"I don't even know what day it is anymore," I said in my most wistful, please pity me tone. "What day is it, anyway?"

"Tuesday," answers my Sister, Jennifer, "which makes sense since yesterday was Monday and you've asked that question then as well."

I stick my tongue out at her. "God, that means I've been here five days already."

"Well," says Jennifer, rolling her eyes, "you were unconscious for one and a half of those five days."

"When are they going to let me out of here anyway?"

"Sweetie, Sister Dear," Jennifer's talking to me like child now, "let yourself get some much needed rest. Your ex-hubby makes a point to bring the kiddos to see you everyday." She grabs my hand and says softly, "You'll be home with the kids real soon."

Squeezing her hand, I say "I know. You're right. I love you."

"I love you, too," I hear her say as I'm closing my eyes.

I try to roll over; get comfortable, but the pain in my side and tug of the needle in my arm makes the notion of getting "some much needed rest" laughable. Resigned to stay on my back, I mumble "I guess I'll think twice about taking any free throws in the future."

I think I actually hear her eyes rolling that time. I can't sleep and my thoughts drift back to how I ended up in this hospital bed.

Friday night and the kids were off with their dad for the weekend. I didn't want to sit at home alone doing nothing, so I headed to the mall to walk and look around. As soon as I walked into the first store, a gorgeous display of shoes greeted me. I'm not one of those women to buy shoes by the bucket-full, but these shoes were the kind of shoes that made you feel like you are ready to walk down the red carpet. I had to try a few on. I love strappy, sexy high heels, but at 5'9" I figure I'm tall enough and move on from the shoe section. I'm all set to leave the store all together when I see the perfect pair of jeans. I get over there and my excitement builds when I see they have my size, but quickly fades when I don't see my length. I contemplate buying them anyway, but flashbacks to Junior High and being asked, "Where's the flood?" prevent me. Back then I had to resort to buying jeans from the boy's section in order to get ones that weren't 'high waters'. It took nearly a millennia, but designers are finally realizing that not all women were created equal. Thank God.

I made it out of there without spending a dime; however, I didn't fare so well in Waldenbooks. Only one book though, so not too bad.

I knew it would be a mistake, but I crossed the threshold into Marshall's in spite of that knowledge. A powder blue, short sleeve sweater caught my eye. I tried it on; it was so soft and snuggly, like being wrapped in hug. I had to buy it, and a pair of pants to match because, miracle of miracles, they have my size and length. It was destiny and who was I to deny destiny. Of course, I also had to buy a matching set of sexy bra and panties to go with my new outfit. The probability of anyone actually seeing the sexy undies is pretty much non-existent, but it still feels good to wear them. In case you're wondering; I'm a size 12, but if I don't care much about breathing or circulation in my legs, I can fit into a 10. So, I'm a slightly heavier version of Princess Di.

Spending money was my cue to leave. Driving out I saw a carnival set up in the far end of the parking lot. I couldn't help but wonder if there was a Tilt-A-Whirl. I love, love, love the Tilt-A-Whirl. Caught up in my excitement, I nearly ran into someone. The sound of their car horn brought me back to planet Earth. It also gave me a heart attack, but I guess that was just pay back for the one I gave them. I quickly spotted someplace to park and crossed the road to the carnival.

I've got to pass all the games on the way to the rides and, unfortunately, make eye contact with one of the vendors. Damn! Holding out a dart he says, "Come on. Just throw one," his smile broadens, "see if you can hit any balloons. No charge."

Hmm, I'm skeptical, but he's got a nice smile. "Okay," I said and took the dart from his hand. Aha! I popped one!

For some strange reason, I felt proud of myself and started to walk away when he thrust three more darts at me, "Here ya go!" Suddenly looking like he stole the Cheshire Cat's smile, "Just three more for five dollars and you can win one these prizes." He made a wide sweeping motion with his hand around his booth. Giving him a crooked half smile, I dug into my pocket, handed him a five-dollar bill and took the darts. Damn! The first one managed to not hit anything. I know I've already lost and just aimlessly throw the next two which, of course, don't miss.

"Tell ya what," says Mr. Smiley, "I'll give ya one of these bears because ya got two balloons."

Cool. He handed me a little red bear holding a heart that has 'I Love You' on it. On second thought, not so cool. I looked up at him and in place of saying "Thanks", smiled weakly and turned to walk away.

"Just three more and you can win a bigger prize." He said holding the darts out again.

"I don't really have…"

He cut me off, saying, "It's on me."

I hit balloons with all three and he hands the darts back to me.

"C'mon, hit three more for me."

Three more pops and he tried handing them back to me a third time.

"No, no," I said, "that's enough."

"You can get one of these big ones up here if you throw just one more."

"No, really, just give me…"

He threw his hands up, "Okay, okay, just give me the five dollars for the last three and you can have your choice of one of these over here." He pointed behind him.

How the heck did that happen? I felt as if I'd just been hit by a car. I numbly handed him his five dollars and chose the stuffed Scooby-Doo wanna-be.

"Do you always spoil yourself this way?" he asked as he handed me the stuffed dog, his smile looking more like a sneer.

"I try not to," I responded dryly sneering back at him.

"Here's a rose for you just because you're so pretty."

Whatever, jerk-of, I thought, offered a thin smile and walked away. The 'rose' is made of the same material the stuffed dog is made off. Ooh, don't I feel special? The other vendors, seeing I was already suckered once, try to beckon me over. Several smiles and no thank-yous later, I make it over to the rides.

Yes, yes, yes! I thougt, The Tilt-A-Whirl! Okay, it needs four tickets. How much are tickets? Oh, there's a ticket stand over there. Reading the window I see the tickets are…A dollar a piece! How much do I have left? Damn! Only three dollars and not even a penny in change on me. I just used up all the change in the ashtray in the truck yesterday on the toll bridge; two dollars each way. Damn, damn, damn!

I started to walk out and kept thinking of Mr. Smiley's words, "Do you always spoil yourself this way." He really is a jerk, I thought. I made a point of walking by his booth and he made eye contact with me. And he had the nerve to wave a dart at me! I calmly, determinedly walked over there.

"Can't get enough?" He asked, smirking, twirling the dart between his fingers.

"As a matter of fact, I came over here to give you something." I said rather cockily. His eyebrows raised. I continued a bit more loudly. "The only reason I came to this carnival was to ride the stupid Tilt-A-Whirl, but thanks to you I can't even do that." All right technically, it was thanks to my gullibility; however, I wasn't about to let the truth stop me. I dramatically dug into my pants pocket, pulled out my three dollars, fanned them out in my right hand and held them out at eye level between me and Mr. Smiley. "Since you obviously need the money soooo badly, you can have my three remaining dollars as well." And I flung the money on counter between us.

Walking away, I felt pretty darn good. I'd never done anything like that before and didn't know it could be so invigorating! I heard him shouting, "Hey! Hey, you!" behind me, which only made me smile more as I rounded the corner to the exit.

Crossing the road to the parking lot I heard, "Hey!" It was Mr. Smiley and he was directly behind me. I stopped in the middle of the road, turned around defiantly and faced him.

"You shouldn't have done that." He said in low, matter-of-fact, tone.

"Done what?" I started to ask when I felt a hot searing pain in my side. I thought, What the hell? I looked down at the same time I was reaching down with my hands, dropping my 'prizes' in the process. He stabbed me! I grabbed his left hand, which was still wrapped around the blade handle, with both of my hands. Don't let him pull the blade out. I thougt, It'll be worse if he pulls it out.

"Aaaarrrgh!" I bellowed as I managed to plunge the blade in deeper struggling to not let him pull the knife out.

"Let go you crazy bitch!"

I looked up at him incredulously and thought, He stabs me and I'm crazy? Looking in his eyes, I've never seen such focused hatred. That look alone scared me more than being stabbed. An angry horn blared to the left of us and it distracted him enough to loosen his grip. I took the opportunity to push his hand away and kicked him off of me. I'm surprised at how far back he stumbled before falling, hitting his head on the pavement with a hollow thud.

I heard someone close to where he landed say, "Damn." Then ask him, "You okay?"

Are these people friggin' blind! I thought, looking down at the knife handle sticking out of me and the blood on my hands, which was turned an orangy-purple color from the carnival lights. My vision started to blur and I stumbled backwards. I looked up and tried to yell for help, but the movement made me more dizzy and I started to fall. I reached out aimlessly trying to stop the downward fall, but nothing and no one is there and, arms flailing, I fell to an awkward upright sitting position.

I heard someone yell, "Hey! Wait, where you going?" and saw a figure coming at me. I tried to focus, stay alert, but the world was fading fast.

I felt someone kneeling at my side. Over me Mr. Smiley said, "Fucking bitch." and followed those words up by kicking my leg. Then I heard some scuffling noises and Mr. Smiley say, "Get the fuck off of me. "

The person at my side asked me, "Are you okay?" But before I could answer, she exclaimed, "Oh my God!" then yelled to someone else, "Hey! Whatever you do, don't let him go! He stabbed her."

Oh, good. They got him. I remember thinking, Hmm, I hope no blood gets on the Scooby-Doo doll. I wanted to give that to my son.

I couldn't hold on anymore and, feeling in safe hands, let the darkness take over.

Opening my eyes, I look over intently at my Sister in the chair beside my bed. The chair she's been in practically since her plane landed.

Seeing that I'm awake, she looks up from the book she's reading.

Sighing, I say, "Well, I guess what they say is true."

"What's that?" she asks, leaning into me. The worry in her eyes betraying the smile on her lips.

Smiling broadly, my eyes gleaming, I say, "Nothing is ever really for free."

"Oh, Geez!" she says, rolling her eyes, shaking her head, laughing. Then goes back to reading her book.

I close my eyes again, thinking. Yeah, she loves me.

(This was a contest entry. But, I had fun writing it and thought I'd post it here. I hope you had fun reading!)