Matt and I lingered in the waiting room of the hospital. We were waiting for the doctor to tell us any news about Echo. Of course she wasn’t going to die or anything dramatic like that, but we were still extremely anxious, or at least I was. That psycho path did get in some decent kicks that could have possibly harmed any of her part of her body and her precious rib cage.
I continued to pace back and forth in the waiting room, looking down at my scuffed Nike sneakers. I was still wearing my workout clothes from cheer and I probably smelled of sweat, but that was the last thing on my mind. Seeing Echo get constantly hit was like a nightmare I never wanted to experience, nor will I ever want to in the future. It was like I felt every blow she took and more. The second worst part was me not doing anything more than just watching her get abused. I was utterly helpless to the horror that I had witnessed. I could still hear my screaming along with the intense pitter patter of the rain.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
I watched Dylan kick Echo in the stomach for the second time, the third time. My body was numb and I couldn’t move a muscle. I stood there in complete shock. I had to do something, anything to help. Before anything came to mind Matt sprinted over and tackled Dylan, pinning him to the muddy ground. I didn’t know Matt was here at all. Where did he even come from? The question escaped my blurred mind as my hands balled into fits just watching Jinx rush to Echo’s aid. Like she could fix Echo in some way.
There was enough feeling in my legs to walk over and stop Jinx from putting a grubby finger on Echo’s precious yet beaten and bruised body. She had no right to pretend to care about her.
“Don’t you think you caused enough harm to her. Echo is mine, got it?” I seethed, trying to keep my voice steady. Echo was far from mine, but I couldn’t help let the words fly out of my mouth with the rage that boiled in my stomach.
She looked to scared to do or say anything and backed away. I fell to my knees, grabbing onto Echo’s hand. The mud splashed onto my clothes but I couldn’t care less. Hot tears streamed down my face as I looked at her crumpled form. by then there was a crowd of football players and cheerleaders around us. Someone had said they called the police while Matt was rushing to grab Echo.
“What are you doing?” I panicked, as if taking her away from me would be the end of the world.
“We are going to take her to the hospital.” He stated.
“but Dylan,” I began, placing my body over hers and looking around frantically, as if he would come running after her once more.
“The boys will take care of him till the cops come. Don’t worry, we have to hurry now Ash.” He sounded so calm.
As I moved slightly away from Echo, I watched Matt gently place one arm under her neck and the other arm under where her knees bend and picked her up as if she weighed nothing. I stumbled along behind him as we rushed to his truck. He put Echo in the back seat and I hopped in after to make sure she would be okay on the ride over. I watched as her head was laying in my lap. I hesitated before playing with her hair, hoping it would calm me down.
“She will be fine.” He said after a while. “A broken nose for sure but that is probably it.” It didn’t settle my nerves. “Did you tell her?” He asked, looking at me in the rear view mirror.
“Is now really the time?” Was this all he wanted out of her getting beaten to a pulp?
“I don’t see a better one.” He stated.
I kept silent for a while, not wanting to admit I was too chicken to confess to her. “No, okay? I didn’t tell her.” I spun her hair around my finger. “But it doesn't matter right now, she is hurt.” I almost started crying again, but held back the tears. The rain wouldn’t hide them this time.
“In a way I think you should wait. The whole thing with Jinx needs to be over before you tell her how you really feel. I think it would mess with her mind bit and make it hard for her.” Matt confessed.
I thought about this for a while. He may be right, and it made an excuse for me not to say anything to her. I looked down at Echo’s face. Her nose was already turning a bit purple. I could practically feel my heart ripping in two. “I love you.” I said, brushing back her hair. “I love you so much.”
I could not stop thinking about that and the words that I had yelled to her. The fact that we were in a fight because I was in love with her was utterly absurd. It wasn’t fair that I was taking it all out on her even though she had no idea the pain she was causing me, because I didn’t have the balls to confess to her. She was right, it wasn’t fair. It was just stupid of me to now realize this.
I felt a hand on my shoulder, causing me to flinch. I glanced up to see Matt holding a Dr. Pepper out to me. I reached for it and noticed my hand was shaking. I rushed to grab it from his grasp before he would notice. “Thank you.” I mumbled.
“You couldn’t do anything to help Ash. This was not your fault.” Matt admitted.
I looked down at my feet again. “I know, but the things I said to her Matty.”
He gave his perfect half smile. “Hey, she will understand. You two are best friends.”
All of the sudden I heard someone clear their throat. I looked up to see a woman in a white lab coat, her eyes piercing at me. My stomach felt tighter because I knew she was the one with the news. “Well?” I choked out, wanting her to get it over with. Any sort of injury would make my chest hurt so she might as well get it out now.
“A little internal bleeding in the stomach and a broken nose. Nothing we haven’t seen before of course. We got her all fixed up and ready to go.” She looked at both Matt and I before continuing. “She is staying the night to make sure the bleeding has stopped. You two can see her if you would like.”
I nodded my head. “Thank you.”
As the doctor dismissed herself, Matty stood up and stretched. “Well, you wanna go see her?”
I looked at his as if that was the stupidest question he has ever asked in his whole life, because it was. “Let me go first though okay, alone.”
He paused and squatted down to take a seat with a sigh. “Take your time. But if she wakes up and I am not in there I am kicking your ass.”
“No one’s ass needs to be kicked. We already got Echo to worry about.” I let out a small laugh.
I smiled weakly before nervously walking to her room. I peaked in through the doorway and noticed her fragile body laying on the white sheets of the hospital bed. I held back tears as I noticed the white bandage on the bridge of her nose. I felt heat radiate throughout my whole body and never felt so much hatred for one person in my whole life. If I could set fire to one person and it would be legal, I would surgically sew Jinx and dylan together and set them on fire.
I rushed over to her side and grabbed her hand, debating whether or not to sneak a peck on the top of her hand or not. I decided against it and sat on one of the chairs they had for guests. I stroked her fingers with my thumb, not knowing what to say, but I knew she wouldn't be able to hear me.
“You never had to be sorry Echo.” I let out. “It is me who should be sorry. I let my own selfish feelings get the best of me. I have this secret I have been keeping from you. I didn’t even realize it myself till I saw you with Jinx. The way you would look at her made me want to jump off the nearest building. At first I really did want to help you get with her. I wanted you happy with someone you liked, but as time when on I realized, I didn’t want you to be with her.
“I didn’t want her to touch you or even make you smile. I know it is selfish but I was jealous of you two. Not in the way you think though. You think that I am jealous as a friend but I am not.” I took a long breath and then exhaled. “Echo Joy, I am in love with you. I am in love with everything about you and-”
There was a knock at the door and I jumped. “Excuse me, I didn’t mean to scare you.” I noticed a nurse at the door. “I just need to drop off this food for Echo.”
I nodded and she came in with a tray of horrible hospital food. I scrunched my nose at the sight of it, until I realized Echo was fluttering her eyes. I quickly let go of her hand and leaned back in the chair, as if I was casually sitting.
I examined her as her eyes travelled around the room. The nurse smiled at Echo when she looked at her. “Ahh you are up! Fantastic. Sit tight love, i’ll go get the doctor.”
Yeah as if she’ll get up. I thought to myself.
I began feeling nervous as she adjusted herself to a sitting position. We haven’t been able to be around each other in weeks and now I am here, sitting next to her in the same room. Her eyes scanned around and landed on me. I gave a weak smile. “Morning sunshine.”
“Hey.” She said, pushing away her tray of food. “Mind telling Matt to pick me up something better than trash?”
“I’ll let him know.” I felt relieved that we were having a conversation without yelling. This was our first real talk and it made me happy inside. I knew I had to get Matt but I didn’t want to leave her side in fear of this mood being changed. “I have to go get Matt, he said he would kill me if you woke up and he wasn’t here.”
Jinx reached for my hand and grabbed it tightly. My throat tightened and butterflies were doing dances in my belly. “Wait Ashley.” She said before I could stand. “I am sorry for everything. I really am.”
“I am more sorry five times over.” I said, squeezing her hand back. “We will talk later about it though okay? Matt said he would kick my ass. I don’t want to end up looking like you.” I laughed nervously. I felt sad when she let go on my hand to let me leave.
I grabbed Matt from the waiting room and he rushed in to tell her how she looked all tough. “I’ll tell everyone the other guy looks worse.”
“All because of you!” I huffed.
“Oh he took me by surprise.” Echo began. “I didn’t have time to give him the ol’ one two.” I smiled faintly as she put her fists up as if she were trying to act out a better scenario.
I hardly listened to Matt and Echo while they played out the scene with a different outcome. I was too stuck in my own world to be in this particular one. It really was nice how everything felt like it was back to normal, but then again I wanted something more. I swear if Dylan didn’t interrupt us, I would of told her. Not out of desire to confess but out of anger. Out of blind rage to make her understand.
“Ashley?” Echo pulled me back to reality.
“Yes?” I said
“Come here and lay with me! It gets lonely in a hospital bed.” She puffs out her bottom lip in the cutest puppy dog way. I couldn’t say no so I let my desire get the best of me as I scooted in and she wrapped her skinny arms around me in a hug.
“I have missed you so much.” She whispered in my ear.
I felt flushed as she held me, her face perfectly in the nape of my neck. I felt my breathing hitch as I told myself not to cry.
“You have no idea how much I have missed you Echo.” I said back, closing my eyes and enjoying the moment, because it might not ever come again.
All the sudden I felt pressure on the front of my body and my eyes shot open. Matt was laying on top of me putting his big muscled arms around the two of us. “Oh my god I missed you guys together!”
Echo and I squealed as he shook us around, gently though to make sure he didn't put Echo in anymore pain. We all laughed until the nurse came in yelling at Matt to stop messing around.
“Well, tell me what you want because I am going to go pick something up for you. This food will not satisfy a starving stray dog.” Matt told Echo. “Which is what you look like by the way.”
“Just get me something from Taco Bell. Ash will stay here with me.”
My nerves heightened as Matt winked and walked out of the room leaving Echo and I alone in the silence. It was a good five minutes before anyone said anything.
“What has been going on?” Echo asked me. “I feel like I have missed so much these past years.”
“Okay for one, it has not been years, even though is seems like it has been that long. But yeah Nothing out of the ordinary.” I began. “Cheer and stuff.” I wanted to say more, like it how it has been hell without her and how I am in love with her and I have been in so much pain because of it, but I didn’t.
She put her blanket over me, as if the physical contact we were having just wasn’t enough. She then snuggled down in the bed, laying her head in my lap.
“I have missed you.” She told me once more, her eyes closed and a small smile playing on her pale lips.
“You have no idea.” I said laying back and closing my eyes.
“I love you Ashley.” Echo said.
My heart began to pound. She doesn't love me the way I love her. She will never feel the same way. I debated for a long time whether to say it back or not.
“I love you Echo.” I breathed. A tear escaped from my eye. God do I love you, I thought.
I must of fallen asleep because Matt was in the room when I opened my eyes. Echo was still out cold. Her arms were wrapped around my waist and her head was still laying in my lap. My heart melted at the sight as I daydreamed about how this could be us forever, being girlfriends and sleeping innocently beside one another. I shook my head and stared at Matt.
“Don’t worry, I took a picture.” His devilish smile haunted me. “And I got you food!”
I put my arms out without a response. He better give me food or I’ll climb over the angel to kick him in the throat. He handed over my quesadilla. It didn’t take me long before I was stuffing my face. I felt Echo stir in her sleep.
“I smell food.” She mumbled, eyes still closed.
“Shouldn’t of fallen asleep.” Matt stated. “We ate what I got for you.”
I watched as Echo opened her mouth and chomped down on my arm as if she was a dog.
“HEY!” I screeched. “I am not a chew toy! MATT, GIVE HER THE FOOD!”
Echo let go of me and smiled, now munching on the food Matt gave to her. I continued to rub my arm, removing the slobber and trying to rub away the pain as well.
“Don’t mess with me.” She mumbled, food in her mouth. “I do not play when it comes to my food.”
“Understood.” I said painfully, glaring at her.
“Man I missed you guys.” Echo said once more.
“We missed you too punk.” Matt said, giving me the eye.