29 | in which she picks him

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You hurt me so bad,
That pain lost its meaning.


Crystal Monroe

| in which she picks him |

When I open my eyes, the last person I'm expecting beside me is a police officer. His pen poised on the notepad he's carrying, his dark eyes watch me closely when my own look at his face.

"Hello, ma'am," he says formally. "My name is Detective George and I need to ask you some questions. Do you think you're well enough to respond?"

The question is so ironic I almost want to laugh. Hiding my amusement, though, I blink several times, lying still due to the inability to move. My body seems to be numb and I blame the needles dripping clear liquid into my bloodstream for that.

I'm most definitely in a hospital room, with white pastel walls and the smell of bleach. The sheets spread over me are white, and I'm dressed in white scrubs, dotted with blue balls that remind me of my childhood pajamas.

"Can you tell me your name?" the detective asks.

"Crystal," I answer, noticing how hoarse my voice sounds. "Crystal Monroe."

"Miss Monroe, can you tell me who did this to you?" he asks next, scribbling on his notepad.

The monster I loved.

I don't answer for a few moments, just watching the man watching me. He's talking about things I don't want to talk about, asking me questions I don't want to answer, causing me to remember the day -- and years -- I wish to forget.

Who did this to me, he asks, following up my answer -- 'my boyfriend' -- with a dozen other questions. How long have we been together; what happened between us; do we live together; where is he now; do I think he can hurt me again; what do I want to do now; am I hurt; am I scared; do I feel safe ... question after questions comes my way until I close my eyes and shift my pounding head on the pillow.

"I see you'd like to rest," the man concludes, pocketing his pen and notepad. "I'll come back later to ask you more questions, Miss Monroe. Just one last thing --"

I stifle a groan.

"We were under the impression that it was your neighbor who did this to you. Can you tell me how Mr. Falls knew you were hurt and why he broke down your door to get to you?"

His statement and question startle me, and I look back at the brown-haired detective. His eyes are cold and watchful like he suspects me of doing something wrong. By the way he's looking at me, I have a greater chance of being a criminal than a victim.

A victim ...

"Ryan?" I breathe. "Ryan found me?"

"I want to make sure you wish to see him before we let him in --"

"Yes," I say quickly, my pain dropping a dozen-fold. "Yes, Ryan, he ..."

Images of us kissing in the rain, on his doorstep, and driving around the Alaskan mountains flash before my eyes, but so do Jeremy's insults, punches, and curses. My head aches worse, and I squeeze my eyes shut.

"It's okay," I force myself to say. "Ryan is a friend.

The officer nods, pursing his lips and turning towards the door. He opens it, shoots me one last look, and walks out, closing the door softly behind him.

It's a long time later that the door opens again, nurses and a doctor coming in. They take my blood pressure, monitor my heart rate, touch my head and ask me how I'm doing. I respond with single words, too tired to actually speak.

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