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The last thing I remember is sitting in the car with Greg thinking I loved Erik and I had to tell him. Now I hurt all over and my eyes are closed tight. I hope I'm not dead; I couldn't do that to Erik. My head hurts too much to be dead, my arm too. My whole right side is like a lead weight.
It's alternating between sharp pains and dull aches. Someone's holding my hand; it has to be a guy. I know it must be Erik because I've held that hand so many times, I'd know it anywhere.
I slowly open my eyes, and the light is blinding, just how I remember the lights of the hospital when my mom died. Turning my head to the side, I see Erik. He's sitting there asleep with his chin resting on his chest. He's got that awful Mumia t-shirt on, he hasn't shaved in at least three days, the hair he does have is standing straight up, and he's wearing his glasses. He's such a sight, most people would find his appearance offensive, but to me, he's adorable. I could sit here forever, watching him sleep like this. But now I remember why I can't: we broke up, and it shouldn't be him sitting here with me. I should have woken up to Jen, or Bessie, or even Dad, but it's Erik sitting right here beside me.
I feel as though I'm intruding by watching him, so I squeeze his hand to wake him up. He doesn't budge, probably because he's not expecting anything. I pick up his hand, squeeze again and his head jerks up and his eyes open. He looks at me, slightly surprised, but more relieved than anything. I look back at him, the antithesis of his regular self, and know instantly that I caused this. It seems that neither of us want to break the silence; we want to stay like this for eternity, but we both know that's impossible.
I could just tell him right now that I want to get back together, because I know he only broke up with me because he thought I needed it. But that would be too easy, and too many things would be left unsaid. I know right now that he loves me, or he wouldn't be sitting here right now.
I know I love him, for so many inexplicable reasons that they're innumerable. There are things that need to be said, at least on my part, that stop me from begging him right this moment.
I decide I had better say something. "Hi." Wow Potter, how original. And my voice is extremely hoarse.
"Hi Jo." He really wants to keep this simple. Well, I can do simple.
"You were in an accident with Greg Hall. I don't exactly know the particulars, but they did go in to stop the hemorrhaging in your brain, and fix your wrist. I didn't catch the report from when you came out of surgery, but they didn't think you would make it. You've been unconscious for somewhere around nine hours."
"Oh. Well, from what I know about head traumas, I wouldn't be talking to you right now if I had really been hemorrhaging."
"Yeah, I figured that much. So how are you feeling?"
"All right, aside from the throbbing in my head and the excruciating pain in my arm."
"I should probably go tell the nurse your awake. And Bessie, and everyone else."
Who else?" I don't really expect anyone else to be there, because they all live in Massachusetts, aside from Dawson and Pacey, who were driving to Boston for the weekend.
"Well, Bessie, your dad, Ryan, Alex, Jen, Jack, Andie, and Viktor. Evan, Joel, Max, and Jamal were here, but they left, and we couldn't find Dawson and Pacey."
"Those two are in Boston for the weekend. Their all out there?" It's kind of hard to believe all of them would come to see me.
"Yep, all of them. I'm going to get the nurse. You should probably take it easy."
"Yeah, I'll try." That's a blatant lie. I can't sleep now, not with him here making me nervous, and everyone else making me anxious. He gets up and leaves, and I have to internally debate over whether he's just leaving to get a nurse, or if he's leaving forever.
Walking out so soon, I feel as though I'm abandoning her. But I know that a doctor needs to see her, and everyone else deserves to know that she's awake. I go to the nurses station and find the kindest looking woman I can find, because I know Joey will take no bullshit in this situation.
"Hi, um, Joey Potter's awake."
"What room is she in?"
"115C. She was unconscious, but she just woke up."
"Thanks. I'll send Dr.Ylagen in to see her."
That's taken care of, so now I can go tell everyone in the waiting room. Rounding the corner, I see Andie and Jen leaning their heads on Jack's shoulders, all three asleep. With the rest of the room in view, Mr. Potter, Viktor, Alex and Ryan are all asleep too. Bessie is the only one who looks like she hasn't slept in 24 hours, which is probably the case. She sees me immediately, and this look of terror flashes across her face before she can stop it.
"Is...is she all right?" She chokes out softly. I can see that loosing Joey, to her, would be like loosing a child.
I can't control my happiness at this point, and my eyes start dripping.
"Yes. She's awake now." Bessie obviously can't control herself either, because she does this sort of laugh, then starts crying. She gets up and hugs me like I'm Joey's savior or something. But I hug back just as hard, because I need to do something to relieve myself of a little emotion.
Everyone has woken up by now, thanks to us, and they probably think we're crazy.
Jack's first to speak up. "What happened? Win the lottery?" He obviously knows why we're clinging to each other in tears.
"She's awake, right?" Andie asks, just to be sure we didn't actually win something. I nod, and she hugs Jack and starts to cry herself.
Mr. Potter picks up Alex, who had been asleep on his lap, and squeezes him, while Ryan takes my place next to Bessie and I embrace Jen and Viktor.
A nurse interrupts our private party right then. "You can all go and see her, if your quiet, and if you don't stay too long." She must have sensed the tension, and knew that all of them had to see her. Everyone was ecstatic as our troupe headed down the hall to Joey's room.
Mr. Potter is first in the door, and he practically runs to Joey. He covers her in a hug, then remembers her arm. He only pulls away slightly.
"Uh, thanks for the enthusiasm dad, but it does kind of hurt," Joey is saying, still hugging her father.
"Sorry Jo," he sheepishly pulls away, letting the others take their turns. "Oh God Joey, you don't know how worried I was," Bessie says, hugging Joey.
Alex holds on to Joey's and Bessie's hands, not sure at only five what exactly is transpiring.
"Is Joey all right Mommy?" He asks, a little frightened by all the affection directed at Joey.
"Yeah, Al, she's fine," Ryan says, steeping in to be the father figure.
Appropriate, seeing as how Alex does call him Daddy, and he and Bessie have been together for three years.
"You are all right, right? I don't want to lie to the little dude," Ryan says with a laugh, successfully lightening the proverbial weight on everyone's shoulders.
"Yeah, I think I'm all right."
"Thank God," Viktor mutters, before realizing that he would probably be giving away something.
"I mean, we were all so worried, and Erik- well, we were pretty scared." Just shove that foot in a little more, Viktor. But he means well.
"We were really scared Joey. I'm glad you're okay," Andie says, taking her turn to hug her.
"You scared the wits out of us, seriously. Jen and I were trying to have an intelligent conversation, and all that was coming out was mindless babble. You know you've been scared witless when Jen and I can't think of one word that has more than two syllables," Jack's trying to make us all laugh, but, as usual, Joey's the only one who shares a wavelength with Jack, so his humor evokes a chuckle only from her.
"Well, Jo, I guess no more date ads for you," Jen says, and, even thought, it is slightly black humor, we all laugh, grateful for some comedy.
"You know, we probably better leave so the doctor can come in," Mr. Potter says, becoming the authority.
"Dad's right guys. Let's leave Joey alone." Bessie says, and we all follow, until Joey calls out.
"Erik, can you stay for a sec?"
I pull back and wait for everyone else to leave. "Yeah?"
"Thanks, for being here when I woke up." As if I wouldn't be! There's no way, even if we had become enemies, that I would have let her be in this hospital alone.
"Your welcome. But you know I would have come no matter what."
"Yeah, I do, and it makes me feel secure to know that you'll be there for me." I'm not sure how to interpret that, whether she means as a friend, or something else.
So I go for the easiest reply. "I will always be there for you. I better go so the doctor can come in." I walk out in silence, contemplating what I should do next. Should I let Joey recover, and get back to normal before I say something? Or should I tell her now? Or should I just forget it and wait for her? I'm not sure what I should do. I wish there was some book written that would tell me what to do.
In the waiting are now, everyone is certainly happier. I opt for the less challenging train of thought and just think about Joey. What comes to mind instantly is the moment I fell in love with her.
That time we went with my grandmother Christmas shopping seems like the most logical time, all three of us having the time of our lives. But that wasn't when I knew it.
I realized I loved Joey on my nineteenth birthday, when we were driving around Boston in my car. We were going to meet Maggie and Jack, but I had taken a wrong turn and we were lost somewhere in South Boston.
Joey pulled out the map from the glove compartment, and started yelling at me about getting lost in the city I've lived in all my life. We pulled over, and were looking at the map, trying to figure out how to get back to the safer part of town.
She kept theorizing different routes that couldn't possibly work, and humming along with the radio. I just knew right then that I loved her, and that I never wanted to get lost in South Boston again.
Why then? I ask myself, of all the times, in my Jeep, with her yelling at me, what's so significant? It didn't need to be the idyllic situation. She was her, Joey Potter, the girl I had spent almost every day of the last five months with. I was me, the pretentious, perplexed imbecile that I've always been.
At that moment, I couldn't imagine being in that same position without her sardonic, cynical outlook and impeccable intellect.
I'm hoping right now that I don't have to be in that same situation without her, but it seems unlikely. All this excitement may convince her that her life is too important to screw around with someone like me, who has verything I've ever needed. I'm speculating, I know, and I shouldn't be.
There's just something inside me that is saying I better act fast, or I'll lose her. Logically, that won't happen, and my mind tells me that, but my heart doesn't want to take the chance.
Taking chances isn't my specialty. I've never done anything risky. When I was younger, I wanted to jump off a bridge, go skydiving, whitewater kayak, snowboard on Everest, mountain bike down a mountain, anything and everything you've ever seen on extreme sports television.
Now I'm more sensible, and the thing I want to do most in the line of adventure is drive the California freeway without getting crushed. I know, real exciting.
But those childish dreams are yearning to be fulfilled, along with some other dreams. Things like winning a big lawsuit, making my own money and not taking from my parents, gaining respect as a lawyer, having kids, and getting married. Right now, I promise myself that, by the time I'm thirty, I will have done the kayaking, bungee jumping, skydiving, and mountain biking, won the lawsuit, gained the respect and at least gotten married. And I'd like to promise myself that I will have done it all with Joey.
To Be Continued
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