Chapter Forty One: The Phone Call

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(still in) Ricky’s P.O.V.

            Have I ever told you how much I despised hospitals? Well, I do…more than anything.

            But there I was; sitting awkwardly in the waiting room, my foot tapping on the linoleum floor and my hands gripping my phone with hesitation as I mulled over the idea of growing the balls to call Emma and tell her about her beloved best friend…and my ex-best friend.

            I’d gotten really far. Really, I had! I’d been so strong as to look up her dusty contact in my address book and even click on her name. But my thumb still seemed to falter when it was hovering over the Call button.

            I groaned out loud, shoving my head back against the wall. I closed my eyes and listened to the sounds of the hospital: the faint beeping of machines that were plugged up in the multiple rooms, the ringing of the phones, the soft voices of the nurses as they spoke to the other people that shuffled around the hospital, either biting their nails for the news or laughing as they found out that their worries were now meaningless.

            Soaking in the sounds, a chill running up my spine, making my whole body shudder. It brought back memories of when I’d broken my arm in fourth grade and had been rushed to this very building, only to be in excruciating pain for the next 24 hours. I vowed never to let myself come back here.

            But I was back.

            “Mr. Stephens?” came a quiet voice.

            I glanced up to find a doe-eyed nurse standing above me.


            “Mr. and Mrs. Cross would like you to join them in Nathan’s room. They’re ready to talk with you,” she gave me a small smile.

            “Uh, what about my mom?”

            We both looked over at Mom, who was passed out in a lounge chair a few feet away. Her pained expression had finally left her, leaving a tranquil mask across her face.

            “Why don’t we let her sleep? She’s been here for hours now and must be exhausted,” the nurse said.

            We both got up and she led me to the patient wing. We zigzagged through the halls until we came to his room. I peered inside and found Mr. and Mrs. Cross lingering over a bed. I braced myself for blood and guts, but found Nathan to be patched up and lying still in his bed.

            “Ricky!” Nathan’s over-emotional mom squealed. “I’m so glad you came!”

            I was then pulled into a vice-tight hug. When she let me go, I was wheezing.

            “How’s he doing?” I asked when I regained my breath.

            Her mouth dropped. Mr. Cross hunched over.

            The nurse replied to my question. “I’m afraid that in Nathan’s conditions, it does not look good. There is a lot of internal bleeding and he’s punctured a lung. There are also some other issues that the doctors are unable to fix at the moment.”

            I didn’t respond to her. I don’t think I could’ve even if I’d wanted to. He was dying. Both of his parents knew, the doctors knew, even I knew. We were all just too frightened to face the truth. Nathan’s death was inevitable.

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