dress myself, but it would be difficult to do it on my own.

“I’ll do it,” Kris offered, holding his hand out to take the clothes from Tubby. He was resigned about it, and I got the feeling that he thought it was his duty. Or he didn’t think Tubby should see me naked, either one.

Without putting up an argument, Tubby handed over the makeshift outfit. It was a pair of Tubby’s black sweats—no doubt he had been worried that a pair of my own wouldn’t fit over my cast—a pair of boycut panties, a sports bra, and a zip-up hoodie. Tubby closed the door and left Kris and me alone again. He gingerly pulled the underwear and pants on for me as I did my best to prop myself up. It was difficult, though, because I could only put my weight on my right arm and foot. It was like only having the use of one side of my body and the other side was merely dead weight.

I threw the sports bra on over my head but struggled to pull it fully down my side. “Here, let me.” Kris was careful to pull the elastic over my breasts and down my back. It was amazing how the little things were suddenly so troublesome to accomplish.

“A lot easier to take off my clothes than put them on, huh?” I laughed, trying to find humor in the situation.

Kris didn’t find it so funny. He shook his head but didn’t comment. “Your tattoo’s not scraped up,” he pointed out as he grabbed my hoodie to help with that as well.

“Oh, no,” I replied. “The jacket protected me from getting road rash on my arms, stomach, and back.”

I slid my arms into the sleeves, and he joined the edges of the hoodie and began to zip. “Sounds like your big brother was there to save you from the worst, once again.”

Taking a moment to process what he said, I pressed my palm against my forehead and tried to force my body to breathe. Kris had a knack for saying things that rocked my foundation, like he had a whole different perspective on the situation than I did. First when he said James saved me from seeing his death, and now that his jacket had prevented the crash from hurting me any worse.

“See, this is why you shouldn’t be so upset about his jacket, Jo.” Kris’s voice was steady and calm. “You had it for when you needed it. And now, maybe, you don’t need it anymore.”

I shook my head, not agreeing with that logic. “I will never not need James. And even if I don’t need that jacket, I want it. That’s not fair. You can’t tell me to let go of the past, when you obviously aren’t ready to let go, either.”

Kris looked down at me as I sat on the bed, my arms now crossed over my chest. He was being hypocritical, and I wasn’t going to be tolerant of it on today of all days. Not after everything I’d been through. Not if he was going to treat me like an imbecile.

He couldn’t encourage me to move on when he was still stuck in his own ways. After everything we’d been through, he hadn’t learned anything about how he can’t plan for and expect the worst at the expense of really living. He was still in his own bubble world where he was right, I was wrong, and there was no middle ground, so I needed to be schooled. Well, he needed some sense knocked into him right now. He needed a wake-up call, and I was willing to give it to him.

Instead of egging me on, he surrendered; he once again kissed my forehead and headed for the door. I was shocked. “Where the hell do you think you’re going?”


  1. This story is so complex. Kris tries to fix her, but it is unraveled to us that he needs to be fixed, himself. Totally love how she's softeneing quite a bit, allowing Kris in. So good.


    P.S. Thanks for the regular updates!!

  2. I'M STUPID! : )
    Just wrote a post...clicked 'post comment' once, and shut down the window...dear lord I need sleep!!

    Where is Kris going now : (

    I love love loved when he dressed her.
    So sweet. <3

    I'm so curious to see where these two are gonna go from here, because walking away from here right now isn't the best idea, but who knows maybe it's just how he deals.

    Great update.
    Can't wait for more!!

  3. ahhh he isnt supposed to leave....please let everything work out

    great great update

  4. dude, i have to admit, she can be a little hardheaded.

    but great update. oh and WHY is he leaving?

  5. Kristopher! Where on God's green Earth do you think you're going?! Unless it's to get a vase full of beautiful flowers then you should stay put, with Jo, right where you belong.

    Besides Kris leaving at the end, omg this chapter was lovely.<3 The simple little moments that Jo and Kris shared were so cute! IE: Kris dressing her. Ah, I died. I love them and I really hope Kris gets his rear end back there soon!!

  6. Okay I'm going against the popular opinion here. Kris is really pissing me off. He has "guided" Jo into so many changes and she has grown SO MUCH. I do think she is making some changes just to make Kris happy, but she is totally opening up. Just letting someone in was huge for her. She is so much better at understanding his side of things and more willing to make compromises than he is.
    Even if he thinks he is right all the time (he isn't) relationships are about acceptance of the things that you may not like or understand. If it's important to Jo it should be important to Kris. Plus he needs to get off his high horse and look at himself because Jo is right he is being a hypocrite.

    Now all that being said there are times in this chapter that he is beyond wonderful.
    I slid my arms into the sleeves, and he joined the edges of the hoodie and began to zip. “Sounds like your big brother was there to save you from the worst, once again.”

    But maybe my favorite line is Jordan's “So, how ’bout them Steelers?”

    Kris you better just be getting a wheelchair so you can take her home to care for her and you better get James' jacket fixed as well as it can be(and don't change the smell!)

    So beautifully written as always!

  7. Argh, ugh, blah = Kris' behavior in this chapter. He needs to man up right now! Jo, don't be too stubborn, cut him some slack, though!

    Great update!