In Another Life

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Without missing a beat, Danny took Calla by the hand and walked her to Charlie's room. Duke tried to get around the counter quick enough to grab her by the arm and stop her but Chester, Joe, and Ricky stopped him at the corner. They needed to protect Calla, even though they didn't know what the hell was really going on. 

The moment the entered Charlie's room Calla hurried over to the side without the machines he was hooked up to so she wouldn't get in the way. He was still, too quiet for her liking, the white bandages poked out of the gown he was wearing and seeing it made her stomach doing that twist that she hated so much. Seeing his peaceful face made her heart stop a little, knowing it was her fault he was in here made it speed up again. 

"He's going to be fine, I read the chart and living with Duke as long as I have, I know what the medical word for 'will survive' and he's got it on here. You know I need to ask you if you remember that name he was saying." Ricky took a seat next to her by Charlie's bedside. She didn't want to talk about what she saw, it was confusing and the man calling her by a different name was even worse. 

"I don't know who he is, I mean, I know he's one of the brothers, but I don't know why he called me that name or why he's in one of my memories. I don't like seeing a face that something in me knows but I don't really know. Do you know what I mean?" She didn't look at Ricky while she spoke with him, she just leaned her head onto his shoulder.

"I know what you're saying, let me tell you a little story," he let her get comfortable before he dived into the parts they knew about her. She slowly closed her eyes and let his words take her away. 

"It was probably about a year ago that Duke started at this very hospital. He was among twelve students that started this program. He was so excited, he nearly spilled his Icee all over the new couch." Ricky laughed, making Calla's head shake a little, but she didn't move out of her spot. "He worked hard, all day and all night, then one day he came home and told us about this person he met. Her name was Gwen Erwin, and he wouldn't stop talking about her. They didn't start going out right then, she made him wait around. He would tell us how smart and witty she was, so of course, we wanted to meet her." She was starting to like this story, and with her eyes closed, she could see it play behind her lids. 

"He wouldn't let us near her, not until they were at least going out, we weren't sure why but we respected his wishes." Ricky took in a deep breath to prepare for the next part of the story. 

"So, time goes by and we don't hear much about her until he comes home and states they were going on their first date. A week goes by and he can't shut up about the date, it apparently goes very well, then months go by and it was mostly a blur since we were all busy with school so we didn't notice that they had been dating for nearly six months. When we did, a family dinner was planned and everything was happening so quickly that we didn't notice when Duke didn't come home one night." Ricky's voice dropped slightly and Calla hung on every word he said as the movie danced behind her eyes. 

"We ended up going to the hospital to visit him and we saw Duke buried in his work. He had taken multiple shifts and after those shifts, he would go to the library and work himself sick. You see, Duke's lovely lady didn't show up for a date they set and then for the dinner the next day either. She wasn't answering his calls and when he contacted her roommates they said she had been in class all day, but she wasn't answering her phone. Then he went by her parent's house since she was local, and they told him that she didn't want to see him anymore. Needless to say, he was heartbroken." Ricky reminisced on those darker nights that seemed so long ago. It was only about three months, in reality. 

"So, our devastated brother, buried in his work, he never took his nose out a book again. He stayed in the library and rarely ever came home. He was deeply in love with Gwen and we all knew it, even though we never saw a photo of her, but we banded together and told ourselves that she was the bad guy. She hurt our brother and if she ever showed her face around him again, we would deal with it." Ricky's story began to come to an end but in a sense, he was just getting started. 

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