How I hate its vomit-inducing aroma. It fills my nostrils instantly as I push open the doors of the hospital reception. I knew they had every reason to keep the area sanitized, but It caused some bile to seep its way up my throat nether less.
I was breathless no doubt. The continuous sprint on broken tar roads caused my muscles to strain. I remained as calm as I could when I called a taxi to downtown, and as soon as I paid for the rather expensive fare, my legs kicked back into gear, running none stop up the stairs through the hospitals main entrance.
Besides physical pain, my mind was experiencing an extraordinary number of emotions that was breaking my heart in two. Its pain had such power, I was surprised to have the ability to keep somewhat intact. Outside, I was frail and obviously concerned for the wellbeing of my friend.
Inside was tenfold.
I quickly, as soon as I recovered the bright lights of pure white floor, ceiling and walls struck my eyes; I walked to the reception desk and asked what unit Zackary was being held in. confirming my identity with a fumbling search of a student I.D., to proceed up the elevator. The woman, most likely the same one on the phone informed me that he was being held on the third floor. I had little strength for patience, but I also had little strength in my legs to do anything.
Patience is a virtue that I seem to never take advantage of, even in stressing moments such as this.
But who would have patience in this situation? My friend has probably been in agony for the past six hours and this goddamn elevator is taking too long!
The other people in the elevator notice my stress, and fairly enough, I notice theirs. This was a hospital after all; a ‘sanctuary’ of where the wounded or those near death would gather, as well as their family members. they would stand, ponder and let their minds rot from the excessive torture of waiting. Waiting for an answer, whether it be good or bad.
I cared not the kind of answer.
I just wanted an answer.
I knew in my heart, good or bad, I would be broken either way.
I surprised myself when I didn’t run once the elevator door sprung open, and for that, I did feel a bit proud.
‘9b, 10b, 11b, 12b’ I mentally count each plaque above the doors as I scan. Slowing myself down as I walk down the almost continuous corridor, I find the room of the several dozen on that floor where he is resting.
Was it necessary to put him in a room with that number?
I brushed it aside. This was no time to be acting like a twat.
I look into the open room, and notice a chocolate skinned woman with a clipboard looking over him, marking down condition notes with a blue point pen. Wearing casual hospital attire and her pitch black hair tied up in a tight bun, crimson lipstick and strikingly blue eye shadow, her head lifts up as I cautiously tap my fingernail on the glass open door. The sound alone caused her to turn her attention to me.
“Yes? Can I help you with something?” she smiles.
Whoa, her teeth were as white as the walls themselves.
“Yes, um, I’m… I’m Kaylee Engle,” I stutter, why? ”…Uh here to visit Zack? “
Her head nods in understanding “Ah yes, he was calling for you. But please be a little quiet. If you were here earlier, you would have just caught him more…awake, but he’s very fatigued, so be mindful. Keep it short, Okay?”
“Yeah, I’ll keep that in mind…thank you.”
“Don’t mention it. Call if you need anything.” And with that, she walked out of the patient room, closing the heavy door behind her, which gave me a little jolt as the metal clanked together.
I turn my attention towards Zack him on the bed.
I gasp slightly.
The sight of him wearing patient’s clothes is enough to make my eyes mist. There is little colouration in his features. His stubble and blonde hair were always messy, but him being in this building and in this state made him look messier. His chest is rising slowly under the bed sheets, and I can hear his fatigued inhales and exhales of breath. He isn’t hooked up to any machinery of any kind, which is a good sign, but it upsets me to see him nether less
I concentrate on my breathing as I walk to his slumbering side. I have every right to, but I hesitate to break down in a pool of my own tears. I pull my hair out of my face; I must have been a mess.
Before I have a moment to place my hand on his shoulder, his tired eyes flutter open and stare into mine immediately.
They are the same deep ocean blue that I remember.
A smell fills my senses.
The faint but similar scent of lemon barley sadly mixed with the smell of the disinfectant, too much for my liking, which was a lie of coarse because I loathe it so.
Then fear struck me.
Did I forget completely that this monster touched me and dared to continue? Well, yes I unexplainably did. Something as nightmarish as that may play itself like a broken record for the rest of my days.
How could I be so foolish?
I mentally gag myself. No, I refused to believe it was true.
I was attacked by a rapist, a common sadistic rapist, nothing more.
Zackary Moore was sharing drinks with me and my friends.
And that… thing… more or less, that thing saved me.
“Lee?” he groaned with a surprised but pleased smile.
“Zack…your awake…how are you feeling?”
“Uhhh…saying I’m…not too flash would be an understatement, hehe.” He chuckled, but coughed from his throat soon after, bringing his fist to cover his mouth, while his other clenches tightly to the bed sheets as his fit resides.
“You had me worried… I still am, but when I got the call, I couldn’t help but be fearful for you.”
“awww shucks, your making me blush, Lee…” He smirks.
I felt like clouting him over the head for that, but strangely, I didn’t have the energy. No, even he in a patient’s bed wouldn’t hold enough as a good excuse for me to not knock his block off.
Gulping and breathing heavily, I remember what needs to be said, what needs to be asked. My eyes were closed as I tried to gather my thoughts.
“You alright, Kaylee?” Zack asked curiously “Something bothering you?”
My eyes stare into his once again.
“Zack…How did you get here?”
His eyebrow quirked up questioningly “I was brought here by the ambulance, you know, the white and red van? It has a big red flashy light on its top, and makes a really annoying noise that goes ‘wheee whooo wheee whooo’-
“I’m being serious.”
“So was I.” he smirked.
I frown, not liking this one bit. His expression dropped and turned to more sincere. “Alcohol poisoning.” He said bluntly.
I freeze, my eyes widen in shock.
“That’s what they tell me.”
My eyebrows mash together in accusation “’They’ being...?
“the doctors, silly.” He chuckled.
I growl at his behavior, but something struck my mind at that moment; A thought of confusion.
“Wait… you mean… you don’t remember?”
“No.” he said casually.
What? How can he forget something like that?
As much as I wonder how, I believe him. He has no reason to lie to me does he? No, not at all.
In a way, I envy him. He has forgotten something so…horrible, and it will plague me for the rest of my days.
We were at a bar after all, drink shot after shot. He must have taken too much of the medicine. Yes, that sounded logical
“You did have a lot to drink…you weren’t yourself.”
He frown apologetically “I’m sorry Lee… if I did any stupid, or something I might’ve regretted, I’m sorry.”
I shudder, and close my eyes, “No…you didn’t do anything…” and it was true, I truly believe he is innocent. Call it denial if some would.
I shake my head “It’s not important, what matters now is your okay, and by the looks of it, not hurt.”
His smile even though tired never ceases to warm my heart. He’s Zack after all.
Not a monster or a stranger.
A basket case, no doubt.
I hold back fearful tears as I leave Zack to his peaceful slumber. This will not go unnoticed, what happened that night needs an explanation, and if Zack cannot give me the answer, then I don’t know what I will do.