Conditional Love

The silence of the waiting room rang in her ears as Abby awaited news of her lover. He'd been crossing the road when he'd been mowed down by a taxi. The image of his legs twisted and buckled haunted her still, shattering any naive hopes. That was over ten hours ago, the loud ticking of the clock echoed through the barren waiting room just to remind her. She sat on the prickly couch with her face in her hands, staring at her feet. No news had come to her in the whole time she'd been seated, left to endure the painstaking anxiety on her own.

Abby had never been left like this before. Her parents and friends had always been there for her to lean on, now absent and helpless. Kade had entered her life only a short year ago and now threatened to leave her alone for the first time in her life. She'd wept any number of times that afternoon, the room's reverberation only cementing her feelings of abandonment. After enduring the stress of the wait, she longed only to put her head down on the crusty brown couch and let time slip by. The Advil she'd swallowed was taking effect, making it even harder to keep her eyes open. She curled up on the hard sofa, relief brought by the effortless breathing induced by sleep.

"Take a bite." He'd suggested. Abby looked down at the meal which had clearly been prepared for her consumption. It had skin like a chicken and smelt like one too, but the little dog ears and snout made it impossible for her to accept his proposal.

"I can't... this is disgusting..." She explained to the dark man sitting opposite her. He wore an intricate white suit, accented in the darkness which cloaked the dim dinner table. Her eyes searched for sympathy in his, the calming and reassuring gaze they returned betrayed his scarred face.

"What's the difference between this and a live dog? You shouldn't judge something on what it has become." He answered, an odd cadence to his voice soothing her in a way otherwise impossible. Abby now looked at the meal once more, the aroma only repelling her from the awful dish. "If you were cooked, I certainly wouldn't like you any less," He continued, something not sailing so smoothly in the phrase. Abby felt heat cake her body, ash and hot embers dumped from above. Her skin blistered as she howled in pain, her skin turning quickly to charcoal. She sat staring at her blackening hands as the suited man placed a hand on her shoulder, somehow pulling her eyes to his.

"Wake up." He commanded.

Standing over Abby's huddled body was a nurse. The blue uniform made her look like a lunch lady and her kind eyes and false grin added to her age.

"Ms. Keller?" She asked, her voice like a grandmother offering children fresh cookies. Abby pushed herself up onto her elbow to get a better look, ignoring the drool in her dark blond hair. "Mr. Sears is out of surgery, dear."

Abby sat upright, feeling the wriggling worm in her stomach begin to gnaw feverishly. Rings still sat under her eyes as she struggled to grasp what she wanted to ask. "How is he?" Her lips finally unlocking the question she'd waited eleven hours to have answered.

"I'll let you see yourself." The nurse's words warmed Abby's skin more than the prickly couch had. Kade was alive, and that was all she needed to know. "He is just in the ward at the end of this corridor," she explained, pointing to her left. "Ward C9." The old woman flashed a more genuine smile before scuttling out of sight.

Worn out and still a little groggy, Abby had difficulty pulling herself from the chair. Once upright, she marched down the hall faster than her mind could keep up with. Door numbers breezed past her until she found the nurse standing at a door labeled 'C9.' She politely pushed the door open for the girl with a less than joyous expression. Her unsettling frown was evident in the her tone. "The light turns on automatically, love." And with that Abby walked into the darkness.

It was impossibly black inside, the light coming in through the open doorway not sharp enough to penetrate more than two feet. At twenty years old, there was still a type of dark which she was afraid of. Edging further into the shadows, she heard the door behind her close with a light click. Suddenly alone and without vision, she became aware of light breathing other than her own. Before she had to time hear her heart rate batter her eardrums, the whitest light erupted from the ceiling.

Horrible thoughts threatened to rip apart her mind. She simply dropped to her knees and covered her mouth, trying vainly to suppress a stomach curdling cry. Before her was Kade, suspended by his torso from a steel rack. From the bottom of his hospital gown grew two enormous metal legs. Her eyes burned in the cool air, wading in tears as she viewed the monstrous grasshopper attachments with disgust. Her mouth still held behind her hands, she felt the pigment drain from her skin and her heart stop beating. An infinite weight pulled her soul into the deepest, darkest grave. A faint whine escaped her choking fingers and split the air. The head of dark hair which hung limply from his shoulders began to stir, the slight noise nibbling his ear.

He looked up slowly at the kneeling Abby, his own eyes red as raw meat. Even at five feet, she could see his once deep blue irises pushing his pupils into tiny specks. The eye contact tore at her edges and screamed at her to do something. Words stuttered out like a scared animal.

"W-w-w-what... Why?" The only words she surrendered to the still, stagnant air were hardly of comfort to anyone. The clumsy consonants tumbled down her front, along with the tears which flowed from both sets of eyes. The gears in his head turned as he contemplated an answer. Harsh reflected light from his shiny metal mount added a poison to the sorrow, slicing the atmosphere.

"I don't know... how anyone could do this..." He croaked. His voice whimpered like a wounded beast on its death bed. Still something in the words tried to comfort Abby, tried to smell her hair and caress her cheek. Her mind was still caught in limbo, trying desperately to comprehend the situation, turning away the poor explanation. Kade's shoulders bobbed up and down as he sulked loudly. His head returned to its lowered state, wallowing in self pity. Abby pushed herself back onto her heels and sat crouched. Energy escaped her, but somehow she stood, turning to the door.

Adrenaline slithering into her system, she broke. Abby marched to the door and twisted the handle, deaf to Kade's pleas for her to stay. She'd learnt long ago to avoid situations which she could not understand or control. Parents and friends had always been there to usher her away from the challenges of life, now she had to do it herself. The corridor which she'd used to get to the room now extended far in front of her. Her feet pounded the soft floor as she ran away down the hall. Ward doors whipped past her as she headed once more for the waiting room. Still empty at midnight, she didn't stop on her way to the hospital entrance, butting the doors open with her palm and running onto the street.

Rain was bucketing down in the dimly lit road, though she could barely feel it. Not one ounce of emotion dared oppose her developed reactions. Cars lined each side of the street, but the only taxi waited on the other side of the road. Without hesitation, she resumed her sprint.

Her feet pattered in the small pools of water. She hadn't worked out where she would go yet, and realized she would have to tell the driver when she entered the car.


The sound of splitting bones and twisting knees invaded her world. A car had ploughed into her, screeching to a stop three feet too late. Her eyes flickered open as she lay on the road, half under the car. The feeling of a thousand hungry dogs tearing away at her legs was too much for her to scream. She simply lay there silently, her head rolling around from the impact it had suffered with the hood of the car. Vision blurring, she felt again like it was time to close her eyes. As she faded in and out of consciousness, a vague blue figure stood over her, a fierce light behind it. The figure came down closer to her face as Abby rested her tired eyes for just a second. A voice like old prickly blankets drained the rain water from her ears.

"Don't worry; we'll take care of your legs, dear."