Diego and I stared at the bag wordlessly. Now that I had seen the box's power, I was almost afraid to even touch it. I could see glimpses of Seth and Sandra out my peripherals; as no one else dared to come closer, we all seemed to be feeling the same thing.
Trembling, I slung both straps on my shoulders. This drawstring bag now held all of our worldy possessions: namely, the Percy Jackson books, one through four, and everything I'd bothered to transfer from my original bag to this one. If only I'd thought to take our food and money, or what was left of it.
I turned toward the dugout, which was still in flames. I didn't know if it was going to spread or not, but I didn't want to stick around and find out.
"Let's go!" Sandra cried before I did.
As if waking from a trance, Diego and Seth shook themselves, and we took off, heading in no particular direction - all we wanted was to get out as quickly as possible. I didn't want to stop when my legs began to ache in protest, but at some point, I did. As I bent down to put my hands on my knees, I realized I was standing on asphault. Too late, I recognized a pair of headlights.
I don't remember ducking out of the way, but I must have, because the next thing I knew, I was on my knees, a couple feet to the right. I feveredly realized a thousand spiders were crawling up my arm, and every creep hurt unbearably. My right arm was a pale, unrecognizable mangle of bloody flesh, with even some bone sticking out.
I didn't recognize the person walking up to me; my eyes stared unseeingly in the shock of seeing my injury.
" . . . you okay? I - what are you doing here in the middle of the night? I could have killed you! Do you need a ride -"
Something wet rolled down my face. I was crying. I had been agonizingly moaning in pain, but had only realized it now.
"You have to get up," choked Diego. "Get in the car, the hospital's only a few miles away."
I felt a little dizzy as I stood up. Someone grabbed me by the shoulders, and the next thing I knew, I was staring into Seth's eyes. "She has a concussion!" he cried fearfully.
I felt him and Sandra coming to either side of me, keeping me steady as I stumbled into the van. I tried to reach for a seat belt with my right arm, but realized in horror that I couldn't move it. Someone did it for me.
I don't remember the drive, or checking into the hospital. I was too much in shock. They took X-rays. . . . Once I was looked at, the doctor claimed that I'd have to be drugged for my arm to be set. It felt wrong, feeling the strange numbness of them cleaning my arm, and watching my bone retreat back into its fracture zone.
At some point after being treated, I slept fitfully.
"Hi, Anna," Seth said, leaning over me. I'd just opened my eyes.
"Hey," I said, trying to sit up.
"Nuh uh uh," he reprimanded, wagging his finger in front of my face. "How can you deny us the fun of playing with your bed?"
"But you said I could do it the first time!" cried Diego.
"Oh. Yeah . . ."
After jiggling with the controls a few times, Diego got me into an upright position.
I surveyed the hospital room. It was no different than any other I'd seen - bland wallpaper and the hospital-y smell. Sandra was sitting in a nearby chair, and next to her was a pregnant woman, looking very far along even to my unexperienced eyes. Her hair was naturally curly and jet black, coming down just past her chin. Her eyes were a sparkling light blue, the kind that should be alive and happy, but instead looked dead and grim.
"I, ah, who are you?" I asked her.
"I'm Liana Finch," she answered. "I'm sorry about your arm."
"It's okay," I answered honestly. "Taking me to the hospital and stuff made up for it. And this is kind of a learning experience," I rambled on, curiously staring at my sling, which felt very heavy. "I've never broken a bone before." Not that I'd ever want to again.
Sandra gave a grim smile. "Honestly Anna, you could be taking an MRI and still call it a learning experience."
I tried to shrug, but it's slightly harder to do so when your arm's in a sling.
"How are you feeling?" Liana asked.
"Just tired," I answered. "I wish I could sleep for more than a few hours without getting woken up by somebody." A sudden question popped in my head. "Where have you guys been sleeping?" If they were sleeping in hospital chairs and I'd been complaining from a comfortable bed . . .
"We were at Liana's," answered Sandra. "Diego didn't want to leave - I didn't either, really - but she insisted."
"There was nothing they could do for you but get some rest," Liana stated firmly.
I was quiet, but my head was buzzing with questions, still fuzzy on the details of what had happened last night. However, I didn't know if Liana knew about us - or if she did, how much - so I couldn't risk asking those questions now.
"Thank you," I said quietly. I tried to think of a polite way to ask her to leave, but came up with nothing. An awkward silence hung in the air.
Liana leaned forward slightly in her seat. "I - I don't mean to be nosy, but doctors have asked me questions, and while I don't know how to answer them. . . . I haven't asked before now because it seemed inconsiderate while you all were under stress. But what were you doing last night?"
Diego, Seth, Sandra, and I all exchanged worried glances. I had no idea what to tell her - but I certainly couldn't say that we were runaway fugitives fleeing mythological monsters.
"Please tell me," she said apparently sincerely. "I'll help you as much as I can."
I looked at Liana with new eyes. She was apparently single, pregnant, and sad. I had met a few women like her - one of them the distant memory of my aunt. I remembered she had gone to New York on her eighteenth birthday, and returned in Liana's condition. Most of the memory was built on what my parents had told me. She died a few years after giving birth to Diego - cancer. Liana was in a similar position, but she didn't shrink from helping us. No one else saw us on the road last night. She could have left me for roadkill. She would receive my hospital bills. And she provided a place for Diego, Seth, and Sandra to sleep, besides an uncomfortable hospital chair, on top of that. She deserved to know the truth.
I took a deep breath. "Liana . . ." I hesitated, unsure how to proceed. "The Greek gods - you know, like Zeus and Hera - they're, well, real."
You could hear a pin drop.
Liana's eyes widened, then she breathed heavily, as if the baby inside her was compressing the oxygen out of her. "Oh. I see."
She thought we were crazy; it was obvious.
"I . . . I have to go . . . schedule-"
But what she was going to schedule I never heard. She half ran to the door, and I thought I heard a choked sob as she left.
"Great going, Anna," Diego sneered sarcastically, his arms folded.
"What's that supposed to mean?" I asked defensively.
"She was going to help us!" Seth pitched in angrily. "And now she won't, and it's your fault."
"Are you brain dead?!" Diego cried.
"Seeing as I was recently hit by a car, I could have been." I knew I sounded petty, but the sting of Seth and Diego's comments stung. I didn't think I could explain why I'd felt moved to tell Liana the truth. I hadn't foreseen her reaction in the heat of the moment, and the urge felt silly now.
"Guys . . ." Sandra said quietly. "Please don't fight." It worried me to see how freaked out and sad she seemed.
Seth gave her a disgusted look. "Don't tell me you actually think she's right."
"I don't agree with you and Diego, but, well . . . she was . . . a little . . . blunt . . ."
I couldn't stand criticism from all sides. I felt irascible and defensive. I wanted to scream at them and make them go away. I wanted to fly into a rage, and I wanted to cry.
"Fine!" I cried. "Tell Liana I'm not thinking straight, tell her she messed me up really bad, and you can have your turn at making her cry."
Everyone stared at me. "Just get out!"I screamed, waving my good arm as if to hit them. "Get out!"
They all filed out of the hospital room with confused, scared, and angry looks, and I was utterly alone.
I wet my pillow. Suddenly, I wished someone was here for me to cry with, who wouldn't take sides and loved me no matter what.
What I wanted was my mom.
That was more dramatic than I thought it would be. Well, the next chapter wil be out soon. Sorry this one took so long.