Chess Pieces, Ch.16 - Remembering

Casey Stewart

A chorus of loud, dramatic and tragic sounds swam inmy head, knocking at my skull hard and interrupting my thought pattern.

     Screeching tires… blazing car horns… a woman’s scream… a flood of light and… crash!

     My eyes snapped open. The sudden brightness of the room surrounding me bothered my eyesight which caused me to shut them tight again before readjusting them.

     Why was everything white? Where was I? What was that beeping noise? What had happened?

     “Hello, love,” a chirpy, friendly female voice came from beside me. I turned my head slowly to the direction of the woman and peered into the eyes of a slightly plump nurse in uniform. She wore a big, toothy smile whose lips were rouged with the reddest lipstick I’d ever seen. The crow’s feet and laughter lines were deeply noticeable on her skin but in her pale blue eyes there was that element that made you able to trust her and know that she was a sincere person. I smiled weakly, “how are you feeling?”

     “I’m not sure,” I answered, my voice hoarse and aching. I swallowed hard; I needed a glass of water, “my throat is really dry.”

     “Here, drink this up,” she said, handing me a freshly poured glass of water, “you really must be parched. You’ve been asleep for the past week and a half.” I choked on the much needed refreshment, springing up straight and spluttering down my chin and onto the bed sheets. The nurse rushed over and rubbed my back firmly to help. My back ached. In fact, my whole body ached. I lay back down again, allowing the pain to sink into the mattress below and to give myself time to think.

     I’d been asleep for over a week!?

     “Are you alright now, love?” she asked, once my coughing had subsided. She took the glass from my hand and placed it on the side table next to the bed I lay in, “I didn’t mean to startle you like that.”

     “No, no, I’m fine,” I reassured her, “it just came as a… a shock, really. That’s all. I’m fine, really I am.” I closed my eyes again, breathing deeply through my nose and back out again through my mouth. I raised my right hand to my forehead and felt a tug, restricting it a little. I briefly opened my eyes and surveyed the obstacle, noticing the various tubes and wires attached to my body.

     Had I been in a coma!?

     “How long did you say I’d been asleep for?” I asked, turning back to the nurse.

     “Just over a week and a half; eleven days, I believe. You’ve been involved in a rather nasty accident, I’m afraid. Can you remember anything about it at all?”

     I’d been in an accident?

     “A car accident?” I asked.

     “Yes, love. Can you remember anything about it?”

     A car accident…

     “I don’t know,” I closed my eyes again, scanning my brain for any clear memory of the accident. Surely I remembered it. Why it happened, what went wrong, who was there… who got hurt? “Was anyone else hurt?” The nurse’s expression fell, though she tried to conceal it with a loose, wavering smile.

     “There were five people, including yourself, involved in the accident. From what I can recollect, the car that you were travelling in collided with a heavy cargo lorry. The driver of your vehicle was driving on the wrong side of the road at a tremendously dangerous speed. Thankfully, it happened within a reasonable distance from the hospital so paramedics were able to get you all here quickly.”

     “You didn’t answer my question,” I told her, “was anyone else hurt?”

     “I don’t think it’s my place to say, love, it might upset–”

     Was anyone else hurt?” I interrupted harshly; tears brimming in my eyes.

     The nurse looked at me sternly, breathing in deeply and slowing exhaling afterwards before continuing.

     “The two men in the lorry came out better off, with only a slight concussion and one with a broken arm, whereas the three of you in your vehicle came out quite a bit worse. You have suffered from severe bruising, slight blood loss and have a cracked rib: you’re injuries are much tamer than those that the two boys acquired…

     “One had already lost quite a bit of blood by the time they had arrived at hospital and had broken his nose, his left leg and a two of his ribs. He woke up yesterday.”

     “And the other?” I asked, tears falling down my facing rapidly, “Better? Or worse?”

     “The other,” she began, taking another deep breath, “was, indeed, in a much worse condition. He arrived with a much larger blood loss than the first, both of his legs were crushed, his nose was also broken as well as several of his ribs and he’d also broken his back.”

     “Oh my God!” I cried, balling my eyes out now. I closed my eyes and cupped my face into the palms of my wired up hands and cried hard. I felt the light pat of the nurse’s hand on my shoulder and the weight of her sitting down on the mattress beside me. She comforted me, hushing me gently as if I was a child who’d scraped her knee on the playground tarmac. I felt like a child at that point in time. I wanted nothing more than to be able to run into Mum’s arms and hold onto her, drenching her favourite t-shirt with tears and staining it with running mascara.

     “W-what happened to h-him?” I spluttered, choking on my never ending flow of tears.

     “He… he was rushed into theatre as soon as he arrived. His legs were in so much of a state that they needed to be amputated. Also, an operation was needed on his back to try and prevent permanent paralysation. Unfortunately…” she paused, closing her eyes and swallowing hard, “he didn’t make it…”

     I cried louder, wailing my sorrow for all in the hospital to hear. No! No, no, NO! No one should have died! NO ONE SHOULD HAVE DIED!

     “I’m sorry, love. I really am.” The nurse comforted me, her voice strained as if she was about to start crying too. She took my left hand away from my face and squeezed it gently, rubbing her thumb against my bruised skin. I continued to cry, bewildered from what I’d been told.

     Who was I never going to see again?

     Who had I lost forever?

     Who was I not going to be able to say I love you to?

     Who had died?

     “I’ll leave you for a bit, shall I?” the nurse asked quietly. I didn’t reply… I couldn’t. She gave my hand one last squeeze before she lifted herself from the bed and made her way to the doorway. Just before leaving, she turned back to face me, “I’ll let your mother know you’re awake. She’s been ever so worried about you.” She gave a weak smile before finally leaving and closing the door behind her.

     I cried in my solitude and took in the silence outside of the continuous beeping from the machine that measured my heart rate. I could feel it thumping hard in my chest and wanting to burst right out before smashing into a million, tiny pieces and get blown away in the wind. My heart had truly been broken and I couldn’t place myself anywhere… couldn’t piece everything together.

     Who had died?

     The nurse had neglected to tell me who I had lost… whose life had been taken because… because of me! After all, it was because of me that the hatred between Ben and Marc was there in the first place. If I hadn’t have insisted on Marc driving Ben to the hospital rather than calling for an ambulance… they would both still be alive today. If it wasn’t because of me being in their lives… one of them would not have died.

     Who had died?

     I couldn’t lose Marc. He was my boyfriend and I loved him; I really did. No, he hadn’t been the perfect guy in the past and it had been a rocky path up to the stage we were in our relationship but I wouldn’t have changed it for anything! He never wanted to see me get hurt and was there for me the entire time throughout my depression post-break up with Ben…

     But I couldn’t lose Ben either. We had so much history with each other, after all, and that could never be erased. We’d known each other for so long and had so much happen to us in the last two years… we had a son together! James couldn’t be left fatherless, could he!? And, to be completely honest, I had never stopped loving him… not completely. I don’t think I would ever have been able to stop loving him. He couldn’t be dead… right?

     I thought back on all the time I’d spent with Ben and how I’d felt with him at the time. I’d been so happy – so comfortable – with him and I never wanted to leave that happiness. He’d always been kind to me and made me laugh all the time. He was a brilliant father to James – despite him being robbed of the first year of his life, through my own, selfish, fault – and he had so much that he wanted to do with him: taking him to see his first football match, teaching him how to ride a bike without the stabilisers, having the ‘talk’ with him about girls and sex… so many things that he might possibly never be able to do… so many things James would never get to do with his Dad…

     I dreaded to think about how James would be affected by all this in the long run; growing up without a Dad, just like I had. A young boy needs a father figure in his life to guide him through life and teach him how to be a man as he grows up. Then again, there would always be Marc…

     Marc had been studying to be a doctor and would have been so influential to James in the future. He could have become a role model for James and given him the incentive to go to University himself and study to become a doctor, a lawyer, a scientist, whatever he wanted to be! But then again, he hadn’t taken an instant shine in James since the announcement of his parents’ contract to be his carers all those months ago. Perhaps he wouldn’t have stuck around in the future… maybe he’d leave me and James in the scrap heap. I had no idea.

     Either had the potential of being a beneficial and influential figure in James’ and my future in their own ways but I still couldn’t see my life without them both in it; whether it was just for James or for the both of us.

     I loved Marc… but I also loved Ben.

     Who had died?

     The door creaked open and I snapped my eyes over in its direction. Mum entered with blotchy, red, teary eyes and a whimsy smile spread across her face. She looked as if she hadn’t slept during the entire time I’d been in a coma.

     “Oh, Casey,” she breathed, rushing over to my side and wrapping her arms around me tight. I whimpered in her arms as a painful spike shot through my muscles. She loosened her grip and edged away from my weak body, cupping my cheeks into each of her hands instead and kissing me gently on the forehead. I smiled weakly through my tears and looked her in the eye.

     “I feel so horrible,” I whispered, sniffing loudly, “I feel entirely to blame.”

     “Now, now, you’re not to blame at all. What are you saying, Casey? Of course it’s not your fault. Accidents happen–”

     “But someone died!” I wailed, sinking back into my pillow behind me, fresh tears spurting from my eyes. Mum sat down gently on the bed beside me, where the nurse had previously sat, holding my hand firmly in hers.

     “The nurse said she’d told you,” she murmured.

     “Yeah and I feel awful.” I blubbered.

     “Calm down. These things happen–”

     “But it didn’t have to happen!” I screamed, “I could’ve called an ambulance instead and no one would have been killed! What would have happened if James had been in the car too? What if he had been killed!?”

     “But he wasn’t, Casey!” Mum shouted back, “Fate works in weird and, sometimes, wonderful ways. It does things we cannot explain and we have to accept that whatever happens has happened and that it cannot always be reversed. We have to deal with the circumstances; good or bad.” Mum was in full flowing tears by the time her semi-rant had come to a close. She was obviously thinking back to when Carlos – my Dad –  had left her all those years ago and how she’d had to deal with this loss in her life as well as the reality that she would be having a baby – me – seven months later.       

     “Mum,” I asked, swallowing my tears, “where’s James?” Mum cleared her throat and wiped away her tears with the back of her hand.

     “At home, with the McFarlows. Theresa’s been in such a state since the accident. She can’t function properly. It’s affected us all, but her much–”

     “Will James be growing up without a father?” I interrupted. Mum fell silent. I closed my eyes as a single tear fell down my cheek…

     Who had died?

The End

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