All That Matters by: Jen

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This is quite the concert. The usual show-openers, which happened to be pretty well schooled in their musical abilities, actually kept my attention for the hour they were on stage. Not an awesome band, but with practice, they definitely have potential. Buzzfly, was their name, if I'm not mistaken. But Pearl Jam is playing now, and this is excellent.

They've played 'Jeremy', 'Animal', 'Daughter', 'Hail, Hail', and several other minimal syllabic named songs. Right now, as I hear Viktor's beeper going off, they've begun playing 'Last Kiss'. I have to ignore his lectronic paging device so I can concentrate on the song.

When I first heard this song, years ago, it evoked some odd emotion from me that I'd never felt before. Sort of like a sad movie that makes you cry without an explainable reason. Anyway, when Pearl Jam redid the song, and it gained major airplay throughout the Boston area, that same emotion resurfaced. I'm getting that feeling right now, but it's a little different.

Like something is wrong, and I'm about to find out some devastating news.

As I am close to tears - highly impossible, right? Well, I am. So now as I'm close to tears, Viktor is trying to shake me out of my trance.

"What?!?" I ask agitated. He has a weird look on his face. It's like shock and sadness twisted together. Joel is standing next to him with an almost identical look

"Um, Erik, Joey's been in an accident," he replies, now close to tears himself. Jamal is yanked out of his own world by this.

"What?!? How did you find out!?!" Jamal asks, using the words I can't conjure up for myself.

"Jen just paged me, 911, Joel called her up on his cell, and she told him.

She says we better get to Rhode Island Hospital as soon as possible, because she can't be there for an hour, and she can't find Dawson or Pacey."

I'm in a state of shock. I heard Viktor, I saw Joel and Jamal's faces, I noticed Max and Evan realizing something was wrong, but I'm not paying any attention. All I can think about is Joey. You know in movies where they portray the dying person as remembering all the most significant parts of their life? Well that's what is happening to me. I'm remembering every single one of the best times I've had with Joey. Camping in Maine; Partying on New Year's Eve '01; dancing in the street during the first snowfall of last year; Christmas Eve shopping with my grandmother; yachting in Capeside with Bessie, Alex and Mr. Potter; and most of all, the Springsteen concert. I realize now that I can't imagine a life without her; I don't want to.

Viktor, obviously noticing my nonvigilant status, is pulling me along, through the mosh pit, to the door. I glance back, and see the other four close behind. Viktor gives me a gentle shove towards the door of his car, probably hoping I'll snap out of it. Max and Jamal get in the back and Joel and Evan get in Evan's car to follow us. I can't pay attention to anything going on around me. I've turned inside as a defense mechanism so I won't have to handle this.

I withdraw long enough to look at the speedometer. Viktor's driving at least 80 mph, 25 over the speed limit.

"Slow down ,Vik! Please."

He looks over to me, slightly relieved that I haven't totally gone insane.

If I find out who did this to Joey, I swear, he will pay. I can't imagine who would be so stupid. I know, I have clouded judgment, but you must remember, the person I love most in this world was just in an accident.

I hope to God she's okay. I have to tell her, if she's okay, which she has to be, that I love her with everything I have. I love her more than life itself.

As we pull into the emergency parking lot at the hospital, Jamal taps me from behind. I realize were here and I climb out of the car. The car is yards away from the door, so I break out in a run to reach Joey as fast as I can. Inside there's a line at the desk, but I can't wait. A nurse is coming out of a hallway, so I stop her.

Out of breath, I ask, "Where can I find Joey Potter?" She looks perplexed; she doesn't know what I'm talking about.

"Josephine Lillian Potter, tall, brown hair, in a car accident. Please, do you know where she is?"

She seems to soften, like she can sense the chaos going on in my head. Thankfully, another nurse heard us and comes up, like she knows something. By now Jamal, Max and Viktor have made it inside and are standing behind me.

"You're looking for Joey Potter, right?" The nurse asks me.

"Yes!" Max says. He's as impatient as me.

"Her husband -"

I stopped listening at husband. "Husband? I'm sorry, you must be wrong. Joey's not married, she's only 19."

Viktor knows I'm about to lose it, so he steps in. "I'm sorry about him, he's just a little out of it today. Where can we find Joey's husband?"

"In the waiting area. No one can see her at this time."

"Thank you." Viktor grabs my arm and pulls me away. "You moron. Shut up and get it together. They wouldn't let you see her if she sprained her finger because your so far gone."

We walk into the nearly deserted waiting area. Viktor looks around and figures we better find her 'husband'.

"Anyone here with Joey Potter?"

A tall blond guy that looks a little familiar stands up. "I brought her in."

His right arm is in a sling and his face is slightly scraped, but I don't care. At this point, I can't control my actions. I walk right up to him and am about to slug him when Jamal catches my fist.

"Erik, beating him up won't solve anything." He turns to the guy.

"Sorry about him. I'm Jamal, that's Viktor and Max and iron fist boy is Erik."

"I'm Greg Hall. I'll skip the story and just say that I was driving the car, and the only way they would treat Joey was if someone from her family was present, so I had to tell them we were married. It was a last resort because I called her friend Jen and she said she couldn't make it for at least two hours."

I need to keep myself under control. "What exactly is wrong with her?" I ask him, annoyed.

"The door caved in and her right arm was pinned to her chest. By the time the ambulance arrived, she had been unconscious for a while. They haven't told me anything and she's been in there for an hour."

"Has anyone called her sister? Or her father?" I ask, knowing the answer already..

"I'm sure Jen did, but I just met Joey today. I didn't know how to get anyone else. If you don't mind me asking, aren't you in one of my classes?"

Now I remember him. "Yeah, creative writing. I'm going to see if I can find out anything." I turn away from them and head towards the desk to wait for a nurse. The line moves fairly quickly, and within five minutes, I'm up.

"Hi, I was wondering if I could find out how Joey Potter was doing."


Now I'm screwed for sure. "I'm, uh, her brother." Nice save, Reiker, now I'll never see her.

"She's going to have to have emergency surgery, Mr. Potter -"

"Reiker. we have different fathers."

"Mr. Reiker, she's going in to have surgery on her brain. We believe she is hemorrhaging and we need to make sure. We also have to operate on her shoulder, because it is dislocated, possibly fractured, and her wrist is fractured."

"Is she going to be okay?"

"Honestly Mr. Reiker, I don't know. In cases of brain hemorrhages, there is a 50-50 chance of survival. I will let you and her husband know as soon as I find out something."

"He's not her husband." Great. I just blew his cover, and now there's going to be problems. I need to learn to shut my mouth.

But the nurse just nodded, like she knew that, and she knew I wasn't Joey's brother.

Evan and Joel walked in then, right to where I was standing. "Where have you two been?"

"We didn't follow you, and the accident hasn't been cleaned up yet, so it took a while to get through. How is she?"

"Emergency surgery. They think her brain is hemorrhaging and her shoulder is screwed up or something - I don't know guys."

"Hey, man, it's all right. If you've got to cry, or yell, or anything, do it. We all know how much she means to you. No one expects you to be the together one here." You can always count on Joel to be the antithesis of everyone else and know exactly what to say.

We walk into the waiting area and I absentmindedly tell them who Greg is. I don't feel like saying anything, so I sit there with my head in my hands while the rest of the guys talk about soccer or something. Because my head is down, I don't notice Jen, Jack and Andie run in. My head snaps up as Jen speaks.

"How's she doing?"

Viktor takes it into his own hands to be the informer. "She's in surgery. Hemorrhaging brain, dislocated shoulder, fractured wrist."

Jack sits down beside me. "How're you doing Erik?" He asks me, genuinely concerned. Jack's a good guy; he and Joel. And him being gay, it doesn't bother me at all, like it would most guys, because he is such a good friend.

"I'm okay Jack, really."

"No he isn't," Joel tells him. "He wants to do something, but he can't. He's literally overwhelmed by this situation." As always, leave it to him to know what's going on in my head.

But I can't let him think he's too good. "And you know all, don't you Miller?"

He can probably see the tears ready to spill out. "Yeah, in most cases, I do. I know that right now you want that dam to break and let that river flow from your eyes." The poet is revealed. So he hasn't wasted the last three years majoring in English literature.

"Yeah, Miller, your a literary genius, we know." Jamal says to him, successfully getting Joel to shut up and leave me alone.

"I'll be right back," I tell them, hoping I can make it to the safety of the men's room before crying myself dry. Once the door is closed, the tears come. I know, your thinking how sweet, but how untrue. But I'm crying.

I make sure to let everything out, wash off my face and head back out to face the crowd gathering in the waiting area. Viktor corners me outside the bathroom door, not something you'd expect from Mr. Obdurate Himself.

"What?" I ask when he won't move.

"Seriously now, are you okay Reiker? Because I've known you for eighteen years, and I've never seen you like this. We grew up together, know almost everything about each other, but I don't know how this feels. And I want to help, if I can. I'm your best friend, and I want to be able to do something."

"You can't help. Not to be rude, or single you out, but I don't think anyone can. Joey might not live, and I have to deal with that on my own." I start to cry again, and Viktor hugs me.

"My God, I hope she's all right," I say between clenched teeth.

"So do I Erik, for your sake, and mine, because you need to shave." This evokes a laugh from me, and we walk down the hall together. I hope Joey's all right too, because I love her. I know I could live without her, I just don't know what reason there would be. Joey is all that matters to me.

I'm not a religious guy, but I pray to whoever there is up there that Joey will be okay, and that she loves me as much as I love her.

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