When I arrive I am lead to a room on the second floor. Amber is hooked up to some kind of machine, her father, Donna, and her grandmother are sitting by the bed. I don’t say anything to them, just walk over and squeeze Amber’s hand. She doesn’t acknowledge my presence.
“She’s been asleep since around the time they brought her in,” Donna announces before getting up and heading into the hallway. Her eyes are glass…she’s been crying.
“What happened?” I ask worried that maybe something really bad is going on.
Amber’s father frowns, “She was wrestling around with Mikey in the living room. She just stopped breathing.”
For a very long time I have no idea what to say. I know she has asthma but it has never come to a point where she just randomly stops breathing. What if there is something seriously wrong with her? We’ve been through tons of shit before, we’ll pull through but I’m still worried. I have a feeling not may people truly understand how scary it is to have someone you love in the hospital.
“Is she going to be alright?”
“The doctors aren’t sure. They want to keep her here a few nights to see if her sleep apnea is getting worse. So far she’s not stopped breathing so maybe it was nothing,” answers Amber’s dad. “I’m going to go get some coffee.”
That leaves me alone with Donna. She’s wearing her normal smile, hands folded in her lap, “Don’t worry about her too much Frank. Amber’s a strong girl…she’ll make it through.”
I just nod, crawling onto the bed and laying down next to my girlfriend. Her body moves a little closer to mine, a small sigh falling from her lips. I’m pretty sure she’s aware that I’m here. Instead of saying anything I just run my finger over the top of her hand. I just want her to be okay.
Sometime during the night I must have fallen asleep because when I open my eyes there is light coming in through the window. Donna and Helena are no longer there. Amber’s dad is asleep on the couch.
Two piercing green eyes are looking at me, a hand clasp tightly around mine. Once again Amber has woken before me.
“Good morning,” she says with a smile, her fingers running through my hair. I wonder is she knows just how amazing that feels. “Did you sleep well?”
“Much better than when I was away from you,” I answer with a smile as Amber’s father sits up, rubbing his eyes.
The nurse brings Amber breakfast, informing me and her father that the hospital cafeteria serves cereal and waffles until ten. Although I don’t want to leave her, my stomach causes me to get up out of the bed and head down the hallway with Amber’s dad.
Once we’ve gotten food we sit, eating quietly. Eventually Amber’s dad breaks the silence.
“I just want to thank you,” he says.
I’m a little confuses, “Thank me for what?”
“For taking care of her, I don’t think she would be as strong as she is without you.”
I nod, chewing my mouthful of cheerios slowly, “Sometimes I’m afraid she depends on me too much.”
“I was afraid of that at first too but it’s always been that way.”
I give my girlfriend’s father a confused look. I have no clue what he means.
“Remember that time when I was visiting? She had to have been about ten. You guys were riding your bikes in the alley and she lost control of her bike and fell. She got road rash all over her arms and stomach?”
I nod, “I remember.”
“Who did she run to when she got back up on her feet?”
I think about this for a second, remembering just how upset she was, “She ran to me.”
He nods, “She jumped right back up on her feet in tears. I rushed over to her to see if she was okay but she ran right passed me. She didn’t go to Gerard or Mikey or even Donna. They were all within closer reach. She went right to you, and you held her and comforted her. You told her she was okay. She didn’t believe it until you assured her that she was fine. It was only then that she stopped crying.”
“I guess I never really thought about it.”
“Frank… you and Amber… there’s something there that the rest of us can only ever hope for. You’ve had this… unnatural connection since you were kids. It was always you. She was always with you. Whenever I came to see her you were always right there. Whenever she fell you were right there to pick her up and tell her she was okay. When she… when she was hurt last year… you were there, you helped her heal. When she told me what you said. That you loved her… I wasn’t surprised, not at all. I was relieved, actually, that you finally had the balls to admit it.”
I laugh, I’m pretty sure quite a few people are happy that I finally grew some balls.
“She’s been far happier than any of us expected. Without you I’m not sure if we would have the girl we do now. We wouldn’t see that smile anymore. So that’s why I’m thanking you.”
I nod, “I didn’t do any of it for you or anyone else. Maybe I’m selfish but I did it for me.”
Amber’s father laughs softly as we get up and head back to Amber’s room, “No, you didn’t, Frank. You did it for her and don’t you dare try to tell me otherwise. That day she fell off her bike, she jumped right into your arms and you nearly fell over from the weight of her but you didn’t complain. You didn’t put her down until she stopped crying. It was pretty obvious that you couldn’t breathe and you were straining to hold her but you didn’t put her down until she wanted down. If you were selfish you wouldn’t have let that happen.”
“Can I tell you something?”
“Of course,” Amber’s father answers, stopping just outside the room.
“I’m going to marry her. Not any time soon or anything. It’s just…someday… I’m going to ask her to marry me. When we’re old enough and mature enough. I just… I don’t think I can live without her. I love her, more than myself…more than anything.”
He pats my back, “When you’re ready to ask her let me know. You’ll probably have my blessing. Unless of course it’s too soon or because you got her pregnant.”
I laugh as he shakes my shoulder, “Just promise me one thing?”
“Anything,” I reply.
“Take care of her.”
I look Amber’s father directly in the eyes, wanting him to know I’m dead serious, “Always.”
Note: One of my favorite chapters so far. Hope you enjoy it :)