Wal-Mart - Lima, Ohio December 2001
"Mom, can I please sit in the front seat? Please, please, please, please?" Eight year old Artie Abrams pleaded with his mother as they stood in the checkout line at the supermarket. Cathy Abrams sighed and glanced at her watch, anxious for the woman in front of her to finish loading her purchases onto the conveyor belt. She still had to stop by the bank and cash a check, as well as pick up Artie's older brother from a karate lesson before actually getting home. She had only brought Artie along so that he wouldn't be a hassle on his older sister who was babysitting her six month old sister while Mrs. Abrams was out running errands.
"All right fine Artie, but you have to promise not to bug me about anything else then," his mother replied with slight exasperation at his insistent badgering.
"Yes!" he half whispered to himself, jumping up and down a few times out of excitement. He couldn't wait to tell all the kids at school that he got to ride in the front seat. He would be the coolest kid in the class for sure. Soon enough, the Abrams were checked out, and headed to their car. Artie helped his mother load the bags into the back of the car, and then happily skipped to the front of the car, slipping and almost falling on a patch of ice.
"Careful Artie," his mother admonished him lightly.
"I'm all right!" he replied cheerfully, pushing his glasses back up onto his nose. He opened the car door, and slid into the front seat. He stared around almost reverently. There was so much more to see from up here. The backseat was so boring compared to this.
"Buckle up," his mom reminded him as she reached for her own belt. Artie complied, and couldn't help bouncing a few times on the seat. He felt so grown up. He peered out the windshield, almost hoping he saw someone from his class in the parking lot so that he could brag about his seating arrangement. His mom pulled out of the parking lot, and started making her way slowly out of the parking lot, trying to avoid unwary shoppers. As he stared wide-eyed at everything around him, Artie's eye landed on something inside the car; the radio. His older brother and sister, old enough to sit in the front seat, often got to press the buttons and pick whatever music they wanted to listen to. He never got that option, stuck in the backseat. Hesitantly, he reached a finger forward and pushed a button.
Brow furrowed, he tried a different one. Still nothing. His mother, noticing his dilemma, reached forward and pressed the correct button that turned the radio on. Artie was then content with pressing various buttons, attempting to find something that he was interested in. Most of the channels were filled with people talking about news, sports, or just commercials. Artie sighed in frustration. He wanted to find something before they picked Brian up; otherwise he might lose his chance at listening to what he wanted to.
They had stopped at a red light when Artie finally found a classic rock station that sounded pretty good. He turned the dial that controlled the volume, only to hear the song playing end, and a commercial start playing. He sighed in defeat, and reached for the button that changed the channel. The light ahead turned green, and his mother started driving forward. Artie glanced up, and something made him look out his side window. A large white van was skidding on ice, and coming straight for them. He heard his mother scream as if from a distance and that was the last thing he remembered before everything when black.
Lima Memorial Hospital – Lima, Ohio December 2001
"Yes, we're here to visit Karen Hummel. Room 216?" Burt Hummel sighed as the receptionist turned to answer a phone call as if he wasn't even standing there. His wife had been admitted last week, and he had brought Kurt up every day to see her. The checking in at the hospital was repetitive but mandatory. Burt glanced down at his son who was standing patiently by his side. The boy's normally perfectly-combed hair was in a bit of disarray and his red top didn't match his green pants. However, he had been so anxious to see his mother that for the first time in Burt's memory, he hadn't argued about what he was wearing.
Kurt had remained rather calm throughout the whole long process of Karen's illness. He had sat for hours in waiting rooms, ate his meals at random hours of the day, and even missed days of school. He hadn't complained or cried as long as he got to see his mother at the end of the day. Burt had found him curled up asleep on his bed with tear streaks on his face more often than once, but Kurt never let his parents see him cry. The only time he had broken down in front of them was when he saw his mother with no hair for the first time.
"Who was it that you wanted to see again?" The receptionist's nasally voice cut through Burt's musing.
"Karen Hummel," he repeated.
"All right. Well they're running some tests right now so you'll have to wait a few minutes. Then you can go up." Burt thanked the woman and led Kurt over to some chairs in the waiting area. The boy curled up on a chair, and stared around the room in disinterest. Burt offered him a magazine but the boy silently shook his head no. They sat there in silence until the receptionist let them know that they could now head up.
The two Hummels walked the now-familiar path to Karen's room, still each absorbed in their own thoughts. They passed by the emergency care rooms on their way to the elevators. Sitting outside one of the rooms was a woman. Hopelessness, despair, and fear were etched into her face, making her look much older than she probably was. She stared into space, not even acknowledging that there were other people in the hallway. She had a scratch on her cheek, and her left hand was bandaged. The expression on her face alone made Burt wanted to say something comforting, but he didn't know why she was even there, and nothing came to his mind. At that point though, they had already passed her and were in front of the elevator. He pushed her out of his mind as he walked into his wife's room on the next floor.
"Mom!" A genuine smile had broken out on Kurt's face as he bounded towards his mothers bed. Karen Hummel sat up and stretched her arms out for her son. She had various machines surrounding her bed, and she looked pale and tired. However, she smiled as brightly as she could as her son climbed into her arms. She glanced up at her husband and exchanged a look with him. He knew what was coming. The doctors had news and it probably wasn't good.
A floor beneath the Hummels, Cathy Abrams sat outside the hospital room that contained her son. Her son who was currently fighting for his life. Why hadn't she looked both ways? It was her fault that her son was in there, possibly not to wake up. She might never see his bright smile, or his eyes sparkling behind his glasses, or hear his voice again. If he didn't make it out of this, she would never forgive herself.
I know this is a little different from what I normally write, but I've had this idea for awhile and I wanted to try it out. This chapter is just establishing how both boys end up in the same place. The next chapter will show them meeting for the first time. Read and review please!