The whirring and incessant beeping of machines were the first things I heard. That and the repulsively clean hospital smell. The last thing I remember was Niall. And the truck. I was expecting my body to hurt a lot more because the impact of the truck crashing into me was excruciating. It was the last thing I felt. Besides feeling like I'd been run down by a truck - I snickered at the irony - and feeling the tubes in my nose and down my throat - never got used to that - I felt fine.
But then I panicked. I tried to wiggle my hands and toes. I still felt them but then I'd heard stories of how soldiers who'd lost their limbs could still feel as if they were still there.
But mine really were still there. Phew!
After the relief faded off, exhaustion crept back in. Lifting the cover off my legs took a lot out of me. I groaned at my frailty.
I did not enjoy having tubes being stuck down my throat and slowly pulled them out, grimacing at the discomfort that it caused. And my throat was parched - I really needed a drink.
Where's the 'call nurse' button?
Right on cue, as if there was a telepathic link between my mind and the button, a very pretty woman entered the room. She was almost too pretty to be a nurse. Maybe she was just checking in before she left for the day - she didn't look like the nurses I usually saw.
"Can I have some water please?" I croaked.
Her face was one of pure shock. "Oh- kay. Sure. I'll be right back.I-I'll get the doctor," she stuttered. Within a few minutes, a doctor came in and asked me some questions, did a relatively thorough physical examination and said "glad to see you're recovering well. We'll still have to keep you here for observation but we should be able to release you within a week if everything goes well." before he left in a hurry. Just procedure, that's all.
After that was settled, my mind jumped to the next most important thing. I glanced briefly at the shiny ring around my finger.
"Hey, how are ya?" Niall entered, his blue eyes bringing a huge amount of comfort. His hair was longer and was more brown than blonde. He'd grown out his facial hair - he looked more grown up compared to the last time I saw him.
"You feeling alright?" he approached my side slowly, his hands in his pockets.
"Uh, yeah. Feel like I've been hit by a truck," I joked, hoping my light-heartedness would ease the palpable tension in the room. He barely cracked a smile. I sighed. There was a noticeable moment of silence. I expected him to embrace me in a dramatic hug or kiss me or share some form of physical contact with me but he just stood there, his eyes rarely meeting mine, his hands buried in his pockets. His forehead was creased, his eyebrows furrowed as if he wanted to tell me something but didn't know how.
"Niall, about that night-"
"I know. But-" he interrupted, which was uncharacteristic of him.
But, "I need to get this out. That night, I realised that I couldn't let you go. I couldn't leave you, not again. So I turned around to tell you that. The truth is, I can't imagine my life without you. And I am insanely in love with you. I feel it in my bones, in the deepest part of my heart, I love you with everything I have."
His eyes remained locked on mine for a full minute. I thought I saw a smile forming but it disappeared within a split second if it was.
"Jamie." He cleared his throat. He was struggling to form his words. "It's been two years."
"You've been in a coma for two years."
The doctor must've forgotten to mention that.
"They didn't know when or if you'd wake up. The internal trauma to your brain was serious and given the history of injuries to your brain, they didn't know if it'd be able to repair itself."
How could I have not realised that two years of my life had gone by?
"I came by whenever I could. James has been around to visit almost every day. You never showed any signs that you were going to wake up soon."
He took a step closer.
"I had to move on, Jamie. Whatever you wanted to tell me that day, I'd already made my decision."
He had moved on. I repeated this phrase in my mind over and over again. If I hadn't been in a coma...what would have happened?
The nurse returned and passed me my glass of water. Then she stood by Niall's side and I watched as he wrapped an arm around her waist. He looked at her the same way he used to look at me. He whispered something to her before kissing her on her cheek prior to her leaving the room.
He pointed to my hand, the one with the ring he'd given me. The promise ring.
"I still want you to keep that."
"You should go," I suggested, keeping my voice as steady as possible. How was I supposed to react after being told all of this?
"Jamie-" he reached out for me. It took a lot of effort for me to move my hand away. "I had to move on," he repeated.
"I understand," I replied monotonously.
He stared at me for a while as I fixed my eyes on the wall straight ahead. I couldn't look at him. I couldn't blame him but it didn't make things easier.
He was halfway out the door. "I still love you,Jamie. Always have and always will. I will always care about you."
I gave a small nod. I just wish he'd cared enough.