She's in my room again.
God, could she be any more obvious?
I shift painfully and manage to sit up slowly, readying myself for her never ending questions. And sure enough, like clockwork, her eyes follow mine as her lips prepare for her second degree questioning. No, it's true, her questions are borderline torture.
''Hi,'' she says as she sits up in her chair across my bed. ''How are you?''
I determine whether or not to reply sarcastically.
''I'm great, feels like I've slept for weeks now.'' As I just woke up, my voice isn't as strong as I had hoped.
''Funny,'' she replies, without laughter in her voice or expression. She moves to stand up,making her curly black hair bounce by her shoulders.
I suppose she's quite attractive in her own way. Not the type of girl I usually went for before... Before all this.
She moves closer, and I take in the way her uniform clings to her hips and legs. Not bad at all, actually.
Still, she's way too annoying for me to consider. Not that I'm in any condition to hook up with anyone at the moment, let alone flirt. One shower a week, a broken ankle, bruised ribs and a fucked up brain due to a month long coma following head trauma, have all secured my position as completely undatable. I shake my head as to confirm my own thoughts. My body aches for me to lie back down, but I feel more secure sitting up, more prepared for her presence.
''Your uncle was here earlier. He left about an hour ago. Do you want me to call him so he can come back?'' Her dark eyes stare into mine, and I quickly look away.
''Nah, that's okay. I've already got your fantastic companionship, why would I want to talk to someone I actually know?'' I reply sarcastically, and by the look on her face, It's safe to say she understands my tone of voice. She looks down and bites her lower lip. What? Is she actually trying to keep from saying something? Nothing I've said or done in the last weeks has made her never ending questions stop. Even my non-replies. Who knew rude sarcasm would do the trick?
She lifts her eyes to mine again.
'' I...I'll just get you your dinner,'' she says while turning around, her voice somber and bordering emotional.
Well, shit. I didn't mean to make her this upset. I just wanted her to leave me the hell alone. Before I let myself acknowledge how much of an asshole I've become after the accident, she turns to face me, composed as ever.
''Remember to work on your ankle today. I know it hurts, but you just got to do it''.
I don't reply. Obviously I know how important it is. What I don't like is constantly being told what to do, when to do it, what to eat...''
''Don't go anywhere, okay?'' Her interruption startles me. I thought she had already left. Then her words sync in. She actually has the nerve to smile and raise an eyebrow as well, as if the fact that it's impossible for me to go anywhere is somehow funny.
Which I guess it is. Still, I give her a glare and reply with a clear voice.
Just as I've managed to lie down and find a more or less comfortable position to relax, I hear a soft knock on the door. Before giving me time to answer, she's back. She gives me a soft smile as she carries a plate with one hand, closing the door behind her with the other.
''Flounder. It's one of your favorites, isn't it?''
I watch her for a second before replying. How did she know that?
''How do you know that?'' Suspicion is clear in my voice and expression, but it falters as her smile brightens.
''Your dad told me a few days ago. Said ever since you caught your first one at eleven you couldn't stop talking about them''.
I remember that day. My dad had finally let me come along, and I was so fucking proud that I managed to catch something within an hour. The sides of my lips turn up as I watch her put the plate next to my bed before turning around to sit down on.
''So... Did you have any dreams tonight?''
''Nope,'' I reply. ''Like I've told you before, I'm not a big dreamer.'' Out of all their questions, I hate that one the most, something that is reflected in my tone of voice.
No, wait. The dream question only comes in second on my 'questions of hell' list. Number one is, and will always be: do you...
''Do you remember anything new?'' Out of all questions, that is the one she chose to interrupt my thoughts with. Ironic, really.
I look at her, the food and my hands before replying.
''That's okay,'' she replies with a soft voice and gentle expression.
Except it's not. None of it is okay at all.
Before she can get any more questions in, and before I realize I'm actually very interested in her answer, my lips form words as hot air flushes out of my mouth.
''Why do you even care? It's not like you're my friend, and still, you're here more than my own parents.'' I immediately feel bad. Just like me to alienate the one person who can still stand me. Me, this angry, wreck of a person who used to be the complete opposite.
She blinks at me a few times before she shrugs her shoulders, making a few, shoulder length black curls bounce. I stare at them, so hard that I completely miss her reply.
''You could say that I'm using you to slack off at work. But the real reason is that I... I actually had something similar happen to someone very close to me. He had his whole life turned around, after one... stupid accident.'' She looks down at her lap, and I can see her swallow.
I'm dying for her to keep talking, to tell me that the guy she is talking about is alright. Maybe then, I'll be alright too. Still, my stubbornness forces my face to stay impassive, to show no emotion. Especially hope or even curiosity. She keeps her head down and starts talking again.
''He forgot a lot of people in his life. Including some of his friends. Myself included. It was horrible. But what was even more awful was how he forgot about himself. In one second he was the sweet, hilarious, sarcastic, great man. In the next it all turned to shit''.
She looks up from her lap, settling her eyes on the wall behind me before continuing.
''He became moody, irritated at everything and everyone, especially himself. For forgetting, for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. He... In the end he was just so angry. At the same time he tried to cover it up by showing no emotion. But we could all tell he was destroying himself.''
She looks directly at me now, and I can tell she's done talking. For a moment there, I thought she was talking about me. But I correct myself. The accident I had was my own fault, my own stupid fault. Breaking too hard on icy roads will do that to you. A mountain wall waiting for you will do that to you. It sounds like the guy she's referring to had something awful happen to him, not because of him.
Also, I'm pretty sure I'd have remembered someone as annoying as her.
Still, I want her to go on. So I open my mouth.
''Car crash. No one else was hurt, though.'' Her fingers start fiddling with her arresting curls.
''No, I meant after. What happened to your friend?'' I can feel impatience seep through my words even though I try not to.
''Oh. We talk every now and then. Not often though. It's only so much anger you can take from someone before you have to force yourself to leave, you know? But I see him sometimes. He still doesn't remember how close we were, but I do. And I still care.''
I don't respond. But I guess she's gotten used to that by now.
''I need to go. My shift is over. Take care, Luke.''
I don't want her to go. Hey, look at that.
''You got a hot date?'' I could have sworn her eyes turns sad at my questions, but it is a change so minute and fleeting, I must have gotten it wrong.
''No, I'm going swimming with my sister-in-law.''
''Oh. Didn't you tell me you're an only child? I didn't know you were married?'' I look at her hand but I can't see a ring. I feel my brows narrow. Why am I pretending to be interested in her life? I just need to...
''I'm not. But I'm glad you've actually been paying attention,'' she interrupts my thoughts and laughs quietly before continuing.
''Anyways, I'm pretty sure my boyfriend's gonna propose. Found a ring in his drawer and everything.'' She smiles now, but the smile is bittersweet. What is up with the girl? I know, or at least I thought I knew she had a thing for me. Not that I understand why. Does she not want her boyfriend to propose? Maybe she does, and she's just here with me out of pity, because her friend was hurt in a similar way. God, I need to stop thinking. It's starting to hurt my head even more than her questions ever did.
''Well, congrats,'' I don't want to talk anymore, so I lie down and turn over without a second look. She gets the picture, and soon I'm all alone. Just the way I like it.
A few minutes after she left, I sit up again. My parents and siblings aren't coming until tomorrow, so I need to find something to keep occupied. Staying at hospitals, I've concluded, are the most boring thing that exists.
I think back on the nurse. What's her name, again? I think she told me once, but I can't for the life of me remember. How ironic.
I bet she's putting on her bikini right now. I bet she'd look pretty awesome in it too. All black curls and creamy skin, right there, ready for me to...
I stop thinking for a second and blink. Once, twice, three times.
Somehow, something... wonderful come back to me. Soft curls shining in ocean water. Soft, lazy kisses on a beach. Running followed by laughter, feeling it fill my ears as my hands finally catch on. It doesn't stop there. Somewhere in my mind I have memorized the feel of her name and the words I used to tease her for it. I remember looks across the table at family dinners, a cold hand on my warm one as I drive us home. Home. As I drive us home.
I push the red button above my shoulder, desperate for someone to help me get out of this empty room. The following minute fills my mind with even more memories, so many that by the time the aging nurse is in front of me, my heart is pounding, hopeful yet terrified.
''I remember now. All of it. Please, help me find her.'' Though I hate the tone of desperation in my voice, I recognize its honesty. And its necessity.
The nurse understands whom I'm referring to. Of course she does. It's obvious.
Rolling down the corridor and into the elevator, my mind turns completely blank for a second. What if I'm too late? What if I forget again?
The door opens. I'm being pushed though an ocean of people, some rushing to get to where they need to be, some strolling casually, like they have all the time in the world. I belong to the former group.
Near the exit, I start to lose hope. She must have already left.
''There!'' A voice behind me screams at me. I look around, alarmed, before finding the old nurse who helped me with her hand pointing in the opposite direction. My eyes follow her finger.
Then all I see is black hair, tumbling up and down as she walks away from me.
''October'' I yell, loud enough for the people next to me to stare at me. But I barely notice them. She continues walking away, towards the green exit sign.
She stops. Turns around. And finally, she looks at me.
Her face changes within seconds, from alarm to surprise, careful hope before settling on immense joy. I might be biased, but I swear that smile is the most incredible smile ever expressed from one person to another. And I know then that she loves me.
I roll towards her as she starts rushing back to me. When we're a few feet apart she stops. Her joyous smile turns into a playful one and I can do nothing but stare. The way her left eyebrow manages to rise that high is something I'll never understand.
''Took you long enough.''
I take a moment to let the words sink in.
Only she, only she would say that to me after the way I forgot her and treated her like a pest for the last weeks. I start to wonder what I can possible say to make things right.
I settle on the ones my body has been dying to get out from the moment I remembered her name.
''I love you.''
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