Ariana was reluctant to leave Gary, but she couldn’t argue with the nurses. She sat in their living room feeling lost and without direction. Eventually she must have fallen asleep on the couch by accident. The television buzzed in the background and her small frame was peaceful. It seemed like the long day had really taken it out of her.
“Ariana?” That was Gary’s voice and she looked around the halls of the hospital. She couldn’t see him, but she could still hear him. She began to run down the halls, avoiding nurses and doctors, desperately searching for Gary but all she could hear was his voice and it seemed like it would never end. Her heart started to beat quicker as panic set in, why couldn’t find him? She skidded to a stop in one of the corridors and Gary’s calling sounded closer, she moved towards the door and pushed it open, greeted by the sight of Gary, standing like nothing had happened with a baby in his arms and Ariana stared for a long time, feeling sick. This wasn’t real, this wasn’t real, this wasn’t real, she told herself. As Gary approached she could see there was something off about him and when he was just inches away, he leaned in to show her the baby but there was nothing in the blankets, it was empty.
“So that’s it, you’re just going to give up?” Gary snapped and Ariana recoiled, remembering those words and she couldn’t look at him as he fell back into the hospital bed, his leg now twisted at a sickening angle and she started to back up, almost falling over as she looked down at herself. There was blood, so much blood. She stifled a scream and suddenly she woke.
She sat bold upright, cold sweat on her brow as she gasped for air, heart beating so loud she could hear the whoosh of her blood in her ears and she couldn’t catch her breath as she got to her feet, struggling to get water. She looked to the clock, 8am. Her hands shook has the shock of the nightmare started to die off and she steadied herself, running her hands through her hair, not feeling awake as she stumbled around. A shower helped lift some of the fog and then she remembered she needed to phone Gary’s parents and explain what had happened. She dried herself off, blow drying her hair and applying a small amount of makeup again, most likely to put off the phone call as long as she could. Eventually though, she realised she had to. She hated to bring people bad news. Breakfast first, while she remembered. She didn’t want toast this time, she was actually hungry so she rifled in the cupboards for her favourite cereal. It probably wasn’t healthy, chocolate and nut muesli. She sat with the bowl balanced in her lap and watched the news, more terror attacks in the east, more politicians arguing, not a lick of good news. She drained her bowl and stood, suddenly feeling dizzy as she caught herself on the couch and she furrowed her brow, waiting for it to pass. She probably got up too quickly. She washed her bowl and picked up her phone. She didn’t want to do this because she had waited so long and they would no doubt be so worried and pissed she hadn’t told them earlier.
She sat on the couch and muted the television as she dialled his parents home number. She waited for it to be picked up and swallowed thickly.
“It’s Ariana- please don’t panic or anything but... Gary was in an accident. He’s alright, a concussion and he’s had surgery on his leg so they only need to plaster it up and then they’ll send him home, I think? He’s still in hospital. I’m sorry I should’ve called before now but it’s just been.... well, yeah.” She cut off and hoped his parents weren’t pissed that she had waited a while to call them. Everything had just slipped her mind. Her emerald eyes looked to the window, holding the phone to her ear as she waited for a scolding. A bird flirted by the window and Ariana watched it for a while, desperate to distract from whatever his father or mother was going to say.
Eddy had- oh. Eddy had sorted it. Then, that meant the man wasn't hurt seriously. Enough to already be up and about and organizing things. Gary rested back a little, feeling some of the worries he'd unconsciously clung to slide off his shoulders. He watched Ariana's emotions ripple across her face as his carelessly chosen words tumbled from his lips.
No rush. But he hated it. He hated feeling this vulnerable, this helpless. He could tell Ariana needed his support and he couldn't even stand on even ground with her. Instead, Gary realized he'd be relying on Ri to sort things out for him. He shifted on the bed, trying to get a better look at the leg, but focussing hurt his head and Gary sighed. Thinking hurt. Everything hurt. Somehow, he preferred the haze that'd gripped him the last few days over being aware of his mind's deficits.
He tired easily.
Gary could already feel his energy wane. It was as if his body dedicated its resources to mending whatever ailed his brain, without care for anything else.
Ri's voice cut through the spiral of downward thoughts.
He recalled that night.
"Couldn't stop looking at you that night," Gary confessed. His steel blue eyes lazily blinked at Ariana, before sluggishly shifting away again and searching for something else. Unable to find it, his eyes remained resting on their hands. Gary tightened his fingers a little, more so to establish that they were still operating than anything else.
"Drank too much, too fast 'cause I was so scared of making a stupid mistake," he summarized. He'd drank at the start to gain courage, then because it'd been fun and later because he'd been too plastered to stop. All of them had been that way though, so it'd all been fine. Unlike lately. Lately they'd been out of tune.
He'd been so scared to muck it up; to make a mistake and have her walk out on him back then. Gary's fingers stroked the ring around Ariana's finger.
His expression turned slightly puzzled. Where was his?
Surgery. Right. They would've taken it off.
Gary shifted and reached for the cabinet next to the bed and clumsily opened a couple of the drawers. He couldn't even really focus long enough to actually tell whether the ring was in there or not.
Gary gave up after a few attempts at finding the ring and returned to Ariana.
"Are you staying?" he bid, hoping she would say yes. He knew it was highly unlikely. He was already losing the battle against sleep. It was almost scary how fast he was losing as well. Even without the painkillers, Gary figured the concussion was doing him in. He'd always been the sort to recover with sleep when suffered with a headache.
He reached up and felt the bandages. Still there.
How long had it been? It felt like he'd been there for ages already. Gary felt his movements slow down, as if all his attention was drawn inward again. His eyes grew heavy as well. He didn't hear the nurse come in to shoo Ariana away. He didn't even notice them changing the dressings on his injuries and check the leg.
Gary seemed to throw a middle of sentences and questions at her and she was patient, waiting so she could answer each in turn. His mind was muddled and she knew it would take some time for him to sift through everything and to think properly she just didn’t want him thinking he had to rush it all.
“I don’t know, I got the call from the hospital at- well, it was early in the morning. Really early. Eddy was there, yes. He said he’d sort your work so don’t worry about that.” She said quietly, making sure to talk a touch slower than usual so he had time to process what was being said. It did surprise her though that he called her beautiful, of course he had said that when he was drunk but he seemed a touch more clear right then. She smiled softly in response. The smile vanished when he said there were bolts in his leg, the thought made her cringe because honestly she had always been squeamish about those kind of things. Needles, hospitals, surgeries- all of it just made her cringe at the thought. Needles she was afraid of, which seemed ridiculous because she was a grown woman. She’d had enough of hospitals to last her a lifetime. And by the end of this, she was sure Gary would have too.
He wanted to come home and honestly it broke her heart to hear him like that.
“Soon, sweetheart, I promise. They’re going to put your leg in a cast and I’m sure once they’re sure your concussion is sorted, you can come home.” She said to him. She was of course worried because this was a long journey that didn’t end with him just coming home and a hot cup of tea. He would need to learn to walk, surely, if the break had been so bad. She would be there for him every small step of the way, offering comfort and encouragement. Her hands slid to his and she watched him,
“Don’t rush it. I’m not going anywhere, I’ll be here every minute for you, Gary.” She said, feeling truly spiteful towards visiting hours because really he had a room, she wasn’t doing any harm. She would stay as long as she possibly could and be there the minute visiting hours opened up again. Perhaps taking his mind off thoughts of coming home would be more soothing, changing the mood would help, maybe. She thought for a few seconds before looking to Gary.
“Lisa still has that ridiculous photo of us, her and Mike hanging on her wall.” She smiled a bit, thinking back,
“From that night at the bar.” It had been taken on a ridiculous disposable camera and none of them had been in any fit state and that night was still a blur to most of them, it was just before Lisa had fallen pregnant. The bar hadn’t even been that good, a tiny booth for four of them squashed together and the bold Lisa had at some point asked a stranger to take their picture with the awful throwaway camera. It had been a double date night turned into a full night out and honestly they had all been overdressed, Lisa and Ariana in lovely dresses with their hair and makeup done beautifully at the start of the night, Mike’s shirt had somehow lost buttons. It wasn’t anyone’s finest hour but she did remember the night had been full of laughter. Ariana gave Gary’s hands a gentle squeeze of reassurance. He’d looked good that night, she’d give anything to go back to that night and tell him everything was going to be alright and they’d be okay they just had remember stupid nights like that to get by.
She hadn’t called his parents yet. Gary didn’t blame Ariana; it wouldn’t be the first thing he’d do, especially knowing her parents and their fondness for meddling when it was inappropriate. They’d never really approved of him to begin with and Ariana’s mother enjoyed letting them both know in various interesting ways. He’d expected Lisa to know however, considering Ri had been with her the night of the accident. Gary scrunched his face up against the headache that threatened to thicken in volume.
She stepped closer and Gary let his thoughts go. The relief was almost immediate.
He wasn’t yet sure how to go about ‘not-thinking’, but he’d best make it a skill for the coming few days. Gary breathed in Ariana’s scent, relished in her warmth and proximity.
It didn’t matter, their argument didn’t matter. Gary searched Ariana’s face to see whether she could just leave things behind her as simply as that, but perhaps she’d put her reasoning in perspective. It occurred to Gary that he might’ve died.
It was stupid, an argument over nothing. They’d had a lot of those recently.
“’m sorry,” Gary breathed, brushing his thumb across the soft skin of the back of Ri’s hand. One hand brushed some of his hair back and Gary relaxed into Ariana’s touch, eyes fluttering closed.
“Did I worry you? Was it bad, Ri?” he asked. Gary realized he’d gotten the relatively easy part of the bargain so far. All he’d done was lying in a bed and sleep, perhaps inside a machine when asked, but little else. He bet Ariana had had to deal with all the fun things such as insurance and whatever else.
“Did Eddy? Was Eddy there?” he asked softly.
Dan, Dan was at the pub as well, so had Ray been. Gary felt a strange sense of déjà vu, as if he’d asked the question before. His headache spiked as he unconsciously tried to find when he’d asked it before. It felt as if the part of his memory where he was trying to search was covered in broken glass. Traversing them was a painful endeavour and pointless to boot.
“What about work?” Gary pitched. No pain. He likely hadn’t asked that one before. Typical. He chuckled a little and then opened his eyes back up to look at Ariana.
“God, you’re beautiful,” he whispered, as if disclosing his opinion for the very first time. Gary blinked a little, furrowing his brow. He felt a little out of things. The pain wasn’t even that bad, but he felt out of place and a little lost. Like there was nothing to hold on to, which was likely part of the whole ‘not-thinking’ bit his brain was trying to encourage.
He clasped Ariana’s hand a little tighter, but in the end it wasn’t the kind of anchor he needed.
“They- they’re doing plaster soon, maybe,” Gary started instead, his mind jumping from one random topic to another at a sluggish pace. “There are bolts in there,” he mentioned. The implication and weight of the surgery hadn’t really sunk in yet. It’d take him a while and a great deal of physical therapy to walk properly again.
“Ri, when can I come home? I want to go home.”
Ariana watched Gary with careful eyes, he certainly seemed like he was doing a lot better and he seemed more with everything than he had been. At the mention of his parents, she realised she hadn’t. In the rush of everything she had completely forgotten and she sighed at herself in frustration, this whole responsible Ariana wasn’t going so great as she had mapped out in her mind.
“I’ll call them tonight, sorry I completely forgot.” She said quietly to him, his parents were a lot nicer than her mother was. Then again, that was what everyone said about other parents but her bible bashing mother loved to preach. She would call his parents tonight, and let them know he was okay now and he’s broken a leg and had a concussion but he was going to be alright, she just hoped she didn’t jinx it. Any parent would worry and she was sure they would pay a visit sometime, she just hoped she could keep her mother at bay because her mother could be intolerable to others, she had proved that at their wedding. But she did know anyone’s parents would be mortified if they got a call from a hospital, she would drop them a call later on but right then she wanted to make sure Gary was alright and he was settled. Besides she wasn’t even sure how to explain everything to his parents properly. She would find a way.
She just hoped no one worried too much because when family were in the picture, most things were brought to the surface. She could cope by herself and she wanted to prove she could look after Gary by herself and she didn’t need help and she was doing just fine. She needed to prove it to everyone and more importantly to herself.
His question about the argument brought about a few moments of silence and she just obliged his request to get closer, perhaps satisfied that he wasn’t going to shatter at her touch. She was very careful getting closer to him, not wanting jostle his leg or cause any more discomfort to him as she looked at him.
“It doesn’t matter.” She said quietly, “What we argued about, it doesn’t matter anymore, Gary. I promise.” She said gently. Because really, it didn’t matter anymore, he needed to get better and focusing on bad news and arguing wouldn’t help that. Their closeness was something she missed and honestly she could have fallen asleep in the moment right then, his warmth and comfort was something she had missed so much lately. Not just when he had been in hospital, but overall, she had missed him. She had sat on the edge of his bed and clasped his hands gently in her own.
“It was stupid, really.” She assured him, “Over nothing.” She said to him with a small smile. They could revisit the initial issue at a later date but it wasn’t to be spoken of right then, they could talk when it wouldn’t risk his health and recovery. She freed her hands to brush some of his hair back from his face gently, she was convinced he looked better and was acting better but she was still worried, and of course it showed because she was no good at masking her emotions these days.
[b Happy Christmas, Urizen <3 ]
It was white out. It only then dawned on Gary. Virgil left after making sure he was comfortable and only came back with lunch after a few hours. When Ariana came to visit, he’d just woken up. His steel blue eyes were vulnerable and unguarded, the smile on his face on seeing Ariana genuine. She looked pretty. Some of the confidence she’d exuded back when they met had returned somehow. Or maybe he’d never taken the time to actually look at Ariana to notice lately. She was still thinner than he remembered.
“Hey,” Gary greeted Ariana. He felt better, now that she mentioned it. He felt more like himself, which left the previous few days in a fog. Gary had no doubt that the balance his body had somehow obtained was fragile. It was all well and good while he was in bed, resting up and not doing anything, but he couldn’t imagine going up and moving about yet. Especially not with the way his leg was.
Bolts and beams kept the bone tied together and it wasn’t sure whether they’d all come out after everything was said and done.
Ariana’s words pulled him back to the here and now.
“Did…?” the question was lost before he could ask it. For a moment Gary waited for it to return, but it didn’t. He hummed and pushed his hair back, feeling awkwardly misplaced. His head hurt a little now, actually. Might be they adjusted his medication. It’d explain why it was easier to think.
It returned to him then.
“Did you call my parents?” he asked. They’d be mortified if they found out from anyone other than Ri or himself. A hundred and one other concerns rushed through his head and Gary sighed out, resting back. He couldn’t even begin to sort the temporary chaos in his head without hurting himself.
“Ri…you said,” Gary paused for a second, frowning. Then he reached for Ariana, as if the distance between them had become unbearable. Perhaps she was afraid she might hurt him if she came too close, but frankly, Gary figured her presence could only improve on the simmering headache and the fading numbness in his leg.
“Ri, what was the argument we had about?” he finally managed to ask. He didn’t quite recall; there was something about their usual accusations; his lack of involvement, her lack of progress and then she’d left for her sister’s, as she’d said before. There were more holes in his memory and each time Gary tried to dig for them, it hurt.
“C’mere, let me hold you for a while,” Gary asked softly. He’d missed her nearness. But then, he’d missed it for a lot longer than just a few days. His eyes were soft, just watching her without judgment. He’d neglected Ri’s feelings just about as long as he had his. Now that his brain wasn’t in the right state to actually think, his emotions got free pass it seemed.
Cleaning. It was something she hadn’t done in a while, at least not to this extent. It kept her busy while she watched the clock tick down. She had slept the night before after leaving Gary to rest, leaving with another chaste kiss on his cheek. The night seemed colder and darker somehow.
Still, a good clean and eventually, the house looked spotless. She supposed given Gary would eventually come out of hospital, it was best to keep the place clean and tidy and it served as an adequate distraction as the hours ticked down. She was careful with bleach and any other strong smelling chemicals. A sandwich served as a good lunch and she eventually settled with a whole half an hour to spare, tea in her hands. She rested her head back and sighed. Her phone buzzed and she thought it was the hospital or Lisa, boy was she wrong.
“Ariana! You haven’t been answering my messages! Is everything alright?” Her mother’s voice practically quacked down the phone and Ariana had to catch herself from groaning.
“Everything is fine.” She assured and pinched the bridge of her nose, trying not to let the stress of a phone call get to her.
“What time are you over on Christmas?” Wait, she hadn’t said to her mother she would visit Christmas? She wouldn’t.
“Oh- Uh, well I think me and Gary need a quiet Christmas, just us, you know?” She tried to excuse them from the gathering. Besides, with Gary the way he was, and their relationship, it hardly seemed likely they would be up for festivities that year. Privacy was what they needed and she wished her mother would understand that.
“Oh, right so now you can’t even see your own family on Christmas? I’ve been seeing less and less of you since you got married...” she let her mother trail on for a while and honestly, wasn’t that what married couples did? Focused on themselves and right now they needed all the attention in the world for each other.
“I’ve got to go- Mum, stop, I have to go.” She sighed and clicked the end call button.
“Christ.” She muttered and finally let go of her nose.
The trip to the hospital was quicker this time, the roads slightly icy so Ariana made sure and take it slow. She was bundled up against the cold in a jacket and her hair was freshly washed and blow dried but she had forsaken the makeup today, never liking to put it on all the time lest her skin suffer as a result. Her curls were loose around her shoulder and she was tucked in scarf. She double checked with reception and they explained he had been moved room and Ariana was glad he was no longer in ICU. She climbed the stairs to the room and stepped inside.
Gary looked better with less tubes and in a brighter room. He had a touch of colour back and certainly looked like he was on the mend, maybe it was the light on him. Ariana smiled a little upon entry, settling in the chair and it was good to see him awake. There was still a lingering confusion in his eyes but it would take a while because the moving rooms wasn’t helping but she figured it was nice he had a room to himself.
“You look better.” She said to him, watching him for anything that would cause her to doubt her words but for the moment she couldn’t see it. Still, she was hesitantly hopeful because it seemed like life really wanted to keep them down for the moment.
“It’s a nicer room, at least. Better than the other one.” She was careful and slow with her words because honestly, she wasn’t sure how much he was able to take in and if his mind was able to keep up with everything just yet. It was better to play it safe right then and not overload him. A slow recover was still recovery and she didn’t want to set him back any amount.
She’d promised. Gary furrowed his brow and tried to recall when that’d been, but he couldn’t quite recall when it’d been. Not that it mattered. So long as Ariana actually did as she said, things would become better. Gary felt his eyes slip closed and this time he did nothing to keep them open for longer or prevent himself from slipping back under. It seemed his body needed rest and who was he to reject that desire? It beat the alternative of feeling out of place and confused.
A male nurse was there when he woke next. It was brighter than it’d been before. Did that mean it was day-time? Gary’s eyes lazily searched the room; different than before. Smaller, with less machines.
“Good of you to join us, Mr Jenkins,” Sterling greeted him.
Gary gave the man a slightly puzzled look. The male nurse took the bed’s controls and propped him up a little.
“Have we met?” he asked softly. His brain was still trying very hard to wake up fully.
The doctor neither confirmed nor denied. “I’m doctor Sterling and this is Virgil, your nurse for the day,” he introduced them both.
Gary narrowed his eyes at the nurse. He’d seen the man before, probably. “You were there with the test,” Gary tried.
Virgil just smiled and nodded in reply, “that’s right.”
They’d moved him. This wasn’t the room he’d been in before. Doctor Sterling moved the blanket covering his broken leg and examined the wounds there.
“Your leg is coming along nicely,” he said softly, focussed on the incision site more than anything else. “How is the pain?”
Gary thought about that for a second and shrugged. Numb, more than anything else. Probably be worse if he moved, but he’d been too tired, too lethargic to really struggle. It was weird. At least his vision had recovered after last night’s bout of double vision.
Where was Ariana anyway?
“Where’s Ri?” he asked.
Virgil glanced at the doctor, then remembered.
“Mrs Jenkins, you mean?” he asked. “She should be around during visiting hour,” Virgil explained. They had to keep visitors to a minimum so Gary could rest as much as he could. His patient wouldn’t much like the headache that’d brew up if he got over-stimulated too soon during his recovery.
Gary looked at the man, slightly lost, but nodded at last.
“What time is it?” he asked next. Actually, what day was it? Ri had told him he’d been out of it for a whole day, but he felt like the days were chaining together unnoticed.
“It is nearly ten in the morning,” the doctor disclosed. He spoke with Virgil for a moment, giving the man instructions, and then patted Gary’s good leg. “I’ll be around again later this afternoon.”
It felt like he was awake for the first time since the accident. Gary just looked around the room, taking it all in. There wasn’t much. Some white walls, the bed and a small table with some chairs. It was very likely going to be his reality until they got his leg in a cast.
“Sh, it’s alright.” She waved off his apology because honestly it wasn’t necessary right then, or at all. She was just glad he was okay. At least he wasn’t in pain, weird wasn’t the same as pain and she was quietly relieved that the pain medications seem to be doing their job. She watched him and nodded. She did hope Eddy was alright because he had looked really shaken up before.
“Eddy-yeah. He was here yesterday. He’s alright, his arm’s in a sling and I think he was in a bit of shock. He told me they put you in a taxi.” She murmured, trying to recall what Eddy had said exactly because honestly it seemed like a lifetime ago already and she had been in some form of shock herself and trying to deal with everything. The tug on her hand made her eyes meet his face, tracing his features.
“I’ve eaten. Bad soup.” She remarked with a small smile. Soup was never a proper meal but everything else had looked a tad much for her nauseous stomach to deal with. Ariana didn’t want him worrying about her when he should be focused on getting better himself.
“You worry about getting better.” She hushed him gently,
“I promised I’ll get better and look after myself more, remember? So just worry about getting better.” She assured him quietly. His health was priority, whether he wanted to accept it or not and he sure as Hell wouldn’t be doing anything too strenuous for the foreseeable future, at least if she had anything to do with it. She was still scared that something could go wrong, head injuries were funny that way but she had to trust the hospital and the doctors and nurses that resided there. They knew better than she did and Gary was still alive, still breathing.
She would stay as long as she possibly could because the house was too quiet, she would give anything to be able to be home with him and listening to him tapping away on that stupid laptop of his. Maybe they didn’t need a child? Maybe they could even look at adoption? It wouldn’t be the same but it seemed like right then it was such a stupid thing to argue about and it had gone too far this time. Gary was in hospital, he could have died. It could have been a very different event if she had just stayed quiet. She knew everyone would tell her it wasn’t her fault and not to be so silly because it was a freak accident but she had put Gary in that situation. Maybe he would have gone out for a drink to deal with the miserable news but she somehow doubted. She’d been a nightmare to live with, she knew that. And although Gary could’ve been easier to live with, she knew she’d made it worse with her attitude but she wasn’t sure where to start when it came to rebuilding their life. A lot of happiness had been sucked from them both with bad news continually being thrown their way, and reclaiming happiness was something very difficult. It couldn’t be pinned and stitched together like other afflictions could.
Ariana stepped in and Gary turned his head, feeling the relief of his earlier concerns wash away. She was there, not out, like Briana suggested. Or she was finally back. He didn’t quite manage more manners than that, and his eyes lost their focus after a few seconds.
“Welcome back, Mrs Jenkins,” she said as she cleared out the things from Gary’s dinner. If the yoghurt went down well, they’d be able to start on some actual breakfast in the morning and after that she suspected Mr Jenkins’ recovery would really gain traction.
“I’ll be out of your hair in a minute,” Briana said with a kind smile.
At least it seemed Virgil had done as she asked and sent Mrs Jenkins out for food. It looked like the woman needed it. She seemed like she needed a break, more than anything. With Gary as he was currently however, it didn’t look like Ariana might be getting what she needed.
“They might be moving Mr Jenkins out of the ICU soon,” Briana let Ariana know. “Doctor Sterling will clear him in the morning if he’s had a good night.” She smiled and left the room to give the couple some privacy.
Gary smiled at Ariana.
Her question was a tricky one. “Weird,” was what his bruised mind came up with at long last. It wasn’t a lie. Bruised, sore, tired and drained were probably all more accurate, but together they amounted to a weird and unfamiliar sensation. He’d never been hospitalized before. The worst things he’d ever suffered were hangovers and the flu.
“You looked sad. It’s better now,” he said with a short sigh of relief. She looked good, actually. Her hair was done nicely and there was some makeup on her face, even a little colour on Ri’s cheeks.
“Sorry for worrying you,” Gary apologized.
He closed his eyes. The double vision was making him feel funny. Gary was pretty sure they had him on something to numb the headache, because the pounding headache he’d been expecting was strangely absent.
“Was Eddy there?” he mumbled softly, carefully cracking open one eye. It wasn’t as bad when it was just one eye. He sighed and surrendered to just closing his eyes again.
“I remember Eddy,” Gary said. He recalled the man had been in the pub with him at least. So had Dan at some point. And Ray, probably.
For a while Gary just laid there and rested. The world seemed to sway a little bit, but it wasn’t entirely unpleasant. Made him drowsy though.
When he opened his eyes again, he had a confused look on his face.
“I thought you’d stepped out to get food,” he breathed softly. Ariana’s hand on his felt very real though. Had she come back, or had she never left in the first place? He couldn’t really tell.
“Did you eat something?” Gary asked softly, tugging on her hand a little. She needed to take good care of herself. Put on some weight and take the vitamins the doctors’ prescribed.
Hospitals were so clinical, the smell of disinfectant, the pristine white floors and the white lights overhead. Everything was just too clean. Ariana walked down the hall and paused before entering Gary’s room, seeing him eating and she guessed she would act as distraction if she entered right that moment. She waited a few moments, fingers playing with the hem of the jumper she was wearing. Some nurses bustled by, evidently just ending their shift as they seemed happier. Ariana looked back to the room to see Gary had finished and was with Briana, the kind nurse from before. She stepped into the room quietly, not wanting to cause any disturbance. A yoghurt was hardly a meal but she supposed with all the anaesthetic, painkillers and such he was on, it was all Gary would be able to manage.
“Hi.” She said quietly to both Briana and Gary. Some part of her was jealous of Briana because she was able to look after Gary in ways Ariana couldn’t right then. She hoped Lisa hadn’t told her mother anything that had gone on, the last thing she needed was her biblical preaching, essential oil sniffing mother shoving her nose in and preaching about how if they were better catholics then this wouldn’t have happened and how it was some sort of punishment from somewhere unseen. Gary and Ariana both needed space and the less people who knew the ins and outs of everything the better. She trusted her sister above all else to not say anything, even more so to keep her mouth closed about the child bearing issues.
She settled in the chair by Gary,
“How are you feeling?” She asked him, quietly. She would be there as long as he needed her and even when he told her he didn’t, she wouldn’t venture far. Her green eyes looked over Gary, somewhat glad his injured leg was out of sight of them both, especially Gary. She knew she would need to ask Doctor Sterling on how his progress was and she just hoped it was good progress in the right direction, no matter how quick or slow, progress was progress. Hesitant finger reached for Gary’s hand because what else could she do right then to convey any comfort? She couldn’t wish away the injuries and the pain, or any form of the concussion no matter how much she wanted to and she couldn’t offer pain relief like the machines and bags around him could. She felt okay, still brimming with worry and concern for her husband but otherwise- well, perhaps she was a tad full because she had eaten a whole two times that day and her system wasn’t quite used to it. Still, she had managed to eat, that was the important part. Delicate fingers traced Gary’s hand gently, her gaze thoughtful mixed with worry. How quickly could she have lost him? If the accident had been worse, if it had been a head on collision. Ariana knew thinking such things wouldn’t help them right then, she was just so grateful he was alive.
Ariana had been there, hadn’t she? There was the faint pressure of her hand against his, but other than that, he recalled fairly little of her visit. Sadness, he recalled she’d been sad. Gary tried to focus, but it wasn’t working so glamorously. The nurse changed his saline, asked him to clench his hand.
Another MRI, to see whether there wasn’t any bleeding in his brain that caused the confusion or whether it was just some minor swelling. They would plaster his leg in a few days, as the incision sites were healing up nicely. Gary didn’t really register much.
Sterling observed his patient and made sure the man understood, even if it was only temporary. There was minor progress though; at least Mr Jenkins was aware of his situation to some extent. He knew his leg was broken and that he had a concussion –or the fiercest headache ever in the history of his hangovers, as he’d called it. There was a good deal of pain involved as well, but Sterling was reluctant to give any of the mind-altering pain medication until he’d seen a bit more stable image of Mr Jenkins’ symptoms.
By the time Gary was wheeled back into his room, they’d exhausted his energy and he was well and truly asleep again.
He woke much later to the scent of food, cracked open a careful eyelid and tried to make sense of the blurry image his eyes reported back. He couldn’t quite seem to put the two individual images back into one, so there was a bit of lag and overlap.
“Good to see you awake, Mr Jenkins,” Briana greeted him softly. “Do you remember me? My name is Briana, I’m your nurse for the evening,” she introduced herself.
Gary didn’t remember her, but it didn’t seem to matter, as she kindly introduced herself again. “Where’s Ariana?” he asked, voice hoarse with disuse.
“We sent her out for dinner and some rest,” Briana soothed, glad Gary remembered his wife’s visit.
It took a moment, but Gary seemed to find peace with that reply.
“How are you feeling?” she asked whilst she set out some light food Gary figured he was meant to try. Strangely enough, despite the pain, he was feeling hungry.
“Lost,” he breathed softly.
“How does your leg feel?” Briana guided him a little further.
Gary looked down, blinked and closed his eyes again. He felt like his eyes were useless. Briana took the opportunity to put the bed in a more seated position.
“Numb, I guess,” Gary mumbled.
“Good,” the nurse offered. They’d been numbing the leg locally, but as it was set and pinned, the break shouldn’t cause Gary too much discomforted anyway.
“Where’s Ariana?” he repeated.
Briana noted the repeat. “We sent her out for something to eat,” she soothed and waited for the facts to land. “Speaking of which, would you like to try some yoghurt?”
Gary looked at the food and then reached clumsily for the plastic spoon. His aim was a little off. Briana let him try, because it was best Gary tried to do things independently and she needed to know how certain of his motor-skills were. It was slow, but he somehow managed. Briana could tell the simple act of eating was exhausting however. It seemed Gary was still battling some unseen handicap.
“You did very well,” she complimented when he was done. “Just rest for now.”
“I went out with Lisa. I thought if I left you’d stay out but...” She trailed off and watched him lull back into sleep and honestly, she was glad. He needed it. She wasn’t a doctor or a nurse but she was sure that resting was the best way forwards. It was such a shock to see how helpless Gary was, she’d never seen him like this and it was scary to her because Gary had always been the fighter, the strong one of them both. Ariana never thought of herself as strong. Her sister was, always had been like a lioness. Maybe it skipped Ariana. She stroked the back of Gary’s hand gently, avoiding the invasive needle as she watched him. She was relieved he wasn’t angry with her or had any lingering feelings right then from their argument. Briana’s entrance took her by surprise and she looked to the nurse. She was so kind and understanding, and she thought carefully about her question. She didn’t know if she was alright, she wouldn’t be until Gary was himself again, probably.
“I’m alright.” She managed although she supposed given the circumstances of her husband being in such a state probably disproved that but she was trying. Briana our things much more simply and sympathetically than Doctor Sterling and Ariana appreciated it. She nodded along with her and honestly expected to be told that visiting times were up and to come back tomorrow. But Briana said she could stay for some time longer.
“Thank you.” The thought of going home to an empty home and trying to sleep in a cold bed was daunting enough. She watched Briana go and looked back to her sleeping husband. He didn’t suit the bandages up look and she knew it was probably a very long road ahead but it would serve as a good distraction and maybe start them on a road to just appreciating each other without worrying about adding any little infants.
Virgil was an older man, perhaps not as compassionate as Briana but he had disobeyed her once before and earned himself a thorough tongue lashing from the woman. He tended to want to stick by the book, bending rules was not something he cared for. Still, the sight of doting wife at sleeping husbands side stirred even his stone heart.
- [ ] “Mrs Jenkins? Perhaps you should pop and get some lunch, we have a few tests and such to run. It won’t take too long but I assure you hospital chairs are not comfortable.” He remarked, it wasn’t a lie they wouldntechnically need to change his saline, check his blood pressure and sorts and Ariana got the hint. A silent kiss placed upon Gary’s cheek and she left the room. Food, right, had it been that long since breakfast? The toast seemed heavy in her stomach still and she supposed soup or something wouldn’t kill her. She trudged our to the car because hospital cafe food would really not appease to her dwindling appetite. There was a small diner nearby, that would do.
The soup looked better than she imagined and she must’ve looked a tad odd eating alone. It was still snowing, very lightly outside and Ariana watched the flakes fall onto the white canvas on the ground, adding to the thick blanket that was building. Her phone vibrated and she blinked, oops- five missed calls? When had that happened? She answered the phone to Lisa.
“How is he?”
“He’s alright. He woke up... he’s uh, really out of it. They’re running tests or something, so I’m eating.” She said and explained there had been no changes and she hadn’t seen the distress quite yet but the confusion, absolutely. Lisa pushes to help but Ariana refused, she would be alright. She had to be for Gary. She waited a long time in the car outside the hospital, watching people go in and out and wondering what sort of issues they had going on because surely they weren’t alone in all this? Surely other people had issues and tragedy after tragedy going on too? Her feet shuffled and she sighed, she’d eaten most of the soup at least at the diner and put off Lisa coming and leaving husband and infant alone. She rubbed her eyes and headed back in. She could do this, she had to.
A broken leg? An accident and surgery? Eddy put him in a taxi? When? Gary reached up for the bandage again; a concussion. Explained the headache, at least.
“Why would I- where were you?” Out for a day? Gary couldn’t believe that. He’d never just been out for an entire day. He blinked at Ariana, but there were no lies in her voice and he couldn’t quite bring her face into focus. Gary could feel her hand in his though and it brought him a measure of comfort, because he was certain he’d drunk and she’d be mad. But she was here still.
Gary couldn’t quite express how happy he was knowing that Ariana was there when he needed her most.
Don’t move too much, she soothed him.
Gary calmed a little, just resting and gathering his energy. There seemed to be very little of it. He floated for a few long seconds, just drifting between here and there, when Ariana’s voice called him back to reality.
An argument? She was right; he didn’t remember.
“It’s okay, Ri,” Gary forgave her. “I’m glad you’re here.”
His eyes were growing heavy. Gary stopped fighting their pull and relaxed into the pillows. A nurse? Why? Gary wanted to ask Ariana why she needed a nurse, but he was caught in a state where by he felt more asleep than awake. Too far gone to truly respond. Or bother to anyway.
He didn’t even notice the nurse come in.
Briana rounded the bed so she was in Ariana’s line of sight.
“Are you alright, Mrs Jenkins?” she asked kindly and adjusted some of Gary’s sheets. She took measure of some of his vitals and adjusted the drip to run through better.
“I think he’s gone back to sleep for now,” Briana soothed.
Patients like Gary, who were confused, tended to respond to family better than they did to their professional caregivers. It was amazing what sort of reactions they got from patients sometimes when they employed the help of a relative.
“It can take a few days for the confusion to dissipate,” she informed. “Concussions can be unpredictable,” Briana told Ariana, “but he seems to be recovering well.”
Given a few more days, she was certain Mr Jenkins would behave much more like Mrs Jenkins was used to. Hopefully there wouldn’t be any lasting effects.
“It’s important for him to get plenty of rest as his brain heals,” Briana started.
“It’s not customary, but…I think it’d be okay if you would like to stay a little longer,” she offered. Not everyone could quietly leave their beloved to rest, but Briana didn’t think Ariana’s presence effected Mr Jenkins’ recovery negatively. Quite the opposite, perhaps.
“Virgil will be taking over my shift during the day; I’ll let him know,” Briana said with a smile. She left Ariana, but decided she’d ask Virgil to send the woman away for lunch and not allow her back until later that night. People tended to forget themselves, lost as they were in their worry over their loved ones.
The doctor wasn’t lying when he said that Gary would be confused but she wasn’t quite ready for that level. She watched him, staying quiet and honestly just relieved that he was awake at least. His question about the baby struck a chord but she remained as level as possible. In time, it seemed he came around to understanding he was the one in the hospital bed, not her. She wasn’t sure what to tell him because even she really didn’t know the ins and outs of what had happened. Eddy had put him in a taxi, and then the accident.
“You were in an accident, Gary.” She said softly and took hold of his hand gently. He didn’t look right, it didn’t feel right him being in a hospital bed. He looked in pain, in a lot of pain and it broke Ariana’s heart.
“Eddy- he out you in a taxi and I guess there was an accident. You’ve been out for a day.” She mumbled, looking at his features and sighing quietly.
“I’m just glad you’re okay.” She whispered quietly, so relieved he was awake and maybe he wasn’t totally okay but he was still Gary.
“Your leg- uh, it got broke... you’ve had surgery.” She said to him,”And you have a concussion. The doctor told me.” She was doing her best to try and explain everything but honestly she wasn’t very good at it. Her hand very gently squeezed his,
“Don’t move around too much.” She comforted a little, he needed to rest and it seemed like every little movement took it out of him and she was scared for him. She had never seen him in a hospital bed before. Of course, when she had lost the baby, she had been in hospital for observations but never this out of it.
“Gary-“ She started and then swallowed the words because she didn’t quite know how to apologise without making her seem like a child.
“We l- Well, I don’t think you remember. But... I started an argument and then it got a bit heated and I left and you must have gone to the bar- so. I mean, what I’m trying to say is that I’m sorry.” She said to him, as clearly as she could through the garbled mess of words because there was a lot of guilt within her. If she had shut up, they would probably still be in awkward silence but at least both of them would be safe and unharmed. This was truly awful and she felt sick, maybe too much coffee.
Lisa would kill her brother in law for the drinking if she found out, but Ariana hadn’t really explained how bad things had gotten. She wasn’t one for opening up about problems, keeping their problems between them. She was sure Lisa could guess things were going poorly lately. Ariana turned her gaze back to her husband, her emerald eyes full of worry and relief at the same time.
“If you’re in pain, I can get the nurse.” She said, she felt so useless. She couldn’t help him the way he needed right then she could only just sort of be there. Besides holding his hand, telling him everything was okay, there was nothing else she could do. She couldn’t give him pain killers and if she could take all his pain and switch places with him, she would in a heartbeat. She loved him more than he knew, even with everything going on she had never stopped loving him. He was her husband and right then she wanted him to be healthy. Thoughts of pregnancy and lost child were pushed aside as Gary took priority. She had lost a child, she didn’t want to lose him too.
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