27. Coagulated is such a sexy word.
My eyes snap open and I immediately squeeze them shut again.
"Shit, it's bright." The combination of the lights and my own voice send a shooting pain up the left side of my head and I let out a little whimper.
"Oh my god, Lex! Can you hear me?"
"How could I not, Lucy?" I groan. "You're fucking screaming. What are you doing here and why is it so damn bright." I pause. "And what is that godawful smell?"
"Making sure you're not dead, flourescent lighting, disinfectant plus death."
"You're in the goddamn hospital."
"What?!" I open my eyes again and wince, blinking a few times to try to adjust to the light. "What's going on?"
"Joe went by your apartment and found you on the kitchen floor with your head cracked open. What the hell happened?"
"I don't know. Oh. Oh my god, Maureen." I close my eyes again as everything rushes back.
"Maureen? Maureen who? Wait, your mom? What the hell are you talking about?"
"My mother's dead."
"Oh." Lucy is speechless, while I have plenty to say but little urge to actually speak.
"Oh, Miss Andrews, glad to see you're awake." An older doctor walks in, followed by a timid Joe, who smiles when he sees I'm up. The doctor scans my chart and checks a monitor above my head. "How are you feeling?"
"Like I took a baseball bat to the head."
He chuckles slightly and nods. "That's fairly typical. Are you dizzy, nauseous, lightheaded, seeing spots?"
"No to all of the above."
"Alright. The headache is fairly typical, you've suffered a moderate concussion. It would appear that last night you either slipped or fainted, from the angle of the trauma I'd say it's the latter. You took two pretty good knocks on the head: once when your head hit the counter, and again on the floor."
"Awesome. That's freaking great. Can I get an aspirin or something? Maybe a beer?" I am so mad at myself. Way to overreact to the Maureen situation.
He smiles and shakes his head. "I'll have a nurse bring you something for the pain. As for alcohol, I'd recommend you steer clear for a little while. You did have some minor internal bleeding, nothing serious, it's cleared itself up so no need for alarm. But we are going to keep you a few more hours for observation, and after that you need to take it easy for a week or two, which means no alcohol, no drugs, no strenuous activity. Alright?"
"Sure," I mumble. Lucy cocks an eyebrow at me from the end of the bed and I sigh. "Alright, no drinking. Now, about those painkillers..."
He laughs again. "Coming right up."
After he leaves, Lucy and Joe sit down next to my bed.
"How you doing, kid?"
"Peachy keen. I feel like my skull is about to implode, I can't drink for two weeks, and my mother is dead."
"Whoa, dead? Like, dead-dead?"
I roll my eyes. "Yes, Joe, dead. As in, heart attack, stopped breathing, ready to be buried, dead."
"Well, you don't seem too torn up about it."
"Come on, man. You grew up with me. You know how we were. And this is so typical of her, too. She dies, and the last thing she gives me is a concussion."
"And what looks like the makings of a really gnarly scar."
"What?" I look around, searching for my reflection. Lucy digs through her bag and hands me a compact. "Thanks. Whoa. I look as bad as I feel." I have mascara all over my face, my hair is greasy and scraped back into a ponytail, I'm white as a ghost. And, as Joe promised, there is a huge gash over my left eyebrow. "Fucking hell. The party's tomorrow night and I'm rocking some Frankenstein-style stitches. Just lovely."
"You're still going to the release party?" Lucy looks incredulous. "The doctor said to take it easy."
"Luc, putting on a sexy dress and supporting my self-proclaimed 'almost famous friends' is not strenuous activity. And I won't drink. I promise. I would never miss it, you know that. Fuck a concussion!"
They laugh as a pretty nurse walks in with two paper cups.
"Oh thank god. All hail pharmaceutical companies!"
"Fucking finally," I mutter as I struggle to pull on my pants. "I can't believe they kept me here all goddamn day."
"Lexi, you have a concussion. Your brain was bleeding, for god's sake. What do you want, them not to care?"
I sigh. "No. I just hate sitting here doing nothing, waiting to get the 'approved' stamp on my forehead. Plus, I need to get ahold of my mother's lawyer somehow so I can get her in the ground and get all that shit done."
"Well, you're free now, and you've got tomorrow to meet up with the lawyer and start that stuff."
"Uhm, tomorrow's the party."
"Yeah, at eight. You don't have to do everything in one day. Just meet him for a little while, get everything coordinated. It's not like there's a time limit on making funeral arrangements."
"True," I sigh. "I guess I'm ready then."
"Good. Joe went to get the car. Let's roll."
I let out an exasperated sigh and lean my head against the window. "Joe, I'm fine. Stop looking at me."
"What? I'm not."
"Yes you are. Every ten seconds you look at that rearview mirror. I'm okay, I promise."
"I swear. I'm just tired. Maybe those meds are finally kicking in."
"You up for some pizza?" Lucy chimes in.
"Nah, you guys go. I'm just gonna crash. Big day tomorrow and all that."
We finish the ride in silence, with Joe only sneaking two more looks at me.
"You sure you're not hungry?" Lucy double-checks as I climb out of the backseat.
"Yeah, I'm good. I'll call you sometime tomorrow. We still meeting at Pete's?"
"Cool." As I walk up the stairs I notice a thick manila envelope resting against the door. I grab it and unlock the door, flipping on the lights. The envelope is labeled Alexis K. Andrews and all I can think is that it looks like a bomb. I giggle.
"I guess these meds really are working." I forget about the pills and the alleged letter bomb as I enter the kitchen. "Oh. Ew." I toss the package on the counter and run to grab some towels, hoping the coagulated pool of blood hasn't stained the kitchen floor.
Half a bottle of Lysol and four completely ruined towels later, the stain is gone and my headache is back. I grab a glass of water and fish the pill bottle out of my pocket.
"Stupid fucking childproof caps... ah, shit." The cap pops off and the pills scatter across the counter. In my rush to collect them all, I knock over my glass, spilling water over the forgotten envelope. "God damn. Could this day get any worse?"
I pick up the dripping letter and undo the little metal fastener, pulling a stack of quickly wrinkling papers from inside. I smooth my hand over them, brushing off as much water as possible. The top sheet is a letter from a lawyer stating that he's my mother's executor. At least I don't have to hunt him down now. The next page is apparently a letter from Maureen, one of those in-the-event-of-my-death types, apologizing for our differences and telling me she loves me. I sigh; too little, too late was always her forte. The rest of the papers are her will and I scan them quickly, fairly uninterested. It looks like I get the majority of her estate, being her only child; there are a few other things, some money to organizations I neither know nor care about, and a trust fund in the event I should squeeze out some kids.
"Gee, thanks ma."
I leave the will and the letters on the coffee table and toss two pills in my mouth, gagging slightly at the chalky bitterness as I head upstairs. I am ready for some serious sleep.
Chapter title is from an as-of-yet unnamed song by a hypothetical band my friends Ruby, Jen, and I are starting. We'll be called No Talent. Watch out.