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Boom goes my head
I smiled and leaned back on the rock, letting the sun tan my golden skin and bleach my long blonde hair. It was the last week of summer, and the day of Aaron Michael’s legendary back to school party on the rock. Aaron Michaels was a JV football player, who had never been extremely relevant at school. Still, ever since his mom was the pta president in kindergarten, he had thrown an end of the summer “beach” party at Newman’s rock for our whole class. Newman’s rock was (obviously) a rock. It was on the edge of a pond, and it was the perfect spot for sunbathing or to jump into the pond and swim.
A large splash came from the pond and I screamed as my legs were splattered by water. Sitting up, I took off my sunglasses and looked around for the culprit. It was my best friend, Ally Hawthorne. I wanted to be mad but when she smiled up at me, her green eyes glinting, I just couldn't. I grinned as I stood up, making sure that I looked graceful. After all, every queen bee knows that one should never miss an opportunity to show off their bikini bod. Besides, I’d been training for cross country season all summer, and I was proud of my toned abs. After I saw some guys looking over, I was satisfied. Walking over to where Ally waited in the water I laughed, “You're in for it now Al,” then, I jumped in.
The water was shockingly cold, and I tried to swim to the top, but someone mistakenly kicked me as they swam. I felt my head slam against something hard. Then I felt nothing at all.
I woke up in the hospital. The room was dark, and I saw my mother sleeping in the corner. The world seemed fuzzy, and although I blinked, trying to clear my vision, the blurriness wouldn't go away. My limbs felt heavy, and my head hurt. I reached up and felt a bunch of bandages tied around it. I tried to talk, but my tongue wouldn't move. Maybe this was a dream. I closed my eyes and went back to sleep.
This time when I woke, the room was still dim, but there was a bit of light coming through the cracks in the window shades. A nurse holding a clipboard stood by the door. She looked over at me and smiled, “Glad to see that you're finally awake,” she said.
I offered a smile in response. She looked as if she was in her mid twenties, and she had an inviting appearance. Pale skin the color of cream, and a splatter of freckles across her round cheeks. I couldn’t see her hair from beneath her cap but I imagined it being a light brown color, maybe with streaks of orangey red shot through. As I focused, her face started to blur and I turned away to look at the blankets on my bed.
The nurse moved from the machine that she was looking at to the side of my bed. “Do you remember your name?” she asked.
I almost laughed, what a silly question. “Jules,” I said.
“And can you spell that for me?”
“J-U,--wait, J-U… J-U-L-J-U, no that's not right...” I stuttered. I knew how to spell my name I just couldn’t picture the letters in order. Thinking about it just made my head hurt more than it already did.
The nurse smiled at me again, though there was a bit of sadness in it. “Don't worry honey, I’ll get the doctor for you.” She started to move back.
“No, wait,” I yelped.
The nurse turned, obviously surprised by my sudden outburst.
“I umm, which, no, wha-what happened?” my words slurred together, as of my tongue had been stung by a giant bee. I felt my head getting heavy, why was I so tired?
“Aw sweetie, you hit your head and almost drowned, good thing that boy got you out of the water.” I smiled, it was probably Finn. We weren't officially together but we’d been texting all summer, besides, who wouldn't want to be saved by a football player? I thought of Finn Jumping into the pond to save me as I slowly drifted back into subconsciousness.
I was awaken by my mother and the doctor talking in hushed voices. I caught the words “worried” and “possible recovery” as I slowly opened my eyes. The room was dark once again, and my mother rushed to my side as I began to put my head up.
“Oh sweetie, I've been so worried about you,” she fussed.
“I uh… me too mom” the pounding in my head was gone, but the world was still fuzzy, and I was starting to get dizzy. Suddenly I felt awful, “I think I'm..”I moaned, and grabbed the bucket on the table next to me. Apparently the doctor expected this to happen because he barely flinched as I hurled. My mother, however, continued to fuss, holding back my hair and rubbing my back. Once I was finished, she took the bucket and cleaned my face with a towel. The doctor watched all of this, seeming indifferent. His face started to become more clear. His expression was much more serious than the nurse’s. I decided I didn’t like him as much.
After a minute he cleared his throat, “Ms. Meyers, do you know why you are here?”
I closed my eyes, what was it that the nurse had said? Oh right, “I fell, at the pond.”
He smiled, though there was no warmth in it,
“Very good, may I?” He asked, holding up a flashlight. I nodded and he came closer. He shined it and I followed the light as best I could, but it seemed blinding. I felt the pounding start up again in my brain, and was relieved when he turned it off. “Abnormal eye movement. He reported, and a nurse in the corner whom I hadn't noticed before wrote something down.
“We're going to need to take you to get a scan, do you feel ok to do that now?” I felt tired but I nodded anyway. The doctor said something to the nurse, then left.
The nurse took a wheelchair that was pushed against the wall and brought it to my bed. “Hi,” she said in a soft voice, “I'm Amy.” I smiled and she rose the back of my bed so I could climb onto the chair. Still, as I sat up I was overcome by a wave of nausea and I hurled again, thankfully, on the opposite side of the bed that the nurse was on. The nurse handed my mother another towel, who began to clean my face again, her eyes welling up with tears. Like the doctor, the nurse appeared unfazed. Maybe that was something they learned in medical school. Wait, did nurses go to medical school? I slid into the wheelchair, feeling incredibly dizzy and tired. I leaned my head on my hand and the nurse took the chair’s handles, and pressed my hands to my face to block out the lights. My mother didn't follow us. I heard the nurse stop at the desk and tell someone there that my room needed to be cleaned. Then she continued to push.
When we arrived in the elevator, I slowly took my hands away from my face and opened my eyes. The bright lights made my head pound, but I squinted into the mirror anyway. The face I saw was not my own. She looked about my age, she had the same shaped face, and the same long blonde hair, but that was where the similarities ended. My skin was a golden tan, not the sickly, paper white complexion of the girl’s. And my eyes were bright and happy, but the girls were dull and puffy, with dark bags under them. Still, she moved when I moved, and as I reached out and touched the cool glass of the mirror, the girl’s hand looked as if it met my own. I sat fascinated and disgusted by the girl in the mirror as we descended, until a noise sounded and the doors reopened.
The lights on this floor were dimmer, yet still blinding, and the only noises were the humming of machines and squeak of rubber soled shoes. I closed my eyes and leaned back in my chair. Who knew being pushed around could be so exhausting? The nurse stopped my chair with a loud squeak once we reached the CT room. At least it was dark in here. The chill air made goose bumps form on my arm as the nurse helped me to the CT. They told me to lie still, then went away. I layed on my back while my head seemed to be surrounded by a giant white plastic donut. The machine hummed and buzzed. The irritating noises didn't help the pounding in my head. When I was finished the nurse told me nothing of what she had seen. I didn't mind, I just wanted to get back to bed. At some point, as she rolled me down the clean white tiles, I fell asleep to the whirring of wheels.
I woke in the same room as I had before, though there were bright balloons tied to the desk. There were cards as well, and I leaned over to pick one up. It had a bright sun and blue birds on it. I smiled, trying to see what it said, but the letters all blurred together. Frustrated, I concentrated harder. My head started to pound. It was as if somebody had spilled water over the letters, making the ink bleed and the words unclear. I leaned away from the table as I heard the door creak, plastering a smile onto my face. It was my parents.
My father grinned, his sideburns spreading, and beer belly shaking. “There's my princess!” he laughed moving closer. I smiled, letting myself be enveloped in his embrace. I caught my mother, standing off to the side, a smile on her face, but a hint of sadness in her eyes. When my father released me, I leaned back into the bed.
My mother came forward, grasping my hand. “The doctors say we can take you home tomorrow,” she said quietly, her smile growing wider, “are you ready to come home, sweetie?” I smiled, nodding my head. How long had I been here?
My mother seemed to read the question in my eyes as she added, “It’s been 2 days, can you believe it?”
I frowned, thinking. It couldn't have been that long, could it? Suddenly I realized that meant that school would start tomorrow. “Wait, Mom, I haven't gone back to school shopping yet! What will I wear?”
My mother smiled again, “Well, you can't go back to school for at least a week, so we have lots of time.
“What,” I shrieked immediately regretting it as my head pounded. “Mom! It’s the first week of my junior year! Cross country tryouts are coming up, and I'm the head of community service club! We’re supposed to have an event this weekend!”
“Calm down sweetie, I’m glad that you care so much about the toy drive, but you need to rest. I felt my face grow hot and tears started to well up in my eyes. My mother sighed; she had always hated to see me cry.
I turned to my father who was smiling down at his work phone. Apparently he found furniture selling humorous. It seemed that my father was always at work now, and he had been staying late at his store a lot. He said it was because he was planning on expanding, but he’d been saying that since I was in diapers. My mother sometimes complained to me about how he was always busy with work, but she never said anything to him about it.
My father glanced up from his keyboard, his smile fading. “Aww Julsies,” he said, using the pet name that I usually hated, “everything’s going to be fine.” Normally, some meaningless, cliche saying would do nothing to lift my spirits. But having my parents with me, and the three of us all as one happy family, brought a smile to my lips. My parents both grew up in Oakwood, the small town we lived in, named for the towering oaks that seemed to grow on every inch of land. They met in high school, and got married before they were twenty. My father got a degree from the community college a few towns over, and fulfilled his dream at 25 by buying the furniture shop where he worked at, and my mom had me. It wasn’t the most interesting of stories, but I loved it. All I wanted was to fall in love, and raise my own little kids in Oakwood, just like my mom. I smiled, imagining my happy future as my parent talked to the doctor. And at some point, I fell asleep.
The next day, my mom filled out paperwork while I tried to wrestle with the mop that was my hair. It seemed to take hours for them to finally release me, but eventually my mom wheeled me from the hospital to our car. My dad had gone home the day before, but my mom assured me that he would take the second half of the day off to spend time with me. I felt awkward in the chunky sunglasses I had to wear to protect my head, and when I tried to turn on the radio in the car, my mom stopped me, telling me the doctor had ordered for me to not listen to any music. I sighed; this was going to be a long week.