And Now?Mature

Bianca is thrust into life with someone from her past

The ache in her body was loud. Screaming. She could hear muffled voices, they sounded far away. Her head hurt. That stood out. So did her throat. She tried to re-position herself, shuffle. Her body burnt with pain. “Don’t move sweety”. She heard that voice clearly. She knew it, she just...couldn’t place it. She opened her left eye, the right not budging. She caught a glimpse of the woman talking to her before the brightness was too much and her eye closed again. She groaned, before the voice told her not to talk. Just rest. She’d go get a doctor.

Hospital. She was in a hospital. There was no escaping the solid, thumping pain that covered her body. Moving was difficult, and excruciating. She was trying to listen the doctor - she’d been there for a while. Adjusting to the light would happen. Something about her spleen. Or her liver. Observations.

“Thought you could use a friend”, that voice again. She heard the body sit down in the chair nearest the bed. Moving her leg had given her away. She knew she was awake. Painfully turning her head towards the woman, she opened her eye. The curtains had been drawn, only the small lamp on the bedside table was on. She took in the slender form in that chair. “We”, she rasped, “are not friends”.

The small woman didn’t flinch. Didn’t avert her eyes. She took in the broken form on the bed. Glaring at her, despite the agony she was clearly in. She was a mess. Far from the strong, smart-ass, sarcastic person she was used to. And small. She looked so, so small. “Your mum rang me. We thought we’d never see you again”. At the groan that escaped her throat, she kept on. “They’ll be here soon. I rang them just before the doctor came in.”

How she wanted to hold her hand, stroke her hair. Comfort her. Somehow. But she daren’t move. The old Bianca, had she been well, would have simply turned on her heel from any surprise meeting the two would have had. Probably even stuck her finger up at her. The only four words she’d spoken spoke volumes, so for now at least, she would tread lightly. She was here, and that would have to be enough.

A fair few hours had passed since her initial wake, and upon waking this time around, Bianca felt far more lucid. She had accepted the pain that clearly wasn’t going anywhere. If she wanted to move, knives would puncture her until she stopped, and then she’d hurt like normal again. She opened her eye. She didn’t know if the other one was swollen shut or blind. What she did know, was that Jodie was sleeping in the most uncomfortable position possible in that chair. She didn’t understand how she was here. Or why. It had been three years since they’d last seen each other. She looked at her. Really looked at her. She’d been so mad. So angry. She’d left, and now she was here. Sleeping in a chair, next to her hospital bed.

“Hey sweetheart”. She turned her head slowly, and saw the relieved and happy faces of her parents. Both fighting back tears. She nodded and shook her head appropriately. It was too hard to talk. She just couldn’t be bothered. She hadn’t seen her parents in years. They didn’t really look any different.
They gave her more info regarding her injuries. She was definitely in a bad way, but thankfully, her eye was just swollen shut. She’d have to try and get someone to take a photo of her face so she could see.

*****

Vacantly staring at the tv screen, Bianca huffed as she saw Jodie strut into the room.
“I kind of thought you’d left”
“What am I gonna do, jump on a plane because you’re gonna be ok?” Jodie was curt. They really hadn’t said anything to each other. Jodie had slipped out of the room whilst her parents were visiting, had been present when the doctor gave updates, but nothing more. If Bianca woke during the night, she’d see Jodie in that chair, but she was always gone in the morning. But she was absent last night, and when she hadn’t been in at lunch, Bianca naturally assumed she’d up and left. Maybe even hoped.

She was standing there, hands on hips. She was on the defence. She would analyse that later. Deep breath. She crossed her arms. “How’re you feeling?”
Bianca looked at her. With both eyes. The swelling of her right eye had finally gone down enough for her to open it two days ago. Her vision was slightly blurred, the doctor assuring her it would return to normal in due course. She could see though, and saw Jodie’s body language for what it was. She took the question and answered as an olive branch. “Sore, but good. Check this out” She lifted her right arm and waved her fingers before giving a thumbs up. Raising her eyebrows and nodding her head, showing she was impressed. The Bianca she knew was in there somewhere.

The doctor came in then. Bianca was progressing well. Provided she had someone that would be able to look after her, she could go home in the next couple of days. Her parents had gone back home last week, life to get back to. They would come and visit, soon. She eyed Jodie as the doctor spoke. She knew what would happen. They both did. They could go back and forth, but neither had the energy, and it would be pointless. Like the rest of the time they spent together in the hospital, they were quiet.

As Doctor Haresh left the room, Jodie hesitantly walked towards the bed. She exhaled deeply, looking at her friend from head to toe. That’s what Bianca was to Jodie, her friend. Still. Taking in the casts on both her legs, picturing the heavy bruising under her hospital gown. She raked her eyes over the cast on her right elbow, the bruising on her face. She leant over, supporting herself with her hand on the bed. “This is going to be really hard,” she stated softly, gently kissing her on her forehead, before taking up her position in her chair. Bianca just nodded. It would be hard. In every way imaginable. She kept looking at Jodie. Her dark hair longer than she every remembered it being. It was clear she was practically living at the hospital. She had far less makeup on than usual, her hair less kept.

“I hate you,” she finally spoke. Jodie snapped her head up from her magazine, her face crestfallen. In that moment, Bianca saw how truly exhausted she was. “I’ve wanted to say that, for a really long time. I really, really hate you.” Jodie, stunned, just sat there. Unable to avert her eyes, she stared the other woman down. Harshly, “You want me to go?” Bianca shook her head. “No. I just wanted you know.” Jodie swallowed and went back to her magazine. A third of the conversation they should have had three years ago. This was, going to be really, really hard.

*****

“That, is not going to happen!” If she’d been standing, Bianca would have had her hands on her hips and fuck off written across her forehead. Jodie, standing defiantly before her, smirked. “You’re not really in a position to protest. Or get away.” The injured woman glared. “You stink.” “So get me some fucking deodorant. You are not giving me a shower.” “I’ve seen you naked a thousand times.” At the look that came across Bianca’s face, Jodie regretted it instantly. They didn’t go there. The past. Them. An unspoken rule she had just broken. That fine line of, well, she didn’t really know, but she’d crossed it. And couldn’t take it back. She left the room, as an idea struck her, leaving Bianca to her thoughts...always dangerous.

Jodie came in, bucket and face washer in hand. “Okay, you have warm water. Wipe over what you can. You’ll feel better.” And with that, she left her to it, and busied herself getting dinner ready.

Bianca sat there. Reality could be shit. She’d been home three hours and she’d hated every second of it. She couldn’t do anything. She couldn’t get comfortable. She was tired. She hurt. Everywhere. Still. And Jodie wouldn’t leave her for a second. Ironic really. She’d left her all those years ago without so much as a see you later, and now she couldn’t shake her. Needed her to help her pee. And give her a fucking shower.

She didn’t know how long she sat there, but when she finally put the face washer in the water, it was cold. She knew she couldn’t bend the way she need to, get her shirt above her head. Couldn’t even wipe her armpits - and god knows they were long overdue for a shave. Three weeks she’d been in the hospital, wishing for home. Comfort. Familiarity. And now she was here, there was none. She felt awful. She felt a tear down her cheek before she could stop it, just at the same moment Jodie came back into the lounge room with a plate of food.
She slowed at the sight of her friend, placing the food on the coffee table. She knelt down in front of the woman trying to keep it together, and looked her square in the eyes. She took a hand in hers, stroking it lightly. What to say? As far as she knew, since she’d come to in the hospital, not one tear had been shed. They’d barely spoken. She’d hopped on a plane, travelled for 30 hours to see someone she didn’t realise she still cared for, for possibly the very last time.

“You’re going to eat some food, even just a couple of bites. Then I’m going to give you a little wash, and you can get some sleep.” She spoke quietly, not letting go of her friends hand. Bianca nodded her head solemnly as Jodie wiped away another silent tear from her cheek.

A couple of bites was all Bianca could manage. Jodie didn’t protest, didn’t push. She went and got some warm water...and scissors. These two knew each other. It was a horrible and awkward reunion, this one, but they knew each other. And when a person is in a state of distress, they trust the familiar. Jodie was familiar. And honest. She was safety. “I’m going to cut your shirt off, straight up the middle alright?” Bianca merely nodded. As the scissors made their way up her shirt, Jodie had to bite back a gasp as she saw for the first time the bruises covering her torso. There was barely any pink flesh visible. The athletic abs she vividly remembered were hidden far behind a blue and yellow swollen wall. How was she supposed to wash her skin without causing her pain? She’d be so tender. She pressed on. She realised Bianca wouldn’t be able to wiggle her arms out properly, so she cut down the arms of the shirt so the front could simply be peeled off. Bianca shuffled ever so slightly forward, Jodie reaching over her shoulder to remove the back of the shirt.

Hesitantly she wet the face cloth. “I’m sorry” she whispered, in anticipation of the pain she was about to cause. Bianca merely shook her head and steeled herself. Unflinching. Jodie could barely bring herself to let the cloth meet skin. Ever so lightly, she slowly wiped over the blue and yellow flesh. She refused to look up, but out of the corner of her eye she could see Bianca clenching her jaw, undoubtedly fighting more tears. She moved upwards, her aim to get the worst over with first.
She moved from the battered flesh to Bianca’s cast arm, and then the other one. Bianca was unable to suppress a sob as she finally made it to her armpits. Quietly, Jodie pressed on. Gently she wiped around the healed wound on her throat, before ghosting over her face. She then lifted Bianca’s chin, forcing her to look her in the eyes. Hesitantly, teary eyes found hers, and Jodie smiled gently.

The End

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