I walked solemnly up to the hospital bed. Corey seemed to have a rosier hue to his cheeks than he had the day before. I slowly eased into the gray folding chair next to him. I slid the red, knit beanie off my head and let it fall into my lap. The hot, salty twinge of tears burned behind my eyes. I looked around the dreary room and saw that it was only Corey, the machines, and I. I gazed back at the limp figure on the bed and burst into tears. I grabbed Corey’s hand and just kept crying. It was my first time seeing him since the crash. But right now I needed him more than ever.
The nurse had told me that he could hear me and encouraged me to speak to him if I was comfortable with it. It reminded me of our talks by the lake at sunset, when I would tell him my secrets and he would be the best listener anyone could have. I always found it amazing that a senior would ever talk to an eighth grader but Corey always gave me the best advice. We never talked about Boba because Boba was often with us when we had our long, sunset talks. But tonight, Boba was the reason I was here. Boba and I had been best friends since I had moved to Northridge in the summer. Corey was Boba’s older brother and we had become very close over the past year.
“You’ve always been there for me Corey…” I whispered. My sobs had finally diminished and I could see his calm, closed eyes thru my tears now.
“I think I love Boba… or at least I did…” my mind traced back to earlier today when Boba had yelled at me and called me an emo freak. I had cried then too.
“He tries to be like all those popular, jock jerks. He won’t even talk to me if his ‘friends’ are around. I’m an embarrassment to him” I was tearing up again. Boba used to spend every second of his life with me until he joined the football team.
“He hates me now. I think I really love him but if he doesn’t even want to be seen with me then I will never have a chance with him” I was crying really hard now. Boba was the most amazing guy I had ever met. I couldn’t understand why he changed before I had the chance to tell him how I feel.
“Corey, you’ve always been my big bro. I really wish you would wake up…. I need you! I’ve cried every night this week because it’s all I can do to keep from breaking down at school in front of Boba. I need you Corey! I need you…” I leaned over and sobbed into his chest. I could hear his breathing. It was slow and heavy because of the machines but deep down I knew he could hear me and wanted to help. Corey was the kind of guy who would help no matter what it took.
It didn’t matter how many times I said it, nothing could describe how much I needed Corey right now.
“I love you big C. I have to go before I flood the whole room” I smiled a little and wiped my cheek with the back of my hand. I leaned down and kissed him on the cheek and then got up and walked to the door, hat in hand. I rested my hand on the open door frame and turned back. I looked at Corey and smiled. Just looking at him gave me hope to go on. I walked out the door and into the elevator. I finally looked down at my watch and took my train ticket out of my pocket. I would take the 10:00 train and go straight to bed when got home. I just wondered how I would make it thru another day of Buford Keary’s, the only boy I’ve ever loved, insults and glares.
Boba (Buford) Keary:
‘I have to apologize,” I thought to myself.
‘I love her… and I was so cruel to her today.’ I’d been to Dusky’s house only 20 minutes earlier. Her sister had said she went to the hospital to visit Corey. Ever since the accident I’d only cared about myself. But now I was realizing how hard she must be taking all of this. Dusky and Corey were so close. Even if she was closer to me, Corey could help her with whatever she needed. Corey was the big brother she never had.
I pumped my legs harder, willing my skateboard to get to the hospital in time. Dusky had taken the train, there was no way I could beat her there but at least I would make it before she left. I’d been such a jerk all week. I cut my hair, I got a whole new wardrobe and I played football. I even stopped listening to screamo all together. The popular life had enveloped me and I had become one of their clones. I was a disgrace to punks everywhere.
I rode up to the hospital doors and jumped off my board. I hid it behind a trash can in the lobby and ran up to the front desk where a heavy-set, over-tanned receptionist sat, reading the latest People magazine.
“Have you seen a girl with short purple hair and black skinny jeans?!?!” I asked hurriedly.
“Yeah you just missed her. She should be on level three.” The woman murmured with a confused stare.
“Thanks!” I yelled over my shoulder. I was already on my way up the stairs. I was out of breath but I had to apologize and tell her how I feel.
I rushed thru the door at level three and ran down the hall to room 514. I heard sobs from three rooms away so I slowed to a tip-toe so Dusky wouldn’t hear me. I walked up to the door and peered into the room. Dusky was sobbing near Corey’s bed. I wanted to run in, hold her close, kiss her hard and tell her I was sorry over and over again but I didn’t want to ruin the moment. I heard her whimper softly and tell Corey how she loved me and how hurt she had been after I had yelled at her today. I bit my knuckle so I wouldn’t start to sob as well. I’d never cried before. Not even when my dad died. But now I felt a pain more terrible than death. And what really put the nail in the coffin was when she said I hated her. I wanted to yell the words “I LOVE YOU!”At the top of my lungs and that I could never hate her, no matter what! But instead I hid behind the door like the coward my father was. I just stood there and listened.
Dusky sobbed into Corey’s arm and I knew I would never let her feel like this again. I wanted just as much as her for Corey to wake up. At that moment, I took a look at myself. I was wearing a blue polo with faded, designer jeans. ‘This isn’t me,’ thought to myself. ‘I’m an emo punk. That’s what I always have been and that’s how I should to be.’ But fashion could come later. All that mattered is that I needed to tell her how I feel.
Suddenly, Dusky stood and walked to the door. I ran behind a nurse’s desk and hid. She smiled at Corey then walked into the elevator. I would have to tell her tomorrow though I knew it would be hard to wait. I smiled and walked up to Corey’s room.
I heard faint footsteps enter the room. They sounded like worn out tennis shoes. Soft and rubbery against the tile. In my mind, I tried to imagine who it could be. Then there was breathing, right next to me. In my mind, all I saw was white but now I was imagining Dusky sitting next to me. I knew it was her from the first breath. I wanted to respond but I knew I couldn’t no matter how hard I tried. Then I felt her fragile hand grasp mine. I could hear her soft sobs and it was killing me inside. When she cried before, I would hug her and tell her it would be okay. And then Boba would hug her too and whisper in her ear to calm her down. But now she was alone. ‘Where’s Boba? He should be with her!’ I thought to myself. I felt her grab my arm and cry into my chest. I felt terrible. ‘It’s your fault! If you hadn’t let Daniel drive drunk then you would be able to help her right now!’ I thought angrily. Best friends are supposed to help best friends. But now I couldn’t even see her.
I listened carefully to every word she said. I always did. She said she’s in love with Boba. I always knew it but now I could confirm it. I was glad. I always wanted to be her big brother and someday I could be her big brother in law. Then… Dusky said Boba was being a popular jerk. But Boba loves her too. Why would he ever be rude or mean to her? It didn’t make sense.
Dusky yelled over and over again that she needed me. I wanted to yell back I’M HERE!!! But I couldn’t. ‘God Daniel! Why did you have to go and drink that night?’ I remembered the party and how almost everyone was drunk. I had no idea that Daniel was drunk at all until we started driving. Then he ran that stop sign. Crashing into the SUV. Where I ended up in this hospital. And now, my best friend and my brother are in love but I can’t help either of them.
I heard Dusky leave the room and someone else enter. This time, I couldn’t tell who it was right away. I heard new shoes squeaking across the tile. Then, he spoke.
Boba (Buford) Keary:
I could barley look at Corey. Maybe it was my self-centered pride. Or maybe it was just the fact that it was my only brother, which I loved, laying weak and vulnerable in a hospital bed. I sat down in the folding chair by his bed and scooted up close to him. I looked at him for several long moments. Finally, I cleared my throat.
“Hey big bro… I’m sorry I haven’t visited in a while. I’ve been meaning to… I just haven’t had the time, what with football practice and all, which I will be ending tomorrow.” I felt like an idiot. If I were in a coma, I know Corey would visit me day and night. Heck, I wasn’t even there when he was first admitted. But it’s been a week and I was here now.
“Corey, the reason I’m here is because… I love Dusky! There, I finally said it out loud! I know it took a long time but now I said it!” I was proud of myself. I felt committed for once. For real. I grinned smug and proud.
Suddenly, there was movement behind his seemingly frozen eyelids. Slowly they both opened halfway.
“NURSE! NURSE! HE’S WAKING UP!” I yelled with excitement. I turned around and my face was met with what I would have never expected.
Just as I was about to walk out the front door of the hospital, the receptionist called out at me.
“Miss! The nurses upstairs wanted me to tell you that your friend has just woken up!” The women’s accent was heavy and blended with a Spanish flair. Without a second thought, I rushed back up the stairs and straight to Corey’s room. I could feel myself grinning wide. ‘He heard me! I knew he would!’ I thought to myself. I hung a right turn into the room and opened my mouth to speak but instead it remained agape. Boba was sitting in the folding chair, holding a blue ice pack to his face while Corey was being restrained by two nurses who sure had their hands full.
“Oh Dusky! I’m so glad you’re here!” Boba stood and started towards me with an out stretched arm but I walked briskly by him like he had done to me only several hours earlier. I rushed to Corey’s bedside where, though he look exhausted, was very much awake.
“DUSKY! I’m so happy to see you.” Corey exclaimed. He stopped fighting the nurses and relaxed back into his bed. At this, the two women shrugged and went back to check on Boba who stood looking dazed near the door way. Corey held my hand and my face hurt from how wide a smile I wore. Corey wiped away one of the tears that had rolled down my cheek.
“I heard you baby girl,” Corey said tiredly.
“I heard every word. I knew it all along.” He smiled at this. I laughed lightly and smiled back.
“Well what happened to Boba?” I asked with a hint of disgust lingering n my voice when I said his name.
“He came in here like some hero, even after how he treated you and how this was his first visits since the accident. I figured I should teach him a lesson” Corey glanced in Boba’s direction with a sneer.
“YOU PUNCHED ME IN THE FACE IS WHAT YOU DID!” Boba yelled from across the room.
“Buford, you’re an idiot, you know that?”
I‘d never seen the boys fight like this. They threw things back and forth about how Boba loved me but was a jerk and how it was Corey’s fault in the first place that he had driven home with Daniel and gotten himself into the hospital. The nurses watched in amusement but I soon escorted them politely out of the room so I could “have a private chat with the boys”.
I felt the strength come back to me as Boba sat by my bed. I willed my eyes to open where, instead of my punk little brother; I saw a jerk of a jock. I barely heard him yell at the nurses when I lifted my fist and felt it collide with his face. He crumpled back in pain and wailed like a toddler. Two nurses rushed in. One ran back out to fetch an ice pack for Boba while the other ran to me and tried to hold me down even though I wasn’t done with him yet.
“Mr. Keary, you need to lay down! You shouldn’t even have the ability to do what you just did, but now you need to relax.” The nurse was speaking firmly. I stopped wriggling but still stared with anger at Boba who stared back at me with a look of utter confusion.
‘As if he really doesn’t know what he did,’ I thaught to myself. ‘He acts so innocent but he knows what he did.’ My cheeks burned and I clenched my fists until my knuckles were white. Then, Dusky whisked into the room. I had never been so happy to see her in my life. And I was even happier when Boba tried to hug her but she instead ran to me. I felt exhausted but I had missed her so much. I smiled meekly at up at her. Tears filled her eyes and I wiped one away. Just as we began to speak, Boba barged in.
“ DUSKY I AM SO SORRY!!! I should have never treated you that way! I’m sorry!” he was grinning and almost crying at the same time. Dusky acted as if she hadn’t even known he was in the room. She looked back and shrugged it off then turned to me and smiled. I hadn’t stopped since she walked in the room. If I could stand I’d hug her and never let go.
“ I won’t… ever… leave you..alone again.” I said through my heavy breathes. I felt like I’d just been socked in the stomach. Then Boba came back.
“ why’d you hit me?! I came to visit you! I was being nice!” he sounded as if HE had the right to be offended.
“ Why you little, insolent weasel!” I tried to lunge my body off the bed but Dusky and the nurses had me pinned. Boba cowered by the door in case he needed to make a quick escape. I stared at him with white- hot anger but not quite hatred. Yet. Dusky looked extremely confused and looked back and forth between us. It felt odd, being angry at my little brother. I don’t remember even as a child ever disliking him this much. But I was protecting my best friend whom seemed to be the most important matter at the moment.
Dusky took my hand in her’s it, cooing over me, her voice so relaxing and smooth.