The moment after I hit the ground seemed like a happy memory now that the adrenaline had worn off and the real pain had set in. Nai'a was on the phone still and fretting around like a mother hen as she spoke in rapid, clipped sentences to whoever was on the other end. By then my head was too full of pain to pay much attention to her words though.
It felt like and eternity before the saints in EMT uniforms arrived and scooped me gingerly off the gravel track. Despite their efforts, I felt every movement as if a thousand knifes were stabbing through me.
They were trying to ask me questions but all I could focus on was the pain. Beside me, Nai'a answered everything before they finished asking. "I already called your Dad and Erik..." she said to me just as I was being loaded into the ambulance.
Thankfully, by the time we arrived at the hospital, my head felt clearer - I imagine it had to do with whatever was in the shot they'd given me. Nai'a, Todd and Gene had followed the ambulance all the way to the hospital and were now hovering around my bed in the chaos that was the ER.
As I'd been deemed stable but urgent by the EMTs, I was processed by a nurse and an intern and moved to an empty bed to await my turn.
In the bay across from me, a man was bleeding through the bandages on his head, making my stomach squirm. In the bed next to me, though I couldn't see her beyond the blue hospital curtain, a young child was throwing up and if her mother's frantic cries for a doctor were any indication, the child was terrifyingly ill. Suddenly my potentially broken leg and the pounding in my head from skull meeting earth seemed minor in comparison to those around me.
The head wound was the first to be taken off to another, probably more private, room and soon the sounds from the other side of the curtain were replaced with silence as well. Nurses and doctors came and went in a hurry around here - I guess they were exceptionally busy today.
"What happened?!" Erik ran up, a nurse was behind him scolding him for disturbing patients in his quest to find me I suppose.
"I fell off some cheerleaders" I was surprised to find that talking did not actually make my head worse as I'd feared. I silently praised the EMTs once again.
Erik, for his part, looked confused and clearly thought I was damaged as he looked over at Nai'a and Todd for explanation. They had nearly finished the story when my Dad showed up and demanded they begin again. He looked both scared and angry as they came to the part where I tumbled toward the ground.
The last to arrive on the scene was a white-coated doctor and a nurse in pink scrubs. "Sorry that took so long, it's been a mad house around here." the doctor said with a smile. After a quick scan of the chart that had been assembled for me based on my own account and that of the EMTs he nodded. "Looks like we need at least an x-ray to check out that leg. You said you hit your head during the fall?" I nodded at the same time Nai'a started to tell the tale again. While she was talking the doctor came closer and started poking and prodding at my head, as well as checking my eyes and a number of other small tests that must have told him something. "I'd like to schedule you for an MRI in the morning as well..."
"In the morning? You mean I have to stay here?" I sputtered in surprise.
"Just for tonight probably. You have a nasty bump there and it's going to take another couple hours to get you through x-ray anyway. We'll get you moved to a room though in the meantime." he was already scribbling away on my chart. He gave us all one last smile before passing it off to the nurse and heading off to who knows where.
He was right about the x-ray though, it was late by the time they'd examined my leg and determined that not only was it broken but that I'd likely torn a ligament as well. As soon as Dr. Spencer delivered the news and left, my friends were chattering around me. At some point Veronica and Timothy had been called as they were waiting for me when I returned from the x-ray. "The cheerleaders are all frantic about what happened!" Veronica said with a laugh.
"Why?" I asked, grimacing as I realized the pain medication was starting to wear off.
"They're terrified they'll get in trouble! It's not like you've trained with them or anything - the coach will probably come down hard on them for it." V explained.
"You know all this how?" Todd asked, shaking his head in wonderment.
"I added most of them to my Twitter back when I was an alternate and never unfollowed them." she said with a casual shrug.
"Okay okay." the nurse who came in to disrupt the gathering smiled good-naturedly at everyone, "Visiting hours are over so unless you're family - it's time to go on home kids." The others groaned but said their goodbyes, promising to return in the morning.
"He father went to get her a few things - can I stay until he gets back at least?" Erik asked - unwilling to leave my side short of being forcibly removed. Thankfully the nurse nodded, granting the allowance before leaving the room. "I'd stay all night if I thought they'd let me."
Unfortunately the small reprieve was short lived as not five minutes later my dad had returned - a small bag in his hands. "Aren't visiting hours over Erik?"
"I am pretty tired Erik - I'll see you tomorrow okay?" I said, reaching a hand out to him.
"Don't doze off just yet Ginny, I ran into someone back at the house and he wanted to see you..." I wasn't sure how Dad has schmoozed the nurse but she looked the other way as he opened the door to let in yet another after hours visitor.
"James?" I could feel myself trying to fall asleep already but surely I wasn't so tired as to hallucinate.
"Hey, I stopped by to return your jacket - I found it while I was cleaning the rental car out to return it tomorrow..." James said. "Your dad told me what happened, are you okay?"
"Broken but otherwise alive I suppose." I was avoiding looking at Erik at that moment, what must he be thinking of James's statement? I'd told him about A funeral but had neglected to furnish details.
"Well, I left the jacket at your house...thank you again for coming to the funeral with me." he said, trying to focus on me rather than the emotions rolling off Erik.
"It was good to see you again. Good luck with that girl..." I said, partially for Erik's benefit. Maybe he would see that it was just friendly chatter...maybe.
"Thank you." James said with a small chuckle. "I guess I won't be seeing you again for awhile so this is good bye."
"Have a safe trip James." I said, my eyes were heavy and laden by the time Dad escorted him out of the room. I watched James disappear through the tiny window in the door before turning my attention back to Erik.
He was carefully guarding his emotions but he met my eyes. "I'll be back tomorrow." he said, standing and stretching a moment. He leaned over the bed to give me a kiss on the forehead and smiled. It was slight and I was sure it was strained but it was there. "Tomorrow Gin." he said at the door.
And then he too was gone.
With some help from a friendly nurse, I'd shed the crappy hospital pajamas and slipped into my own, more familiar, clothes. Whether by chance or choice, Dad had packed my absolute favorite pair of pajamas and it was a small comfort in the frigid, stark hospital. My leg was bound with a temporary splint - casting would be another "fun" thing on my to do list in the morning no doubt.
I was terribly exhausted and yet sleep was slow to come that night as I thought about Erik mostly. Beyond that, getting comfortable in a hospital bed and a split was an act of futility. I would have tossed and turned if I were physically capable of it no doubt. Finally, as a nurse came around to do her early morning (or late night?) checks, sleep started to overtake me.
I was on the cusp of awake and asleep when the nurse left. Moments later, the door opened again and my eyes fluttered open, staring blearily. I was too tired to focus though and let them close again. I barely felt him gently scoot me over and lay in the bed next to me due to the overwhelming exhaustion.
"Why are you here?" I whispered, my eyes still shut. I curled against him, happy for the company.
"Just couldn't stay away. I should have a couple hours before your nurse comes around again." I was asleep before he finished speaking though.
'Surely it was a dream' I thought to myself as I began to wake up once again. I could feel the warmth of the sun streaming through the window near my bed but I didn't dare attempt to roll over to face the morning just yet. I didn't even open my eyes, only wrapped my arms tighter around Erik.
Erik. I guess it wasn't a dream at all! I opened my eyes and looked at him. He was pensive and silent. I wondered, not for the first time, what he was thinking. "Good morning." he said once he saw I was awake.
"Morning." I replied. "How have you avoided being discovered?"
"I've been awake most of the night, I heard them coming and slipped out until I heard them leave again.
"You must be exhausted then."
"I don't think I could have slept had I tried." he said with a frown.
"Erik...about James..." I started, might as well get this over with from the start.
"It's okay Gin. I trust you." he said. Once again the small smile seemed strained.
I couldn't help but raise my eyebrows at him. "Well good...his cousin died, he wanted a friend and asked me to come to the funeral...."
Erik merely nodded in acknowledgement of my words. "Okay."
"Who are you and what have you done with my jealous Erik?" I asked with a weak smile.
And Erik laughed, probably too loudly as a nurse came in then and banished him from the room.
Although I could hardly believe Erik's change of attitude, having things resolved with him made the rest of the day seem much easier to face. Now I would just be happy to get home! Of course things never quite work out the way we planned.
Moments after Erik left, Dad came in followed by Dr. Spencer. They both had identical somber expressions.
"Ginny...I've been looking over your x-rays again and there's a chance...albeit small, that this ACL tear will require surgery..." Dr. Spencer said.
"Surgery?" My mind flashed to the cold, sterile operating rooms I'd seen on TV and in movies and I shuddered at the thought.