Undone: [Prologue]

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Nick

I looked up to hear the clinking of keys and to see Mum opening the front door. A quick glance at the mobile phone display told me that it was almost nine…wow, Mum was late.

“Mum, hey!” I called to her from where I was seated at the dining table.

“Hey honey, how was your day?” She was still taking off her shoes and relieving herself of her bag.

“Alright, just the same. How about yours?”

“Yeah, nothing changed for me either.”

I allowed her to take her dinner out of the fridge and pop it in the microwave before I broke the silence that had formed. “Has there been any progress?”

She looked at me and frowned. “Unfortunately, he’s still the same. Vitals are normal but he refuses to speak.”

I’m not sure what I had been expecting to hear, I mean, I hadn’t really thought that he would have broken out of the silence he’d undertaken for the past year now, yet I felt disappointment at hearing that nothing had changed. There was concern, too.

About an year had passed since Max had had the accident, an year since he was burnt, an year since he’d been having surgeries and physiotherapy for treatment…an year since he’d last spoken.

“It’s horrible, what happened to that poor boy,” she spoke on, not aware that I was drifting away. “Maybe you should visit him sometime.”

That brought me back to the conversation. “What? Mum, you know that he and I aren’t exactly friends anymore.” I don’t know why I didn’t want to visit him.

She looked at me disapprovingly. “Really, Nick? After so long, why can’t you let it go?”

“I don’t mean,” I paused, unsure of how to phrase my next words, “what happened. It’s just, things are awkward between him and I, and besides, if he hasn’t spoken to his parents or sister, why would he speak to me?”

I expected a counterargument from Mum, where she’d so rightly point out that sometimes people would rather talk to friends, and I’d started to think about how I could say that he wouldn’t speak to Maya, either, but I received none. I suppose she was tired.

She simply sighed, then said, “Well, that’s your wish. But do consider it sometime. You never know.”

*

Which is how I found myself in Max’s hospital room the following day.

Something about the conversation I’d had just made me do it. I mean, it couldn’t really hurt me…and no matter what Max had done in the past, he didn’t deserve what he’d gotten. And if there was anything I could do to help, I would.

The change in him was the first thing that struck me when I knocked on the door, then slowly entered as he looked at me, confused. He was still the same Max, but so much had changed. His chest was a mixture of red and skin – there weren’t any bandages now – Mum had told me that at one point all there was was white gauze – and this extended to the one arm that lay on top of the covers. It was significantly reduced on his arm, the red-and-skin mixture – although I had to remind myself that it actually was all skin – with just one large patch extending from his chest to the back of his arm, his forearm only having a thin band of it.

His face was pale, and haggard, like he was tired. The brown in his eyes had faded, it seemed, and all that was left was a shadow. His expression was hollow, like someone who had arrived from the funeral of a loved one, I guess. Then he’d lost quite a bit of weight, too, so where he’d been the healthy-skinny before, he looked like a prisoner then. He looked weak, and fragile…I couldn’t believe it.

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