Cherry could tell that Sandra was livid. From the moment she stepped off the elevator, she heard Sandra's voice scolding an innocent nurse at the station in the middle of the hall. Sandra looked at her and nodded as she came near, but conitinued to get on the nurse's case about something small that did not make sense to her. She went on ahead to Steven's room, worried that maybe everything was not alright.
He looked pale and had his eyes closed with the mask on his nose and mouth, like usual. Yesterday, Saturday, he had been able to talk to the officer that brought her there, but it wore him out enough that he could not talk. She had helped him with some math, then gone to work. Today she had gone to work early. It was four o clock now and she knew Sandra would be going to work soon, as she worked every evening from about five until closing at the diner by their house. In fact, she was surprised to see her still there. Putting her bag down next to the chair, she leaned forward and kissed Steven's forhead, brushing his hair out of his face and along the hairline. His eyes fluttered a bit and he seemed to sigh deeply, but it did not appear that she had awoken him.
When she looked up, Sandra had just come into the room. "That girl came in and upset him."
Cherry furrowed her eye brows. "Girl?"
Sandra slid her eyes to Cherry, then continued gazing at her son. "Yes, the little bitch that hit him. The one who is going to pay for putting my son in the hospital."
Cherry was taken aback. Not by the language that Sandra used- it was part of what she heard daily at home, school, work, adn everywhere else she happened to be.What shocked her was the statement itself. "You mean... the girl that caused the accident? She- she came to see Steven? Did she know him?" Cherry was having a hard time grasping this.
Sandra shrugged. "No one is answering my questions." She spat out. "These stupid little nurses just let this girl walk into his room. They said they came in when his heart rate and blood presure shot up." She paused, sullen. "They said he was screaming at her and when they got him calmed down, she was gone. Bitch." Sandra was obviously still fuming. Having gotten started with a sympathetic ear, she continued, "I have been here since one o clock! I wanted to talk to him, to be with my son. But, no! She came and wore him out and now I do not know what happened. I do not know when he will be able to talk to us. The nurses say that he got so worked up that he may have stalled the healing process. God Damn It! Why Steven?" She started sobbing, and Cherry stood up and helped her to the chair. She went to the bathroom and got a clean, cool wash cloth and brought it back to Sandra, who had already started to try and regain composure. Soon she was breathing steadily and had wiped the tears away from her weathered, worn face. She looked at Cherry once she was calm.
"I have to go to work. I can not lose my job just because some little self serving bitch can not keep to herself. Because she ruined my son's life. Please tell him I was here, that I waited. That I will get his justice."
"Of course, Ms. Jones. I will tell him." She put her hand on her arm, trying to reasure her. "It is going to be okay. We can help him get through this. I- I love him and I want to help as much as possible."
Sandra's eyebrows knit together at this last statement, but she just nodded her head and picked up her purse, leaving the room.
Cherry stared out the window, thinking about what Sandra had told her and wondering what had really happened. Glancing over her shoulder at Steven, she wondered if it would be a long quiet evening and whether she should stay in the room the whole time. After a few moments pondering the day that was gradually becoming dusk, she heard a grown. Spinning quickly to see if Steven needed anything, she found him squinting at her with a big grin. As she took a step toward the bed and sat down, he took off his mask to speak.
"I like waking up and seeing you close to me. I will not lie, the sight of your backside is nice to a wounded man!" She gasped in shock at his fresh tone, then leaned in to kiss his unmasked lips. When she did so, he used his free arm to hold her to him, kissing her deeply. She was the one to break away, blushing and holding his hand against her cheek as she sat down in the chair close to his bed.
"You are a brave man, you know. what if I hda slapped you?" She asked, mocking him. But he just smiled at her and winked, knowing that she would not do such a thing. It was true, she was very fond of his affection and couild not conceal it. Suddenly she was worried about him, though. "We heard you had a bad day?"
His smile dissapeared and he held the mask up do his face for a few moments before responding. "Yeah, I guess so." He let go of her hand and looked away from her. "I think you should go. You should not be with someone like me anymore. I am broken now and you need a man to take care of you."
Cherry was stunned for a second, then reached over and took his hand back in both of hers. "Steven." She waited until he rolled his head back to her, and she saw tears at the corners of his eyes. Because of his age, his social status, his role as man of the house, this was very rare. Her eyes also filled with tears, to see the person she cared about most in the world reduced to such a state. "Steven, I will wait for you. I will care for you. I want you to be part of my life. Can you see that? I know this... this seems like bad luck. But you WILL get through it, I can be here to stand by you. To help you. You... are the most wonderful person I know and nothing is going to change that, not even this terrible accident."
Steven's breath seemed to be a little heavy but under his sad eyes, there was a half smile. "Thank you." He did not argue, which is a bit of what she expected. The truth was, there was so much more to tell him, but it still did not seem right. He was not ready for what she really had to say- what she had been waiting all week to tell him. First let him heal, then would be the time for confessions and decisions. For now, she leaned up and snuggled her self up close to him, half on his bed, and wrapped her hands around his, hoping he could get some peace from her if not from anywhere else.