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The proposition, p.22
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       The Proposition, p.22

           Jessica Schlafer

  Chapter 21

  The next morning, I woke up to Nick snoring quietly in the chair beside my bed. My stomach was growling like crazy. A liquid diet was not going to do it for me. I sat up in bed and my head still hurt, but it wasn’t making me feel like I was going to throw up. I wanted to go to the bathroom to wash my face and brush my teeth. I swung my legs over the side of the bed and slid down, avoiding Nick’s legs, which were stretched in front of him. I noticed my leg was wrapped in a soft, stretchy bandage and there was some bruising around the outside.

  I stood at the side of the bed for a few minutes, as the room spun. When everything had settled, I took a step forward, then another. I held onto anything within reach to steady myself. I didn't have a cane yet, so it was pretty painful and slow going. I had to step over Nick’s legs and finally made it all the way to the bathroom. I used the toilet, washed my hands and then looked at my face. Both of my eyes were purple, my right one swollen shut. I had a long, jagged cut on the right side of my face. That’s where the stitches where, I assumed. My hair was a disaster; I had no idea how I was going to comb it. My lips were swollen and there was a cut that ran over both lips, on the right side. I picked up my toothbrush and brushed my teeth, staring at my bruised face. I washed up, as much as I dared. I wasn’t sure whether I should get stitches wet or not. I was staring at my face for several minutes when there was a light knock on the door and Nick opened the door and walked in.

  “Are you okay?” he asked.

  “I don’t know. I’m hideous.”

  “No, you’re not.”

  ‘Nick, look at my face,” I whispered.

  “You’re beautiful, Abby.”

  I cried. I had only been in Portland for a short time and my life was torn apart. I cried for a long time. By the time I was finished, I was exhausted again and Nick’s shirt was soaked. At some point, he had also taken me back to my bed.

  I was still sniffling when the doctor came in. I didn’t notice it the day before, but Dr. Rhodes had the most beautiful blue eyes. She was also very young and very tiny, probably around 5'3” or maybe even less and she probably weighed 105 pounds. I hated her. She was also carrying a cane.

  “Good morning, Ms. Moss. What’s wrong?”

  “I went to wash my face and…” I trailed off.

  “Did you injure yourself?”

  “No, I saw this,” I said, gesturing to my face.

  “Ms. Moss, may I call you Abigail?”

  “Abby, please.”

  “Okay, Abby, please call me Melissa,” she said, hitching herself to sit beside me on my bed. “None of this is permanent. The bruises will go away; the cuts will heal and fade. The one that required stitches is so far to the side of your face, it’s almost in your hair line. You are a remarkably lucky woman to have survived an accident like that.”

  “I’m hideous,” I was on the verge of tears again.

  “You’re a beautiful woman, Abby. This man has been by your side since you were brought in. He’s not leaving, are you?” Nick shook his head. “Give it some time, Abby. You’ll be back on track soon.”

  “If you say so.”

  “I do,” she said, jumping out of the bed. “And I’m the doctor, so, what I say, goes. Got that?”

  I had to laugh, “Of course.”

  “Now to check you out. Let me see.”

  She checked all my vitals, made some notes. While she did that, she told me a little bit about how to use the cane. She then asked, “How are you feeling today?”

  “I’m starving. This liquid diet is not going to work for me.”

  Nick smiled and Dr. Melissa laughed. “That’s a great sign. I’ll have some food brought for you. Now, I don’t want you having prime rib today, but a sandwich or salad or soup would be good. Do you think that’ll be okay?”

  “I’ll make due,” I said with an exaggerated sigh.

  Again she laughed, “Okay, Abby. As long as you can hold down the food they bring you, I don’t see why we can’t let you go home today. I’m going to have a few tests run before the food comes, just to make sure everything looks as good as I think it does. But, as far as I’m concerned, you’d better find a ride home!”

  “Oh, thank you, Melissa,” I said, happy to leave the hospital.

  "They'll be bringing you breakfast soon. We'll see how you handle breakfast and then I'll make a determination on whether you need to stay or not."

  After Melissa left, I told Nick that I needed some privacy to call my parents and tell them what happened. I noticed a few missed calls from them. They divorced about eight years ago but were still great friends. People said it was the strangest divorce they’d ever seen.

  I talked to my mother first, she was furious. She wanted me on the next plane to Boston or else she was flying to Portland to give Paul a piece of her mind. I was able to talk her out of that and make her understand that I would not be able to fly for a while, until the doctor gave me the all-clear. I had, after all, suffered a head injury. She made me give her the name of my doctor and promise to get her credentials and email them. If she didn’t get a call from me the moment I was released, she was flying to Portland. My dad was quiet. I could tell he was upset but he didn’t say much. I think he was disappointed that no one had called him. I also knew that he would be calling Paul to give him a piece of his mind. I couldn’t do anything about that.

  Almost the moment I hung up with my father, my phone started beeping with texts and emails from my friends and family. Mom had been busy. They were mostly all angry that I didn’t call. I decided to post on Facebook that I was hurt and I had been unconscious for five days, so, if they were upset that I didn’t call, they’d have to understand that I was not able. If they were still mad after that, then there was nothing I could do about it.

  Soon after, Nick came back. I told him that I would be released today, if I could eat with no problems.

  “Isn’t there a box of candy over there?” I said, pointing to the collection of flowers.




  “Oh, my God, could you please get it for me?”

  Nick laughed and found the box of candy. “Oooh, Godiva! Paul sprung for the good stuff.”

  “Mine!” I said. “Hands off.”

  He slowly and casually walked to the side of the bed, taking the outer wrapper off the candy. “Oooh, all milk chocolate with nuts and caramels. You know? I should really just take these from you. Who knows? Maybe you have a tooth problem.”

  “Nick, I don’t have any tooth problem! Right now, the only problem I have is you. Now, give me my chocolate.”

  “Oh Abby, Abby, Abby. I don’t think you understand our situation, here. I have something you want. Now, in a free trade economy, you’re supposed to make me an offer to get what it is you want from me.”

  “Nick, please! I’m begging you!” I said, sticking my lower lip out.

  “Pouting will not work, Abby.”

  “What is something you want then, Nick?”

  Nick was standing beside my bed; he bent down, close to my face and kissed me. The kiss was brief but intense.

  “That earned you one of the chocolates,” he opened the box and held it for me to pick one piece of candy.

  I tried to grab the box, but he wasn’t injured and was able to pull the box away quickly.

  “Now, Abby,” he waved his finger at me. “You should know better. Don’t be greedy.”

  “May I have another?”

  “I like how you asked that,” he said, bending to kiss me.

  A girl could get used to this.

  Someone cleared their throat at the door. Nick immediately bristled.

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