The bright light overhead hurt my eyes so much that I kept them tightly closed. I didn’t know where I was but I could feel something hard and cold against my side. Thoughts tried to move around in my head and kept getting lost in the fog.
‘Molly?’ a voice called out of the mist. ‘Molly, can you hear me?’
‘Is she still with us?’ another voice said.
‘She’s still here, but the pulse is faint,’ the first voice replied.
I didn’t know who they were, but when I tried to speak and tell them I was there no sound came out, even though I could feel my lips move. Suddenly I felt someone take my arm and press something sharp into it.
There were so many voices echoing in my head and they all seemed to be in a hurry. But I knew there was no need to rush now because the fog was starting to lift and I could see that it was night time and there were bright lights flashing and they looked so pretty.
‘That leg is pretty bad. Is she hurt anywhere else?’
‘It looks like she’s taken a knock on the head as well. There might be some internal bleeding, but it’s hard to tell until we get her to the hospital.’
But I didn’t want to go to the hospital. I just wanted to go home so that Mum wouldn’t be worried about me and I knew there was something I wanted to tell her, but I just couldn’t get my thoughts to stand still long enough to be able remember what it was.
Suddenly Stephen’s face appeared in front of me, kind and smiling just like he always was. He waved his hand above his head and just as quickly as he had appeared he started to fade into the darkness. I tried to call out for him to come back but my tongue was too thick in my mouth and it wouldn’t move.
I heard a voice say, ‘One, two…’ and then I felt myself being lifted. That’s when I felt the pain searing in my leg. I tried to remember why it hurt so much but no other thoughts could get past that intense pain.
I felt myself being lifted again, but it was gentler this time and I thought I must be floating in the air with my leg on fire until I landed and there was a loud thump like the door of a van being shut.
I was aware that someone was sitting close beside me and a soft hand was on my shoulder. ‘Don’t worry, sweetie. We’ll get you to the hospital soon.’
But I didn’t want to go to the hospital! I needed to get home and see Mum. My eyes began to fill with tears and my leg was really hurting as I felt myself swaying back and forth. From far off I could hear the sound of a siren, but it was starting to fade and I was drifting toward a dark cloud. I tried to open my eyes again but my eyelids wouldn’t move.
I just wanted them to take me home.
‘Molly?’ I heard a lady’s voice calling my name and my eyes flickered open to see a woman dressed in white.
‘Oh, so you’re back with us now, dear. You gave everyone a scare.’ She smiled at me and I tried to smile back but my lips felt like they were going to crack.
‘You should probably have a sip of water. The anaesthetic always makes you a bit dehydrated.’
She held a glass of water to my lips and I tried to sit up to drink but that made me feel too dizzy.
‘You won’t be able to sit up for a bit, dear. I’ll let you rest for a while and maybe we can prop you up a bit later on. The doctor will be back to see you in the morning.’
She disappeared behind the curtain and I could hear her footsteps walking away. I looked around but all I could see were white walls and a little stainless steel dresser beside the bed I was on. High up on the wall was a window, but from the angle I was at I couldn’t see out it at all. I couldn’t tell if it was night or day.
When I tried to roll over on my side I found I was wrapped up tightly in blankets as though I was in a cocoon and I couldn’t move my body. But my arms were free and I reached up to touch my face to find there was a bandage around my head. It didn’t hurt, but I still felt like I was floating on a cloud, even though I could see I was lying in a bed. I started to feel queasy again so I closed my eyes and drifted off to sleep.
I later woke to hear someone crying out loud, but when I opened my eyes there was only an old lady sitting up in the bed next to mine and busily knitting.
‘Is everything okay, deary?’ she asked kindly.
I sniffed and realised that I had been the one crying.
‘You have been asleep ever since I came in this morning,’ she said as the needles moved quickly in her hands. I lay there with my eyes open and as I watched the movements of her fingers she reminded me of Grandma.
‘The doctor came to see you a little while ago, but you were still asleep.’
She put down her knitting and reached above her head for a little button that was dangling down. ‘I should call the nurse. She said to let her know if you woke up.’
She pressed the button but there was no sound. The old lady went back to her knitting and I lay there wondering if I should tell her that the button didn’t work. But she kept chattering away and I felt too tired to say anything.
I didn’t feel queasy anymore but I had a headache and could feel a dull ache coming from my right leg. I looked down at my arm and saw a tube sticking out of it and it looked like there was blood. I could feel myself starting to cry again as I looked at the blood, when a nurse suddenly walked into the room.
‘Ah… Good morning, Molly. You look much better this morning. There’s some colour in your cheeks. How are you feeling, dear?’
I had to choke back a sob as I tried to answer her. ‘Good,’ I said very quietly.
‘Well that is excellent,’ she said brightly. ‘My name is Jenny. The doctor will be here shortly so you don’t need to worry about anything.’
She picked up a clipboard that was hanging on the end of the bed and made a note on it with her pen. ‘I just need to take your temperature — it won’t hurt,’ she added quickly when she saw that I was choking back another sob.
Jenny placed a thermometer in my ear and held it there until it beeped, then she made another note on the clipboard. As she put it back on the end of the bed, a man dressed in a long white robe came into the room.
‘Ah, so our star patient is awake, is she?’
I clutched the blanket and looked at Jenny for help.
‘Hello, young lady. My name is Dr Smith. I want you to relax because you’re going to be fine, but I wonder if you can tell me how much you remember about what happened last night?’
I thought hard, but it was all such a blur that I just shook my head at him.
‘Okay, that’s fine. It will come back to you later. You’ve taken a bump to the head with a little bit of concussion. You might have headaches for a day or two, but you need to tell the nurses if they get any worse, okay? Now I just want to look at your leg, if I could.’
I looked at Jenny again and she smiled as if to say it was okay. The doctor lifted up the blanket and looked concerned. ‘Ah, yes, yes. I think that will heal nicely.’ I tried to lift my head and see what he was looking at but it hurt too much.
‘Molly, you broke your leg, pretty badly in fact. We had to operate on it and I put a plate in there to help keep the bones in place while they heal. There’s no plaster but that bandage will need to stay on for a while. You won’t be able to walk on it for at least six weeks and then I’ll need another look at it.’
I listened quietly to what he was saying and tried to process it all. I kept thinking ‘six weeks, six weeks, six weeks,’ and then it dawned on me that six weeks would take me to the middle of the school holidays, which would mean that I would miss the play. All of a sudden that night came back to me; all the terror and excitement and the way Joel had looked at me, and … that kiss. Then I remembered the bike ride home and the car coming around the corner. This time I couldn’t hold back the sobs and I really started crying uncontrollably.
The doctor looked concerned and spoke quietly to Jenny. ‘I think you should make sure her parents visit soon, she is a little unsettled, which is to be expected of course.’
Jenny nodded and they both left the room. I turned my face against the pillow and let the tears make a little puddle on my pillow case. In the background I could hear the old lady’s needles going click, click, click.