James stayed up, unable to sleep and watched as nurses came in and out of his room, ignoring his presence like it was part of their job.
“Is she a girlfriend?”
James jumped as he realized that Dr. Jones had come in. “N—no. She’s my English partner.”
“Then how was it that you were brought here under her care?” Dr. Jones questioned with light interest.
“After my dad… I left as quickly as I could and just began to walk off the pain. She only lives a few blocks over but I had no intention of actually going to her house until I saw that she might be up.” James rubbed the back of his neck with the arm that was free of the I.V. “I couldn’t go to any of my friends houses—and I knew she wouldn’t tell anyone what happened—”
“Because she can’t speak?”
“No!” James shook his head quickly, stumbling his next words out to explain himself better. “She—she isn’t the kind of girl—the kind of person who would tell your secrets to people. At least… The girl I knew three years wouldn’t and I know she’s still somewhere inside the Mackenzie she is now.”
“I checked into her hospital files after her mother told me she couldn’t speak.” Dr. Jones sighed. “That’s got to be hard—losing her father and to bare scars as a reminder of the event.”
“She has scars?”
“Yes. All along her back. Crushed glass imbedded into her skin after the crash.”
James leaned back against his pillows and frowned. “I always envied her relationship with her dad—it nearly broke her when he died and it showed too. She stopped talking, her friends stopped trying, teachers gave up on her, I followed the crowd… I never want to do that again, I don’t want to leave her high and dry after we’re done with our project.”
Dr. Jones sighed. “She’s had a hard time.”
“Yes she has.” James agreed. “And no one made it easier by teasing her and playing jokes on her.” His mouth opened with a long yawn and he rubbed his face.
“I’ll get out of your hair.” Dr. Jones chuckled and left the room.
James slipped down in his bed until he was covered with the blankets and warmth. He stared up at the ceiling with heavy lids and finally succumbed to the sleep clawing at him.
“Mackenzie?” James squinted his eyes to try to get the figure in front of him to come into focus. “Mackenzie!” He reached his arm out to try and grab the smoky image in front of him.
The image slowly turned and James stumbled back with a gasp.
It was me, bloody and crying. “My dad… He killed my dad.”
James caught me just as I fell and lowered himself down to his knees. “Mackenzie, Mackenzie!” He cupped my cheeks in his hands. “Who killed your dad?”
I groaned and closed my eyes. “My dad…He’s dead…”
James slowly pulled his hands away and set me on the floor, in the middle of the pool of blood that had leaked out from my back. “No… Mackenzie.” He shook my shoulders. “Wake up, you have to stay awake!”
I groaned and weakly tried to bat his hands away. “Let me sleep James. I’m tired.” I wrapped my hands around his wrists but had no strength to do much more than hold on. “Just… Let me sleep.”
“No.” James tightened his grip on my shoulders. “No, you can’t sleep Mackenzie. Not now.” His eyes widened when he felt the pressure of my hands slip away from his wrists. “Mackenzie…? No.” He lifted my head onto his lap and stroked my hair back from my face. “Mackenzie, wake up. Wake up. Wake up!” He squeezed his eyes shut and pressed his forehead to mine. “Don’t leave now. Not when I finally got you back…”
“Mackenzie.” My mom knocked on the door.
I lifted my head from the pillows and let out a silent groan. I had a pounding headache and my stomach hurt.
“Did you want something to eat?”
“I’ll go get some subs.” She kissed my forehead and left.
I waited until I heard her car leave the driveway before getting up to go take a shower. The water was relaxing and as I stood there I felt my headache go away—though my stomach still hurt—and I began to actually relax for the first time since last Friday. I washed my hair and got out after about a half an hour.
To my surprise, my mom was home when I went downstairs. She smiled at me and set a still wrapped sub on the counter. “Spicy Italian on Italian.”
I grabbed the sub and sat down in one of the bar stools lining the counter.
“How’s the project coming along?”
I nodded and gave her a thumbs up.
“Are you two getting along ok?”
I set my sub down and took the glass of water she was holding out.
“I’m just concerned Mackenzie.” She gave me that parental look that said she had the right to be. “You’ve been through so much and I don’t want you to get hurt again.”
I began eating my sub again, wishing that I could reassure her that I was fine when I worked with James. Once the sub was gone I went back up to my room and turned on my TV.
Rizzoli and Isles was on TNT.
I curled up against the headboard of my bed with my blankets wrapped around myself and watched the show with my knees pulled up to my chest. The pounding in my head lessened after I ate but it was still there, at the back of my head along with my worries for James.
He had to go home sometime soon and his father would be there, waiting.
I rested my chin on my knees and stared at the TV with a distracted mind.
~I Caught Myself by Paramore~
YOU ARE READING
Mackenzie has been mute ever since the car accident that took her father's life when she was in seventh grade. Now she's in high school, a sophmore, and everyone has given up on trying to get her to talk. She's alone with no way of calling out for h...