59. So Long, My Love

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I floated in and out of consciousness for days

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I floated in and out of consciousness for days.

That's what they told me, anyway. I don't remember much about it, but the little I did had worked just like it did in the movies.

Black screen. Heatbeats, thump, thump. Blurry lens slowly coming into focus. Peyton's face, Jake's face, both hovering over my hospital bed. Furrowed brows, tension marring their features, they talked at me, but it was warped and unintelligible, a bunch of Charlie Brown's Wah, Wah, Wahs. Beep beep beeping machines, fade to black.

Other people came too. Daniel and Faith prayed. Beth wrung her hands. Alice was wheeled in, looking pretty tore up, her leg in a cast. Mrs. Bishop cried a lot. Miguel and Miranda, weird. Buck came often, made a lot of noise and shuffled about, stuck his face right into mine and yelled my name, telling me to wake up. His beer and cigarette breath was rank in my face, but it didn't matter, I was happy to see him. Maybe mom came too, but I must've missed her.

But no matter who came, and who left, Peyton and Jake were constants, two of my favorite faces in the entire world, always there. I felt them night and day, and to see them, all I had to do was open my eyes. 

Sometimes they'd be asleep, side by side on the couch or one on each side of my bed. Sometimes they'd just sit and stare at me. Sometimes they'd whisper to each other, their heads bent close, and sometimes, they'd argue quietly.

Then one time, the world came into focus and stayed that way.

Peyton was at my bedside, his eyes closed, his head drooping into his chest. And damn, he was looking scruffy- I never realized he grew that much facial hair. 


His head snapped up and he stood so fast that his chair went clattering to the floor. "Layla! Can you see me?"

"Of course I can see you. What the hell?"

Still, his eyes were disbelieving. "Layla, blink."

I did.

"Blink twice."

I blinked twice, but he still stood there, gawking. I shifted my body. "Never mind the blinking, can you help me up? My back is killing me."

All the color returned to Peyton's face in one big rush. He rushed toward me as if he was coming in for a hug, but he pulled himself back. "No, don't move. Not yet. Let me call the doctor."

The doctor came and asked me a lot of stupid questions. My name, the current year, the number of fingers he was holding up... Then he flashed lights in my eyes and poked and prodded at my body. Beside him, a nurse took notes.

Once he was satisfied, he looked down at me with a serious expression and went on and on about the Glascow Coma Scale, hemorrhaging, and
sub-something hema-whatevers until I tuned him out.

It wasn't like I was going to understand what he was talking about anyway. But Peyton would, and if it was important, he'd tell me. So instead, I surveyed my surroundings. The hospital room was standard, painted in blues and tans, with a window looking out to the parking lot. Nothing special.

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