Everybody Hurts by: Jen

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Bessie, Alex, and Mr. Potter, along with Bessie's fiancÚ Ryan, are here now. They've been here for almost 2 hours.

Jen has been trying to get in contact with Dawson and Pacey, but no one knows where they went.

There still isn't any word on Joey, but now that her real family is here, we can get information faster. Greg decided it would be best to leave, so he's been gone for a while.

It's nearly midnight and not one nurse or doctor has come out yet. The twelve of us are sitting here in suspense over what the outcome of Joey's operation will be.

Jamal keeps looking my way, giving me reassuring glances. I think he has something he wants to say.

"Jamal?"

"Yeah?"

"Why are you looking at me?"

He points down the hall and gets up. Once we're out of earshot of the waiting area, he starts.

"We've known each other for a while, right?"

"Yeah, five years or so. Why?"

"Before you came to Wilson, I wasn't a great kid. My cousin's were drug dealers, and I was known to hang out with them at times. When it was time for me to start high school, I was pretty screwed up. You know me as the kid with the wealthy stepfather, but I was anything but. My mom married him the summer before junior year, and before that, I had virtually no chance of survival. He pulled me out of the hole that I put myself in, and I'm grateful to him. But the point I'm telling you this story is that I was partially in that hole because I had a girlfriend who I thought I loved, and she was killed. Shot by one of my cousins, ironically enough. I want you to know that I have some idea what your going through, not totally, but I'm clued in at least. And if you want to talk, I'm here."

"Thanks Jamal. I really appreciate that."

I had no idea Jamal had two lives. I had to give him props for being the awesome guy he is, but now my respect for him has been doubled. He has valor and integrity like I've never seen.

Ever since I met him, I knew Jamal and I would be friends.

We head for the waiting area once more.

A nurse is there, obviously giving them news of Joey, because Bessie is in tears. I catch the tailend of the report, but I can guess what's going on.

Joey is unconscious and in critical condition, and only family members can visit, one at a time.

Mr. Potter looks to me. "Erik, why don't you go first."

I'm surprised, and grateful, but I can't go first, not with he and Bessie here. "No, I'm not family. You guys go first."

"Really Erik, you can go." Bessie say, wiping her eyes.

"No, you go. I can wait."

Viktor and Jamal are looking at me like I'm crazy, but I know it was the right thing to do. Especially considering we've broken up, I don't think I should be the first to see her. I wait while Bessie and Mr. Potter visit with her, all the while my foot tapping on the floor incessantly.

I'm nervous, even though there is no reason to be; she can't even talk to me.

As Bessie walks down the hall, I start to get goosebumps, because I know I can't dodge this anymore. It's my turn to see Joey.

As I start toward her room, a nurse stops me. "I'm sorry, but only family can come down here." What a slap in the face.

Bessie gets up and comes to my rescue.

"Excuse me, but if I'm not mistaken, family can authorize visitors that don't have familial ties to a patient, and I want to utilize my right to do so now. He's not her brother, or her cousin, or her stepfather's sister's cousin's son, he is her ex-boyfriend who incidentally loves her beyond anything you or I could imagine. I would like it very much if you would allow him to visit her."

The nurse seemed like she didn't want to deal with Bessie this late at night, so she let me pass. I find her room, 115C, and open the door slowly.

There's Joey, all cut and bruised with her right arm all bandaged up. The tears are starting to well up, because laying there like that, she's vulnerable to anything.

Right now I just want to take all her pain for her; die if it means she can live. I walk to a chair beside her bed and sit down, taking her hand in mine. I feel like I should say something to her. I know she'll hear me somehow.

"Hi Jo. I don't know exactly what to say to you, I just know I want to talk. Do you remember when we went last-minute Christmas shopping with Gram Reiker? I do. You and Gram could have been best friends, had it not been for the age difference. We went all over the Back Bay looking for the perfect gifts. Copley Place was a riot. You and Gram in there; I thought we'd never leave. And taking Gram to Hard Rock Cafe, well that was just classic. She had been there before, but not with two nineteen-year-olds. She loved it, and she loves you. I know you said that you thought my dad and Gramp Reiker didn't like you, but that's their job; to make you feel unwelcome. I'm certainly not going to justify it, but every dad in the Reiker family has had the job of attempting to destroy his son's life. My great grandfather hated Gram, and Gramp hated mom, and of course, because I love you beyond words, they all have to come down on you. But hey, at least you have all the Reiker women on your side. My mom absolutely adores you. She says you remind her of herself. And Gram, well you know she thinks your God's gift to me. Emma, Maggie, and Becky think your awesome, despite the fact that you're seven to ten years younger. Shoot, I think my time is running out. But I'll be back, soon. I love you Joey, so much, and I don't know what I'd do without you." I squeeze her hand once more and walk out of the room.

In the waiting area, Joel, Jamal, Max and Evan are getting up to go home. Viktor doesn't seem to be going.

"Hey Viktor, you don't have to stay."

"It's all right. I've nothing more important to do. But If you need something, I could go to your dorm for you."

"I can do it, I'm going there anyway," Max offered.

"You think you can get my glasses? They're on the computer. And a shirt, if you can find a clean one. Thanks Max."

"No problem at all Erik. I'll see you soon."

"Thanks guys for waiting with me. I'll let you know how she is."

"We weren't just waiting for you, we're waiting for Joey too. She's as much of friend as you, if not better," Evan laughed.

"Bye guys."

"I'll be back in a half an hour," Max reminded.

"See you then."


I'm sitting in Joey's room now, about to fall asleep. It's four a.m., and there still hasn't been any change. Bessie and Mr. Potter asked me if I wanted to stay in here with her, because the doctor wanted someone there at all times, and I didn't hesitate.

I've been reading this book on head traumas for the last hour - that's why I needed my glasses, because I can't see close up. Just my luck, Max couldn't find any clean clothes, so he's going to wash some in the morning for me.

Joey hasn't moved at all, and I'm starting to worry even more. Frustrated, I set the book on the floor and lean my head back to attempt sleep. I start to think about how different Joey and I are, me being the rich lacrosse-playing, Pearl Jam-listening guy I am, and her being the middle class sports-hating, R.E.M.-listening girl she is.

Common knowledge would tell you that Pearl Jam listeners don't exactly get along with R.E.M. listeners, so you'd think with all of our differences, we never would have made it. But you may not know that once upon a time, Pearl Jam sent out a cd to their fan club members with an R.E.M. song on it.

That little metaphor goes to show that absolutely anything is possible. Besides, I feel like I'm stuck in that R.E.M. song, 'Everybody Hurts', and I want out.

I hope anything's possible in this case, because I'm sleeping here next to the love of my life who is probably slipping away right now.


To Be Continued

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