PROMPT: Guns and Roses
WORD COUNT: 1,625
NOTES: This is my week two entry for January's brigits_flame. This is a continuation: Part I is here and Part II is here, so you might want to read those first before reading this one.
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Claire sat in a gray plastic hospital chair. Jason had been wheeled through earlier on a stretcher with an oxygen mask strapped to his face and blood soaked through the bandages the paramedics used to stuff him up. The stretcher disappeared behind two sets of white swinging doors and disappeared, leaving Claire to feel listless and lost until a nurse came up to speak to her.
"Are you hurt?" she had asked. The nurse had nearly white blond hair pulled tightly into a pony tale, which did not match her nearly black eyebrows. When Claire didn’t answer, she leaned her head in closer to get Claire to meet her eyes. "Are you bleeding?"
Claire shook her head. "No. my friend. He... They just brought him in."
"Are you sure you're not hurt?"
"No. I'm not hurt." Then realizing she was covered in blood, Claire gestured absently at her clothes. "I tried to stop the bleeding."
The nurse straightened and relaxed. "I see. My name is Amanda. What's yours?"
"Well, Claire, let me show you where you can wash up." Amanda lifted her left hand behind Claire's back without touching her and gestured with her right to show her where to go.
In the tiny white bathroom, Claire had scrubbed at her hands, arms, elbows, and even throat and face with antiseptic soap until her skin was red and raw. She left the bathroom when she finally decided that she couldn't make her hands any more clean. At the nurses station, a wide, glassed-in booth in the waiting area, Claire couldn't find Nurse Amanda, so she asked another nurse about Jason. But the middle-aged women with dark circles under her eyes had no news for her and told her to just sit and wait.
Claire found a chair near the window, as far enough away from any of the other people in the room as possible, and sat down. She began to pick at the rough, raw edges of her palms. No matter how clean her hands were, she could still smell Jason's blood saturated in her clothes. She wanted to strip them off, but had nothing else to put on. It had not occurred to her to change before she climbed into the back of the ambulance with Jason, so she would just have to deal until she got home.
When the police officer entered her house, Claire had been still kneeling in the broken glass, still pressing her wadded up sweater to Jason's chest, while Althea sat next to her staring vacantly at the wall. She heard the police officer before she saw him, heard his softly exhaled cussing, and then the quick clomp, clomp, clomp of his boots. His boots were perfectly shined; she could see the distorted reflection of herself, shadowy and black, and the white spot where the overhead light shone behind her. The leather in his boots creaked as kneeled down. Her gaze shifted from her reflection in his boots to the greasy black gun at his hip, and finally to his concerned brown eyes.
"Are you alright?”
“Alright,” he said. He reached down and felt for Jason’s pulse. “Do you want someone else to do that?”
She shook her head. “I’ve got it.”
“Are you sure? I can pull another officer in here.”
She shook her head again. “I’ve got it.”
“You have pressure on the wound?"
He held her gaze for a moment and then said. “Alright. Paramedics are on their way. Just keep the pressure on it. Is anyone else hurt?"
Claire nodded. "Sam. She's behind the couch."
Time had seemed to slow as more cops showed up on the scene. The cops questioned the few kids still lingering from the disaster of the party. Most insisted that it was a bear attack. Claire followed their example, because she couldn’t think of anything else to say. The cops then had the kids either calling their parents to be picked up or, if they were sober, sent on their way home -- Althea presumably was among them.
The ambulance arrived, and the paramedics removed Claire's soaked sweater and worked fast to staunch the bleeding with proper bandages. They loaded him onto a stretcher and into the vehicle. Without thinking, Claire had climbed into the back of the ambulance. If the cops were going to stop her, they were too busy dealing with the handful of her classmates that had been still lingering about her lawn to notice she had left.
Now in the hospital waiting room, Claire sat and waited for any word about Jason. Near the swinging doors, a little old woman with silver-blue hair was holding a bouquet of pink roses. The plastic around the flowers kept crinkling as the woman passed it from hand to hand. Claire couldn't hear the old woman, but the nurse was trying to explain to her that they couldn't allow the roses into the ward, because of potential allergies. The discussion went on and on, in a circular manner with no neat conclusion in sight.
Claire's mind drifted. It kept shifting back to back to the events of the night -- the werewolf's shiny yellow eyes, Jason's limp body dangling from the wolf's mouth, Jason's glassy estare, Jason's blood, and her father, mouth foaming with rage, fur rigid, just before he threw himself at the other werewolf. Her father. God, Claire thought, her father. She hoped he was alright. She hoped that he got away from the other wolf, hoped that he wasn't hurt, hoped that he hadn't hurt anyone else.
She leaned forward in her seat, rested her head in her hands and began to quietly weep. She wept until all the strain and the fear drained out of her and she was left feeling hollow and hopeless on an uncomfortable hospital chair. She wiped her eyes and shifted in the seat, trying to get some pressure off of her tailbone.
The little old woman with the roses was gone. She had been replaced by Jason's parents, sitting near the nurse’s station. They must have come in while Claire had her head down and hadn't noticed her. Jason's mother was wearing cranberry colored tee shirt with cherry patterned pajama pants, over which she had thrown a long brown coat. She was leaning forward with her elbows resting on her knees. Her hands, which were clasped together, were white knuckled. Her eyes looked unfocused and strained. Beside her, Jason's father sitting up straight in a plain white tee shirt and jeans. He scratched at his unshaved stubble and was rubbing his wife's back. He just kept the same steady motion going, back and forth, back and forth, across her shoulder blades.
Claire turned her face away. She wanted to go up to them and talk to them, but what could she possible say. That she was sorry? That it was all her fault? That it would be okay, even though it wouldn't, it wouldn't ever be okay again? That even if her son lived, he was going to be a werewolf? No. She couldn't say anything. There was nothing to say that would make it better. So, she just sat there trying not to look at them, but unable to tear her attention away.
Outside the morning brought a dull, gray light. No doctor came from behind the swinging doors with a word about Jason. The waiting went on, each minute slow, dull and empty.
It occurred to Claire that she should try to call her mother, but she had left her cell phone at home and she had not change to pay for a call.
Just as she had the thought, her mother walked through the sliding doors of the waiting room. She looked around the room and instantly set her eyes one Claire. She let go a held breath and her eyes hardened. The doors closed behind her with a soft swish.
Instead of coming up to Claire, she went over to Jason's parents. Claire could see them talking, then saw her mother stand up and go over to the nurse's station, then back to his parents. Several minutes passed. Her mother hugged Jason's mother. Then she stood up and came over to Claire, her sneakers making no sound on the glossy tiles. She sat down next to Claire and stared at the chair across from her.
"Quiet," her mother bite off the end of the word. "Don't say anything. We'll talk about this later."
Claire shifted in her seat. She wanted to put her hand on her mother's shoulder, to hug her, hold her, and in return be held by her. She wanted her mother to look at her, but she just kept staring a head, her lips pressed into a thin white line.
"I thought you dead," her mother said. Her eyes looked wet, as though they were about to spill over.
"I'm sorry." The words were so inadequate. "I'm fine, though. See?"
"Shh. Quiet. I don't want to talk about it.” Her mother picked at a loose thread on her sweater, still no looking at Claire. She pulled the thread loose, then let it float down to the floor. “The nurse said the worst the other girl, Sam was it? They say worst she got was a concussion, which is bad enough, but she wasn't bit at least. The boy, Jason, he's worse off. They're still working on him."
Her mother looked at Claire. "We're going to stay long enough to see if that poor boy lives, you understand? And then we're going to go."
Claire took several deep breaths. "I'm sorry, mom."
She turned away. "I don't want to talk about it. Be quiet, alright. Just be quiet."
At least, one more scene to come.