• “Do you think she'll wake up soon?” My eyes fluttered open. Through a mist of sleep, I saw the blurred shapes of three people. Everything was a sanitized white. My sight adjusted with every blink of my eyes.
    “I'm sure she's fine. Just give her time to sleep right now.”
    I quickly shut my eyes. I felt something scratching underneath my eyelid but ignored it. I wanted my mother to leave me alone: it was her frantic voice that had awoken me. I fought the urge to rub the eyelash (I think that's what it was) from my eye. It bothered me beyond belief.
    Footsteps pounded the ground and shook the bed, shifting me to the restraining edges. A soft hand smoothed my bangs down, plastering them to my forehead with sweat. The hand switched from palm-down to palm-up and felt for my temperature. It lightly slapped my cheek. I remained “asleep”, but my eyes were clenched too tightly to fool my mother. Years of fake illnesses from me had promised that.
    “Emma, you're awake. You always forget that I can see your eyes like that.”
    I opened my eyes just enough to glare at her. “Go away. I'm ti-i-i-i-i-red.”
    “No you're not. Up!”
    The nurse intervened. “ Mrs. Towles-”
    “Ms. Towles, please, since that son-of-a-b-”
    Just as quickly as Ms. Towles had cut off the nurse, the doctor who had been overseeing the display with distaste interrupted my mother.
    “In any case, I believe what Janette was trying to say is Emma needs her rest. She has already sustained a rather large bump on her head; she doesn't need fatigue accompany it.”
    Too late, mister. I just wondered how I'd “sustained a rather large bump on my head”. It felt like someone had hit me with something. But what?
    “I think we should leave her be for a while. We can go decide on your healthcare benefits.” Mumblings of “Oh, excuse me” and “Sorry, after you” signaled the departure of the good doctor and his aides. I sat up. An IV drip pushed a clear liquid through a tube into my arm. Black stars began to flood my vision. I looked away. Needles always made me queasy. I figured it would be a good idea to stay in the crisp sheets of the bed.
    My arm was cold where the needle met the skin. In all of the hospitalizing accidents I'd been in before, I knew that was normal.
    Suddenly I really had to go. You know, go. I had no idea what to do. Should I call the nurse for something this simple? Was there a bedpan? Did I just walk out, trailing the IV behind me?
    I settled for the third option. I stood up, quivering in my thin scrubs. The short apron/coat didn't cover all of me so I glanced around for my clothes. I hobbled over to a neat folded stack of fabric and pulled out my jeans. The rest of the clothes tumbled to the floor, their center having been slipped out from between them. I pushed them under the chair the stack had been placed on.
    Awkwardly, I tugged on my skinny jeans. The IV hindered me in my pathetic attempts to button them. I didn't want to accidentally have the IV needle fall out. The jeans hugged my legs tightly and comforted me. I looked at my shirt and forgo the thought. It would be impossible to get that skin-tight thing past the IV. The scrubs would have to do. In the future, I would think before wearing something like that on a day I might have a mortal injury.
    Just for good measure, I slipped into my Chucks. I wore them everywhere and I thought even a trip to the bathroom merited a wearing.

    The hall was long and quiet. I shuffled down the off-red and dirty white squares, my sneakers marking every step with a squeak. I kept my head down, not wanting to attract attention, but then again, who would see me?
    Every few feet I would glance up at the wall to make sure I wasn't missing a “Ladies' Room” sign. Why couldn't they just have a giant flashing sign that said “Pee Here”? I supposed that would be too obvious.
    A few arrows later, I passed the lobby. Sectioned glass windows separated me from a receptionist who was calmly refusing an indignant visitor entrance. I once again moved my gaze towards the floor, but something stopped me in my tracks.
    There was something familiar about the visitor. His soft, layered brown hair caught my eye. Through the glass, his leather jacket seemed almost new. As fast as my headache and IV drip would allow, I hurried to the door. A bell announced my arrival and irritated my head even more.
    The visitor turned towards the sound and I clumsily threw myself into Brandon's arms. He caught me gracefully while I stumbled. He held me up to steady me and I felt something extracting itself from my arm.
    I didn't even get to go to the bathroom before I fainted again.