"God, you're not talking but I know you're here, so I'm gonna talk, and you can listen...God, I don't wanna be empty inside anymore."
Two days ago, he'd felt Mr. Turner's fingers squeeze his, but he still hadn't woken up. Shawn had been to the hospital every free moment since, sitting and waiting. Please don't die. Please don't die.
For the first time in his life he wished he was one of those science nerds, then maybe he could build a time machine. If he'd listened to Mr. Turner he never would have talked to Shari, he never would've found out about the Center, and Mr. Turner wouldn't have crashed his bike.
"It figures," he muttered. "I spend all that time pushing people away when I need them, sooner or later it was gonna come back to bite me in the butt. I pushed John away and now I might not get him back." The slow, steady beep of the machine was his only answer, and Shawn buried his face in his hands. "Don't do this to me, God. I'm sorry I was a jerk, I'm sorry I screwed up, just let him live and I'll do everything right from now on."
He looked up. Mr. Turner's eyes were open and he was smiling a little. Tears of relief spilled down Shawn's cheeks. Thank you, thank you! He opened his mouth but words wouldn't form.
"How long have you been here?" Mr. Turner asked, his voice weak. "Hey...you're cryin'. What's this?" Shawn sniffled, trying to rub his tears away.
"A while." He swallowed. "They said you were gonna be okay, but they didn't know when you were gonna wake up. I..." His breath hitched. "I got scared, John. You screwed yourself up pretty bad."
"Guess I did," Mr. Turner said. "So they say I'm gonna live, then?" Shawn nodded. "Good. So you got yourself all worked up for nothing."
"It wasn't nothing!" Shawn cried. "You crashed your bike, John, you were in a coma! I thought..." He shook his head. "This is stupid. But I thought God was gonna take you away to punish me for shutting you out." The teacher snorted a little.
"No one's that cruel, Shawn."
"God isn't just anyone." Shawn rubbed his eyes.
"Then even God isn't that cruel," Mr. Turner said. Shawn cracked a smile.
"I'm just glad you're alive," he said. "And I'm...y'know, sorry for causing this." He sighed. "I know you rode down there in a fury to yell at Mr. Mack and that's why you crashed," Shawn said. "Feeny told me."
"I did, Shawn," Mr. Turner said. "And I'd do it again, too."
"I know...you really do care about me, don't you?" Shawn's eyes filled with tears again. "Thank you...thank you for taking me in, never giving up on me, listening to me...risking your life to stop me from screwing up mine," he said. "I should have listened to you."
"You should have. Shawn, what if this was one of those cults with violent hazing rituals? You could've been hurt even worse than I am right now," Mr. Turner said.
"I know..." Shawn's voice broke again. "I'm so sorry, John. I...I'm just so sorry."
"I'm sorry it had to come to this to get you to listen," Mr. Turner said weakly.
"Seems I always have to learn things the hard way," Shawn laughed bitterly.
"Because you're stubborn. You don't listen until something bad happens." Mr. Turner smirked. "You really like tempting fate, don't you?"
"It's something I've gotten good at over the years." Shawn smiled sadly.
"Well, don't do it anymore, okay?" Mr. Turner looked at him sternly through the mask of bandages. "Next time it could be you in here with someone else crying by your bed." Shawn nodded, placing his hand over the teacher's.
"I'll try my best."