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something from the archives: another sunset - part 2

and the story continues...





Part 2


"Where am I?"

Michael paused as he collected the medical waste from the small hospital room. When you were in the intensive care unit you never expected to hear anything but the beeps on the monitors. He was pretty sure this patient had been in a coma until a minute ago.

At a loss, for he had never found himself in this situation, he walked over to the bed cautiously and spoke to the girl. Well, he spoke to the girl after he was floored by her beauty. Even with her head wrapped in a huge white bandage, she looked exquisite.  Looking small and fragile on the hospital bed, her dark brown eyes were deeply penetrating, with a vulnerability that still allowed you to see the inner core of steel that had kept her alive to this point. The sorrow in her soul was there too. Michael could feel it as if it was his own. It was his own.

"You’re in the hospital. Lay still. You don’t want to reopen any of your injuries."

"What happened?"

Michael looked at her sharply. Suddenly worried about her lack of memory, because more than just dazed she looked lost and confused. He was startled by the overwhelming need to protect her. "You don’t remember?" he asked.

The girl scrunched up her nose as she thought about his question. Michael couldn’t remember her name, although he was pretty sure this was Alex Parker’s sister. He knew a few details about the accident, her parents had died, it was caused by a drunk driver, but not much else. Although he wondered what else was there to know.

"No. Do you know?"

She finally answered. She seemed worried. While he did know, instinctively he decided to tell her only the obvious.

"Well, there was an accident. A car accident. You were hurt pretty badly."

Michael wasn’t sure how much he should say. He didn’t want to be the bearer of bad news. He was pretty sure he shouldn’t be talking to her at all. Getting a doctor and real nurse seemed like the better plan. But he couldn’t help the feeling of protectiveness that rushed through his body when he looked at her. He wanted to stay close. Spend time with her.

He really shouldn’t feel this way. He didn’t know her. He didn’t even know her name.

"What’s your name?"

She asked the question suddenly. Almost as if she were suspicious of the answer. Afraid of it for some reason.

"Michael. I’m an orderly here. What’s yours?"

Her eyes widened. She opened her mouth as if expecting the sound of her name to fall from her lips automatically. When she spoke, Michael could hear the panic in the way her voice escalated with each syllable.

"My name? My name. Michael, I can’t…I don’t know my name."

"Shh, Calm down. I’ll call a nurse."

Michael was freaked. Although not nearly as agitated as the girl. He pressed the call button for a nurse; they’d know what to do. They’d know how to handle this. Michael grabbed one of her hands and pressed it reassuringly. He wanted to hold her. Wipe away the tears that were dripping down her face. Take away the fear that shone brightly in her eyes.

The door opened and Michael sighed with relief at seeing Myrna Hodgekiss walk in. She was the good sort, mothering and soothing. He liked her and she had taken a shine to him. Not usually the case in respect to his elders, but she always seemed to see more than just appearances. Which was nice, although sometimes creeped Michael out.

"Myrna. Hey. She woke up while I was picking up the trash. I’ll leave now, so you…"

"No!"

The girl’s shout echoed throughout the room. Michael and Myrna looked at her surprised, disconcerted.

"You can’t leave me. Michael. Please. You’re the only person I know."

Michael looked Myrna’s way. Asking her silently what was best. She shrugged in response.

"Stay, Michael. If it makes her feel better that’s all that really matters."

Michael looked into the girl’s beautiful brown eyes. And the depth of trust he saw there stunned him. He could see the shadows of pain that had ravaged her life. Pain she didn’t even understand or recall. How could he not stay and offer a small amount of solace with his presence?

"What’s her name, Myrna?" he asked quietly.

"Elizabeth Parker. I thought you knew her. She knows you."

"Nah, we just met. That’s why I called you, she doesn’t remember her name."

Myrna glanced at him sharply before turning to Elizabeth.

"Hon, do you know where you are?"

Elizabeth nodded, "Yes. Michael told me. There was an accident and I got hurt. So I’m in the hospital."

"But do you remember any of it?"

Elizabeth looked away and frowned before answering softly, "No."

Myrna furrowed her brow and made a note of something on the piece of paper she carried to annotate patient vitals, "Do you know your parents’ names?"

Again, Elizabeth looked away. In an even quieter voice she responded, "No."

"Do you have any siblings?"

"I don’t know."

Myrna continued the line of questioning rapid-fire, "How old are you?"

Elizabeth visibly flinched at every query she couldn't reply to. Her voice got quieter and quieter and her warm brown eyes swam with tears, "I don’t know."

"What’s the color of your eyes?"

"I don’t know." Elizabeth burst into tears and sobbed into her hands hiding her face away from view.

Michael had been watching as Elizabeth struggled to answer Myrna’s questions. He could see the  anxiety grew as she realized she couldn’t remember anything. He longed to hold her in his arms and comfort her. But he knew that it wouldn’t be nearly enough. Elizabeth had so much pain and grief locked inside, he knew he wouldn’t be the one she would chose to help her. They were strangers really, only circumstance had placed him in her room when she awoke.

Concerned, Myrna addressed herself to Michael, "Hold her still, hon. I’m calling Dr. Torino. Stay with her. Talk to her about something else."

Myrna stepped out of the room. And Michael was again alone with Elizabeth. He'd put his arms around her in a loose embrace at Myrna's command. And he was surprised when she leaned into his touch.

"I’m scared, Michael." she confessed through her sobs.

Michael tighetened his hold on her, "I know. I’m so sorry you're dealing with this."

"What color are my eyes?" Elizabeth whispered.

"They’re brown."

Elizabeth frowned, "Brown. Such a plain color."

"You have amazing eyes. They’re the color of coffee." Michael shook his head.

"And mud."

Michael huffed out a short laugh, "Come on, Elizabeth. Trust me. you have beautiful eyes."

"That doesn’t feel like my name."

"Maybe you use a nickname. Like Liz, Lizzy, Beth, Eliza, Bethy? Any of those ring any bells?" Michael teased,  "Or maybe it’s cause you don’t remember having a name."

Now it was Elizabeth's turn to laugh, "Well that’s nice. Rub it in why don’t you?"

"I didn’t mean…" Michael trailed off, what had he been thinking teasing an ICU patient.

Elizabeth rubbed the arm that lay across her shoulders. "I know. " Changing the subject she asked, "What do you think works best?"

"I like Elizabeth."

She gave him an appraising glance, "I’m guessing no one is allowed to call you Mikey."

Michael grinned, "Nope Michael it is and Michael it shall always be."

Michael caught the small smile Elizabeth sent his way. He knew he had helped. And it meant the world to him. Her smile lit up her whole being from within. And Michael felt his heart lurch in response. It was probably a mistake, but already he felt the pull of attraction for this girl.

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