As I look at Alex my mood plummets. He is looking worse every time is see him. We can't go on like this. He gets up, having barely touched his food. His family told me he has not been eating at home either. His face is starting to look shallow. He does not talk unless asked a direct question. I watch as he goes outside. I turn to John, "How's he doing, any better?"
"Not really, whatever you two talked about last month seems to have left him broken."
That's what I feared, it is my fault. How much should I tell him? "I can't tell you much. I made a promise to him."
"Well if you know what's wrong, you have to fix it. Please, I want my brother back. Go after him and fix this."
I nod and get up to follow after him. I have to find him. Where did he go? Something is wrong, I can feel it. I look up and see Lee running with his shirt covered in blood splatter. I go to where he was running from. There on the ground is Alex, he's not moving. I run over to him sinking to the ground at his side. Tears are freely falling down my face. He looks dead but I can see labored breathing. I tell him to hold on, I run back to the lunch room.
Throwing open the door I shout, "Someone get help…it's Alex…he's hurt. We need an ambulance." Mr. Carvalho tells the assistant principal, Miss Barkley, to run and get the nurse and call 911. John and Angela run after me and Mr. Carvalho. We make it back to Alex; Angela sees him and throws up. John just looks stunned as his legs give out and he crumples to the ground. Mr. Carvalho pulls me over to the side as the nurse comes running out the door.
"Did you see what happened? Can you tell me anything?"
"I saw Lee Evans running away from here with blood all over his shirt. That's why I came this way; I was looking for Alex and when I saw Lee I knew something was wrong."
"Thank you Mr. Cromwell, I'm sure the police will be very interested in what you saw, so please stay close."
I can hear the sirens in the back ground. In a few minutes the ambulance pulls up, the paramedics jump out quickly, they run to where Alex is lying and begin radioing back to base his statistics. One of them yells that he needs a back board. They get Alex loaded up and take off to the hospital with sirens blaring and lights flashing. The police show up and talk to John, Angela, and myself. We tell them everything we know. They ask for our names and numbers then head to the hospital. John says to get in the car; I follow him over and get in.
"We're going to get the twins, Angela call Dad let him know what happened." We get to the elementary school and Angela and I wait in the car while John goes and gets the twins. They all come running out to the car; the twins look frightened and upset. We are all quiet on the way to the hospital.
I walk into the ER with a lot on my mind. What is it that I want? I have to figure that out before I can figure out what to do with Alex. It's not fair to him to lead him on then push away like I did. That type of action is what caused this mess. Knowing how he feels I should have stayed way. Instead of torturing him, every day trying to maintain a friendship that will never be enough for either of us. I know what I want. Do I have the strength to follow thru? I will need time but I'm not going to push him away anymore.
John pulls me with him down the hall. We stop at a nurse's station and he asks where Alex is. The nurse looks at her screen then asks if were family. John says yes, I keep my mouth shut. She tells us to have a seat and she will let the doctor know we're here. She also asks if we contacted his Dad, John answers.
"Yes, he should be on his way now, he's coming in from the city so it may take a little bit."
She nods and goes off. We go and sit in the lobby waiting for the doctor to come. I start watching the clock, after half an hour his Dad shows up. John explains everything to him; the blood drains from his face. If it were not for the fact that he was standing I would think he was a corpse. He joins us waiting for the doctor. Time seems to stop moving, or maybe it was really that long. A man in light blue scrubs comes out.
"Mr. Daniels?" Alex's Dad gets up and walks over to the man. Together they walk out of hearing range. His legs look like they're going to give out. The only thought in my head is "Oh no, he's dead." As he walks back over I just stare at him frozen in shock then the words that bring relief flow from his mouth. "He's going to be OK. He had to have surgery to repair some of the damage. There was a lot of internal bleeding due to his spleen being lacerated by a broken rib. There were other injuries as well. He has a lot of swelling in his brain right now so he is not awake yet." I can hear his sister and brothers crying, but I feel too numb to move or look at them. I ask him if I can go see him yet.
He says, "No, not yet he's still in recovery, they will let us know when he is moved. He will be in the I.C.U. for a few days as well."
I call my Mom and let her know what is going on and ask if I can stay she, say its fine and asks to talk to Mr. Daniels.
"Mr. Daniels, my Mom would like to talk to you if that's OK." He puts his hand out for the phone, I hand it to him.
"Yes, Mrs. Cromwell." -- "OK Linda"--"It's no bother. If it were not for Mark, my son probably would have died. I owe him a great debt that I'm not sure I will ever be able to repay." --- "Yes that is fine I will look after him as long as he wants to be here, it is the least I can do." He hands the phone back to me. "You may stay with us here as long as you would like. I will have a car and driver put at your disposal so you may come and go as you please." The stress catches up to me. I put my head back and close my eyes.
A hand is shaking me awake, I hear a voice "He's out of recovery; we can go see him now, but he is still unconscious" I rub my eyes and look at the clock, it's almost midnight. I look toward the voice, it's John. I get up and follow him.
Two days have passed since I came into the hospital. Two days have passed since I have left Alex's side, only leaving only to go home, shower, or grab a bite to eat
I must be dead, all I see is emptiness. I'm cold, very cold. I start to come around again I try to open my eyes. It seems like I'm floating. I can hear voices around me but I can't really make out what they're saying. I think I see my sister and brother next to me crying. I want to tell them it's OK, but all that comes out is a gurgling sound; I taste blood; then, nothingness again. When I come around I have strangers hovering over me; I can hear them this time one is saying stay with us kid, and the other is asking me if I can hear them. I try to answer but I can't, then I'm out again.
I have no idea how long I was out, but when I woke I hear beeping, and I can see dim fuzzy lights. I am aware enough of myself to tell that I hurt a lot. I groan in pain, and I hear someone say he's waking up. It can't be that voice, any voice but that voice. I turn in the direction of the voice and see Mark sitting next to me in a chair. I have no clue where I am or how I got here. The last thing I clearly remember is getting the shit kicked out of me.
I try to talk but end up choking instead. I see a nurse come up and offer me a drink of water I take some and choke again. It lubricates my throat enough that I can rasp out my words. "Where am I?" My Dad and siblings come in and Mark leaves saying he will be back later. My Dad sits down next to me and answers my question.
"You are in the hospital Alex. What's the last thing you remember?"
"Pain, Lots of pain." I groan; he smirks at me.
"Do you remember what happened?"
"Lee, he cornered me. I remember him saying there was no one there to help this time. Then he beat the shit out of me. Oops, sorry Dad!"
"I think you get a pass for the language today." He says while chuckling.
"Thanks. How long have I been out?" I say as I take another drink of water.
"Just over 2 days. You had a lot of swelling in your head. You went through surgery also. They had to repair your spleen; one of your ribs lacerated it. You have 6 broken ribs and a broken sternum. Most of your face is broke to. I'm not sure how your jaw did not break. We almost lost you." At that he starts crying, gets up and walks out of room. Angela comes over and kisses my cheek telling me to get better and she will come back in little bit. The twins come over and give me hug but I cry out in pain from my ribs. They say they're sorry and go after Dad.
John comes over and sits with me. He looks exhausted and his words are strained, like someone who has not slept for a day. "Go easy on Mark, he saved your life. If he had not gone out looking for you after you walked out in the middle of lunch. You probably would have died. He has not left your side since you have been here. I don't know what is going on between you two but I hope you forgive him, he's a real mess." He leans over kisses my forehead then walks out.
I fall back asleep and when I wake up Mark is in the chair again asleep. I just watch him for a little bit 'til he wakes up. He sees I'm up and smiles over at me "Hey Alex, how you doin'?"
"Not so good. So why are you here?" He looks sad on the verge of tears.
"I'm sorry Alex; I know I hurt you. You have no reason to forgive me. Seeing you like this for the last 2 days, coming that close to losing you made me realize how much I do care about you." His voice is thick with sorrow and sounds choked up.
"It doesn't matter though does it, because you won't act on your feelings, will you? I'll get better and you will go back to ignoring how you feel." I feel weak it takes all my energy to talk to him.
"I don't want to ignore it anymore, besides I don't think I can. I'm going to need time, I'm not ready to face this head on, but I can't - - - we can't, keep going like we were. We both got hurt ignoring it and because I pushed you away, you almost died. It's my fault you are here." He's sobbing at this point and I'm having trouble making out his words.
I move over on the bed, cringing with pain the whole time. "Come up here next to me, please?" He does not even stop to think about it; that is a good sign. He moves in next to me on his side, I whisper to him "I will wait for you to figure it out. I won't push you anymore, but I can't ignore how I feel either. When you're ready, I'll be waiting." In a less serious tone I add "It's not like I'm looking forward to facing my family either you know. So I'm all for keeping this under wraps." He just laughs and moves in closer but it hurts and I wince. He moves back. "It's not that bad, come back over here." He rolls his eyes and stays where he is. The nurse walks in and gives us a disapproving look but does not say anything about our position.
"Are you ready for some pain medicine?"
"Thank god, yes please!"
"OK, sweetie I'll be right back"
The nurse comes back with a doctor. He looks me over and asks me some questions. He turns to the nurse and tells her what to give me and when to give it, then he leaves. She follows him out and comes back with a new device. She explains how to use it then sets it up and leaves. I start to feel tired and fall asleep. When I wake back up I feel Mark is still next to me. I can hear his shallow breathing; I can tell he is asleep. I can hear someone talking in the back ground. It sounds like my Dad, but I can't tell who he is talking to. "Well, whatever was bothering the two of them looks to have been solved. They do look cute like that don't they? I wonder if ..." He trails off and I fall back asleep again.