A bolt of lightning seared through Kate’s body, flinging her body upwards. Kate tried to scream out, but the pain closed her throat. Another shock wave saturated Kate’s midsection. Then there were voices, voices she didn’t recognize. They called her name, but she couldn’t reply. Her vocal cords wouldn’t work. One voice sounded through the others. She recognized this voice. It was lovely, like silk. The voice sounded with urgency, but it was still so beautiful. She could listen to that voice all day.
“Kate, can you hear me?” the voice called again, “please open your eyes, Kate.”
Kate attempted to open her heavy eyelids. At first they failed to respond. They felt weighted, as though heavy fingers held them closed. Trying harder, Kate finally managed to open them enough to see light above her. The lights were bright, too bright. Kate squinted her eyes closed against the brightness.
“You’re blinding her,” the voice retorted, “point the lights to the side.”
Able to open her eyelids now, Kate searched for the face that belonged to the voice she loved. Three faces hovered over her, none belonging to the voice. She now realized who these people were. She struggled to remember how she had ended up on the roadside. Sharp pieces of gravel dug into her shoulders as she attempted to answer the shower of questions being asked by the paramedics.
Loaded up on the gurney, Kate remembered why she was there. The reality of the moment resounded through her head like a tidal wave. Oh no, oh no. Kate tried to raise her head to look for Ellen and Elise, but her head was strapped down to the gurney.
“Where is Elise? Where is Ellen?” she questioned the woman sitting beside her gurney in the back of the ambulance. The blue-eyed woman just stared at her with a look of despair on her face. Kate asked again, pleading this time.
“Honey, your friends are hurt real bad,” the woman answered compassionately. “They were med-flighted right before you came to.”
“But they’re alive, right?” Kate demanded.
“They were when we loaded them, sweetheart.”
A pinprick drew Kate’s attention away from the woman. The other paramedic was starting an IV on Kate. Kate hated needles, but the pain from the stick was miniscule in comparison to the ripping pain in Kate’s heart as she thought of Ellen and Elise. The thought that they were dead or dying was too much to bear. Tears began to run down the sides of Kate’s face, wetting her hair and ears.
She couldn’t feel any pain in her body, other than that in her heart. The adrenaline released from the crash blocked any pain from her damaged body. She was afraid to ask the paramedic woman what the extent of that damage was, and probably wouldn’t get a straight answer until she reached the hospital.
Baptist Hospital was an hour away by car, but the ambulance made it in less than thirty minutes. ER staff was waiting for Kate’s arrival. Everything was a blur as Kate was rolled down the hallway. A variety of colors whooshed by as the medical staff passed her, donning scrubs in every color of the rainbow. She wasn’t sure where she was being taken until her carriers wheeled her through two cold, menacing metal doors. They were taking her straight to surgery.
A petite woman with frizzled hair was asking her a series of questions, all of which she answered methodically. The woman’s voice sounded like a bee buzzing in her ear. She was asked her name, address, next of kin, allergies, and blood type.
The adrenaline that had once staved off the pain was now fading from her blood stream. Now she was starting to feel pain—terrible pain. Her left side radiated with pain, but she still couldn’t tell exactly where the source of it came from. Her neck was still in a brace, which made lifting her head next to impossible.
“Where are they taking me?” Kate asked the woman weakly.
“They’re taking you to surgery, honey. They think your internal organs may be bleeding.”
“Can you call my mom?” Kate pleaded.
“Yes, of course. I’m on my way to call her now.”
Kate was afraid. The only surgery she had ever had was having her wisdom teeth cut out. This was entirely different. She could be bleeding to death from the inside. She feared surgery, although she knew it was necessary to save her life. Even worse than surgery, she feared death. I’m too young to die. Elise and Ellen are too young to die. Why is this happening?
Kate was asked to count backwards from ten by a male nurse with diamond studs in his ears. She was asleep before she reached six. No dreams came and Kate rested better than she had in weeks. Surgery lasted two hours. Kate slowly woke from her slumber an hour later in recovery. Another nurse stood by her side, checking Kate’s vital signs.
“Kate, can you hear me?” the nurse asked.
“Yes,” Kate answered. She could hear the woman but she felt as though something was covering her ears, muffling her hearing.
“Your surgery lasted two hours. You’ve been in recovery for a little over an hour now. You were given a spinal block, so you shouldn’t feel any pain from the chest down for a while. A morphine pump will be available when you start to feel pain, okay?”
“How much damage was there?” Kate asked quietly.
“Not as much as we anticipated. The surgeon will be in tomorrow morning to talk with you. I’m going to take you to the second floor where you can rest for the night.”
“My mom, did anyone call her?”
“She’s on her way, honey. She said she was getting on the first available flight here. She’s probably half way here by now.”
Kate closed her eyes with ease. The thought of her mom made her feel better. The nurse helped move her into the bed when they arrived on the second floor. She had a room all to herself.
“The nurses will check your vitals every few hours, Kate. Try to get some rest,” the nurse spoke gently as she arranged the IV pole beside Kate’s bed.
“Did my friends come here to be treated? They were med-flighted somewhere.”
“I believe they were taken somewhere else, honey, but I’ll ask around.”
“Thank you,” Kate mumbled as she slipped into sleep.
Aidan walked past the nurses’ station unobserved by the charge nurse who had her back to him. He slipped into Kate’s room quietly and made his way to her bedside. Kate was in a deep sleep and didn’t stir when he placed his hand over hers. Aidan let out a heavy sigh as he looked at Kate’s face. She looked battle worn already. Saying a quiet prayer, Aidan turned and left the room as quietly as he had come in. Kate opened her eyes for a second as the door closed, but closed them again, too weary to evade the sleep that beckoned her.