CHAPTER THREE: Finding Fault

After a couple of hours pass, a doctor comes out from the door on the right, and he walks over to Mr and Mrs Hook. I stand up from where I was sitting and walk over to hear what the doctor has to say.

"It's difficult, to say the least." The doctor starts, "But we don't have his hand, we can't reattach it. The only way would be to do this is to kill the crocodile and retrieve your son's hand from it's stomach."

Mrs. Hook places her hand over her mouth and sobs. Mr. Hook wraps a comforting arm around his wife and asks the doctor, "What about prosthetics?"

The doctor nods, "That's what I was going to suggest. We cauterized the nerve endings and stopped the bleeding as best as we could. The next step now is to fix a prosthetic hand for him."

I turn away and sit down on the nearest chair, not wanting to hear anything more. I close my eyes and go back into my mind, remembering the fun that we were having not too long ago. I scoff at myself, we weren't having fun. We were trying to have fun, but we really weren't. Lately, it's been harder and harder to have fun with James. And now, I can only guess that it'll be even harder. I sink into the comforting chair and let out a long exasperated sigh. Mrs. Hook walks over to me, her arms wrapped around herself, "The doctor says we can go see him now, if you'd like to join us." I nod and smile weakly before getting out of the chair and following them through the door and through the halls. The smell of alcohol swabs and sanitizing chemicals burn my nose and I shiver, I never liked hospitals.

We reach a room and enter it one at a time. James is lying in the white medical bed, right hand bandaged thoroughly, a circle of red at the end. Mrs. Hook takes tentative steps to the side of the bed and slowly reaches out her hand to gingerly touch her son's cheek. He shudders and opens his eyes, they look far away and glazed over. I take a step closer and stand at the end of the bed, hands gripping the railing until my knuckles turn white. If it was so hard to be with him when he wasn't hurt, why is it even harder now? I bite my lower lip and let my eyes trail over him. His black hair isn't tied back, the curls laced with sweat glisten at his neck and shoulders. His skin looks pale and gleams in the bright light of the room. I try to keep my eyes on his face, but they keep trailing down to where his hand used to be. To think, I was holding that hand not too long ago.

"Wendy." His voice is rough as it speaks my name, "Why are you here?"

I look up, brought out of my mind and back into the present. His eyes are still glazed, but his eyebrows are furrowed. In pain, confusion or anger? I can't tell with him like this. There's a lump in my throat, but I swallow around it and speak, "What do mean why am I here?" I just now realize that Mr. and Mrs. Hook are no longer in the room. They must have left us alone.

James turns his face away from me, "Leave."

"No." I grip my hands tighter to the railing, assuring myself that I'm not going to leave him like this. Despite all the hurt he put me through, I can't just turn around and leave him when he needs me.

"I don't want you here. Leave me alone." His words sting, and I find my control wavering. Should I leave or should I stay? Doubt enters my mind and I grip the rail tighter. "Leave. Me. Alone." He says each word slowly and strongly, daring me to stay and see what happens next. If I were stronger I would have taken that dare, but I'm not strong. I'm just a weak and scared little girl, so I leave. I can feel my eyes burn but I refuse to cry over him anymore. I walk through the halls, the way I was led earlier, passing Mr. and Mrs. Hook who were standing outside not too far away. They see me leave and rush back into their son's room. Were they in on this? I find myself thinking. Was it all a part of their plan? Did they ever like me? I think those things, but I'm really thinking Did he ever really like me?

I shut those thoughts out of my mind and focus on getting back home. And I can't help but find myself wondering how the day turned out like this? One moment we were kind of having a good time, things were normal at least, and then all of a sudden things changed. The world was cruel. How could it do this? Was it punishing me for pretending? I shake my head and leave the cold hospital. Well, world, if you wish it, I'll never pretend anymore. I'll do whatever I feel like so long as it's real. I won't do things I don't want to do. I'll tell people straight up if I think they're annoying me, or if I think their "oh-so-cute" hairstyle is actually disgusting. I'll be real, and I'll stop pretending. Thank you world, for curing me of my ridiculous obsession with pretend.

The sun is barely reaching it's peak in the middle of the sky when I start getting near my house. Mother will be home in a couple of hours, with loads of questions no doubt. Which will give me the perfect opportunity to test out my new way of dealing with things. Then it hit me. I stopped walking. I don't want to go home just yet. So, in honor of my new found outlook, instead of continuing on my way home like a good little girl, I crossed the street and head for the park a couple blocks away.

Not the most out there thing in the world, but it was good enough for now. During no school days and weekends the park was crawling with all kinds of people, and they all had their little spots. The joggers and athletic people were near the front of the park, circling the fountain and the sidewalks. The business people were at the benches and chess tables at the sides of the park. The kids were in the middle where the playground was. That was also where the mothers and nannies and older siblings were at. In the back of the park, at the edge of the small wood, that was where the druggies hung out. They smoked weed and other things there, hidden in between the trees. That was where couples went to loose their virginity. So where did that leave me? I wasn't sure where I should head to. I wasn't about to hang out with the workers at the chess tables, and I don't think I'm prepared enough to chill next to the druggies. The athletic people never sat down, so all there was left was to go to the playground. Maybe I could find a tree to sit under, the sun was making me warm.

Surprisingly, there were only a few kids on the playground. Which was very odd for this time of day. There was no school, the kids should be running around all over the place. Oh well, more peace and quiet for me. I found an unoccupied bench in the shadow of a large oak tree and sat down. I smiled and watched a little girl play on the slide. Then I sighed, "Oh I'm so bored." My smile faded and I blew out air and crossed my arms, "Who cares about him anyway. Hook can go and do whatever he wants for all I care."

"Who are you talking to?"

I jump in my seat and turn around, but there's no one there. What the heck? I look all around me, but there is no one in sight. "Hello?" I call out nervously, ready to punch someone in the nose. "Hello? Is anyone there?"

"Yeah, me!"

I look around again, still there's no one. "This isn't funny! I know you're behind the tree, so why don't you just come on out where I can see you!"

"Funny? Who's laughing? Not me."

"I'm serious! This isn't a game! Stop it!"

"Then don't be serious and it could be."

I groaned and got up from the bench, stormed around to the other side of the tree and gasped. No one was there. "Where are you for crying out loud?"

"Right here! Look up!"

I exhale loudly and turn my face up into the branches, there sitting on a branch is a boy. A boy with blond hair and brilliant green eyes, almost the same color as the leaves in the tree. But enough of his eyes! "What are you doing up there? You could get hurt!" I paused, "And what are you doing freaking me out like that! I don't even know you!"

He just laughs and presses his back against the trunk, "Oh, but I know you! You were at the movies! I saw you! You were with your boyfriend. He punched me right here." Then he pointed to his stomach, "And then again right here," and he pointed to his face. There was a shiner on his cheek.

I gasped. I thought he looked familiar! "You!"I glared up at the boy, "You're the reason! It's all your fault!"

"My fault? What did I do?"

"It's because of you that James' is in the hospital!"

"Who's James?" The boy picked a leaf from the branch and started to play with it.

"My boyfriend!" I nearly screamed, "Because you got him mad, now he's in the hospital! Do you know he lost his hand?"

And to my surprise the boy laughed. "Oh, yeah. That was funny. You should have seen his face, it was like this:" then he contorted his face into a look of mock pain. "Just like that. Priceless."

I stared at the boy in shock. "I can't believe you. You don't even care."

"Why should I? It's his fault for sticking it in the crocodile's mouth in the first place." The boy swung his legs over the side of the branch and jumped down. "Not my problem."

"You're a jerk!" I pushed him as hard as I could, but still he barely moved an inch. "Ugh!" I screamed and did an about face and stormed off. Stupid boy. It's all his fault.