Chapter VI

What is love? I’ve contemplated this human emotion many times in my life and never could define it for myself. I intellectually understand that it is a strong affection for another originating from some intimate bond or feeling of kinship, however I don’t think I’ve truly experienced this feeling for myself. My Mother and Father have said that they love me numerous times especially when they perceive that I am in distress or suffering in some form. Perhaps as parents they were motivated to provide me, their child, with solace, or maybe, they uttered the phrase as a consolation, but I’ve never really felt as if there were true emotions propelling the words when they were spoken. I thought that perhaps that I loved my brother, Daniel, but since we have drifted so far apart from each other I believe he doesn’t reciprocate the feeling for me, which has broken any bond or feeling of kinship I might have shared with him. If someone loves another would they abandon that person like Daniel has me?

Many of my peers have boyfriends or girlfriends whom they profess to love. As I’ve explained to you before, I am not like any of them however even though I am intellectually and emotionally older, it doesn’t negate the desire to be loved, to have someone understand me and accept me for who I am and what I am capable of. Most people, those who would be considered my peers, as well as, adults are suspicious of me or are troubled by my presence. This is due to the number of idiotic rumors that circulate around town regarding my past behavior, all of which I am confident can be attributed to Josh. He is to blame for the lack of love in my life and it will be he who will experience the reckoning.

The nurses and volunteers at the desk barely noticed me as I walked by. I smiled weakly at a tall, balding man, presumably a physician, who glanced up from the patient clipboard he was reading as I casually passed. It was evident to me that though everything seemed calm, there were still patients that needed immediate attention. The sign on the wall indicated that the location of room 927 was situated at the end of a long, quiet corridor. I proceeded confidently to my destination. Although Josh was still in a coma he had been moved from the ICU on first floor to a private room on the third. I found this curious though beneficial. As I approached Josh’s room I noticed a female, wearing what I recognized as a hospital volunteer uniform, leaving. Her back was toward me but her movements were strangely familiar. She turned as I drew near.

“Angie!” She was as surprised to see me, as I was she. She gazed down the corridor to see if her almost scream had alerted the hospital staff. “What are you doing here?”

Her whispered emphasis on the word ‘you’ was not unnoticed. I am certain that my presence here was alarming since the contempt I felt for Josh was no secret especially to her, someone I considered a friend.

“Me? What the fuck are you doing here?” I strained to control the volume of my voice as the betrayal crept through the ballad she and I once shared consuming any love I might have held for her. This was the clarity in life and people that I required, the clarity I craved and sought out. She was providing me with the evidence of her unimagined infidelity. I felt her mind frantically search for an explanation to share with me; something that I might be able to comprehend and be able to rationalize, but what she didn’t realize was that I was completely incapable of understanding. Nothing could justify her being here in a place that she once told me disturbed her. Nothing would make her exiting Josh’s hospital room ‘all right’ with me. Absolutely nothing.

“Angie,” she began as she reached out her right hand briefly skimming my shoulder before I flinched away from her touch. “I need to tell you something. I should have told you weeks ago but we, well … I haven’t heard from you in a while.”

I silently glared at her as I felt my blood flowing through my body. The liquid crimson was imbued with the raw force of my anger, which had reached a crescendo and seeped from my eyes in a malicious fascination directed poignantly at her. She sighed and gazed away focusing intently at the floor in atonement narrowly escaping my black curse.

“What is it, Brittany?” I questioned accusingly: the tone, pitch and intensity of my whisper creating an uncomfortable melody. “Are you and Josh fucking? Is that what you need to tell me?”

She didn’t respond to my question but frankly, I didn’t require one. I already knew. She tentatively shifted her focus from the floor to my face.

“You have no idea what you’ve done,” I whispered.

I watched as Brittany’s silent confusion metamorphosed into fear as she began violently coughing. It wasn’t a dry cough caused by a slight irritant in the back of her throat but a moister sounding cough, the type of cough that when heard in the middle of the night by a young Mother motivates her into action. The coughing possessed her. The timber of her barks echoed through the corridor alerting the hospital personnel gathered at the nurses’ station. Her seemingly unproductive coughing continued as I vigilantly maneuvered her over to the nurses’ station.

“I think she needs help,” I said with feigned concern as Brittany spewed up blood with her last cough.

I effortlessly stepped back as the nurses converged around her seeking to find a way to ease her distress but they wouldn’t. Brittany hysterically glanced in my direction terror reflected in her unusually blood shot eyes. I smirked as I turned and headed back down the corridor walking unhindered into Josh’s room.