36. my heart.

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Numbly, I walked with Isabelle to her car

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Numbly, I walked with Isabelle to her car. The scene kept replaying over and over in my mind again.

Trip... slide... crunch.

"Seatbelt, Ryan," Isabelle reminded me gently, snapping me out of my daze.

I looked down to see that I'd completely forgotten. I never forgot to wear my seatbelt.

"Oh... yeah," I said absently, fastening it.

She started the vehicle and pulled out of the arena parking lot, both of us silent.

It was late and the roads were nearly empty, but not empty enough; every vehicle front of us felt like an obstacle with the audacity to be in our way. Every red light we hit felt like it lasted an hour. Every mile we drove seemed endless.

I was trapped in some kind of living nightmare. Desperately, I wished that I could wake up from it in bed next to Ethan; both of us safe.

Looking out the window as the streetlights passed by in a blur, I wondered whether he was in the ambulance by now. I wondered whether they would take the same route we had and would soon speed past us, lights flashing, siren blaring. I wondered if he was awake. If he was okay.

He had to be okay.

Isabelle dropped me off at the entrance while she drove around to the back of the hospital to find parking. Nearly blinded by tears, I ran inside to find out where they'd taken him.

I rushed up to the front desk to find my coworker Melissa working ER triage for the evening.

"Melissa, they just brought my boyfriend in," I said, near hysterics and almost unintelligible. "Ethan Russell. Where is he? Is he okay?"

She looked at me sympathetically. "They just took him off the ambulance unit and into the back. He's going to need some tests. But Ryan, you can't go in there yet. You're not family."

My stomach sank. I knew this, too. As a nurse, I had told people the very same thing more times than I could count.

He wasn't, technically speaking, family.

But he was my heart.

I needed to see him.

Just then, Isabelle walked up behind me and put her arm around me.

"Ryan, it's okay. We can wait. I'll wait right here with you," she said, guiding me to a chair in the ER waiting area.

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