I couldn't get the image out of my head. The screeching tires, the shattered glass, he didn't even have time to scream. I didn't even remember how we got home or into the room. I sat on the bed as Lyn kept her arm around me, always the big sister. She turned my face up, "You should take a shower honey. It will make you feel better." I looked into the mirror and didn't recognize the girl staring back. She was broken and terrified. Long streaks of mascara stained her pale face and strands of her brown hair fell in her sorrow-filled face. I stood, unzipped the dress and let my hair down.
It wasn't until the warm water of the shower hit me that the feeling came back and I wept like I hadn't in years. I leaned against the wall, let the water run down my face and cried. Cried for the pain my officer was in, cried for the words we had exchanged before he was hit, but mostly I cried from the unknown. The exruciating pain of not knowing whether or not he would live. Not knowing if that was the last time we would have seen each other, when he was saying good-bye to me. I knelt in the shower and curled my arms around my body, allowing myself to give in to the overwhelming sadness I felt. I let out agonized cries, not caring if anyone heard. I was always shy, quiet and reserved, but right then I didn't care if I disturbed the people around me in the public bathroom. I was hurt and if I didn't let it out, it would have consumed me.
When I had finished crying, I stood wobbily and went back to the room. Lyn was already changed and in bed, but she turned over and looked at me, "Are you ok?" I nodded and laid down in my own bed. The image of his crash flashed through my brain again as I continue to cry. After a few hours I hear Lyn snoring softly. I wish I could join her, succumb to the escape sleep provides, but every time I tried a fresh wave of worry would over come me. Thankfully I didn't have work the next day. When Lyn woke, I was still curled up, to exhausted to move. She sat down beside me and brushed my now dry hair with her nails, "We could go visit today. Would you like that? We could go to the hospital and see if they give us some answers."
"They won't tell us anything Lyn. We aren't family." I sniffed as she reached over to my blouse, "Have we forgotten what is on your ABU coat?" She tapped the swen on badge and a new feeling of hope came over me. I didn't like flexing my badge, but I would if I had to. We got dressed and went out into the desert heat. The sun was too bright and it stung my tired eyes as we caught the bus. Lyn kept one hand on me at all times, feeling my pain. I was very thankful to her, she turned and looked at me, "You would do the same for me." I nodded, indeed I would have if something had happened to Lyn's husband. We were dropped off and I looked at the sign, "Troop Medical Clinc."
The inside looked like most other hospitals, white, clean and reeking of bleach. Everyone knows what the smell of a hospital is like, for me it always smelt like shots and doctor's appointments as a child. The woman behind the desk was cute and older. The kind of woman who probably had many children and we came up she greeted us with a, "Hello dears, what can I do for you?" Lyn stepped forward, looking more pulled together than I was, "We need the report on a LT Patterson." She looked at us past her thin glasses and I was afraid she would turn us away until she noticed we were security forces. Flipping through her files, she handed us a white folder.
"Broken wrist and minor concussion." The words made me sad, but overwhelmed with relief. It wasn't nearly as bad as it could have been. We handed it back and the elderly woman said, "Sweet young man. He's come here before for check ups. I was so sad to see him here for anything else. He's in room 23 if you need to see him. On offical buisness of course." She looked at my surprised face and winked. In my life I have met many kind people who come in all shapes and sizes. This woman was one of them. All three of us knew we had no buisness there. I smiled at her, "Thank you."
"He's resting, the doctors gave him some medicine that will knock him out for a while. But he does wake up every now and again. Maybe you will get lucky. Good-bye deary." Lyn and I walked to room 23 and I stopped with my hand on the door. Lyn looked at me, "What are you waiting for?" I took a breath, "The last thing he said to me was that he wanted to stay away from me for a while. Maybe I'm not the person he will want to see right now." Lyn turned me to look at her as she tilted my chin up, "Trust me honey child, from the way he was looking at you all last night, he wants to see you. Go on." I smiled and pushed open the door.
"Anthony." I whispered shocked. His face was cut up and bruised, his right arm was wrapped up and he lay there looking so helpless. I pulled up a chair and sat next to his bed. I rested a hand on his uninjured arm as Lyn said, "I'm going to get going. You all right here?" I nodded and she gave me a comforting squeeze before leaving. The next few moments were hard to describe, I was so happy he was alive, but so depressed that he was hurt like this. I brushed my finger nails along his arm, looking at his face as the light from the window illuminated us both. He looked peaceful, and even though the right side of his face was bruised from the impact of the windshield, he still looked handsome.
"Hey you. You aren't allowed to scare me like that again, do you understand?" I didn't expect to get a response. He was sleeping deeply. I looked down and then up slowly as I took his hand in mine, "I need to tell you something. Something that I should have said a long time ago. I know you said that you should stay away from me because I had developed feelings for you. You're right. I've cared for you for so long and everyday it got worse and worse. Then when we were dancing, I realized how in love I had fallen. I know you're an officer and I'm enlisted, and that we aren't supposed to be together. I know it could get me in a lot of trouble, but I don't want to stay away from you, I want to stay with you. I want to tell how I'm feeling, I want to listen to you and have you tell me all the things that are on your mind. I want to go on eating our meals together, and working together, I want to stay with you."
He hadn't moved, but at least I got out how I was feeling. I stayed there for hours, watching, praying that he would be all right. But soon the lack of sleep took it's toll on me as I rested my head in my arms on his bed side. I'm not sure how long I slept, but when the nurse closed the door I woke up and looked around. I looked back at Anthony who was still sleeping soundly and then I felt it. Looking down, I saw his hand resting on mine and new tears sprung into my eyes.