Chapter 2

"Nh-ugh, damn." My head hurts. A lot. It's like the right side of my brain is contracting while beating harshly against the cranium. I don't think I've ever had a headache this unpleasant and it makes me want stay in bed all day, but my body doesn't want to allow that. I presume it's the early hours of the morning, considering everything is eerily silent save for a weak yet steady "beep, beep, beep"; but I think that's just my brain hammering on the skull. My eyes feel heavy with sleep and my throat is dry like I've been out in the heat enduring physical activity without so much as a drop of water. I rest there for what seems like ten minutes trying to open my eyes while not actually trying, my mind focusing on the throbbing pain in brain that doesn't seem to go away. I'm not sure how long I've been lying hereI'm certain I dozed off againbut after a while I decide I need to get up. I open my clouded eyes, and search for the window; sure enough through it, it looks like the sun is barely about to rise. I'm guessing it's just before six.

"Good thing it's already Friday," I whisper to myself, still gazing out the window. Something doesn't feel right.

Turning my stare back into the room, I realize that I'm not at home in my own bed, but in a hospital room? What the hell? I'm more surprised to see my mother sleeping in those rather uncomfortable chairs they provide at all hospitals. How did they contact my family...? How did I even get here?

And then last night dawns on me. What exactly happened last night? My memories are hazy and they seem to come in no particular order: I came home from school, feeling a bit anxious. I recall a frantic woman asking me if I was okay. I was at school talking with Emily and Shaun. I went to someone's house. There was a lone man in the dark. My body was in protesting in pain as I sought help. Someone he hurt me... Again. All at once, my mind flashed-back to the reason I was looking for help in the first place.

No, no, no, no, stop.

I shouldn't have tried to recollect last night's events. I doesn't even matter that I'm here in the hospital, hurt; I don't want to remember it. Stop picturing it; stop thinking about it, just stop. But the one thing I'd rather forget is imprinted in my mind, preventing me from putting it out of my attention.

I clasp my head, tangling my fingers through my hair and forming them into fists, and shake my head in hopes of clearing my mind. But that only causes a sharp pain to shoot up from my abdomen. I hiss at the pain and lie back to steady myself and avoid putting pressure on it. Suppressing the horrible thought, I finally recall the reason for the pain in my stomach. It was because of the man.

It was dark out, past eleven o'clock, and I was trying to get home. But I was so troubled with thoughts; I wasn't sure where I was or how I could get home, and I needed help. As I was walking by an alley, there he stood, in the opening of the path, only a couple of feet away. He was burly and tall, with olive skin that looked darker in the dim moonlight, wearing all black as if to conceal himself from peoples view. I really wanted to go home and there was no one around, so I decided to ask him for help. Looking back on it, I should have taken more precaution. He was big, in an alley, at night, where there was no one around; a perfect recipe for disaster, on my end anyhow. It was a perfect opportunity for him.

Everything happened in a rush, as I was stalking towards him trying to look as okay as I could, I didn't notice he was slowly making his way towards me too. I was about to ask him for directions, just as he begun commanding me to hand over whatever belongings I had on me. I couldn't fathom the situation, so I only stared back bewildered trying to make sense of the instructions given to me. But I wasn't able to ponder on the order much longer because soon he was pouncing on me, and I was even more confused at the sudden act.

"Oh, good morning. I didn't think you'd wake so soon," the sudden voice reeled me from my thoughts, halting the recollections of the previous night. I look towards the entryway, to the nurse making her way to the bedside. She looks awfully young, no older than 20 years old, although that may not be the case, and is fairly good-looking. She has wavy, dark chocolate hair that stops short from touching her shoulders, her ivory skin complementing it beautifully. Her face, in the shape of a diamond, has a well defined jaw line and high cheekbones. Her almond-shaped eyes, honey colored accentuated with thick, dark lashes, sparkle with a hint of delight, while her downward-turned lips display a small smile. "So... Vincent," she quickly checks the clipboard in her hands to retrieve the information then looks back at me, "how are you feeling?"

"Hm, like shit," I mumble a bit sourly, regretting the bite in my answer almost instantaneously and hoping she doesn't hear clearly. But she does though doesn't give me much time to feel sorry, for she responds with a short chuckle and an "I'll bet."

"From one to ten, ten being the highest and one being the lowest, how much pain are you in right now?" she queries, changing her tone of voice into a more serious one.

I don't feel like talking but I know I should since it'll help in reducing the still prominent migraine. I try to talk above a whisper, "probably ten, but I think it's more of an eight right now, when I'm sitting still."

"Mhm," she says as if understanding completely, "okay, well I have to change your IV, and afterwards I'll go get you some Tylenol, since that's all I'll be able to give you right now. It hasn't been eight hours since you came here and I'm sure the anesthetics haven't completely worn off." She proceeded to switch out the bags of liquid and finally my unknown curiosity gets the best of me for I find myself asking, above a whisper and without thinking it through if I might add, "How old are you?"

Shocked at my frankness, my eyes widen and a small blush spreads through my pale cheeks, undeniably displaying the embarrassment to her openly. She looks a bit surprised at the abrupt question, but after a couple of seconds her expression lightens to a dainty grin and answers with "25. My name's Karima Janssen by the way. You can call me Kami."

I nod and look away, still feeling the heat in my face. She doesn't comment on my flustered state, having either not seen me or purposely ignoring it and saving me from further embarrassment, and instead says I should rest again. As soon as the thought passes through her lips, my mind flips a switch and is instantly fogged up with fatigue; I could sleep now. Once she leaves, my eyes flutter shut, letting my mind transition to a relaxing fantasy.

"...pick you up early. You guys don't need to miss a whole day."


"No buts. Think yourselves lucky that I'm even considering picking you up early."

"Fine, but he'll be out Monday, then?"

I register the voices of my father and my siblings in the back of my mind sounding dull and far away but clear enough for the sentences to form in my brain, although it doesn't make much sense. I force my eyes open, and glance at them, not paying any attention to their conversation. I don't make myself known, and instead watch them with no interest as they talk about me, probably. I let my mind drift off, not even paying attention to my thoughts either; my mind blanking.

I wasn't aware that they had noticed I was awake, or that they had been calling to me for that matter, until I felt a warm, firm hand grip my forearm. Even then, my mind still doesn't come out of its trance and I stare at my fathers' pale blue eyes, a worried look plastered on his features. It feels like minutes pass until I am finally able to focus on the present and compose myself enough to give a weak smile to my family. Somehow, that's enough to relax and relieve themselves of their concerned expressions, even if that's anything but what they are feeling.

"Hey, how do you feel?" my father asks. I haven't been asked this more than once but I already know the question is going to get overused and annoying and I already hate it.

"As okay as I'll ever be," I mutter to myself. Although I must've said it louder than I intended because their worried looks creep back into their features. I try to nod reassuringly and say, "I'm fine. My head hurts a bit... and so does my stomach. Um, what happened to it?"

I really don't know what happened after, or while the man attacked me. Everything happened too fast and fright overpowered my senses, not allowing me to think.

"Ah, you don't know?" I shake my head. ", the doctors reckon some kind of knife sliced right through you. Thankfully, the knife wasn't long enough to pierce deeper into your liver. That would've caused more blood loss and-" he cut himself off. He stares right at me, right through me. His eyes display a fatalistic look and his frown hints that he's probably thinking about the worst possible scenarios. But he looks away quickly, wiping emotions off his face before I can add a reassuring comment. He looks back a second later, a glimmer of curiosity, or perhaps inquisitiveness, in his eyes, "you really don't remember anything?"

I don't feel like explaining the memories I do remember, so I shake my head. "hm, I think it's common for people to forget things when they go through traumatic events, so I don't think I should worry. Unless... You do know who we are, right?"

His face turns nervous, serious, and scared all at once, and I have to stifle a laugh. I look to my siblings and they're emotions seem to be the same. I smile and say, "mhm. Father, Thing 1, Thing 2," I point them out as I say this, "...and mom?"

"She got called in to work. She'll come up for lunch, though."

The twins decide to speak up now, and Sol says, "she stayed here all night and didn't even get to see you wake up; pity."

"Yeah, I bet she's really tired and sore, too. They called her in, like, at eight." Luna inputs.

"Oh," that makes me feel guilty; especially since I saw her earlier in the morning. But I don't tell them that, "I'm sorry..."

"No need to be. She'll be happy you're awake nonetheless. She was just really worried. We all were."

That reminds me, " did I get here? And how did they contact you?" I still can't get my voice above a whisper.

"A man and woman brought you here just before midnight; we got here just after they left, so we're not sure who they were. And, um, I'm guessing they checked for identification or they must've recognized you as Gwen's son. What a coincidence that they'd brought you here, though."

"Was mom the one that preformed surgery?" Sol asks. I doubt it because dad did say "we got here"; and if he doesn't know then they didn't come last night. Hm, this brings up another good point...

"No, dumb-butt, she left with dad, remember?" Luna replies. "No I don't remember, or I wouldn't be asking. God, I was still half-asleep when they left," he counters, which makes her grunt a 'hmph' in return.

"And... why aren't you guys at school?" I ask my previous unvoiced thought. Damn, my voice sounds hoarse. I sound so weak in my ears; I wonder how I must sound to them.

"Why would we? You've been hospitalized, I think that's a good enough reason," Sol reasons defensively. In which his twin agrees with a nod.

"I couldn't get them to go, and since it is Friday, I just let them come here," dad explains.

"Oh, alright then..." I force myself to smile, because frankly I don't like that they're here. I mean I love them but I think they should be in school, learning, rather than be here wasting their time worrying about me. Everything's my fault anyways. They shouldn't be preoccupied with my stupid actions and lack of common sense.

Sighing, I ask for the time. It's already eleven, but I still feel really tired. My headache has diminished, but my throat is still dry. "Water?" I mumble with a scratchy voice. Maybe if I drink water, it'll relieve my increasing apprehension; I consume it hurriedly. But it doesn't help.

I feel so pathetic, I feel so weak, I feel like a fool. My mind is racing to the memories of this disaster and it won't stop. The memories weave in and out of my mind, showing me happy things, then switching rapidly to something unpleasant, suddenly throwing me into melancholic places, and it repeats in a vicious cycle. My mind is in turmoil and I'm trying so hard to keep my outward composure emotionless. They don't notice my agitation and continue conversing, or trying to, with me.

My eyes droop and soon enough exhaustion overpowers my will to stay awake and I'm asleep in seconds.

The sun is setting outside when I wake up; the wall clock above a door says it's six forty-three. Since I'm alone in the room, I take it they must've gone to eat dinner. This also means I missed my mother's visit once again.

I suddenly feel really alone. I don't mind solitude but I can't stand loneliness. I don't want to be by myself right now, but at the same time, I don't want anyone here, pestering me with questions, or trying to make small talk. I wish someone would come and just sit here with me; no talking, no questioning, no listening, just company. My mind is starting to stray to thoughts I wish to abandon.

I decide to inspect the room, or scan as much as I can manage from where I'm lying down. The walls are an off-white color with a thin abstract green and purple border placed in the center of the wall, circling all throughout the room. The room itself is only big enough for one patient, which at the moment I'm not too keen about. On the left-hand side, there are two large windows right next to each other. The one closest to the bed has the beige-colored curtains open while the other one has them closed. The window that gives a view of the outside, displays the twilight with dark clouds dimming the already gloomy sky, obscuring the oncoming light of the moon and stars. On the opposite wall from where the bed lays is a door, closer to the left but still centered, and I'm guessing that's the bathroom; while the right-hand wall has the door to the exit. On the right side of my bed there the usual medical technologies that keep my health in check and on the left there's a lavender-colored chair, the same chair my mother was sleeping in. Except now I see that further down is a small couch and I'm wondering why my mother slept on the chair rather than the couch; she looked so uncomfortable and it makes me feel guiltier that she was so worried she didn't leave my immediate bedside.

It's a rather bland room, but I'm sure I got one of the more 'lavish' ones, probably thanks to my mother's position. I'm really starting to hate that I was put in a single patient room, though. Any company is good company, and there's not even a TV to lighten my boredom or ease my restless mind.

I sit and stare at the ceiling for god knows how many minutes, successfully avoiding distasteful thoughts, until someone comes in. This time it's not Kamisince her shift is probably overbut a middle-aged doctor. He's a handsome fellow with a full head of sandy brown hair and dark brown eyes. He's a bit on the tan and tall side, probably surpassing my 6'0 height. I'm starting to wonder if all the hospital employees are this good-looking or they reserve the attractive ones for those who seem to have enough money to be assigned to private rooms. He does the usual check-up on me, the IV, and equipment, and quickly leaves, leaving no time for chit-chat. Not that I'd converse with him, but like I said, I could do with some company.

As if on cue, my family comes back in this time with mother in tow. She's still in those hideous sea green scrubs indicating her shift must've ended just before dad and the twins left for dinner. Her hazel eyes look dull and tired, her chocolate brown hair falling loosely around her face from her previously tight ponytail, and she looks more pale than usual. She brightens up significantly once she sees me awake.

"Oh honey. Vince, dear, are you hungry?" She skips the usual 'how are you' question, typical. Although, I am grateful she didn't ask. Pondering her question, I realize, that yes I am indeed hungry. Telling her that, she orders the twins to ask the nurses to bring some food for me.

For the rest of the night, we talk about pointless subjects, thankfully avoiding my current condition, for the mean time anyway. I find myself not actually really hungry at all, but I still try and eat what they served that nightwhich was some kind of steak, mashed potatoes, green beans and carrots, and a cup of cherry gelatinand realize that I need a shower. I probably stink already but I can't be bothered. I decide to wait until tomorrow, or when I can actually sit up straight without hurting so much, to fret over how I'll go about the task.

"Do you want one us to stay with you, honey?" my mom asks me. Visiting hours are almost over and they're still here. She's still in her scrubs and hasn't gone home all day. I wonder if she even left in the morning.

"No, I'll be fine." I smile at them reassuringly. I don't want them to trouble them. "Plus, Emma is probably sad she was left at home all day."

"We did go home during the day, you know," Luna says matter-of-factly.

"Well, she's still a puppy; she needs love." I love Emma. I got her two months ago, once she was old enough to leave her mother without emotional complications. She's a Great Dane with golden fur and a black mask, and is already too big for me to carry her in my arms.

"Alright, alright," dad interjects our petty dispute before it could become a full-blown argument, which I'm not too fond of starting at the moment. "We'll come back tomorrow, okay? We could also call your friends about when to visit. Alright?"

"They know?" I ask disinterestedly, while they start to pick up their things to leave for the night. I'm starting to feel really tired again.

"Yes, but we'll figure that out tomorrow, alright. You have to rest, and we do too," my mom replies. She bends down and plants a kiss on my forehead, "Okay, goodnight, Vince."

Luna and Sol hug me at the same time, each on either side of the bed, while dad kisses my hair. They all bid their goodnight wishes, and leave just before visitation hours end.

I'm alone again, but I don't stay awake long enough for my terrible thoughts to engulf my conscience.