My one call tonight was from Marla’s mother. She screamed through the phone, “Get down to the fucking hospital right now, Sean.” I asked what happened, which hospital. A few things crossed my mind. I thought about the day we first met, the night we first fucked, and the day I told Marla I’d like to take a break for a while. Her mother just said, “Get to the fucking hospital right now, Sean.”
The nurse leads me to the room. I walk past an old man who is doing laps in his walker, a nurse attached to his frail side. He’s getting better. He’s probably telling himself as much. I knock and enter the room—the nurse leaves. There will be scars—across her beautiful, olive-toned face. She’ll be ruined when she sees it. Maybe she’s already seen it. I look to Marla’s mother. She’s sitting next to the bed, her hand on Marla’s shoulder. She’s been crying. She mutters, “You didn’t even bring flowers.”
I stand at the other end of the bed, across from Marla’s mother. “What happened?”
“What the hell do you think, Sean?”
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“Dingalingaling. Good job!”
She sniffles, covers her eyes. “She was in surgery all afternoon.”
“Are you fuckin’ dense, Sean?”
I look down at my girlfriend, the one that said she’d love me no matter what happened—that said she’d never be the one to end it. Her mother asks me if I understand now. I look into her red, mourning eyes. My eyes glaze over. “No,” I mutter.
“Yes,” she cries.
“No. No. She’ll be…”
“She hasn’t woken from surgery yet. She doesn’t know a thing.”
“When is she going to wake up?”
She shakes her head, looks to the window. “I can’t even believe you,” she whispers. “When the hell do you think she’s going to wake up?”
“When’s she’s ready…”
“Yes. And why the fuck you so late to get here?”
“How’s the car?”
Her mother stands from her chair, walks over to me. Now, she gives me the stare of death. She says, “You need to shut the fuck up right now before I kill you.”
“Leave! Leave this fucking room right now. I don’t need your fucking bullshit right now, you know. If you got the details, I should fucking have the details. You fucking bitch. Get out!”
“I’m her mother!”
“Get the fuck out and let me be with her!”
She spits in my face and exits the room. I wipe what she left from my left eye and step over to the seat facing Marla. The bruises, the cuts, the stitches. She could have been a model. She had that sort of beauty. She was everything. Popular, successful, creative. All the friends she has. The family that loves her. She always had so much more than me. And yet she stuck by me. She told me she loved me every single day. And, some days, I wouldn’t reply.
I put my hand on her legs. The legs that are no longer there. The taut oxygen tubes, the spot on her head they had to shave. She’ll never get over it, I’m almost certain. She’ll want to kill herself. She’ll want to die.
Marla wrote me notes every morning before leaving for work. Usually, they’d say the same thing, morning after morning after morning—something like, “Have a great day. I love you. —Me xoxox. See you in the PM.” I never wrote back. I hardly ever even read it. It just sat there, written on a napkin or old receipt or something, and I left for work and I’d think about her, but I’d think about the future—how long this would really last. I’d think about my family, how much I missed them—missed Oregon.
Marla’s closed, wounded eyes. I stand from the chair, grab for the door handle, look back at her. Outside the door, Marla’s mother is waiting. I begin to cry. I walk over and try to give her a hug, stutter out, “I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.”
“Stop, Sean. Just stop crying.”
“I have to go.”
“What the hell you mean?”
“I really have to go, okay?”
“You have to go? This is your future. Your fucking girlfriend—fiancée!”
“You don’t realize. I really like seriously have to leave this building right now.”
“When are you coming back? What if she wakes?”
“I don’t know right now. I don’t know what to say, really. I… I really just don’t.”
“You can’t leave me here!”
“I’m leaving.” I turn my back from her and walk to the elevator. When it opens, I fall into it, plummet to the floor. I put both hands to my face and spill into hysterics. I mutter, “I can’t… I can’t…” and then I vomit across the hard floor. I walk out the building to my car. I’ll go back to the apartment, gather the important things, and that will be it.
I’ll get into the car and just drive—maybe leave a note.