"Annabeth," my mom says while find a seat in the back of the café.
"Yeah?" I ask, and we settle in the booth near a window.
Last night, she asked if I was free this Saturday, and if we could go somewhere to sit and talk. I don't know what that means, but it can't be that great.
"Well…" She thinks for a moment before she begins again. "How's that boy doing? Peter, or whatever – the weird name –"
"It's Percy, Mom. And he's doing fine. At least, I hope," I respond without looking her in the eye, twirling the straw of my smoothie against the cup. "He hasn't woken up yet." I try to focus on my other surroundings, which isn't really working –there's a couple making out at the table next to us, and the noises are really bothering me. A lot. I spin my straw around in disgust, studying the floating particles in my drink.
She takes a deep breath before she speaks. "Sweetie…I don't think it's a good idea to be visiting the hospital every day after school now, okay?"
"What?" I can scarcely fathom the words she emitted. "Mom, I can finish my homework, and everything! Percy needs to have 100 percent of my support, and I was…I was responsible!" My voice raises in exigency, and the couple next to us stop kissing. The girl looks at me in annoyance, and I lower my voice. "I promise I can handle everything. Grades, chores, family…just let me visit him afterschool," I beg. "You can take my phone away, or do anything you need to."
"I need to make you stop going to the hospital afterschool."
I hope the look on my face that's mixed with disbelief and grief will make her change her mind.
"Annabeth, you can't keep your main focus on this guy," she says flatly, dismissing my look. "Visiting him every day will make you too attached to him, and what will happen if he dies? You will be even more affected. My point is, let go now, and it will be easier when he…is gone."
"He'll survive," I insist stubbornly.
"Well, the chances aren't really high, are they?"
I stir the straw in my fruit smoothie impatiently again, and half-heartedly take a sip. My drink has absolutely no taste at all, and I'm pretty sure I stirred it so much that it's as thin as water. "Mom. I thought you were okay about it."
"I thought he would wake up within three to four weeks. How long has it been? A month and two weeks now. And I can see that you are getting more and more distracted."
"I am not dist –"
"You won't even look me in the eye, Annabeth."
I slowly turn my gaze up to my mother's face, trying to make it casual like. "He just needs a few more weeks. I know it."
"Needs a few more weeks until what? Let's try to be realistic, alright? I just don't want to hurt you honey, when the truth really hits you. It's taking Percy a really long time –"
"He got hit by a train!" I try to keep the irascibility out of my voice, but fire is raising up my throat and burning my eyes. "And he's in a coma. He's not dead."
She takes a sip of her hazelnut coffee. "Okay, fine. He's not dead. But what's going to happen when…" she looks cautiously at me. "Never mind. My point is, you can't be so…gripped on this situation," she plays with her words.
"I won't be too focused on him, I promise. Just please let me stay –maybe just another month –"
"A month is way too much. How will you be able to get through with your testing? What about Thalia? Have you talked with her yet?"
"…No…" I reluctantly admit. "I haven't found the right time."
"See? You're already losing contact with your own friends for the cost of the boy."
I frown. "That's not true. Thalia is a grade ahead of me, so I don't usually get to see her during school. And I don't have time inviting her over usually –"
"But you have time to visit a boy."
"Mom! You aren't being understanding, or seeing that things are really hard for me right now! Can't you see? Things just happen, and there's nothing that can tie it back together! It's not like I plan for these accidents to happen just to cause trouble! It's not like…he -the boy means a-anything to me or whatnot!"
I feel terrible when I swallow the lie down my throat. The truth is, he means everything to me. But I won't say that in front of her, or she'll think I'm too diverted with my life.
Her eyes are searching mine, seeing if she can find the tall tale.
I look down. "He just saved my life, and I owe him one. That's all."
"There's nothing going on?"
I nod slowly, then with certain confidence. I laugh at myself in my mind. What was I thinking, being with Percy after he woke up? I'm only supposed to make sure he wakes up and accepts my apology, and have things go back to the things they were. He obviously doesn't deserve a silly girl who was blind and yelled at him and made him crash into a train. The equation doesn't add up correctly. "Absolutely nothing."
She sighs. "Fine. You get two more weeks. If he doesn't wake up, then no more visiting. Turn your attention back to reality after that, okay?"
I start to open my mouth to protest, but think better of it. "Okay."
The nurse pours clear paste into a tube, and washes her hands with the antibacterial soap thoroughly. She starts to apply the ointment on Percy's chest, while I watch. I think I'm trying too hard not to admire his built body…Um, yeah, please forget I said that.
It's the nurse who looked had been there that first night; the one who looked younger than most nurses –probably 17.
"Do you want me to help?" I ask, sitting up.
"Sure," she agrees. "Just make sure your hands are clean."
My hands are already clean, but I wash them anyway. Squeezing some of the cream onto my hand and mashing some of it between my pointer finger and thumb, I spread it on his abdomen, making sure the bigger cuts get more than the smaller ones. His skin is still like the other night before, heated and searing. I flashback to his warm chest against my lips…as if nothing could separate us for just one moment.
Then, I shake my head. I'm not here to have pity on my own stupid feelings that somehow have to appear at just the right time. I'm only here for him to hear my apology and do whatever I have to do to payback the price. You can wake up, Percy. Please. For me? I plead silently, some of the hope draining out of me.
"I guess you would be more comfortable doing this than me, since, you know, he's your boyfriend," the girl smiles, her shoulders slightly rising as if in question.
A pink tinge develops in my cheeks. "Oh –well, I mean…I guess, but, um -he's not my boyfriend."
"Oh!" she apologizes with a smile. "A close friend then?"
"I am so sorry –I thought you guys looked like a cute couple so I just assumed that… Forgive me for my rude judging –but trust me, it comes from my father," she quickly ends her request for forgiveness with a joke. "All of his theories automatically make my thoughts into them –staying in the hospital and helping him out has altered my mind."
"That's alright," I say. "Wait…is Dr. Brunner your father?"
She nods. "He's the one."
"Wow. I never knew he had a daughter," I think aloud, and she laughs.
"I know, right? Hard to imagine."
"Well…yes," I admit, and laugh along with her.
"Your name's Annabeth, right? I'm Lindsey. My dad's doing everything he can to help your friend," she says. "I'm really sorry for what happened. Though you're probably tired of hearing that phrase."
I squeeze more of the milky balm onto my hands. "Tell your dad thanks. I really appreciate all the work he's done for me, and it's okay. I'm just worried…because I don't want him to die thinking I hate him…" I shake my head. "It's a really long story."
My fingers delicately smear the liniment and they travel up Percy's upper chest; but then suddenly I stop, biting my lip and removing my hand. I silently curse my precipitous actions. "Um…you know what? I –you can continue putting on the medicine for him…" I messily wipe my slightly oily hands on my jeans and turn away from the bed. "I don't think he'd want me…to do this."
"Oh, well –sure, but…" she looks worriedly at me. "Annabeth, are you okay? You look like you're about to cry."
I do? I fight to put on a brave smile. The prickliness in my chest gets forced down, and I say, "I'm fine. I was –er, just yawning." I put my finger to my tear duct and swipe away the moisture that gathered there. "It's just been a really tiring day."
Don't worry, I did not forget about Percy (yes, I did skip to Annabeth's pov) –it's just that right now he's in a blissful (let's just say sleep to make it sound prettier than "coma") sleep and I really hate to wake him up now. BUT, thank you for all the reviews/follows/favorites! Some of your reviews are so amazing, and many make me smile and laugh and sometimes apologize for the pain you all have to go through.
La da da da…I'm just trying to think of what next to put here… how about I just post this chapter now, cuz that seems like a good idea. Thank you for reviewing and supporting me! -Sophia