Suzy and her mom didn’t stick around much later. Her mom wanted to get her home and make supper. Riley had seen that Suzy wasn’t happy to be leaving, and Riley had thanked them both for sticking around before they took off. At least one adult seemed to care enough to stay.
As soon as they were out the door though, she realized how tired she had become. It had been a long day, and she could feel it as she slipped back onto the bed, ready to shut her eyes and disappear into sleep.
“Long day huh.” She heard the quiet voice. Riley jumped and looked over to see that there was a younger boy sitting up in the bed next to her. They had put her in a room with a boy. Riley hadn’t noticed before as the person next to her had been lying down and now one had said anything. Had no one noticed she was a girl? How could they do this? What if she had to go to the bathroom?
“What are you doing here?” Riley blurted out, immediately embarrassed that she was caught so off guard.
“I had been sleeping. So, skateboarding huh?”
“What does that matter to you? Why am I sharing a room with a boy?”
“Small town, small hospital. They don’t have many rooms, and since everyone knows everyone like family it’s thought more like brothers and sisters sharing rooms.”
“Older brothers and sisters don’t share rooms.”
“You must be from out of town.”
“No, I’ve lived here three years.”
“Okay. Like I said, from out of town.” The boy said, and it infuriated her that he thought of her still as such an outsider. It was like how everyone else treated her. They all had this thing where everyone else was so much better than her just because they’d lived their there whole lives. Like what did that even matter.
She felt that old anger boiling inside her. She was tired of this, always the outsider garbage. They always treated her that way, and she was not going to suffer a hospital room and be stuck taking it. She couldn’t stop herself when her anger finally spilt over the boiling pot inside her and she blurted out.
“Woah, I didn’t mean anything by it.”
“I don’t care. Everyone in this town. You’re always like, hey it’s the new girl. We’ve lived here three years, and well, you know what, it sucks.”
They sat in silence for a few minutes. At first they were looking at each other. The boy was shocked that Riley had lashed out at him and Riley was ashamed she had. She could feel the redness in her cheeks and he could probably see it as well. So now, she was embarrassed as well as frustrated.
He looked away from her, and she lowered her gaze. She had just taken out all that frustration on a kid whom she barely ever spoke too. How was that fair?
“Yeah, that must suck,” he said as he looked out the window.
Riley needed to change the subject. She wasn’t going to spend the rest of the night in the room with this boy and have it be this awkward.
“So whatcha in for?”
“Had my appendix taken out. Stuck here for a couple of days before they’ll let me go home.”
“Wow, that sucks.”
“Yeah, and no ice cream.”
“No ice cream?”
“Yeah, I thought I was supposed to get all kinds of ice cream after surgery, but na, nothing.”
“That’s your tonsils I think.”
“Oh, oh well.”
“Hey, I’m Riley.”
“Riley? Cool name.”
“My name’s Bruce.”
“Cool, like Batman?”
“Sure, Let me grab my cape.”
“Might be hard, it looks like they have you tied up pretty good to that bed.”
Bruce laughed again, but the laugh drifted away into a fit of coughing.
“Na, don’t be.”
“And what do we have going on in here?” Came a loud female voice from behind Riley. She quickly turned and regretted it. Her leg shot an electricity bolt of pain through her and she quickly pushed herself to sit up as she gritted his teeth.
“Hey now, how are ya doing?”
Riley nodded as she watched the nurse stroll over to her. She was an old woman a little larger around the waist and white hair high in curls. She made him think of some kind of motherly woman from TV and she looked nice enough. She actually looked at Riley like she cared, which was an oddity, and she wasn’t quiet sure how she was supposed to act around it.
“Cat got your tongue eh?” The older woman said with a strange accent. “You shouldn’t move so quick like that. It’s going to take you some time don’t ya know to get used to that cast. Your body is still trying to move the muscles around the broken bone so when you jerk like that,” she was saying as she helped Riley ease her leg back to straight, “it’s going to jolt you pretty good.”
The woman nodded down to her as she eased herself back.
“You’re welcome. I’m Nurse Jackie. I’ll be taking care you two tonight. You need anything, just call that buzzer over there, okay?” She raised the pager next to Riley’s arm. “And if you need help going to the bathroom, just let me know. It might take a few tries for you to get used to those crutches.” She nodded to where they sat on the bedside. Riley looked at them and then nodded back to her.
“I’ll be fine.”
“Sure you will.”
The woman moved away from her, and as she went over to Bruce, Riley just couldn’t stop thinking of the old woman trying to help her to the bathroom. The idea of someone helping her in there, someone old. well, ugh, that was just a huge ‘no.’ She knew no matter how much she screwed up, that was one call Riley would not be making.
She didn’t know what it was, but she suddenly felt so tired. Her head was so heavy and it sunk deeper into her pillow. The world around her grew dark and her eyes lids just kept fluttering. She just wanted to..drift..off..to sleep.