Could I Lie Next To You? – Chapter 9 REVISED
When I woke up I had no idea where the hell I was, what time it was, or even why I was there… until…
I opened my eyes quickly, determined to fight them off this time. But instead of the dark night of the resort I was greeted with bright white walls and blinding fluorescent lights. My eyes snapped shut and I whimpered against my new throbbing headache.
“He nearly drowned; we have to remove some of the fluid–“
Who was that? Were they talking about me? I tried to say something but only succeeded in sputtering, choking on the water that forced its way up my throat and out of my mouth. Turning my head to the side, I expelled the liquid and groaned. Chlorine. I had the dizzying sensation of being about to fall and gripped at the edge of what felt like a gurney; gloved hands caught and resituated me. Another dry, burning sensation raked at my eyes when I tried to open them a second time.
“He has to be asleep for this. Give him the anesthesia.”
I tried protesting and a mask was forced over my mouth. I gasped and swallowed a mouthful of awful, poorly-flavored gas. Through the blotchy red of my eyelids, images of Gerard and the others formed, standing over me. I was suddenly reminded that, whatever was going on, I had reasons to live .
I came to again an immeasurable amount of time later. My head was spinning and I felt as if I were going to be sick from the pain engulfing every inch of my body.
“His nose doesn’t seem to be broken, just badly bruised. How’s his arm?”
“Fractured. No big deal. His ribs got the worst of it... we need to reset them.”
I felt a pair of hands holding me down by my shoulders and another laying over my ribcage. The ones on my ribs twisted, and a sickening popping sound echoed throughout my entire body, just barely drowned out by my weak attempt at screaming and the rapid pounding of my heart. I tried to say something, to beg for that anesthesia again, but all I could muster was a pained croak. Whoever was torturing me started prodding the rest of my ribs then, apparently looking for any other broken bones. His finger found another badly bruised spot and everything exploded in the same bright light as before when my eyes shot open in pain. My breathing and heart rate quickened even more, the white faded quickly to black, and unconsciousness once again gifted me with numbness.
“Frankie… come on, wake up…”
Ray? I’ve never been so happy to hear his voice. Had he died and gone to hell, too?
I tried to flex my right arm, but it was secured in a cast and wouldn’t budge. The slightest movement of my left arm told me there was an IV stuck in it. My entire body throbbed, I felt painfully dehydrated, and every time I attempted to open my eyes that godforsaken light would damn near send me into epileptic fits.
“Hey, he’s moving…”
Oh no, they got Mikey too? I tried to tell them to get out, that they’d be tortured too if they didn’t leave, but my voice wouldn’t obey me.
“No, the doctor said that might happen. It’s normal. Maybe we should leave him alone for now…”
No! I struggled to sit up, but my limbs were limp and refused to move. What the hell? Why couldn’t I control my own body? I’d just been a bit beaten up, I couldn’t have been paralyzed or anything…
Their footsteps trailed away, fading and disappearing behind the closing of a door. Fear surged through my veins. That was it – I was paralyzed, and the guys just left me here alone. I’d never move again, I’d never be the same, I’d never be able to play guitar or play in My Chemical Romance again, and the guys would hate me for ruining the band in its prime all for not keeping my hands to myself in public, and Gerard… Gerard…
I felt about ready to throw up. My stomach heaved but there was nothing in it to expel, and the movement served as a painful reminder of the condition of my ribs. I coughed and sputtered, my breathing growing shallow and quick. My heart resumed its boxing match with my chest to the point where that hurt, too.
“Shhh,” someone cooed. Instantly I stopped breathing altogether, trying to still my heart so I could hear who it was. I hadn’t even realized someone was left in the room. Light footsteps made their way to the side of my bed and something was gently placed over my eyes, cool pieces of plastic being tucked behind my ears. I recognized by the way it sat on my nose that it was a pair of sunglasses. “It’s okay, open your eyes…”
I knew the voice and nearly fainted again just from relief. I immediately opened my eyes, knowing full well he wouldn’t let me get hurt again.
Relief washed through me like cool water on a scalding day as he came into view, dark through the tint of the glasses. He was looking down at me worriedly, seemingly even more relieved than I was. He looked as if he hadn’t slept in days and it was finally starting to catch up on him.
“G-Gerard,” I wheezed, trying to fight back tears. “I… I can’t move… how could… how could I be paralyzed… just from a couple of punks?” I had to breathe in between words and attempt to swallow because my throat was so dry. It felt like it was cracking with every syllable.
“Paralyzed?” He looked confused for a moment until understanding passed across his face. He placed his hand lightly on my leg, a part of my body that apparently wasn’t broken. “Baby, you aren’t paralyzed.” Shifting his weight nervously from one leg to the other, he glanced around the room as if he were searching for an escape. Finally, he looked down at me and I knew by his face the news wouldn’t be good.
“You’ve been in a coma for the past two weeks.”
I didn’t respond. I couldn’t.
“I’m going to let the doctors know you’re awake,” he said, turning away and starting for the door.
“No!” I rasped. I tried instinctively to reach for him, but only succeeded in moving my arm about an inch. He stopped in his tracks and returned to my side. “Please, don’t leave me…”
“I’ll only be in the other room. I’ll be right back, I promise.”
I didn’t want him to leave. I felt so weak that even breathing hurt, and these crazy thoughts kept running through my head that if he left my side those guys from the hotel would come back for me.
Gerard could be heard talking to two other men outside for a few minutes. I recognized the voices immediately as the ones who were taking care of me earlier (I now knew they weren’t torturing me), I guess before I slipped into the coma.
A quick glance around the room confirmed that I was in a typical hospital. White walls, white bed sheets, white everything. I could see a palm tree rustling in the breeze outside of the window.
Gerard returned with the two doctors and the others filed in after them. One of the doctors told the other to get a sedative.
“What?!” I choked, trying hard to speak through my dry throat.
“Your body isn’t used to all of the excitement; we need to prevent it from going into shock.”
“No, no, I’m fine. Really. I’m fine!” To prove my point, I snuggled down into the sheets and slowed my breathing, relaxing myself as best I could.
They exchanged worried looks and somehow decided I was calm enough to avoid any seizures. The doctors told Gerard and the others that they could have some time alone with me while they fetched me some water and food, and left the room.
“Damn it, Frank, you gave us a scare…” Ray sighed. The others nodded in agreement and I smiled weakly at them. “You okay?”
My frail smile turned to a grin and they all returned it, knowing well what would come next.
“No, I’m not o-fucking-kay.”
“Glad to hear it,” Bob chirped. “Now we know you’re fine.” They all chuckled a bit but it was obvious they were still worried.
“No, seriously… I’m okay, really. Trust me.” There was a bit of a silence and I rubbed my eyes under the glasses. They still felt really dry and the shades were starting to annoy me. “So do you guys… know what happened?”
Gerard took an interest in the floor and refused to look at me the entire time Ray spoke.
“Yeah, someone from the hotel told us. She was on her balcony and saw the whole thing happen. She’s the one that called the cops and eventually contacted us.”
“And we’re still in Hawaii?”
“Yeah, they had to fly you off to an emergency room on another part of the island, away from the resort. Now that you’re awake they’ll probably let you go home.”
“That’d be great if I could move.”
“You need physical therapy,” Mikey explained sadly. “Your limbs aren’t used to moving. We’ll just get you on the plane in a wheelchair and take care of that when we get home if they give us the OK.”
I glanced at Gerard, wishing he would at least look at me. He thought it was his fault; I could tell just by the way he preoccupied himself with the floor. I wanted him to know that I didn’t blame him at all, and that he shouldn’t either...
The doctors returned then with a cup of water and a tray of food. They explained to the others that they’d have to run a few tests before feeding me and it’d be best if they left the room. So I watched the four of them leave, trying to suppress my pleas for them to stay, and put through what I guessed to be the standard procedures after someone wakes up from a coma. Everything seemed to go well, and soon they were feeding me like a helpless two year-old. I hated it.
When they left and the door opened to bring in the guests, only Gerard entered this time.
“Hey,” I said a bit more clearly. The water really helped. I tried to smile up at him, but it was so damn hard while he looked so down. “Cheer up, baby, I’m awake…”
The pet name seemed to make him cringe as he pulled up a chair next to me and took my hand in both of his. It seemed like he wasn’t going to say anything until he finally looked up into my eyes. “Frankie, I was so worried about you…”
“Well I hope so,” I joked. God, would he just smile already?
“I’m serious – I can’t risk losing you again. Which is why… I…”
I was sure there wasn’t any water left in my lungs, but something threatened to come back up. Please, don’t say it…
“Frank, we shouldn’t be together. It’s too risky.”
I was about damn ready to scream for that sedative. If there was any time I needed it, it was right at that moment. It felt like I was about to have an anxiety attack: my heart rate increased tenfold and I could barely breathe.
“Gerard, don’t. I can’t deal with this now. I need you here for me, especially for the next God-knows-how-long I’ll be in therapy…” I started to tear up but could do nothing about it. I didn’t care if he saw me cry, anyway.
“And I will be. I just can’t be there for you in… that way.” He seemed about ready to cry, too. Good. The bastard deserved it.
I wasn’t sure if I was going to beg for him back or spit in his eye at that point. How could he do this to me in this condition, with the possibility of returning to a coma?
“I’m sorry.” With that he leaned down and kissed my lips softly, pushed the chair back to its rightful corner, and left me alone – with nothing but a torn heart and a tempting open window.