The next morning brought all sorts of different aches and pains. My muscles felt tightened and stretched far beyond their limits. I spotted Mom on the side of my bed, her head lying on the edge of the cheap mattress, looking exhausted from being so stressed out. Her dark hair looked brilliant against the white linens of the bed. I ran my fingers through her hair and gently kissed the top of her forehead. The disruption startled her, causing her to open her eyes. She sat up and yawned, big bags beneath her eyes. Her hair was matted; it looked as though it hadn’t been brushed for days. She stood up and stretched, her fists going bone white as she was doing so. She redirected her gaze back towards me as she lowered her hand, stroking my forehead. She smiled slightly and looked back as Dad began to wake up to come join us. He wrapped his arm around Mom’s shoulders and kissed her on the lips, making me almost gag. I may be fourteen, but I still don’t like seeing my parents kissing, there’s just something disturbing about it. The lights in my room were on as in the hallway as doctors’ and nurses’ rushed past. Dad came closer to my bedside and squeezed my hand.
“Good morning kiddo.” He said, smiling in his fatherly manner. I smirked and squeezed his hand back.
“Dad, you know that I don’t like being called that. I’m not a kid anymore.” I teased, trying to put a real smile on their faces. Dad slightly laughed as he always does, and shifted his gaze to a new figure coming in through the door. Dr. Woods entered with a clipboard in hand, pieces of paper flaring off the edges. He clicked his pen as he came in and put a glowing smile on his face as his eyes locked with mine.
“How’s my favorite patient today?” he said, flipping through his chart as he did so. His eyes shifted to all of the medical equipment behind me, scribbling down notes to report back to the nurse’s station. I rolled my eyes.
“You probably say that to everybody.” I replied, letting a slight sense of humor erupt within me.
Dr. Woods flipped through his notes a few more times, overlooking his notes in the margins. He glanced at my parents and put his clipboard back at his side, his bright eyes meeting mine. He slung his stethoscope around his neck; his broad shoulders looked tense as he began to speak. A nurse soon came in as well; her pink scrubs looked vibrant against the depressing white of the hospital. She smiled at me as she checked my insulin still hanging on the metal rod; I craned my neck to the side to watch.
“So, your tests haven’t quite come back yet, but they’ll probably come here in the next hour or so.” Woods said, putting on an informative face, one of his many ways to change personality for his patients. “So, right now we’re going to check vitals; and monitor heart pulse, all that good stuff. We are also going to need to get Trina here to eat a healthy breakfast. This will help her regain some of her energy. Of course she can’t be checked out of the hospital until the blood tests come back, just due to health precautions for Trina.” I nodded. Just having a semi ordinary day will make me feel somewhat at ease.
Woods came over to my bedside and took off his stethoscope. He held the metal close to me as he put the plugs in his ears. “Alright, I’m going to need you to take a big deep breath in and exhale out. Okay?” I nodded. He brought the device close to my body and put it just slightly over my heart. I could feel the cool touch of the metal even through the fabric of my hospital gown, making goosebumps form on my arms. I took a big deep breath, and exhaled out, making sure I was following the doctor’s orders. He took the plugs of the stethoscope out of his ears, and coiled the device back around his neck. He walked back to the front of the room and let the nurse do the rest. “Heart rate is steady. Breathing is steady. Let’s hope it stays like that.” He paused, motioning to the nurse. “Nurse Vera will take the rest of the vitals while I go check on the status report for the blood counts.” He nodded towards me. “And Trina, notify the nurses’ if you need any assistance or if you aren’t feeling quite right. Then we’ll check it out and see what’s going on.” He smiled at me and shook Dad’s hand. “Vera, please bring Trina some breakfast, and take the rest of the vitals.” He said, motioning to Vera as he had one foot out the door. He ran his fingers through his blonde hair and talked to his fellow doctors as he did so. I shifted my gaze to Mom and Dad and saw them smile as Vera left to retrieve the tray.
“Well Trina,” Mom began, “it looks like everything may be okay. The doctor said everything looked okay.” I shrugged.
“Mom, he said my vitals looked okay.” I stopped, crossing my arms and letting the oxygen from the tube relax me. “He still implied that something could still be really wrong with me.” Mom let go of Dad’s hand and rested her fingertips on my forehead. She brushed my black hair out of my eyes, and brought her face close to mine.
“Oh, baby. I know that. And I really hope that you’re going to be okay. But, if there really is something wrong, then we’ll get through it together, as a family.” She continued to rub my head, making my mind feel less stressed.
“Okay. We’ll get through it together.” I let Mom nestle her head into my shoulder as her hair brushed my neck. Dad joined in and consumed us into a huge bear hug, sharing the love.
“I’ll get through this.” I told myself, hoping that it was true.
I woke up to the sound of Mom fluffing pillows in the other room, the sound so delicate but yet disturbing me. I let my eyes adjust to the light breaking through the barrier of my shades, creating a small headache between my eyes. I got up quickly and searched around frantically for my alarm clock, feeling tense as it was nowhere to be found. I shook my door knob and pulled my door open as if there were a storm coming, nearly pulling it off of its hinges.
“Mom!” I screamed across the hallway, nearly throwing my voice to the other room. I ran through her doorway and skidded across the hardwood that is her floor. She looked at me in eyes of anticipation, her complexion portrayed I just scared her out of her mind. I ran my fingers through my hair, and watched as Mom crossed her arms to hear me out.
“What is it honey?”
“What time is it?” I replied, my face growing with sweat by the minute. She glanced at her watch and brought her gaze back up to me.
“Eight-thirty, why?” after that note I really began to start letting the anxiety settle within me. I ran back to my room, and threw on the first thing that I could find.
“What’s going on?” she said, not sure what to think about my sudden burst of newfound energy.
“I’m late for school.” I announced while tying the laces on my boots.
“I totally forgot. We stayed out late last night, and I had totally lost my train of thought.” She replied, placing her delicate hand to her forehead. I pulled my jacket on and slung my book bag over my shoulder as she stepped into my room. Her hair was straightened out behind her shoulders, and her gray pantsuit really made her look professional, I was impressed. “Work wants me there by nine, so I probably have enough time to drop you off at school.” she said while darting to her room to grab her briefcase. I nodded and continued to pull on random clothing, making sure that my appearance looked okay enough for school.
“Mr. Hinds is really going to have it out for me today.” I whispered to myself, zipping up my black hoodie in the process. I walked over to Mom in the hallway and she motioned for us to make our way towards the driveway; towards the mildew smell in her tiny car. I tightened the strap on my bag as we walked frantically to the front door; my shoulder aching with the weight of the books. I climbed into the passenger seat, and looked in the review mirror to try and make myself look like I didn’t just get out of bed; even though that's exactly what I just did. Mom opened her car door and set her briefcase in the backseat, while trying her best to forage for the car keys. She took the sleek keys out, the jingling echoing throughout my tired mind. She put them in the ignition, and she started the car. "How weird it will be today." I thought, "not eating lunch with Trina, not seeing her warm smile." I sighed, letting my eyes rest as Mom drove, trying to keep my body from becoming car sick. I let the sweet feel of rest consume me, as Mom headed down the road, taking me to school.
"Charlie, Charlie wake up." Mom said as she shook my limp body. I woke up groggily as I opened my eyes. "The car ride is only like fifteen minutes, and you thought that you'd take a nap?" She said, slightly laughing. I put my bag back over my shoulder, and opened the car door to get to class. I turned my back to Mom and started walking up the concrete pathway that leads up to the foyer doors. I heard a slight hum of a car window as Mom slowly pulled away. "I love you." She said, waving as she did so. I turned around and waved back, and then sharply turned around and covered my eyes, as if someone saw the embarrassing event. I waited for the receptionist at the front desk to unlock the doors and let me in as I heard Mom's car drive away. When the lock was no longer in void, I stepped into the school and walked down the hallway to the attendance office. I felt like the floor was consuming me with every step, like I was slowing being sucked up until I could no longer breathe.
I walked closer to the tan brown door and eyed the thick black lettering that screamed, Attendance Office. I pushed the door aside, and tightened up the rough strap around my shoulder, doing this routine every time I get nervous. The women behind the front desk, slightly looked up from her computer monitor and smiled at me. Her thick red hair all bundled up into a tight little knot on the top of her head. She blew her bangs out from her eyes as she motioned for me to come closer. I let my feet slide across the floor as I slightly glanced at my pants. I slid my elbows on the cold surface of the desk and awaited the women's tender voice.
"Are you signing in, or are you leaving school grounds?" She asked, motioning for me to take the pencil on the far corner of the signing sheets.
I picked up the pencil and glumly and wrote my name, looking up at the clock behind her head to write down the time down to the exact minute. The graphite from the pencil spelled out my name shakily, as I could barely keep my hands steady from the obvious tiredness creeping up inside me.
"What's your name?" She asked, a hall pass in hand.
She scribbled the information on the pink slip and handed it to me after I finished filling out the sheet.
"Have a nice day." She said, as I turned to exit into the bellowing hallways that would lead me to class. A class that I didn’t even want to go to, not with everything that has been happening with Trina. I bit my nails as I pondered upon the concept of her blood tests, hoping to God that they came out okay. That they proved what I wanted to believe, that she was healthy.
I got to my classroom and turned the metal knob, the material cool to the touch as I gripped it. The door swung open when Mr. Hinds was in mid speech, explaining a new project to the class. "Oh great." I thought. I went to the front of the room and handed it to Mr. Hinds, his wrinkly hand tearing it away from my grasp. He shot me a glare as I made my way to my desk, his white mustache twitched as the upper corner of his mouth went into a scowl. He scratched the top of his bald head, and repositioned his glasses as he took a big deep breath, clapping his hands together.
"Alright class. Let's get back to the topic we were talking about until we were so rudely interrupted." He looked at me right in the eyes, I felt like a deer in headlights, frozen in fear. I slightly slid my back down on the chair of the desk, pretending that this would make me less noticeable.
"Alright. So your Holocaust projects will be due by the end of this week. Now I will take no excuses on late work or how you had no ti....." I began to zone out as his lecture went on and on, almost literally hearing the ticking of the clock between my ears. The time was passing by, but to me it felt like an eternity. My mind kept drifting to different thoughts, thoughts that I couldn’t help but let linger in my mind. All I could think about was Trina.
"Mr. Sanders!" Hinds began, scaring me out of my trance. "Do you feel like I'm wasting your time in here?!" His eyes burned into my soul like acid, making my body dizzy.
"Well, if you are just so passionate then maybe you can see me after school. Three o'clock, don’t be late then like how you were so rudely late to my class!" His yelling rang throughout my skull, I felt like I was about to faint.
"It won't happen again." Mr. Hinds shook his head as he wrote me up a yellow detention pass. I sank my head into my arms and let the sweat bead on my forehead. Hinds tore the pass from the pad and walked over slowly to my desk, his old feet sounded like bricks against the tile floor. He slammed the paper down on the tan desk, and shot a glare at me so menacing that I couldn’t help but slightly cringe in my seat. I slid the yellow pass across the desk and let it slightly crumple in my tight fist. I solemnly looked down at the floor as curious pairs of eyes turned their heads towards me. I felt embarrassed and out of order beyond repair, I could feel my dignity walk away with Mr. Hinds, my face beet red. The school bell rang and woke me up from my hallucinations. I slowly leaned forward in my seat and grabbed my bag, slinging it over my shoulder as I crumpled the pass even more. Mr. Hinds watched me walk out the door as I kept my head down, trying to avoid any more confrontations from that grumpy old man.
"Don’t be late." Hinds whispered to me as I walked out the door. I sighed as I thought about spending my afternoon with Hinds, what an awful thought. I shoved my detention slip into my bag and slowly walked to my next class, Mrs. Hayes.
As I was walking I heard slight whispers form around me, like an impenetrable barrier of embarrassment. Bryce Walker and his group laughed as I walked by, I stopped to ask someone what was happening as I darted my eyes around the room. Sam Mason stood by the drinking fountain, his science textbooks in hand. I approached while trying to shade my face from the incandescent light that shone down from the ceiling. "Sam. What's going on?" I whispered, trying not to draw too much attention towards myself. Sam looked up from the tile floor and repositioned his glasses, the thick black frames outlining his eyes.
"They're all talking about Trina. Haven't you heard? She had a huge episode yesterday after school." Sam looked back around, seeing everyone whispering about me. "Oh." He said, while slowly backing away from me as if I were a form of social suicide. Bryce came over to me, and approached slowly, his tall stature towering over me.
"Looks like your girlfriend is sick. I always knew that she had some form of a disease, just thought that it was rabies or Aids or something like that." He said, high- fiving his four friends. "You probably caught it too, you know, based on how much time you guys spend together." He laughed while almost everyone else joined in, I felt like I was put on display. "Everyone!" He yelled, motioning to all of the other students. "We need to stay away from Charlie boy here. He's contagious!" Everyone around me started coughing and sneezing as I tried to pretend that I couldn’t hear, implying that I was sick.
"Shut up Bryce." I said, Bryce barely heard.
"What did you just say to me?!"
"I said, shut up Bryce!" I screamed, letting my fists clench and become bone white through the skin. He laughed at me after I made that remark, I couldn’t hold in my anger anymore. My face was bright red as my teeth hurt from being clenched within my mouth. I swung a punch at Bryce, letting my fist connect with his jaw. A burning sensation of pain crept up into my knuckles, the skin turned red as I examined the wound. The pain didn’t make me stop, to me it felt more like energy that was fueling my anger towards them. I swung more punches at Bryce as him and his crew fought back. They kneed me and hit me everywhere, I had never felt pain like this before. Blood spurted from my nose as crimson dripped from my mouth, I could taste metal. I tried to shoot more punches at Bryce, but I was outnumbered. His friends all beat me to a pulp, their fists created bruises and geysers of blood that shot pain throughout my body. I heard screams of teachers as they tried to break up the fight, my mind almost going blank as more blows hit my limp body. Bryce and his crew were soon pulled away from me and taken to the Principal's office, as I was peeled off the floor by Mr. Hinds. Other teachers took me by the arms, and tried to keep me steady as my body began to lean forward. We were heading to the Nurse's office. I felt delusional. My eyes could barely stay open as the swelled up eyelid clouded my sight. I felt helpless. Blood dripped onto the floor as I tried to stay upright. Teachers talked to me but my mind wouldn’t let me hear, I was barely holding on, almost unconscious. All that I wanted at the moment, was for the pain to go away. I saw pairs of eyes follow me as people guided me to the nurses office, their hands gripping my torso. I was lead down the hall, and entered the nurse’s office. I tripped over my feet, as if I were drunk and couldn't walk straight. When the nurse saw me, her eyes grew big, her delicate hands motioned for me to take a seat on one of the bland cots. I followed suit, barely seeing out of my veiled over eye, the pain and the embarrassment just hurt too much for me to comprehend. She looked at my wounds and immediately placed an ice pack on my thigh, the chilling sensation made muscles ache momentarily. She used bandages to stop the bleeding on my knuckles, and looked at my bruised eyelid.
“I’m gonna call his Mom!” Mr. Hinds said, as he raced over to the facility phone, looking up my records.
“No.” I said, trying to sit up as the pain scorched my muscles.
“It’s school policy.” Hinds announced, giving me an eye roll as he dialed the number. I lied there on the lumpy bed and let the nurse address my wounds as I thought through the new development.
“Hello, Mrs. Sanders.” He began, his voice as bland as always. “Charlie has been beat up here at school. Um, I would advise taking him home, letting him heal up. It’s kind of school policy.” The room went silent when Hinds stopped. “Alright, alright, see you then.” He hung up the phone, and walked back over to me. “Your Mom said that she will be here in about twenty to thirty minutes.” He eyed me up and down while I nodded. I turned my eyes away from the man as I looked down at the floor, solemnly thinking.
“Mom is going to kill me.” I whispered to myself. I turned over in the cot and tried not to lie on my bruises. I felt a soft hand on my shoulder as they walked out the door, the nurse going back to her desk as she filled out more paper work. I let a soft tear fall down my cheek as I thought about the fight, and as I thought about how they were making fun of Trina. How could they do that? How could they make fun of someone who may be sick? I put my hands over my face at the thought of it. “They’re sick individuals.” I thought, letting the idea of something unfortunate happening to them stick into my mind.