His memory was almost perfect. He could remember everyone around him, the objects in his room.
‘Mr. Way, are you sure you want to take him home with you? He’ll need a lot of support.’ Dr. O’Malley asked after I had received Frank’s pills.
‘I’m sure. He has no-one else and I can’t abandon my husband. Thank you for your concern, though.’ I said politely even though I was getting a little annoyed. For a whole week, everyone had been asking me if I was sure I wanted to take Frank home. One nurse even expressed her opinion on the matter. She asked me to not take him home, leave him in the hospital till his mother or father came to get him. After explaining about 20 times that his mother was a no good hag and his father had died when he was a baby, she backed off.
‘Well, you should be right to leave then. If you feel you cannot take care of Frank, or something happens, feel free to come back. The instructions for the medication are in the bag. Have a good day, Mr. Way and take care.’ The doctor shook my hand and left through a small doorway that, I guess, lead to his office.
I walked back to Frank’s room where he was packing his bags. His large suitcase sat on the bed as he folded his clothes and placed his belongings into it. I walked up behind him and wrapped my arms around his waist, kissing the back of his neck.
‘You ready to go?’ I mumbled against his neck. I felt him shiver and giggle. That giggle I had missed so much. He had only just begun to be happy. For a week’s he’d cry and apologize, or throw anger fits.
‘B-Born r-ready.’ He smiled, turning in my arms and kissing my lips. I un-wound my arms and took his hand in mine and grabbed his suitcase.
As we walked down the halls, the nurses came from their patient’s rooms, smiling and clapping. Some had a few tears in their eyes. Sam stood at the automatic doors, waiting to greet us.
‘Bye, Frankie. We’ll all miss you. You too, Gerard. Take care.’ She said, wiping a few stray tears from her blushing cheeks. I put Frank’s suitcase down and let go of his hand to hug her.
‘Don’t be sadd. We’ll see you again.’ I whispered to her, pulling her away a little to look her in the eye. She smiled some and kissed my cheek.
‘I know. But I’m so used to seeing you every day.’ She sniffed, going to hug Frank. They’d gotten a little closer in the past week.
‘Take really good care of yourself, okay? I don’t want you back in here.’ She said sternly, pointing her finger at Frank.
He giggled and nodded.
After a heart-felt goodbye, Frank and I walked from those automatic doors, for what I hoped to be, the last time.
As we sat in the car, Frank held my one of my hands while the other was on the wheel. He squeezed my fingers gently and I repeated the gesture.
‘W-What's ch-changed?’ Frank asked.
‘W-What's ch-changed over the p-past t-two years?’ He repeated. I had to think for a moment. I had been in my own world for a few months before I really started contributing to society again.
‘Um… Nothing much really. Brian got married, Dixie died…. Nothing too major.’
‘D-Dixie?! I l-love D-Dixie!’ Frank almost screamed. I tried to stifle my laugh, he’d worried about the dog, not Brian’s marriage. He glared at me and pouted.
‘Aw… Don’t be sadd baby. She was getting old anyway.’ I tried to reason. He just stuck his tongue out at me and kept glaring at the road as if it had killed the dog.
The rest of the drive was silent with the exceptions of the bumps in the road.
‘G-Gee?’ Frank finally spoke as we pulled up in our driveway. I killed the engine and pulled the key out before turning back to Frank.
‘Yeah, baby?’ I smiled. Just seeing him next to me, actually awake made me happier than I had ever been in my entire life.
He jumped out of his seat, over the consol and into my lap. He was incredibly thin so he fit between me and the steering wheel. His arms encircled my neck as he pressed himself against me.
‘I-I love y-you.’ He whispered, closing his eyes. I sighed, holding him a little tighter. I could have sat there all day and night, just holding him but the car seat was getting a little uncomfortable.
‘Come on, baby. It’s getting dark.’ I said, tightening my grip a little more and lifted him out of the car with me.
I put Frank back on his feet and got his bags out of the back seat. We walked hand-in-hand to the front door. I could feel Frank shaking a little. It wasn't that cold out so I put it down to the nerves. I’d be nervous too. 2 years of somewhat sleeping, just coming home. I’d be terrified.
‘Welcome home.’ I said, pushing the door open. The hallway was nearly exactly the same except a few paintings I had put up. It felt like the walls were bare and needed something. He stopped at the paintings, grazing his fingers over the lines. He smiled at me and kissed my lips quickly.
I lead Frank down the hallway, passing our bedroom, art room and bathroom on the way to the lounge room.
‘Y-You h-haven’t ch-changed a thing.’ Frank said, taking a seat on the leather couch. He patted the space next to him, inviting me over. I took that space and leant my head on his shoulder.
‘I couldn’t have changed anything even if I wanted to. This is your home as much as it is mine. If you want to change it around, feel free.’ I whispered, breathing in his scent.
‘N-No… I-I like it l-like th-this.’ He whispered back, leaning his head against mine. I hugged him closer to me, feeling whole again.
‘I’ve missed you, baby. This place is so empty without you.’ I told him.
‘I-It’s my f-fault. I-I’m sorry I-I m-made us c-crash.’ He whispered again, his voice breaking slightly.
‘No. Baby, it’s not your fault. It’s no-ones. I don’t blame you for the accident.’ I made him face me as I wiped the tears from his eyes.
‘I-It is m-my f-fault. S-Sam t-told me wh-what happened and s-said th-that we’re b-both lucky t-to be a-alive.’ More tears spilled from his eyes, dripping down his face and into his lap.
‘Frankie, listen to me. If it’s anyone’s fault, it’s mine. I was driving, I spun the car, and I didn’t even try to get out of the way of the truck. I love you, Frankie. So fucking much and I hurt you. I don’t care which injuries I got, none were as badd as yours. I’m just…. So happy you’re alive.’ I told him, somewhat fiercely. He cringed back a few times but pulled himself back against me.
‘T-They were g-going t-to t-turn me o-off.’ He whispered, pressing his face into my chest.
‘I know, baby. I couldn’t stop them.’
We stayed in silence till my mobile rang. It made both of us jump. I giggled a little and went to answer it. Of course, Mikey.
‘Hey, bro.’ I said, watching Franks eyes sparkle. I guess he’d missed Mikey too.
‘Hey. Sam told me you were home. Can I come up? I wanna see Frankie.’ Mikey said happily. He hadn’t visited Frank during his rehab times. The doctors had said it was better if only one person was there so he didn’t get confused or overwhelmed.
‘Hey, Frankie. Would you mind if Mikey came up? He wants to see you.’ I asked. I had to be sure Frank was fine with visitors. He smiled and nodded really fast. I giggled again.
‘Sure, Mikes. The doors unlocked, I’m headed for the shower.’ He said his goodbyes and I hung up.
‘C-Can… I-I h-have a…. sh-shower with y-you?’ Frank asked. He seemed hesitant. We used to shower together all the time. There was no point in having separate showers, it’s not like we had anything to hide.
‘Of course, babe.’ I gleamed, reaching my hand out for his. He stood up off the couch and slowly walked towards me, reaching his hand out for mine.
I knew this was a big step, for the both of us. I didn’t mind Frank seeing me naked but maybe he didn’t want me to see him.
We stood outside the bathroom door, I had to ask him before we did this.
‘Are you sure you want to do this? If you’re not ready for this, we can wait.’
‘I-I want t-to, G-Gee. I-I want everything t-to be h-how it w-was. I t-trust you.’ He whispered. I sighed and pushed the bathroom door open.
‘I won’t look, if it makes you feel better.’ I said, turning the shower on and adjusting the heat. He just shook his head and slid his shirt over his head. There were a few scars on his body, most just tiny scratches from the windscreen when it shattered.
I had to resist the urge to reach out and touch him. To run my fingers over his chest. To feel him.
I broke from my trance, taking my shirt off too. Frank stepped forward and traced the few scars I had. I knew the sight made him sadd. He was still blaming himself. He closed his eyes and wrapped his arms around my middle, hugging me.
‘I-I love y-you.’ He whispered, his breath blowing across my chest.
I knew what he was about to say so I pulled him away and sat on the edge of the bath.
‘You don’t have to baby. You’re not ready.’ I said, pulling him to sit on my lap.
‘I-I’m sorry. ‘
‘Don’t be. I understand. It’s a big step and you’re not ready to take it. Mikey will be here soon and I won’t be long. Will you be okay by yourself for 5 minutes?’
‘I-I’m not a-a b-baby.’ He giggled, pecking my lips and running out of the bathroom. I smiled and finished undressing.
Half way through my shower, I heard a knock at the door. I knew it was Mikey. He always knocked really loud. There was another knock at the bathroom door.
‘G-Gee? S-Someone’s a-at the d-door.’ I heard Frank say.
‘It’s only Mikey, baby. I’ll be out in a sec.’ I said, finishing scrubbing my body down with my lavender wash.
When I finished getting dressed and drying myself, I walked into the lounge room where Mikey was sat on the couch, laughing along with Frank.
I sat down next to them both.
‘What's so funny?’ I asked.
‘Nothing really. Just reminiscing.’ Mikey answered, slowing his laughs down.
‘Coffee?’ I offered
‘Y-Yes p-please.’ Frank piped up.
‘Do I ever turn down coffee?’ Mikey said,
I didn’t answer, I just went into the kitchen and flicked the kettle on. Mikey walked in as I was adding the sugar to all 3 cups. I still remembered how Frank liked his.
‘He’s adjusting well.’
‘Yeah.’ I answered simply.
‘Look… I’m not exactly sure if you can cope with this. It’s a big responsibility. I just want you to know, if you need any help at all… Me and Alicia are here. Ray and Christa are there too. I’m sure Bob will be here for you as well.’ He said, jumping up to sit on the bench.
‘Mikes. I’m fine. I know it’s going to be difficult, but I won’t leave him. Who else has he got? I understand your concern but there’s no other choice.’ I had already run the possibilities of leaving Frank with his mother and aunt. There was no way they would care for him.
‘I know. I’m just saying. I don’t want you stressing. If you need anything, even if it is just to run to the shop, I’ll be here. Ali also wanted you to know that, while you’re at work, she can come and look after Frank, if he’s comfortable with that.’ I mentally cursed myself. I had forgotten about work. I’d asked for a few weeks off to help Frank with his rehab but I did have to go back.
‘I don’t know what to do, Mikey,’ I admitted.
‘I don’t want to leave him here on his own but I can’t just dump Ali with him.’ I sighed, dropping my head into my hands.
‘Gee, we’re all here for the both of you. Frank is my brother-in-law. I’d love to help care for him.’
‘I know, Mikes. Just… let me settle back in. I still have to get used to living with him again. Don’t worry abou-‘ I was cut off by a loud scream. I look at Mikey for a split second then ran towards the lounge room. Frank was lying on the floor, screaming like he was in pain. I dropped to his side, cradling him against my chest.
‘Frankie. Baby, what’s wrong?’ I asked frantically.
He didn’t answer, he just writhed in my arms.
‘Mikey, go get his medication off the table.’ I told him, trying to hold Frank still.
He nodded and ran towards the bedroom. He came back a second later, pills and water in hand. He handed me the bottled water and 2 pills, as instructed on the bag.
‘I-it hurts!’ Frank screamed, still writhing.
‘I know baby. Take this and I’ll go away, I promise.’ I took the 2 pills and put them in his open mouth. I opened the sealed bottle and pressed it to his lips.
I held him till the pills kicked in. I saw his eyelids droop and almost close. He wouldn’t let them though.
‘Sleep baby. You need to rest.’ I told his, rocking him a little.
‘L-Love… you.’ He whispered, leaning his head against my shoulder.
Mikey helped me put him in our bed. I kissed his forehead and closed the door slightly.
‘Are you sure you can do this?’ Mikey asked, sipping at his coffee.
‘Just give me a few days. I just need to adjust properly.’ I told him. Oh god how I wished that were true.