I wake to a burning sensation deep in my chest. I beg it to stop, but the searing continues. The smelling of rubbing alcohol permeates my nose. I can tell that I'm in a hospital, I recognize the stale air. My eyes open and immediately shut. The light is too bright and I wince in pain. Slowly I try again, forcing my eyelids to open a little bit at a time.
At first everything seems blurry. The bed I'm in is a blob of white, along with that annoying window which is letting the sunlight shine directly in my face. The blobs are starting to take shape. A particular blob sitting by my bed consumes my interest. I recognize the brown hair and the sound of her snores. Mandy.
I try to sit up and fail miserably, letting out a groan of pain. The stupid oxygen tubes on my upper lip jerk my head back to the pillow and the resounding effect causes my chest to vibrate and the burning sensation to intensify.
How am I alive? I thought I was dead. I remembered dying in that alley, or at least I thought I did. Apparently, I was wrong.
My movements have startled Mandy awake. Her big brown eyes flutter open and I can see unshed tears welling in pools. She reaches up and gently hugs me. I can tell she's afraid I'll break.
"Thank God!" She cries into my neck. "I thought I'd lost you."
"So did I." I respond, "What happened?"
"A tourist saw you in the alley. He used his shirt and stopped the bleeding. By the time help arrived you were almost dead. If it hadn't been for that guy…" Mandy's voice broke.
"Shhh, I'm here," I place my hand on her back pulling her closer. I never want to let go.
"They were all here. I sent them away." She states suddenly. I know who she means, and I'm glad.
"How'd you manage that?" I ask. She knows me so well.
"I told them you were my fiancé and I had been given medical custody until you were conscious. It was the only way to keep them away." She says remorsefully.
I think about her statement for a moment. She looks at me with questioning eyes, like she's waiting for my approval that she did the right thing. I think back to the decisions I had made lying there in the dirt. I know what I want.
"Do you prefer spring or summer weddings?" I ask innocently.
She looks shocked. I continue. "Well we could do a Christmas wedding if you want."
Mandy is still processing my proposal. "Do you…I mean…. Was that…?"
"If you mean was that a proposal of marriage, then yes. Will you marry me?" I ask hopefully.
"Yes!" She leans up and kisses me softly.
Suddenly I realize how lucky I am. What have I done to deserve this?