Once I was out of the stifling crowd on the Hudson, I ran in the direction of Mount Sinai until I hailed a cab. Paul was more than willing to chat with Evan and his boyfriend even before I told him what happened to Daniel. In all honesty, I still don’t know what happened to him. All I know is that he’s hurt, really badly, and I needed to get to him.
I kept thinking about whether or not I should go and didn’t even stop to consider if he’d actually want me to be there. I mean, this is Daniel. We just broke up. Would he want me to be there for him? Only time will tell.
I was sweating and nervous, and my mind was working on overdrive to get to the one and only destination. The cab driver must have heard the concern in my voice because the car sped in one tap of the accelerator and my whole body pushed back into the seat. Seatbelt, people; always wear a seatbelt!
I threw the money at the cabbie and told him to the keep the change, I don’t even know what change I gave him but he seemed satisfied as he didn’t put up a stink while I was running out. The winding corridors left me in a confusing blaze, my skin whipped by the coolness of the hospital venting system, consistent beeping and white coats walking with beige folders in hands. I picked up my game, blocked everything out and followed the arrows to the ICU where I was greeted by a woman behind the reception.
“Hi,” I panted, “I’m, uhh, I’m looking for Daniel. Daniel—”
“Anna Parker?” the woman said.
“Umm, yes?” my eyes gravitated towards her name tag: Marie.
Marie was a stocky, short woman with glasses and frizzy, short and curled brown hair. She had an inviting smile that could turn cold with the combination of stern eyes, but she seemed polite in every aspect.
“I need you to sign this,” she handed me a form.
“Where is he?”
Marie smiled sympathetically. “I first need you to sign this form and then you may see him. Some ID would be nice as well.”
The usual I guess. I did what she asked as quickly as I could and followed her into a plain room. Daniel was lying on the far side of the room, closest to the window. His leg in a cast and his head bandaged up. Upon closer inspection I began noticing various cuts and bruises along his arms; he seemed peaceful as he slept, and yet, in pain at the same time. I hope he was hurting. Just to see him this way pained me.
“What happened?” I asked.
“A hit and run,” she shook her head like she’s seen it all before. “He was hit by a car as he was crossing the street. Luckily, someone called the paramedics and they got there on time. His vital signs are normal, we just need to let him rest.”
“Yes,” Marie nodded. “A great shock came to his body and the way his body reacted is to shut down and reboot.”
“What if he never wakes up?” I peeped worriedly.
Marie placed a hand onto my back. “It’s fine. He’s not comatose. He’s just resting. Do you need a tissue?”
I looked at her confusedly, not knowing why she had suggested a tissue, until I saw the image of her blurred. I shook my head anyway and turned to Daniel. “No, thank you.”
Marie left and, ignoring my reply, came back with a tissue in hand. “Here you go, dear. He’s lucky to have you. Someone who cares, you know?”
I smiled, taking the tissue and blinking, water droplets streaking my cheeks. “Thanks.”
“I’ll leave you two to it.”
There were two other men in the large room who were both asleep. Compared to the rush hour traffic outside, this room was as ambient as a monastery. The beeps of the machines were loud and constant to the point where it became normal in my head. Awkwardly, I stood at the foot of the bed with my hands together. Then, I moved to the side, stroking my fingertips along Daniel’s fingers and up his forearm. The scratches, the bruises, my God, I can’t imagine what he was feeling. I’m hoping this little baggie was IV-ing him full of morphine. I knew enough about morphine to know that it’ll help the pain. Maybe that’s why he was passed out.
I dragged the chair closer to me and sat down beside him. I lowered my head, pecked his ring finger and then straightened up.
“You gave me a fright like no other, you know,” I sniffed. “I hope it’s okay that I’m here. I don’t want to assume that you have no one besides me in New York, because I know you do, it’s just that, I had to be here. For my own sanity. I really want you to be okay, Daniel. And I know you are but, can you please just wake up and tell me that yourself?”
Beep. Beep. Beep.
“Wake up,” I whispered. “Just, wake up.”
My eyes blurred to a wake as I felt something brushing away at my hair. Something smooth and solid. I lifted my sleepy head from my hands on the bed and, confused for a moment, scanned the room to figure out where I was. Oh, right, the hospital. Oh, Daniel!
I rubbed my eyes and looked at him, seeing him smiling at me; his smile unbroken. “Hey,” he whispered.
“Hi,” I said.
“I thought I was seeing things.”
I chuckled breathily. “I wouldn’t blame you. You took quite a hit.”
“I’m sorry you had to come here. I should have taken you off as an emergency contact; I ruined your time and I just—”
“Sshhhh,” I said. “It’s fine. I’m happy to be here. Do you want me to be here or do you want me to leave?”
“Selfishly, I want you to be here,” he replied without hesitation.
I nodded, taking his busted hand. “Then I’m here.”
He sighed and flinched. “Umm, how was Hudson?”
I smiled at his efforts in making conversation. “It was good.”
A few days had passed and I was visiting Daniel in and out of the hospital when I could. I had nothing on my mind since then, even Evan and Jenny. Their little high school love affair can wait.
“Did you get to see Ariel Latte perform?”
I laughed. “Ariana Grande, don’t act like you don’t know her name.”
“I knew it had something to do with coffee,” he grinned. I just had to giggle again. “You don’t have to hang around here, you know. I mean, I’m up, so if you want to go home…”
I shook my head. “I don’t want to go home.”
“You should rest, baby,” he said.
I bit my lip. I’ll miss him talking to me like that. “Trust me, okay, you’re not keeping me up. Besides, who’s going to help you home?”
“I’ll call a friend up,” he shrugged, and then winced.
I shrugged, acting nonchalant and leaning back in my uncomfortable, broken-ass chair. “Fine. Call.” I tested, waiting for him to finish his thoughts on who to call.
“Okay, there are just so many people busy today.”
“Daniel,” I moved forward, earnest, “it’s fine. I’m fine. I’m only concerned about you.”
Daniel lifted the corner of his mouth up. “You’re a great…friend.”
The nurse entered on cue, leaving us on that note. The air thick with labels as we stared at each other. The nurse injected his IV with something, checked his fluids, and then said she’ll return later.
“Daniel?” I squeaked once the nurse left.
“Mmm?” His voice low and stretched out into a single breath; his eyes closed.
“Are you going to be okay?”
A subtle smile sneaked up onto his lips. “I’m always okay with you with me.”
“Home sweet home, ‘ey?” Daniel said as he hopped, one arm over my shoulder as my hand curved around his waist.
“Indeed. Thank Jeebus for elevators, huh?”
“Yeah, otherwise you would’ve had to pick me up and carry me in. Like a wedding.”
“Mmm,” I said, unable to talk about weddings around him. “I’ll get the rest of your stuff.”
Daniel laid the crutches on an angle over the sofa as I hurried out and he plonked down.
“Is there anything else you need?” I asked. “Any water? Food? Anything?”
Daniel shook his head. “Just you.”
Ah, shit. “Daniel, I should explain to you that this is purely platonic. I’m only trying to help you and your romanticisms are making it difficult.”
Daniel laughed and picked himself up, stumbling over the crutches and dragging himself closer to me. “How so very formal of you, Miss Parker.”
“Daniel…”I breathed when he cupped my face.
“Is this awkward for you…friend?” I grinned.
I turned red and tried to banish my smile. “Not at all Mr. Hottie McNaughty. But perhaps it might hurt.”
He shook his head. “A kiss will only make it better, baby.”
This was bad. This was all very bad. We’re reverting back into our old ways, and under the circumstances, we were more vulnerable than ever. We were more at risk of getting into more hurt. But I couldn’t resist. As he brought his lips down to me, I could thinking of nothing else but making him happy. Making myself happy. Wanting to kiss him to achieve just those things alone.
Then, to our saviour or demise, a rapid banging on the door sounded throughout the entire apartment and stopped us from our near-kiss. I jumped and bumped my head into Daniel’s mouth; he rubbing his bandaged head.
“Who is it!?” he called out.
“Son, it’s me, I just got the news, are you alright? They said you left the hospital, please let me in.”
Now, I could think of nothing else but hiding.
***Hi all! I posted another article on VANITY & VICE, so if you haven’t already, go check it out now and enjoy one hell of an eye-opener! Soul xo***