Chad awoke early that morning to find Christine sleeping while sitting on the floor next to the couch. He frowned and picked her up, taking her back to her bed. He made coffee and some eggs, saving half for her. Grabbing his bag and noting that she was still sleeping, he walked past the bed to the only bathroom in the apartment and freshened up. It only took him ten minutes, and we came back, Christine was sitting on the couch with her coffee. He sat down next to her and began putting on his socks.
"How do you feel this morning?" He asked, as if it were just another morning's pleasantries.
She looked at him, her eyes swollen and puffy, and gave him a very small smile. "I am not sure. Only the day will tell." She pulled her coffee up to her mouth as an excuse to not say any more.
He patted her leg- his way of being encouraging. "Come on, you need to get ready so that I can take you to work." He stood up and headed back to the kitchen.
"I do not think I will go today." She heard his stop and turn back towards her. Tilting her head towards him, Christine saw him giving her a look that made it clear that he hoped he misheard her but annoyed, knowing that he had. He siged heavily, then closed his eyes, contemplating how to move forward with this. His voice was calm when he replied.
"Christine, you have to go to work. I know that you have had a rough week, but responsibility is a big deal in life. You got in a car accident. It was your fault. I do not even know what happened yesterday, but you do have to go to work and you do have to continue on with your routine and with life. It is the only way to get through this with dignity and do it in a speedy way. I am here to support you and help you out, but you are going to need to be strong and dedicated to getting things done, yourself. You can be strong. I know that you have the ability and the personality and the strength. And we will do it together. We can be a team." As he spoke, he had come back to the couch, removing the coffee cup from her hands and holding them. She looked at his face as he spoke, but mostly remained expressionless, not responding when he was finished. He smiled at her and embraced her, giving the side of her head a sweet kiss. "Okay?"
Again she did not respond; did not nod her head, squeeze his hands, or return his smile. Looking at him, she realized that he was the only reason that she had the life she did. Not really knowing what to do with this information, she nodded in an auto pilot sort of way and stood up, brushing past him and heading for the privacy of the shower. He watched her, his annoyance turning to frustration. After she left the room, he went to the kitchen and cleaned up, putting her uneaten eggs in a tupperware to take in the car. He tried not to think about why she was being so frustrating. He tried to tell himself it was all because of the accident, and once things were taken care of, they could return to normal.
Fifteen minutes later, he was ready to leave and Christine had not yet come out of the bathroom. He coul hear the shower still running, but the bedroom door was also closed. Chad waited another five minutes, then went through the bedroom and knocked on the bathroom door.
When Christine heard the knock, she was completely startled. Fro the past twenty minutes, she had been sitting at the end of the bathtub with the water running on her toes so that it would not wet the neck brace. The entire time, she had been starting into space, disconected from reality. Another knock came and startled her again, and Chad's voice came, calling her name.
"Christine? Christine, we need to go soon."
She siged and cleared her throat. "Just a minute."
"I will be out in a minute." She said louder, pulling on the side of the bathrub to help herself get up, and leaning around the water to turn it off. She heard the door to her bedroom close and tried to come back to reality. Without really thinking about it, her body got up and she went to the mirror, using a washcloth to finish washing up, brushed her teeth and pulled her hair back. She went and grabbed black slacks out of the closet and a button up shirt so she did not have to work around the neck brace. Slipping on some shoes, she left the room.
Chad was sitting at the dining room table, drumming his fingers on the surface. His eyes furrowed a bit when she came out, but he kept his comments to himself. Her clothes were wrinkled and she looked pale without makeup or jewelry. But he was afraid that anything he said might send her back into withdrawal, if indeed she had come out of it yet. Instead, he stood up, sent a tight smile, and handed her a coffee mug.
"Let us go, if you are ready." He raised his eyes at her, wiating for a response. She only blinked at him, went to the pick up her phone and purse, and went out the door that he had opened. Chad locked the door, then handed her her keys, leading the way down to the car.
Once they were buckled in and on their way, Chad siged. "Christine... I am really frustrated. You need to talk to me- or something, because I really want to depend on you. What can I do to hlep you this morning? I do not feel like you are even here."
She tried to look at him, but the brace was so bulky that she could not move. She siged audibly. "I do not know, Chad." She allowed the annoycane to seep into her voice, as well. Between not really understanding herself and being frustrated with the cast, as well as knowing that Chad was trying to come to terms with the same things she was, Christine was a mess. A ball of emotional turmoil. "I really just do not feel like talking abou tit right now."
He gripped the stearing wheel a little tighter. He was not a man of anger but could become upset over the things that he did not understand. His speech was a little choppy as he attempted to change the subject a little bit, "Okay. Well. Um, I will be dropping you off at work for a few hours. Your mom is picking you up at one to take you to get lunch and then to take you to the hospital to get your doctor's appointments taken care of. Then she is going to take you to go pick up Michael this afternoon. Is that going to work for you?"
He was being short with her, which was certainly rare. She thought how she regretted seeing him like this, knowing it was her fault entirely.
"Can you tell me what happened yesterday, at least?" She thought about it sincerely. What could she say? What DID happen yesterday? Finally she gave in a little, speaking in an autonous voice.
"The police officer came by the apartment. He told me that the accident was my fault entirely, so the report will show that, and I should probably get a lawyer to protect myslef."
"The police officer came to your apartment!?" She continued, ignoring his interuption.
"Then I went to the hospital to meet the kid. His name is Steven. He was really hurt and got really upset when I tried to apologize."
"You did what? Christine, why did you not call me? I..." Again she interrupted his outburting questions.
"So later I got a phone call from Tim. And we went out for coffee."
"And apparently the kid's mom works there. She slapped me and Tim took me to the hospital." She stopped talking and stared out the window. He could not believe what he had just heard.
Christine." He huffed and shook his head, not looking at her, since he was stil driving. "I can not believe you did not tell me any of this. ALL of that happened yesterday? How did you get to the hospital? I mean... who the hell is Tim?" Chad was absolutely flabergasted, not just by the details of her day, but also by the manner in which she had told him. Like there was no big deal.
"Tim is the guy who pulled me out of my car at the accident," was all she replied.