‘Rise and shine, sunshine!’
What? No. Ugh. I felt like dying. My head hurt and I felt exhausted. What happened? I tried to open my eyes but the bright light made me close them again within seconds. Where was I?
‘My, aren’t you groggy.’
Who? Jack? Yes, Jack, now I recognized his voice. Why was he so happy and enthusiastic? I opened my eyes again and blinked hard to get the tears to disappear. I could see the outline of Jack’s face, and I tried to sit up to face him.
‘Woah, calm Julie. You’re not supposed to move so much yet.’
‘What? What happened?’
‘You don’t remember?’
‘No. Otherwise I wouldn’t be asking you, would I?’
I felt annoyed. Everything about this situation was bothering me. I didn’t know what had happened, why I had this massive headache and why Jack was in this room. Wait. Where was I anyway? I looked around. Hospital. For sure. Why was I in bed though? Liam was the patient. I looked down and to my utter shock my arm was in a cast. What?
‘Well you tumbled down the stairs. Quite a trip. Luckily for you, you were already in the hospital. You have a mild concussion and your arm is broken. Everybody said it was quite hilarious to see. God I wish I was there to see it.’
‘Yes! They said they never had somebody tumble down that staircase quite so hilariously.’
‘Thanks, Jack. That makes me feel just great.’
‘Oh, eh. Sorry. I didn’t mean to. Well, you know.’
Í was beyond cranky. Sigh. How had this happened again? Did the universe hate me that much? Seemed like it. It wasn’t enough to have one Bellamy hospitalized, no. Speaking of which, Liam! I had left so angrily. Dave, that stupid fart. I wanted to slap Liam for being so stupid, but I knew it was his choice.
‘You want me to go get him? They’re allowing him short rides in the wheelchair.’
‘They what? Is he, no, how are his legs?’
‘I’ll let him tell you. I’ll just go get him, hold on.’
Jack practically raced out of the room, and I watched him leave somewhat flabbergasted. My head was spinning. He was allowed in a wheelchair? It made me wonder about what the doctor had predicted for his legs. I hoped for the best, but a wheelchair sounded bad. I know I shouldn’t worry about that, he was still weak from the coma, no wonder he was in a wheelchair. I tried to sit up a bit more, slowly this time. My arm was wrapped in the cast up until my elbow. My whole arm neatly in a sling that was tied together at the back of my neck. I had never broken anything before. Weird. I looked at the open door again, suddenly impatient. Strange, I had loved being alone before but in these past few days I got so used to being around someone almost all the time that suddenly the room felt too big, and too empty. Sigh. What was happening?
‘Jack, please let me roll the damn thing myself.’
‘Nope. Doctors orders, you sit back.’
Ah, Liam’s familiar agitated voice. I had missed it somehow. He sounded more like himself. More like the Liam I both hated and loved. The Liam that ran a nightclub. The Liam that slept with whores. Stop, Julie. Don’t. It’s his life.
‘Here we are, Julie. Say hi to your lovely brother, who is in an exceptionally good mood today.’
‘Piss off, Jack.’
‘Liam, be nice.’
I shushed him quickly and took in his physique. He was in a typical hospital wheelchair, big and unmanageable. Liam looked terribly unhappy. His face was pale and his hands were shaking. I could almost cry just seeing him like this. I felt for him. He didn’t deserve all this. Nobody did, but least of all him. He had worked hard all his life, for everything he had now he had worked his butt off. And still this happened to him. For a small moment I detested this world. A lot.
‘How are you, Julie?’
Liam was back to being heartlessly professional with me. I cursed him silently. Damn. I thought we were doing better, but apparently the whole ordeal with Dave and me had bothered him more than he had let on.
‘Look, Liam, I’m sorry about yesterday.’
I watched as he sighed and ruffled through his thick dark locks. He was obviously bothered by it, and it made me feel worse by the second. He had enough to deal with, even without me meddling with everything.
‘No, I mean it. I’m sorry. I won’t get involved in your business again, I promise.’
Well, maybe that was a lie. But I wouldn’t prod in his business openly anymore. Not with him knowing and certainly not with Dave knowing. I would have to be more sneaky with prying. I briefly wondered if I should ask Jack to be my partner in crime. Would he do it? I watched him joke around with Liam. Maybe he would tell Liam, tell on me. No, I had to do it alone.
‘You done thinking, Julie?’
‘Yes, Jack. Now. Liam, tell me. What did the doctor say?’
The room grew silent and I bit my lip. This wasn’t good. This wasn’t good at all. Would there be only bad news? Liam, never able to walk again? The tears started forming in my eyes and I closed them out of desperation. No. It couldn’t be.
‘I should leave you two to talk. I’ll go take a walk.’
‘Thanks, Jack. Yeah, Julie and I need to talk.’
Both of us watched as Jack departed. I sniffed. I wasn’t sure I was ready for news like this. I wasn’t sure I was ready for anything that had been happening. I felt so stressed out, so, so lost.
‘Don’t cry Julie. It’s not all that bad.’
‘I spoke to the doctor this morning, and he brought a physical therapist with him. They checked my legs and it’s not good. Most of the muscle was ripped in various places. It’ll take ages to heal, and by then all the muscle power will be lost. My legs are in bad shape, they said I was lucky they didn’t have to get amputated. The fractures in my bones are relatively small. Well, for my right leg. The left needs to be recast, the bones are still not settled. I can’t feel it now because of all the painkillers. But, yeah. The doctor said it’s not likely I’ll ever walk well again. They’re going to try, I’m going to try. But it needs to heal for a few months first.’
‘Can you heal at home?’
‘How? I can’t do anything.’
‘You stay with me. I already decided that. I paid your bills, I got my apartment ready. You can move in any time.’
‘No, Julie. I don’t want to.’
‘You’re going to. I’m going to take care of you. I want to, and I need to. You need the help. Like this you’ll have both me and Jack close by. We can help.’
‘No, that would be a mess. No.’
‘Yes, it’s already decided.’
‘How can you take care of me with that broken arm?’
‘I’ll find a way.’
I had to. I wasn’t going to leave Liam without help. I wouldn’t. He would stay with me and we would manage. Jack would want to help out too. We would be alright. I tried to assure myself but I couldn’t help but feel slightly nervous at the prospect of it all.
‘They said I could do most of the recovery at home, with the right care. The hospital is overcrowded and they’d rather have a nurse visit me every day then having me take up the room for an extended period of time.’
‘It’s settled then. When can you go?’
‘That’s four days from now. More than enough time for me to prepare.’
‘You need to stay here for a day more too, Julie. They want to keep tabs on your concussion. Even if it’s a mild one they need to be sure there’s nothing else. The arm will be fine they said. A minor fracture.’
‘You’re not happy about that?’
‘How can I be happy about any of this? The whole situation is shit, Liam. It’s utter and complete shit.’
‘It’s not like we can do anything about it now. It already happened.’
That shut me up enough. Liam was right. There was nothing I could do about any of this now. I just had to roll with it. I had never been good at that. I was a planner by heart and I couldn’t account for all these things right now. My head started to spin. Nope. No difficult thoughts right now. I had almost forgotten my brains had taken a firm beating by yesterday’s accident. How could I be so clumsy? I wanted to hit myself, but that wouldn’t solve anything.
‘You’re always thinking so much, Julie.’
Was I? I never over thought anything, right? Right? I guess I did think too much. I didn’t know how else to cope though. For so long my mind was my only sound and solid companion, with all these new people and new relationships it felt as if I might’ve been overdoing things on the thinking department. Maybe I needed to be more. I don’t know. Thinking was a part of me, it’s how I wrote my books, how I made my plans. Well, everyone thinks. Like me. Yeah it was just normal, was it though? Yes, of course Julie. What are you blabbering about. I snorted. This concussion really messed with my brains.
‘Julie? Hello? Anybody in there?’
Both Liam and I snorted. Typical. It had always been like this I mused as I watched the vague grin disappear from Liam’s face. Me, the thinker. Him, the one that acted. We would make a good team, we always were a good team as kids.
‘You’re more like dad in that way, Liam. Always just going for it, not over thinking things.’
‘You’re more like mom. The plotter, planner. You do the exact same. It’s scary sometimes. You can frown just like her when you’re deep in thought.’
‘I don’t frown!’
‘You do, you pout and your eyebrows furrow. It’s cute’
‘I’m just messing with you. Why do you always start about our parents anyway. I hate it when you do that.’
‘You don’t hate it.’
‘You’re right. I don’t. I just. It’s difficult, it’s hard to talk about it. It… It hurts.’
I couldn’t keep my mouth from opening slightly at that. Liam talking about his feelings? Openly? What kind of alternate universe had I entered? Liam never talked about his feelings. Not even when he was a kid. He would always keep his mouth firmly shut. If he was in pain, or sad he would never tell. Only grow silent and be alone. It was strange to see him like this. And difficult. It wasn’t easy for me to talk about my feelings either. I knew how to write about feelings, the feelings of my characters. But myself? No.
‘Don’t look at me like that. I’m trying here.’
‘I know. I’m glad you are. It’s difficult for me too. I’m not used to it either.’
‘Yeah, I guess.’
We were silent for a moment. The both of us surprised by the other and by ourselves. Things were changing, shifting, and we could both feel it. It wasn’t a bad feeling, though. But it was strange, new. Refreshing. As if a new era had started.
‘It’s all so strange. That so many bad things had to happen for us to finally get together again and open up. It hardly seems fair.’
‘Hmm. I guess. Maybe this was the push we needed?’
‘A car in your face was the push you needed?’
‘Don’t be so sarcastic, you know what I mean.’
We were silent again. This conversation was going smooth. Not. I felt like dying right there, right then. But no, this was good. This would help us, our relationship. I half wished Jack was here right now, making some funny joke to get the awkwardness out of the whole situation. Right when I thought that the door opened. I expected to see Jack, but was met with an angry looking nurse.
‘Mister Bellamy, you should’ve been back in bed ages ago!’
‘No, wait. I’m fine! No pain!’
‘Doesn’t matter. Let’s get you back.’
I giggled as Liam was ushered out of the room. His protests echoing through the hallway. I suddenly felt exhausted. My headache worsening. Too much activity I mused and within seconds I was fast asleep.