Now, I can tell you one thing for sure… When I left the house last Thursday night, I did not expect to be run over by a silver Ford Focus. All dressed up, cocktails with my friends, and dance. To think, I’d been complaining about always being single. Now we had bigger problems. I never thought I’d be on the receiving end of a car bonnet. But there I was. My friend called the ambulance, I was sprawled out beside the tyres in a nice pool of blood and woke up, screaming, as you would, if you had just been run over by a car. I don’t remember what happened before. Or after. Just a lot of howling and crying and blood and a pain all through my left leg. Was I dying? I was trying not to entertain that thought for too long because it was slightly impractical, but still, it was there.
The paramedics arrived and they were nice, I think, I don’t really remember. Apparently they checked my pulse, although I was definitely alive from the wailing I could hear coming out of my own mouth, even though it really didn’t feel like the sounds belonged to me. They scooped me up… Well I say scooped, but sort of shimmied me onto one of those boards they only use when someone has potentially broken their neck or spine or something else vital to being upright. They taped my head in-between foam blocks, like the ones your mum uses in her pilates classes. It was once I was on my back the blood started trickling out of my nose and into my eyes and mouth that I began to, properly and quite reasonably, panic. It’s not an ideal position to find yourself in, really. I was on my back and all I could see were nostrils attached to green clothed people, a set of men’s and a set of women’s nostrils, the man’s nostrils had a stubbly squirrel below them. My friend’s nostrils were there too, Sophie’s, and there was blood on her face beside her nose and there were tears dripping off the tip of it.
“I’m so sorry…”, I looked up, bloody chin tearing and began to cry because I’d ruined her night and I felt so guilty and stupid because we all watched those hedgehog videos when we were kids about how to cross the road and I was 21 years old and still completely unable to do it without bouncing off a car windscreen.
She smiled down at me sadly and said “Haven’t got a hope of meeting someone tonight now have you? You silly mare.”. An attempt at lightening the mood.
My head hurt but the adrenaline had it working overtime, thoughts going a few miles an hour faster than the Ford.
I remember the ceiling of the ambulance moving like a conveyor belt and finding that as fascinating as one can when one is horizontal and sore and bleeding, and I remember being wheeled through the cold February air into the hospital, into resuscitation and onto a table in a small white room with cool light. They asked if my parents were close by, if they were able to come and see what a mess I’d made of myself. They were on holiday in Florida and they would be so angry with me because they had always told me to look both ways before crossing the road. I knew they would panic and fly home as soon as they heard and that would be expensive. At some point the nurses on the ward I’d been taken to, sent Sophie home, probably to wash the now brown blood off her vintage denim jacket which she had bought for far too much, when all of our mums have something similar in the loft.
I woke up in a ward to the grating sound of men snoring and an overwhelming need to vomit. A sip of water and warm, bloody morphine flowed out of my mouth and nose and into a beige cardboard bowl on my lap, brought to me by a nurse who looked about 15, but recognised my complexion, like just-turned milk as a messy hazard. Somewhere between my stomach deciding this was all too much and a sandy-clothed man asking me what I’d like for breakfast. I began to cry, until, I slept.
I was offered coffee. Tea was safer. Three sugars and through a straw. Another nurse, an older, brunette lady, came by to tell me they were moving me to a ward, not an emergency one but a proper one where men wouldn’t snore loudly and there would be other women. I was drifting in and out of consciousness as they wheeled the bed through the hospital and once we reached our destination I was sound asleep.
A nightmare was interrupted with a jolt, confused by my new surroundings and the tube in my arm and the beds around me. Across the way was an old lady, sound asleep, shrivelled in the big bed. She had a visitor, her daughter I assumed, and she was talking loudly on the phone about childcare arrangements. I took a sip of water and was pleased to feel it sink down my throat and stay firmly there. The lady hung up the phone and looked to me, curtains open. “Someone clobber you darling?” she asked, brash. I ran my hand over grazes, cuts, scabs and swelling. I must look shocking. I shook my head and replied, “N-no a car. Hit me…”. She frowned and attempted reassurance and apology, to which I smiled with a missing tooth which sent chills across my body when I ran my tongue over it, which with hindsight may have looked menacing.
“You don’t look that bad.” said a voice from the bed next to mine, “pretty purple, but punk rock”.
I did my best Tarantino-Christopher Walken impression and moved my tender neck to look at where the voice had come from. He was a he and he was blonde and tall, his feet were touching the electronic controls on the end of his bed. He smiled and his face wasn’t damaged so something less obvious must be wrong with him. He had blue eyes, a nice blue, but not a cliche blue… My head was a bit frazzled.
“Thank you…” I managed, and without even thinking I just outright said, “so whats wrong with you?”.
He seemed un-fazed. “Appendix. Boring, I know. Joe… by the way.” I smiled as best I could and my nose hurt.
“I’m Laurie.” I offered in response.
My day passed with this funny boy with a dodgy appendix asking me questions. Strange ones like, what colour was the car? and why did I study environmental science, he had studied something much less serious? (Theatre, I think) and why were my mum and dad not here, were they spies? I laughed a bit. More nervously at first because he seemed a bit odd and I didn’t know if I should keep talking to him, and that maybe he was really mad and his appendix grumbling was all a ruse. But we kept chatting and he gave me his sliced peaches (which were sadly warm and I got syrup on my backless gown) because they ran out before I could get any. This wasn’t what I expected and I felt surprisingly okay even though my face had been all mashed up in the road and there was a dull ache from my thigh to my toes… that was probably a lot of painkillers doing their part too. As the day passed us by in that white room that smelt of disinfectant and slightly soured milk, family members came and went and we both drifted in and out of consciousness and conversation, bodies tired with pain and comings and goings, blood pressures tested and drips changed.
I woke up groggy and confused, looked over, and he was gone. On the chair next to me sat Sophie, looking tired and pale, curly hair hanging around her face and a big grey cardigan on.
“You alright Soph?” I managed, hoarsely, startling her.
“You’re a bloody melon, you know that?” She smiled sadly at me from the big blue chair and leaned over to kiss my forehead. We realised the enormity of what had happened, and held each other for a moment. Thank god we had a moment at all.
“I’m glad you’re here and all that, and hopefully not too traumatised… But did you see the boy who was here?” I asked her sheepishly.
“A boy…Lau, have you pulled in the hospital?” she laughed, amazed. I frowned. I hadn’t even got his number.
“He went to surgery about three hours ago. He’ll be heading into recovery and then onto a ward.” an older nurse smiled at me and winked.
“Do you know where?” I asked back, pushing my luck.
“Your guess is as good as mine.” she replied, “Sorry sweetheart.”
“That’s alright… I really fancy a coffee, would it be okay to go to the cafe downstairs?”, I’d seen cups scattered across the ward in the hands of visitors, I really wanted to see any sense of the outside world.
“If we put you in a wheelchair and pop a jumper on you, I don’t see why not.” the nurse, whose badge said ‘Brenda’ offered.
I was bundled into a yellow jumper that Sophie had brought along and heaved myself out of bed, making me dizzy, into a blue wheelchair.
“C’mon then” Sophie said, pushing me towards the corridor. I made engine revving sounds, white lino and straight wheels had us flying to the hospital cafe, by the automatic doors with people choking on smoke in their dressing gowns outside. She got me a black coffee in a paper cup, exactly what I needed, and refused the change I pressed into her hand.
“You just got run over. I am buying.” she laughed.
I was in pain and uncomfortable, and exhausted from leaving the bed I’d felt fused to, so Sophie chatted. She nattered away about her dissertation and her new nail colour. I looked up and out at the corridor across from us, and a bed was being pushed by two male nurses, and there he was, sat up in this moving bed. He wasn’t talking, which was surprising, as that was all he had done for the last how ever many hours he was in the ward next to me.
“Sophie.” I interrupted her, “Sophie, that’s him. The boy from the ward.” I was taken aback. I had built up a story of finding love in Ward F, and I thought my silly fairytale had escaped, but there it was.
“Him?” she took a last sip of her flat white, judgement flashing across her tired face, “come on then.”
She dashed around the table and began to guide me in the direction the bed had gone. He had got quite the head start, and Sophie’s scarf had got caught in my wheels, so my chances were slim to say the least, but still, we pressed on towards him. Lift doors closed on his bed, and we were left behind.
“He could’ve gone to any floor…I’ve got no chance.” I commiserated.
She patted my shoulder, knowing I was more upset than I would want to admit, not knowing what was shock and what was missed opportunity. We got into the next lift that came and I sipped my lukewarm coffee, we got in quietly and I felt pain rushing through my leg. Ding, level C, I was wheeled out, Sophie straining a little to get me over the bump of the lift threshold. I looked up from swilling my coffee around the bottom of the cup, a black sea over rocky remnants, and it was there.
“Soph!” she saw what I raised my arm towards and pushed me ahead.
I peered up from the chair and said nervously “Joe! It’s me, Laurie.”
He looked over the edge of the bed, pale but smiling, and said, “Well, thank goodness for that.”