Fairest, p.11Chanda Hahn
“It wasn’t that big of a deal. Someone found me and then….I don’t remember much after that.” Mina touched her forehead in confusion.
“What time is it?” Nan looked at the clock on the wall. “Here watch this; they’ve been replaying it over the last two days.” Nan grabbed the remote control from the hospital nightstand and furiously clicked away at the black box until the TV came to life. After a few hurried groans from Nan and more channel surfing, she squealed, “There you are!”
Mina watched numbly as a female news reporter dressed in a light jacket with a blue umbrella spoke in a mellow voice that showed little emotion. “Here behind me we see the rescue of one, Wilhelmina Grime, who was lost in the Mt. Adams National Forest. The girl, a sophomore at Kennedy High, was last seen after school with friends. How she ended up lost in the forest is still unknown. A mysterious call by Jed Parsons into the Parks Services, led to a quick rescue.”
The cameraman panned to the ambulance as Mina was loaded on a stretcher with the help of the emergency techs. It was obvious from the way her head flopped from side to side that she was passed out from exhaustion.
The camera and a different reporter pushed through and tried to shove a microphone in her face. “Mina, can you tell us how you became lost in the woods? Were you kidnapped? Held as hostage?”
The camera zoomed in close to Mina’s mud streaked face. Someone tried to push the microphone away from Mina but not before it picked up her delirious whisper of one word. Mina in her unconscious state called out one name. One very audible boy’s name and it wasn’t one she was expecting. She called out Jared’s name.
Mina froze in her hospital room and prayed that the reporter hadn’t understood her. But the reporter was fast, she was able to pick up Mina’s whispered name and she repeated it into the mic. “Who is this Jared? And if you know him, you better tell him that Wilhelmina Grime is calling for him.”
“EEEEK!” Mina screamed into her hospital blanket as she watched herself on the small TV. She couldn’t have believed it, wouldn’t have believed it, if she hadn’t just seen it with her own two eyes. The news report was proof that she was completely insane. Well, hopefully no one would know that she was speaking about the Jared from her school. What if people got the wrong idea? What if Brody heard?
Mina crumpled onto the bed and pulled the thin blanket over her head to hide herself from the world. She could hear the obnoxious reporter speak again, only this time it was a current broadcast, and it sounded like she was broadcasting from outside the hospital. Groaning, she pulled down the blanket enough to see the screen and the group of kids from her school leaving flowers, posters, and cards by the hospital for her. She was touched, she didn’t think anyone even knew who she was, but here was proof of their fondness for her. What happened next completely changed her mind.
The reporter, whose name was Brandy Westhouse, appeared next to the serious and demure face of none other than Savannah White. “So how do you know Wilhelmina?”
Savannah’s face looked forlorn with faked sadness. “We are friends at Kennedy High. Best friends and I’m devastated at what happened. Wilhelmina is sweet and didn’t deserve to have something bad like this happen to her.” Savannah sniffed and wiped fake tears away with a Kleenex. Mina rolled her eyes and would’ve given a million dollars to see if the hanky was actually wet. Savannah continued. “I only wish that I could’ve taken her place.”
“HA!” Nan yelled at the screen. “You’re only saying that because you wish it were you lost in the woods so you can get all of the attention. You crazy attention addict! Can you believe the nerve of her, saying she’s your best friend and she doesn’t even know that you prefer Mina, not Wilhelmina. Geesh!”
“When did that interview happen?” Mina pointed at the screen.
“Oh, just this afternoon. The hospital has been really good at keeping the crazies away and giving you a bit of peace.”
“They didn’t keep you away,” Mina remarked dryly.
“That’s because they don’t have a meter able to measure my amount of craziness. Plus, I just told hospital security that I was supposed to bring my future stepdad his lunch. They all know me by name now, so the security and front desk didn’t blink an eye. But the head floor nurse, Dierdre, a.k.a. Dragon lady, she was another story.” Nan shuddered.
The news story changed on the TV and a picture of a middle-aged gentleman wearing a brown U.P.S. uniform flashed on the screen. Mina read the words carefully that scrolled across the bottom. Dan Williams, a local U.P.S. worker, disappeared during his morning route. His truck had been left running on Main Street, but no one had seen him. A tip line number appeared if anyone had any information about his disappearance.
“Oh, my goodness, that’s horrible! I can’t watch this anymore.” Nan clicked off the television with the remote. “By the way, are you hungry?” She reached over to pull out a brown paper sack and the sandwich that was inside.
“But I thought that was for Dr. Martin?”
“No way, are you kidding me? Do you know how much he makes? He can afford to buy his own lunch.” Nan took a large bite out of one half of the turkey sandwich and handed the other to Mina, who quickly took a small bite.
Loud footsteps interrupted their picnic, and Nan scrambled to hide the evidence of their lunch. She shoved the food back into the bag and thrust it under Mina’s pillow. Mina had just enough time to wipe her face with the sleeve of her gown when her mother, and a chagrined looking Charlie, entered.
“You! Sit over there and don’t move,” Sara pointed to a chair and Charlie walked slowly dragging his feet dramatically, as if walking to his own execution. Sara’s brown hair was pulled into a pony tail, and she looked frazzled. Charlie sat down on the chair and gave Nan a knowing grin. When Sara looked up, she was surprised to see Nan.
“Oh, hello, Nan.”
“Hello, Mrs. Grime,” Nan chirped merrily.
Nurse Diedre walked in, gave Nan an angry glare, and went to the bed and unhooked Mina’s IV. Nan scooted quickly out of the grey haired nurse’s way and went to lounge on the chair next to Charlie. Nan sat texting on her phone, while Charlie played with the items in his box; the whole while Mina tried to make small talk with the nurse.
The nurse refused to smile, talk, or comment, and her bedside manner was terrible. Nan was right. The nurse really was mean.
But the cream of chicken soup, with the help of the forbidden sandwich, really gave Mina her strength back. She felt so good that she let her best friend brush her hair and paint her fingernails an obnoxious purple that only Nan could pull off.
Sara’s phone beeped, and she went into the hall to answer it. A few minutes later she stepped back in, her face scrunched up with anger.
“I’m sorry, honey. That was my boss, there seems to be a problem with one of the houses I clean, and she demanded I come right away. I told her that my daughter is in the hospital, but she was quite insistent. Do you think you will be alright with Nan, alone? I can pick up some more clothes for you, too. Is there anything in particular you want?”
Mina made a shooing motion. “I’m not going anywhere until the Doctor says I can. I’ll be fine, and grab any old pair of jeans and shirt that is clean.” Sara hugged Mina before her and Charlie left.
A few minutes later, Nan, bored out of her mind, went looking for some magazines and left Mina alone. Grateful for the solitude and the silence that came with it; she leaned back in her bed and stared out the window across the hospital campus. She couldn’t help but admire the architecture of the brand new hospital.
The Memorial Hospital had only been opened for six months and was the result of copious very rich backers. Where most hospitals were square and made of boring brick, this one was configured like the number eight and made of beautiful reflective glass. It had a soothing flow to the layout because there were no hard edges or corner to any of the rooms. There were two botanical gardens in the center of each eight, giving every room a relaxing luxurious view. It
When Nan didn’t come back right away, she had time to reflect on the recent events, Mina couldn’t help but feel her cheeks burn with embarrassment at the thought of calling out Jared’s name while she was unconscious. She’d probably said it because he was the last thing on her mind. Hopefully, Brody wouldn’t see that. Her heart began to break again at the thought of what they’d shared and lost. It was like a horrible Greek tragedy.
A tear slowly escaped Mina’s eyes, and she quickly wiped it away. She ached for him, ached for him to hold her hand, to kiss her. She even missed the sound of his voice. Even now, in a hospital surrounded by machines, she could still imagine the soft baritone of Brody Carmichael’s voice whispering her name.
Closing her eyes in pain, she bit her lip and whispered, “Stop it. Go away.” Mina spoke out loud to her overactive imagination. She literally thought she was going crazy. She was hearing his voice and it sounded so real. It was like he was right next to her.
“But I thought you would like company,” the voice answered her back.
Mina’s eyes flew open, and she gasped in surprise. Brody Carmichael stood next to her bed with a bouquet of flowers.
The flowers were Birds of Paradise. He walked over and placed them next to the get well carnations that her mother had brought. Brody’s Birds of Paradise made her mother’s flowers look cheap and drab, another reminder of the difference in their stations in life.
He turned to her, his hands hanging limply at his sides. He tried to clear his throat a few times before he spoke. It was apparent he was more nervous than she was.
Subconsciously, Mina’s hand flew to her heart as if she could slow it’s wild beating, she was sure that he could hear it beating, it was so fast.
Gathering his nerves, he spoke first. “How are you?” He didn’t move closer; it was as if he were scared. His blonde hair looked as if he had wrung his hands through it multiple times, and his eyes were filled with worry.
“I’m good,” Mina whispered, too scared to say anything more to the perfect boy in front of her.
The tension that was evident in Brody’s entire body evaporated at her words. “Good, I’m glad.” He looked down at his hands and put them in his jean pockets. Mina wondered vaguely if they were six hundred dollar jeans.
He continued to look down at his feet, afraid to look her in the eye, when he asked the next question. “Why?...Why did you call out his name?”
“Who-what?” Mina stumbled over her words, shocked at what she was hearing.
Brody’s eyes shot up from the ground to look her in the eyes, daring her to look away.
“I’m sorry. This is not how I planned to ask you. Are you two dating? Seeing each other?” He looked hurt, confused.
Mina felt like a stone plummeted to the bottom of her stomach, taking all of her bravery with it. “I don’t know what you are talking about,” she fumbled back.
“You said his name. I heard it, clear as day, on the news. I even recorded it and watched it over and over again. What I want to know is why?”
Mina’s hands started to shake, she closed her eyes and turned away, unwilling to look at him. Unable to tell him what she knew, and unable to lie about her feelings, it became too much and one silent tear slid unbidden down her cheek.
Brody stepped back in shock from her tear, before moving forward and closing the distance between them. He began to reach for her hand but pulled back, unsure of what to do. “I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to upset you. I’m just confused by what has happened lately. And it seems to be a lot, and I can’t seem to control my emotions.”
Mina tried to form a coherent thought and sentence, but it hurt so much to be so near him and not be able to tell him how she felt.
“No one believes me, but I’m cursed.” She hadn’t meant to say it, but it came rushing out without a thought.
He looked relieved when she was able to speak. “Hey, you’re not cursed. You’re alive, right? I would say that makes you extremely lucky, not cursed.” He became eerily quiet.
Brody pulled over a hospital chair so that it was next to her bed, and he relaxed into the seat. He grabbed a magazine that Nan had left and began to thumb through it, without really looking at it.
“Why are you here?” Mina asked him, confused by his casual demeanor and willingness to sit in someone’s hospital room.
Brody’s finger caught in a page, and he closed the magazine and locked eyes with her. “I don’t know? I was hoping you could tell me.”
Mina shook her head in confusion. “You’re the one who drove to the hospital, got in past security and the nurses, which I’m still not sure how you did it, and walked into my room, not the other way around. You should know your reason for being here, not me?”
Brody smirked in the familiar way that made Mina’s heart melt. “But here I am.” He held up his arms in a casual way. “You are someone I barely know, and yet, when I heard you had gone missing, I felt as if my whole world turned upside down. It has been haunting me for two nights straight. I can barely eat, sleep, think and finally I came to the conclusion that you would know why? Do you have a spell on me?”
“I think you must have read one too many fairy tales,” Mina answered quickly, blushing. Immediately, she regretted her choice of words.
Brody shook his head. “This girl from my school, who obviously is strong enough to survive on her own out in the wilderness, miraculously gets saved and the one name she calls out to in her time of need, happens to be the only guy in school that, for some crazy reason, I absolutely hate!”
Brody’s body tensed up, and he slowly frowned at her. “I don’t consider myself a jealous person, but I barely know Jared, and I really, really don’t like him. And the thought of you and him together makes me want to punch something. Especially when I have no right to feel that way about Jared, or you. It’s as if we met somewhere…” he trailed off.
“No, it’s not what you think,” Mina rushed out in defense.
“How do you know what I’m thinking?” Brody stood up, walked over to Mina, and leaned down, placing both hands on either side of her body, he pinned her between his muscled arms. He was so close Mina could smell his familiar aftershave.
She looked up at his jaw line and swallowed before turning her head away from him and playing with the seam on the blanket, trying anything to appear more interested in the hospital blanket, than his closeness, his jaw, his lips.
“Tell me why do I have this sudden urge to hold you, to kiss you, when I barely know you?” Brody pulled away in disgust. “What’s wrong with me? You must think I’m some kind of crazed psychopath talking like this. I come into your room unasked and start to demand answers to some crazy questions that I’d hoped you would have answers too. I can’t help but think something is wrong with me, that I really am going crazy.” He turned his back on her and ran his hands through his hair again in frustration.
Mina licked her lips nervously. “Maybe you’re cursed too?”
Brody sighed heavily and looked over his shoulder at her. “I must be, why else would I be here?”
Those words drove straight to Mina’s heart like a wooden stake. They hurt, but there was truth in those words. Brody could be being manipulated by the Story once again. It made Mina angry. Angry at the world, at the Fae, at how unfair everything was for a sixteen-year-old girl in love. He began to move toward to door.
“Brody, wait!” she called out.
Brody froze, his hand on the door, his back stiff, waiting for the ball to drop.
“I wish it was your name,” she blurted out. “I wish it was your name that I had called out.” She waited in anticipation, hoping that he would turn around, run to her and kiss her like he said he wanted. He didn’t turn around
His broad shoulders relaxed, and his head bent forward to look at the ground. “I wish you did too,” he choked out. “Can you tell m
Mina’s heart soared with the prospect of telling Brody EVERYTHING! She opened her mouth to explain, when a mirror image startled her. In the reflection of the window, she saw Jared, and he looked scared. She looked over her shoulder, but he wasn’t there in the room with her. She glanced back toward the window and his reflection was faint, far off. It looked like Jared was speaking to her; his mouth was moving, but she couldn’t hear anything. He was trying to warn her about something.
She turned to Brody to see if he noticed, but he still had his back to the window. Mina looked toward the window again, but Jared was gone. And with him went the message, he was trying to get to her. But it gave her just enough pause. What she did was dangerous, and because she cared for Brody, she shouldn’t involve him. But it was because she thought she might love Brody that she wouldn’t involve him.
Fairest by Chanda Hahn / Fantasy / Young Adult / Romance & Love have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes