Chapter 20 - "Welcome home & welcome back"

"Welcome home Nick..."

He said it out loud, and he didn't know why. Noone was around to hear it. Perhaps he only said it in disbelief. He was inexplicably home if you could call it that. The dusty home built on dirt and misery.

He was missing so much time. Running, then lights and shouting, then the end of his life... and now he was here with no way of explaining it. He didn't recall any hospitals even though he was in pain. He was still in pain. Did he just run from the scene? No, impossible. Pocamby is at least thirty miles from campus... too far to run and arrive in the same night. It was still night wasn't it?

The curtains weren't closed and he could see dark outside the windows, but it was the strangest thing, he saw nothing else out the window. His eyes lethargically traveled the room and it was the same as it always was. It was like a... dream.

Without warning he broke down completely. Not just choking with sobs, but sobing to the point of literal choking. He remembered something... that white sheet. His life ended, she was the one thing he truly wanted in life, a reason to keep fighting and now it was all gone. How could he keep on going like this?

It was horribly silent in the room to the point that he could lay there and listen to himself bawl like a lost child in a grocery store. His brain took the inopportune moment to replay his first memory of crying for Judy, the day he found out she was blind. It was so eerily familiar to that feeling.

Nothing seemed to change for hours...

He eventually ran out of tears, or maybe his body was just sick of his weakness and did it for him. The only thing he could do is drag himself into his musty bedroom and onto the bed. He hoped that he would never wake up.

...

He slowely opened his eyes...

He was blinded by white light, and lifted his hand above his face to block it out. His first thought was "heaven," but if there is one he probably wouldn't be allowed inside.

"Nicky!" He was grabbed around the neck by a familiar smell, it was mom. The room echoed with laughter of overwhelming relief as the blur slowly left his vision.

Once she'd removed herself from his neck, his aunt and Bonnie Hopps came into view. He was in a bed with baige railings on either side of him. A hospital room...

"Nicky I'm so glad you're ok." She was crying, tears of joy to see her son alive again.

"I wish I wasn't."

"What!? Nicky why would you say something like that!?" She looked on in panic and disbelief.

"..." He just didn't know how to tell her, she must not have known yet. Bonnie was here... did she know? She should've been the first person contacted.

He felt groggy and nauseaus, and the confusion was not helping it in the slightest. It was deathly silent in the room. He couldn't see them, he was gazing at the spackled ceiling just waiting for it to stop spinning.

He couldn't see his loved ones looking to eachother, bewildered and concerned...

"What are you talking about sweetheart?"

He would have to do it... did he have enough willpower left to tell them? He bit down on his cheek until he tasted copper, and felt tears start adding to his blurry vision. He had to, they need to know... he owes it to them.

"Judy..." He choked, and then softly started to cry. He wasn't really fighting it, but he was so exhausted he couldn't bring it above a whisper even if he wanted to. "Judy... Judy... Judy..."

Over and over he said her name. His loved ones were distraught. They didn't know why he was upset or how to console him. "... She's gone."

He finally spit it out, but his mother and Bonnie Hopps were not sobbing with him... They were trying to wrap their heads around what he was trying to explain to them. "No... Nicky that's not-"

They looked around at eachother again. Starting to realize what was going on. "...I don't think the anesthesia has worn off."

Maybe they were in shock he thought.

"Nicky you were hit by a car." His mother placed a hand on his forearm, trying to be as gentle as she could. She needed to figure out why he was so upset.

"I know, and Judy... she's gone..."

"...No hunny, she's fine."

"WHAT!?" He bolted straight up in his bed and felt a sharp stabbing pain shoot down the left side of his torso.

"Don't move Nicky! You'll tear your stitches!" She never quit her old habbits of fussing over him, granted, this was an extreme circumstance.

"What day is it!?" He was already sweating bullets. What's going on? She's alive? How? So many questions in his head all competing for the same space.

"Thursday?" His mother wasn't exactly sure what day of the week it was, but she knew that it had only recently passed midnight.

"How long has it been since the accident... what happened!?" The loss of time, it made sense but he still had no clue what happened.

"Well... you've been in surgery for almost six hours. You were... well, the driver said you were jogging on the side of the highway in the dark and they didn't see you."

"WHERE IS SHE!?"

He grabbed his own mother with force she'd never seen out of him before. If Nick had not seen the things he'd just seen he would never hurt his mother.

"Nicky... that hurts..."

"Nick she's fine!" It was Bonnie Hopps who gently pulled his arms away and folded them in his lap."She's been up all night waiting for you to get out of surgery..."

Nick was gasping for breath... it was all a terrifying lucid dream brought on by anesthesia? He couldn't believe it, it was so real... the bus... the sheet... it all happened in a single night, but it was still that same night? As terrifying and cliché as it was he'd never felt so relieved in his life.

He was racking his mind, it was overloaded with too much to process in a single sitting. It had distracted him for a moment...Immediately he ripped out his I.V., which wasn't as easy as it looked in movies.

Blood came gushing out, it was one of the worst physical pains he'd ever felt.

"Nick stop it! Nurse!" They were trying to hold him down and yelling for help as Nick thrashed desperately to get up.

He had a second chance... it couldn't wait. He had to see her... now...

He pushed them all off and fell head first out of the bed and onto the floor. He dragged himself to his feet and bolted out of the room and into the hall, with nurses and doctors on his heels.

He was breathing heavy and looking for sighns to point him to the waiting room, he was lost, he didn't know this hospital...

"JUDY!" He cried out her name, tears had started coming, and it was blinding him. "WHERE ARE YOU!?"

Every member of the hospital staff was after him at this point. He saw a door with an exit sighn and slammed through it, ripping his stitches. It was quiet in this room littered with chairs and silent patients, and in the far corner was a little grey bunny, slumped over the armrest of her chair.

He grabbed the nearest trashcan and did his best to barricade the door he came through, it wouldn't last long.

He felt warm blood soaking right leg, but limped through it clear across the room as the silent onlookers began gasping in shock and calling for help.

He slumped down in front of her and lifted up her head. Her eyes lazily opened, to reveal a comforting fog. "...Nick?"

He threw his arms around her head and choked with uncontrollable sobs, and she squirmed trying to push him away. "Nick... that hurts..."

Pounding was coming from the door, they would be here soon. There was no time to savor how soft she was, or her familiar smell, or the overwhelming joy and relief that had just pulled him out of the darkness he'd suffered through all night.

He grabbed her face on either side and looked straight into her milky eyes. She wasn't able to turn her attention anywhere else. She looked afraid, and confused.

"...Nick?"

"Judy listen to me..."

"..."

He was only afraid for a moment, he didn't have time to be afraid anymore...

"I love you too!"

"...What?" She didn't understand what was going on, but she was flushed red with embarrasment. "Nick what are you talking about? ...Oh god you're bleeding!"

She felt the cold blood on her lap, and started to panic.

"If you want to be together then I want that too!"

"Nick it can wait!"

"No it can't!"

The door gave way and a mob of doctors, nurses, and security staff flooded the waiting room. Nick looked around to see them coming, and quickly pulled the chord out of his hospital gown and tied it in a loop... and slid it on her finger...

"Nick... what is-?"

Time was up. Security wrestled him off of her and held him down on the floor. He calmly watched her feel his makeshift engagement ring as a nurse administered a sedative. He didn't stuggle, he felt lightheaded from blood loss and he eventually went to sleep.

...

Three weeks passed before he was released from the hospital. It was a monday as he casually walked a familiar hall, to a very familiar room.

"Welcome back Mr. Wilde. I'm glad to see you again... I mean it this time."

"Thanks Mrs. Keen." He could make a joke, but he didn't feel like it.

He made his way to the same seat he'd always sat in... right next to a fiery red Judy. She didn't say anything as he sat down and opened up his notebook.

He uncapped his black pen... it was a good day for once.

"Miss me?"

She squirmed and shot a dirty look at him before settling back down.

"Welcome back..."

"..."

It was quiet for a moment. She struggled to ask him the question that was plagueing her sleep since she last saw him. "...Did you mean all that stuff you said?"

"I would never lie to you."

"..."

It was a familiar face, the super pout. Understandably presented as it was, he knew it was a bad joke. However, he also knew she wasn't really mad at him for it. They'd already gotten past all of their petty insecurities, and if she really wanted to he knew she could easily laugh instead.

"I lost your ring..." She looked pitiful as she admitted to what she believed was a horrible and irreversable mistake.

"That was the chord to my hospital gown."

"What!? You idiot!" She grabbed the nearest object she could find on her desk and lobbed it at him. Nick just laughed it off, nothing could get him down today.

"Don't worry... I'll get you another one."

That really took the anger out of her assault as she slumped face first into the desk out of embarrasment. After a moment she muffled out an insult.

"Maybe I'll give "Nathan" a call instead."

He grabbed her chin and quickly pulled her in for an unashamed kiss. The whole class saw it, but noone said a word. As she squirmed and pulled her ears he could only smile.

"He'll have to fight me for you."

...The end


Thanks from the writer:

Thank you so much for reading, it means the world to me.

This story was basically a big metaphor for my life. Nick was nothing like the actual Nick because in this story Nick was ME. I put all the things I hate about my personality into Nick's personality in the story, except my vast insecurity which I unloaded on Judy. Judy triumphing over her fears and weaknesses is me daydreaming about doing that for myself someday.

In fact, the entire premise of the story directly correlates to my life. Judy being blind wasn't just an "interesting plot element" that popped into my head. She represents my wife, who is schizophrenic.

Judy dying in chapter 19 wasn't just a sad plot twist intended to shock readers, it was an indirect expression of my worst fears. That my best friend could at anytime have a bad day and for no other reason decide to kill herself.

I'm sorry if that part of the story upset you, but know that I would never kill a pivotal character like Judy with no warning in advance. I love these characters, I don't want to kill them just as much as you don't... and I hope that the M. Night Shamylan dream twist wasn't too cliché for you.

Anyways, if this story was worth your time to read then it was worth my time to write. Maybe I'll see you again sometime.

Update: Be my candle+ coming soon.