Slowly waking up, Dan looks up to see a television mountain high above the wall in front of him. A curtain, is pulled back to his right, allowing light in through the window. There are guard like railings up on both side of his hospital bed, keeping him from accidently rolling out of the bed at night. His right arm is in a cast, strung up through a support system keeping his broken arm vertical. A Doctor walks in to grab his chart at the end of the bed.
“Daniel Griffin.” Coming over notes on his chart, he looks up with a smile. “I’m Doctor Castell. How are you today? Still in a little pain?”
“Yeah. Still hurts pretty good. Why is my arm up like this?” he asked.
The Doctor walks over to the side where he can observe more closely his right arm in the cast upright.
“What’s that?” as he continues to carefully run his hands over the cast, making sure the intern Doctor on duty the night before had done a good job of preparing the cast over the arm.
“Dan. I just like to be called Dan. Daniel sounds like I’m about to skip through a bunch of tulips or something.”
“Ah, well Dan it is.” He finishes his inspections on the cast, now using both hands with two extended fingers from each hand, bringing them together to from a diamond shape explaining how the bones in his arm had broken.
“You’ve suffered what we would call a compound fracture. And what that means is” he now separates the diamond shape in two parts, “completely separated both of your bones in clean break. That’s why you need to have your arm upright for a while. This gives them a chance to get a good start healing, coming together and develop support.”
“But there in a cast, can’t I just go about my business and play with my friends?” Dan asks.
“Not for a least a few days. That’s why you’ll have to stay with us for a little while longer.
“I have to stay here!” trying to shuffle up to a sitting position, he feels a sharp pain coming from the cast, and then stops. “But why?”
“Well, what we’re afraid of is your arm won’t heal properly. You see Dan, all that moving around with your arm horizontal, won’t allow your bones to make and maintain a solid connection. They’re trying to work back together now, and moving around a lot in the first few days makes that much harder for them to do their job.” He starts to walk back around to the front of the bed, grabbing the chart to pencil in up dated information for the nurse.
“You’ll be out playing with your buddies in no time.” Turns to the TV, “Hey, and you’ll get to catch up on some of your favorite TV shows, how awesome is that?”
Dan looks away from the Doctor and out the window, “It’s so uncomfortable, and really hard to sleep like this.”
Looking sympatric, the Doctor taps his hand a couple of times on Dan’s foot just before heading out onto the hallway. “We figured as much. But it won’t be too long Dan. Next thing you, in a couple of days you’ll be back outside in those hot summer days of August remembering how nice and cool it was here.” Heading out the door now “You take care, I’ll have someone come in later to check on you.”
Dan looks from the window over to the Doctor.
Dan struggles to sit up a bit, “Is your name really Castell?”
“Yes, why do you ask?” he pauses in step a moment.
Dan looks over to his right arm hanging upright from the awkward metal apparatuses “Cast…what are the odds in that? A Doctor walks in with a name Cast-well.” Dan giggles a bit.
“Huh, I never thought of that. Now that is funny.” Waving “I’ll see you Dan!” and out of the picture he went. Leaving Dan to ponder how an activity so fun, in an instance, play him here, and all in a single bounce.
There is a curtain to his left that has been pulled around and closed as if to offer some sort of privacy to whom ever might be lying in this bed. It keeps Dan’s curiosity occupied for sometime, since no noise or even moving within the bed covers had made a sound. He thinks, he must be alone, and starts to hum a tone to amuse him. But the humming is lacking in any musical talent. Changing tunes, Dan thought this might help; however instead, all it does is solidifies his boredom as he stairs out the window watching a thunderstorm work its way in along the front range of the Colorado mountains.
“At least my view is facing west. Something to see.” He speaks as if Randy were in the room visiting. Yet, after a moments pause, to his amaze, there is a comment to his words, and it comes from inside the curtain surrounding the bed next to him. She sounds like a young female, or to the best guess Dan can muster forth, someone close to his age. How lucky is that he confesses to himself!
“At least you got a view! Damn Nurse. Every time she’s done doing whatever she does, which doesn’t seem like much, just walks away forgetting to pull the curtain back. I fall asleep, until it’s time to eat…if they can call it food here.”
“Hello?” he attempts to lean into the direction of the voice, but once again it is that awkward right arm hanging in cast that pinches a nerve. He squints, and quickly adjusts himself to continue. “Someone really in there?”
“Yeah, barely.” Easily offering a sarcastic tone, “I was sleeping until your Doctor came in. Mines a woman. Some Doctor Gives-a-shit.”
“Wait, your Doctor’s name is really…oh, right.” He breaks a small laugh under his breath.
“So why are you here? Me, a-“
“Compound Fracture, yeah, I heard. Sounds fun.” Her sarcasm seems to let up, “So, you pretty good on those trampolines? I always wanted to try that sometime.”
Almost to himself as he looks over vertical arm hanging like some sad of an excuse for a cheap Art Deco. “Apparently not good enough.”
The mystery voice hears it any, and offers up the positive side anyway.
“Hey, it’s just your arm. Could have been your neck, and bad enough to put you in a wheel chair for life. Those things people bounce un and down on half the day, laughing away, they forget…a lot more risk involved in flying a kite on a windy day. Know what I mean?”
Dan has suddenly finding himself drawn to this mystery voice he cannot see. He imagines what she might look like, taking cues off the soft yet, stern qualities in her voice. It does not jump, or crackle, it feels as if it can glide along a pocket of air and follow the slightest drift to its destination. A woman’s voice meant to be heard and felt in the sweetest of melodies. Could this be a voice that belongs to a future Star of Hollywood he thought? He is eager now to respond to her every question if only it assures to keep the conversation going and listen to her voice, and picturing a young lady with long brunette hair, tall and slim, with the kind of legs in a beautiful fashionable dress strutting along the Red Carpet to a movie premier to which she is the star.
“Yeah, your right. At least it’s only a broken arm. But I guess, according to Doctor Cast-well, it was through and through, all the way. Couldn’t break those bones any better. So, wait, heal, and dig up the courage to get back out there one day and try those forward flips again.” There is a pause, then a sigh. “Welcome to the end of summer.”
“…courage to get back out there…nice.” She says in a pleasant whisper. “What’s your name?”
“Dan. Or Daniel if you want to get kind of sophisticated.”
“Daniel” a little giggle, “Dan works for me. Anyway, sounds like your prefer that to the long version.”
“Hey thanks.” Dan confirms. But he knows better to intrude to her reasons for being in the hospital, yet curiosity slowly grabs his entire thought process. She too feels his “wonder why?”, however, lets the moment of silence linger a little while longer.
“…Dan?” she softly call over.
“Yeah?” his response attempts to match it, but falls short of a light crackle in his voice. He is, slightly embarrassed and thinks, it’s a good thing she can’t see my face turning red.
“Wouldn’t it be great if we could get this curtain pulled back so we can see each other, and talk like most normal people?”
He is delighted to hear those words, “Yes! I was just thinking the same thing.”
“Cool! Listen; can you see the cord and button box the call the Nurse in? Should be right along near your bedside…see it?” she asks.
He looks around and spots it. Lying on desk near the phone, he takes his left hand and reaches for it.
“Oh damn! It’s like not even two inches from my hand. Maybe I can grab the cord, and see if that helps.”
She laughs, “I’m not laughing at you, just that fact between Doctors and Nurses in and out of these room all the time, one would actually check to make sure those life-saving apparatuses are actually within reach!” She continues to chuckle a moment.
“My right arm hanging in this cast is…making it a little…ruff.” His voice is tight but airs in the sound of confidence, of one willing to bare the pain if it means having someone, anyone pull back the curtain on this charming mystery voice. Sounds that only a new friend could make through words of a stranger.
“Getting closer.” Dan assures her. “And…got it!” with the cord in hand he finds a way to pull it up and through the security rack attached to the bed, luring it in as if a fisherman has concurred a true fighter on his line. Victory! Not just in the magical button that may or may not succeed in luring a Nurse into the room anytime soon, but victory he was at least one step closer to truly meeting his new friend sharing in a room where most people would prefer not to meet, in a hospital.
Sometime had passed, as Dan continued chatting away with the mystery girl in the curtain next door. With the TV off, dusk in the window with little in the way of a golden Colorado sunset, due mostly to the looming thunder which offered the occasional entertaining flash of brilliance lighting up the clouds, slowly Dan settled in to the uncomfortable reality for the next few days this was home. And for now anyway, pleasant company, even if she vented her frustration though her attitudes and stories at Dan, he knew better not to take it personal.
“Here and going no where.” Attempting an upbeat tone.
“Cute…try hitting the button again on that hand held remote, see if we can
get a response.”
“Got it right here, and…pushing.” He said.
Dan hears her from time to time breathe in deep and offering a sigh. The kind that makes him think of someone stuck in a cabin far back in a mountain meadow where winter has lingered seemingly to months on end. With all one can do but stand there at the window wishing, waiting, and wanting springs to once again bare her soul. He knew she was hiding something big, something telling in her voice the whole time. When he would ask what she plans to do when she gets out of this hospital with Nurses has slow as molasses, at least to the call-button anyway, the mystery girl never had an answer. As if she didn’t want to think of the question.
“Well one day,” Dan goes on, “We’ll get that Nurse and then-“
and without notice, around the corner she walks in.
Dan startled some, “What, no knock?”
She walk up to the call unit and turns off the switch, “Would you like me to walk back out and have you wait for a knock young man?”
Both Dan, and the mystery girl shout at the same time. “No!”
“Well I guess.” Is her answer in a light-hearted way. She checks he’s metal sling, which is supporting the cast covering the right broken arm. “A little uncomfortable?”
“Sometimes. Then every once in a while I almost forget its there.” He answers.
“No! That was a joke.” He smirks, and then smiles.
“Good, helps to have a sense of humor in this place!” Her smile is the kind of smile easy to welcome, and Dan quietly gathers to himself, how certain people were just meant to work in places like this.
Then, from within the curtain, “Tell me about it! A sense of humor and that’s not just counting the food here.”
Both Dan and the Nurse share in a small laugh.
“Ah, you guys don’t like our cooking? I thought everyone who visits us at the North Valley Hospital came for the food.” She turns around, carefully moving the curtain as if to properly maintain her privacy, she moves in checking on the mystery girl.
“How are we going today young lady?” just above a whisper “You should be getting ready to go home pretty soon. You’ve been with us a while this time. You feeling better?”
Dan can hear the Nurse flipping papers from the chart, and doing that Nurse stuff, as Dan would put, taking her pulse, staring at the watch, like somehow that helps.
“Oh, before you head out…Nurse? Hello?” Dan asks.
“Yes, I’m busy, be right with you young man.” Said in a way that sounds mush like a mother.
“Uh, well, just wanted you to pull the curtain back so we can see each other when we talk.” Came the sober, earnest request from Dan.
“Well, it’s not up to me. We really need to be asking her.” She finishes up with the clipboard, and places it back on the edge of the bed. He hears the Nurse again whispering, and the young lady can be heard in kind “It’s OK, I don’t mind.” She answers.
The Nurse comes around the curtain first, walks over to Dan. He thinks to himself, why the talk first? Why not just pull the damn curtain?
“She tells me you’ve kind of gotten to know each other a little bit” asking with that nice hearted smile again.
“Yeah. She seems real nice. A little mad having to be here, but who isn’t?”
She continues, “Well, as much as you both have been getting along,” she lowers her voice to a soft touch “She wanted me to tell you, don’t be taken back a bit when you see her scars. She’s been through a lot.”
Dan try’s to sit up some, but the sling minimizes any true significant movement. He whispers “Was she in a car accident?”
She hears anyway from the curtain, and in true form to her tongue-in-cheek ability to carry on a conversation, responds, “No! Sometimes I think I might as well have been. Not that bad Dan.
“Oh, sorry, I didn’t mean to-“
“Nah, that’s OK. Just not as bad.” She replies, reassuring him.
“It’s a…woman thing Dan,” the Nurse with great aplomb tells him. “Us ladies just like to look our best when it comes chatting with the gentlemen’s, see what I’m saying Dan?”
He nods with that new sense of awareness as if a small light bulb went off in his head. “…Rrright! I understand. Heck ya, I’ll be cool.” Still trying to whisper, aware no doubt she catching ever word “Hey, we’re in a hospital for a good reason, to get better.”
The Nurse smiles “You’re a smart fellow. Just wanted you to be aware. But she says it OK for me to pull the curtain back so you guys and better enjoy each others company.”
Dan takes notice of her nametag “Dorothy. Nice name. Thanks again. I would do it, but I’m kind of stuck here. Ha-ha” he says with another small chuckle.
As she walk over to pull the curtain, Dan can’t help but notice the similarity in another name he is very familiar with. “Dorothy, that’s pretty close to my mothers name.”
“Oh, and what is your mothers name?” slowly pulling the curtain back now.
“Deloris. Well, kind of my mother. Really, she is my foster mother”
Dorothy briefly pauses; turning looking surprised “You’re a foster child? How nice Dan.” She looks back to the mystery girl “you two should have plenty to talk about.” The curtain now has circled back to the wall. She tucks her patience side blanket in a touch, walks back over to Dan with that whisper and smile one more time “Thanks for being a gentleman Dan.” With that, she winks at him and starts to head out “You two have fun swapping stories, and buzz me if you need anything. I’ll be your Nurse until midnight, then Brenda comes on…OK?”
Both Dan and the mystery girl share a thanks practicality at the same time.
He looks over, and she try’s hard to smile, but Dan can already see the bruises over her face. Her right eye bears the mark of a shiner displayed in a way only a professional boxer could plant. At first, he initial response with his eyes widening like a ghost just walked through the door, he immediately attempts to play it off with a ‘whatever’ line.
“Well, that’s…not too bad. You’ll heal up in no time.” A slow emerging coolness in his smile bears like fast leak in his effort to provide a confidence worthy of its composure.
“Ah, that’s sweet of you Dan, and yes, you don’t have to pretend its not there.” Despite the soreness that comes along with the facial muscles: nevertheless, she smiles anyway, welcoming he’s assurance of a better day to come.
“No really, it a…doesn’t look…you know-“ struggling, he shuts up and just smiles.
“There ya go! That’s more honest.” She says.
“What’s that?” he’s eyes losing control, finds himself overwhelmed, submerged in her deep blue eyes, and the kind of gaze Dan could easily be overrun at the drop of a hat.
“Saying nothing. Just smiling…that.” Her smile filled with magnetism, seductiveness few young women her age truly unaware of its natural power.
“Oh,…right.” He responds with a somewhat inelegant swallow in his dry throat. “…OK”
She laughs a touch. “You’re cute. It’s Dan, right? Not…Daniel?”
Catching the joke, he nodes.
“And what’s your name?” clumsy, rustic, yet with a wave of discomfort slowly moving along Dan feels a little less rattled in the moment. Not so embarrassed as more determined to hit the Nurse call button again, only this time to ask for a cool, wet glass of water.
“Hey, did I hear you say to Dorothy our Nurse, you live in a Foster Home?”
“Yes, I do. There pretty nice people. We live over near Leroy Elementary School. Why?” he asks.
“Well that’s so weird, cause I too live in a Foster Home!” She is fortuitous, in her voice and expression.
“Wow! That is so cool.” As Dan tries yet again to sit up, only to remember the vertical cast.” Which home are you in?”
She is not quick to answer, but only offers a subtle shrug with her shoulders. “Ah, I’ll tell ya later. Now, I’m kind of tired.”
“Oh.” Thinking he hit on a nerve. “Well, that’s OK.” Thinking quick on his feet, though still laying in bed, Dan changes the subject. “Gosh, wouldn’t it be cool it we went to the same Jr. High? I wonder how many times we crossed paths in between classes, and never even knew it?” sharing with a promising smile.
“Huh, I wonder too. I mean, cause, I go to Northglenn Jr. High also.” She speaks as if they both had just hit on a treasure trove of good fortune.
“Yeah, now I can’t wait for school next month.”’
“Whoa dude, not me!” she returns with a smile.
“Oh no, I mean, uh-“
“Ah, gosh.” A shy self-conscious now, he continues, “I mean, I guess to say is…it will really nice to see you again. After we get out of here, and all. You know?”
“Hey Dan, just giving you a hard time. I know what you mean.”
A moment of silence, more awkward for Dan passes, and baring the bashful nature when it comes to pretty girls, despite their shiners, speaks up.
“So, when I see in the hallways or around the school lunch hall, what’s your name so I can say hi.” He asks.
“Well, my foster mom likes to call me by the name my real mother gave me before handed me over to my new family.” She pauses uncomfortably.”
“Ah, then I shall call you?...” he leans a litter her way.
“…Megan. You can call me Megan.”
He smiles, “Megan, cool name!”