42. Let's be still

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           In my dream I saw myself sitting in a park. Alone. I was reading or writing something and I remember that it was very quiet. It was maybe 4pm, a lazy afternoon. And it felt peaceful, it felt nice. I was sitting there and enjoying my moment of solitude, having an honest conversation with my inner thoughts. I didn't know where my friends were. They might have been far, far away from me. But I felt this unconditional love for all of them that I've never felt before and complete, utter joy. And then I thought of all those wasted days in which all I did was miss them and wait impatiently for their phone call. I forgave myself for those dark moments, but I also made a promise to myself. From now on, I would never spend another day only thinking about others. I was learning to appreciate my own company. And I wasn't afraid anymore.

Pit? Pit, wake up. Pit...

          I opened my eyes. I saw Noemi. I smiled. Still half asleep, I wondered why she was wearing her pyjama in what seemed to be a public place. Then I looked around. Oh right, Dario, hospital, Department Four. There were other people sitting in the room now, but Gaia and Virginia were nowhere to be found. I stretched myself and sat up; apparently sleeping on a plastic chair can really hurt your butt.

          "Come on," Noemi said, "I think he'll soon wake up."

          I followed her as she guided me to his room. Virginia and Gaia were already sitting on opposite sides of his bed. It didn't look very comfortable. His eyes were closed, his face surprisingly calm. A white bandage surrounded his head, his hair smoothly lying on the harsh pillow.

          ''How is he?'' I asked.

          "Fine," replied Gaia, "he's gonna be fine. The doctor said the alcohol in his system wasn't extreme, but he already had previous injuries so he fainted and hit his head. It could have been much worse, it could have been... "

          Virginia lowered her head and looked at him. It seemed like that's all she had been doing for the last few hours. Just looking at him. She sighed and delicately touched his face. ''All these bruises...''

          She knew. We all knew where those bruises came from. I hoped she didn't feel responsible for that, I hoped she didn't feel guilty. Maybe she didn't know his feelings for her, maybe it was better if she didn't. Right now all she needed was peace. And he would always be there for her, even if she didn't know it, even if she didn't see.

          He opened his eyes. At first slowly, delicately. Then he rubbed them and mumbled shit. I smiled. She was the first thing he saw, her puzzled blue eyes staring back at him.

          ''Virgi,'' he whispered. And then he coughed. He looked around and his forehead creased. ''Where the hell am I?''

          ''You're in the hospital,'' I said. ''Do you remember anything?''

          He glanced at me and something in his eyes flickered. ''Yeah, I remember.'' He looked around again and sat up. ''So, where are those assholes?''

          ''Stiff and Diego went to Milan,'' Gaia said. ''The others, I don't know.''

          Dario scoffed, a little amused. No sign of anger or hurt or disappointment. Did he even care about these people? Did he surround himself with them on purpose? They didn't ask him about his life and he didn't care about theirs. It was a perfect deal.

          "Hey, Virgi," he whispered. He had that tone he used when saying a joke, and it was particularly soft when it was addressed to her, but this time teasing was replaced by a simple "are you okay?". A question usually so mundane, it had a heavy weight because of its sincerity.

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