She was scared. Nothing like this had happened before, and she was unfamiliar with the aching fear that she would lose someone she loved too dearly. She saw his eyes, and he was scared too, for if he died, the last words exchanged between the two were hateful.
She waited in the waiting room; too numb to get up. Only a few followed behind the ambulance to the hospital so there would be no commotion, but she felt the area was too loud. Luke was beside her, trying to comfort her, but there was no breaking the shell of her stupefied suspense. Michael was on the other side because they were the only two people she wanted to wait with her. She felt nothing but a burning ball of fire in the pit of her stomach, and she desperately wanted it to go away, but it only burned harder. For some reason, she felt she was the cause. She had broken him. He was so angry because she just wouldn't listen that his heart gave out. Why was she such a failure? Why did she crush everything she touched? Her mom didn't love her; her sister despised her; now her Dad would be broken and she would be left to pick up the pieces. All by herself.
She had Luke. Did she? Or was this his fault too? He had swept her off her feet; he had made her happy and blinded her senses with his kiss. He was the violence in the hurricane. He was the distraction she didn't need. She didn't deserve to be happy, and as she stared blankly at the white tiles of the hospital floor, she felt such a rage of anger towards him. So heavy on her heart that she felt her skin burning from the touch of his finger on her hand.
"Rylie." he whispered, and she flinched as he brought his hand up to tuck a strand of hair behind her ear. "Did you hear what the doctor said?"
His voice was so deep and majestic. How could she be so mad at him? He was worried for her, and offering his support. He was a great thing in her life, and she didn't necessarily want him to go away. Maybe it wasn't exactly Luke who made her so mad. Maybe it was because there were so many emotions running through Rylie's veins that she needed something to target her feelings towards. More like a someone; that being Luke. He was the perfect victim.
"Rylie." he repeated, and she finally tore her sore eyes ,splotched with red from the tears of her sadness, to meet his. They were luminous and blue, and had the biggest of stars as she looked deep into his soul.
Luke frowned at her appearance. She was worn ragged with fear of heartbreaking news, and the prominent bags under her eyes were evidence.
"Did you hear the doctor?" he asked. "He said your dad was going to be okay." He watched Rylie slightly nod, and was displeased with the reaction. "You're dad's fine. They said he was stable now, and as soon as he regains some strength, you can see him."
Rylie was so numb with anger for everything that she didn't even know how to be happy. Yea, that was great news. She was scared she would lose her father, and now she had no need to worry, but she wouldn't let her happiness recede to her lips and show a smile.
"Okay." she simply said, ready for Luke's face to show the confusion.
"Are you okay?" Michael's voice erupted in her other ear, and she was remembered of his presence. She looked at him with dark eyes, admiring the prominent crease in his forehead.
"No you're not."
"Just leave me alone!" She erupted, startling everyone surrounding the room. She got up too quickly, and felt dizzy with the rush.
Luke spoke next. His words were calm and collected, hoping it would feed off her. "I know you were scared, but everything's gonna be okay-"
"No!" Rylie interrupted, throwing her hands in a whorl around her head. "The whole reason we're here is because you wouldn't leave me alone."
Luke was utterly surprised by her words, and he was too stunned to speak. He mumbled under his breath, and looked to Michael for help, but he too was shocked.
"You're blaming me for you father having a heart attack?" Luke questioned, his eyes ablaze with bitter ferocity. "This is by no means my fault, Rylie. What do you mean I wouldn't leave you alone? We're dating now, and I thought you liked me?" he looked angry, but any person could see he was more hurt by her words.
Rylie was left with no argument. He was right. This wasn't his fault. This wasn't anyone's fault. They were dating, and she did like him. A lot. Deep down, she wasn't mad at him; she was just so stressed from the night that she needed something to keep her going. She needed to stop or she would lose the only thing keeping her sane.
"I do like you, Luke." Her voice was lower, barely a whisper, and she looked down at the floor, too afraid to meet his eyes.
"Then stop trying to make me feel like the bad guy."
Her anger had subsided, and now all she felt was guilt. First, she had embarrassed herself in front of all the random people in the waiting room. Then, she had the audacity to blame her moodiness on her boyfriend; the one who had waited the entire night in silence with her as the only means of comfort. he felt so bad, and was too afraid to speak to apologize. She could feel her cheeks grow red, and she tried to run away, but there was nowhere to run to. Her heart leaped quickly as she heard her name.
"Rylie Higgins." A female voice soft with upbeat cheer called her, and she turned to meet the nurse's eyes.
"Your father wants to see you." she smiled, and Rylie smiled weakly at the mention of her dad. She turned to Luke and gave him a look saying they would finish the conversation later.
She nodded to Michael, who had witnessed her meltdown as well, before turning on her heel, and venturing into the hallway. She followed the nurse, passing door after door, all the same bland color of blue.
They stopped in front of a room, the door half open, and she nervously stepped into it. There he was. There was her dad in the white hospital bed, with the sheets folded sharply around his body. She glanced around the small room, feeling her heart race at the large equipment and the heart monitor beating steadily. She examined her father in all his glory, and found herself transfixed by the tubes attached to his arms, attached to more tubes, attached to bags carrying a white liquid to his veins.
He looked exhausted to say the least, but so was she. They had waited all night, and now her father was alive and a fighter to her eyes.
"Hey dad." Rylie spoke quietly, hearing her small voice echo against the rose wallpaper.
Paul met her light brown eyes, and his face instantly lit up. "There's my girl." his voice was weak, and she could only imagine the pain he had gone through the past couple hours. Her heart ached for him.
The nurse appeared behind her, and walked over to her dad in the pastel scrubs. "Hey there champ." she said happily. "Are you hungry?"
Paul looked at her with timid eyes, and blushed. "A little." he answered sheepishly.
"Well I've leave you two to catch up while I get you something to eat." The nurse smiled brightly, showing ivory teeth, and her blissful mood helped lighten the pain in the room.
Rylie's eyes followed her as she left, and she turned to her dad with a smile. "She was pretty, Dad. Have you gotten her number yet?" she allowed a chuckle as her dad's face grew an amber red.
"It's great to see you too, honey." Paul remarked, and Rylie could no longer keep the happiness in at seeing her father. She ran over to him, bending down to squeeze him tight. Feeling his warm body against hers only gave her more glee at having him alive and with her. "I'm so sorry, Dad!" she cried, feeling the inevitably tears roll down her tired cheeks. She was so happy she was still able to say the word Dad, and have him breathe against her.
"This isn't your fault, Ry." Paul condoled, and he stretched his tubed arm up to pat her back. He straightened the crinkles in her sweater as he rubbed up and down.
Rylie pulled away, and shook her head as she rubbed the remaining tears rolling down her cheeks with her sleeve. "Yes it is. " she escaped a sob. "You died because I was being an horrible excuse for a daughter." She croaked, choking on her tears. She was so appalled at herself that the self pity was despairing. She didn't want her pessimistic attitude to hurt her father, but she was just so scared of losing him.
"If I died, I wouldn't be here." Paul's hand reached for her, and enveloped her small fingers. She looked down at the worn hands she had held her entire life. Memories of holding her dad's hand as crossing the street, and as she took her first bike ride flashed in her mind. His hands, creased with time were old and stiff, but she loved them. They had seen a thousand sights, touched a million objects, and were still holding on.
"You're heart stopped. Yea, the doctors pumped you back in an instant, but for that slither of a second, I thought I had lost you."
Paul's eyes flashed with fright as he was told the news, but he quickly smiled at her. "Rylie, don't think this was your fault-"
Rylie stopped him quickly. "I'm so sorry I didn't obey you. Now that I almost lost you, I see I was being childish, and I'll-" she paused, feeling her next words taste like barf, "I'll break up with Luke if that's what you want." The thought of breaking up with Luke this early, and not being able to kiss him again sickened her, but she would be willing to let him go if that's what her father wanted.
"No!" Paul panicked. "Don't break up with him!" he rushed, shaking his head violently, and catching her off guard. Wasn't that what he had wanted this entire time? Paul took a deep breath. "Now that I'm in this horrible predicament, I see I was being selfish with you because I ignored the fact my little girl was growing up. I wanted to keep you all to myself, but I see how happy Luke makes you, so please stay with him." Paul practically begged, and the words were music to Rylie's ears.
She swallowed the huge lump in her throat, and bit down as she felt more tears brimming her eyes. She couldn't manage to stop crying before more tears came. "Thank you Dad." she wrapped her arms around her father again, cradling him like a baby. "Thank you." she planted her lips on his forehead, and let them linger for a moment.
She had her dad, and even better, he was okay with her and Luke. Now she had to apologize for being such a horrible person to the man who had her back, and just maybe everything would be perfect.
But it's only a matter of time...