You Lost Me...
A serial story
His reality coming back slowly in-between sharp stings of pain: Craig found himself echoing the same questions he heard before the attack.
"Do I know me?"
"Am I OK?
"How many fingers am I holding up?
Wait, those questions weren't what he heard before. He was also pretty sure the voice asking them had a different accent than his normal internal voice. He slowly focused his eyes, and asked, "Fingers?"
"Oh good, you're coming around," he heard the now human shape in front of him say, "We were worried you took a harder hit to the head." It was Jim's older brother, Kyle. He was part of the town's small paramedic force.
"I... what... head?" Craig tried to look around for a large pool of blood and brains that had to have leaked out of the hole in his head that was causing him such pain, but another set of hands held his head steady. "My bike! Linda! She's going to kill me!" He started to sit up way too quickly for his bruised cranium to tolerate.
"You're not going anywhere, Craig. We need to take you in to make sure that you're really OK," Kyle grabbed Craig's arm, "Someone will contact Linda and your family to let them know where you'll be."
Craig tried to argue, but a head full of sharp edged thoughts made this an exercise in futility. They carried him on a backboard to a waiting stretcher which was wheeled into an ambulance. As they took him to the local hospital, Craig struggled to think of what had happened and what he did to deserve this.
His mother's hand stroked his as they waited for the results of the examinations and tests that had filled Craig's last few hours. "You'll be fine," she repeated every few minutes. This seemed to be more of a mantra for her own self-reassurance than Craig's, but he knew she was only concerned and feeling helpless. It did make him feel better that he wasn't the only one.
His sister walked into the exam room with a bottle of soda for his mother, "Is he going to be OK? Or, am I getting his room?"
"Kelly, don't say things like that!" their mother admonished her. She stopped petting Craig's hand to grab the soda bottle with one hand while smacking his sister with the other.
The doctor walked in a that moment, saving Kelly from further scolding. A man in a dark suit jacket followed him in. "Craig, it looks like you suffered a nasty concussion and need stitches for that gash on your head. Thankfully, no fractures or any other injury, but we are going to need you to stay overnight of observation." His bald head looked as shiny as the glasses he wore in the lighting of the emergency room. He took off the glasses and pointed at the man behind him, "Detective Dakins would like to talk with you about the attack, if you feel up to it."
"Can it wait, Detective?" Craig's mother asked, "He's still feeling achy, and he needs to rest."
"Wait, Mom," Craig put his hand on her arm, "I want to ask him some stuff too."
"OK," she looked at the rest of the room, "Your sister and I will wait outside. Let us know when you're done," As they walked out the door, Detective Dakins told the doctor to stay, he wasn't going to ask many questions. He agreed and grabbed Craig's chart to make some notes.
"What do you remember about what happened?" He asked Craig in a surprisingly deep voice.
"Not much," Craig shrugged while responding. He related the glimpse of gray he saw and the qusetions he heard before he hit the ground and the world went black. "All the rest is coming to and ending up here."
"The person who attacked you was a Mr. Hugh Pearson. You have any issue with him?"
Craig was shocked. Mr. Pearson was an older man from the neighborhood; he had known him from his bike route when he was a paperboy. The worst problem he had with him was being late with the paper a couple of mornings. "No, I barely had any contact with him. He seemed OK. What else did he...?"
He was cut off in mid-sentence by some commotion out in the hallway. Not a few seconds later the noise made its way into his room: it was Linda, with his own father walking behind her saying, "See? He'll be OK. Just needed to be seen by the doctor." His mastery of understatement did little to make Linda stop crying.
"I'll talk with you later, when things calm down," Det. Dakins said as he walked back out the door, nodding at Craig's parent and the doctor.
It took another half hour before Linda was calm enough to talk about how he felt and how bad she was for being mad at him earlier. They talked a for a while before she left with his family when the nurse told them they were going to take him to an observation room and get him ready for bed. Craig was somewhat thankful for the silence.
Afterwards, that night, he could have sworn he saw a red-headed nurse move about in his room.
That's it for now...