Sunday consisted of only two tasks. The first was to set the house straight, seeing as I hadn't in a while - the second was a small paper that I'd opted for in order to make up for the essay I'd butchered. I tried to forget that it was Niall who'd destroyed it in the first place, and it seemed to have been working.
I didn't attend any form of church. My parents were never ones to stress religion, though both they and I believed in God. I just didn't see a point in having the same thing taught to you week after week. Once had always been enough for me. Plus, I always had homework and housecleaning to worry about.
I finished folding a pair of my jeans and set them aside with the others. I hadn't folded in a long time. Usually, I just let it sit in the dryer until I needed it. But it felt nice to be able to go to my closet for clothes again. So I continued folding and washing until there wasn't a dirty piece of clothing in sight. I will admit that it got my mind off of everything that'd been happening lately. Dealing with Niall and everything else was tiring, and this was a well-deserved break.
At about two o'clock the house phone started to ring. My eyebrows raised. People rarely called here, unless they had the wrong number while trying to reach one or both of my parents. I checked the number, but ignored it when it didn't register as familiar. They'd either leave a message or figure out they had the wrong number.
A while after the phone stopped ringing, I felt my stomach growl. I sighed, picking up my laptop and moving down to the kitchen. I set it on the table and inspected the fridge, but found nothing desirable. I found an instant meal in the pantry, then tossed that in the microwave before sitting down at the table. While it cooked, I typed away at my paper, the subject unknown to me at this point. I was simply relaying information, reworded excerpts from online sources I'd found. I had no interest in completing the assignment anymore, but I'd promised I'd get my grade up.
Suddenly, the phone started to ring again. My head snapped up, taken by surprise. Was it the same person? The answering machine was set up to give the number to my parents' phones, and usually people didn't call more than once in this amount of time. Intrigued, I walked over to where the phone dock was placed on the counter.
The caller ID was unfamiliar, so I let it go again. Maybe they'd leave a message or call my parents. Phone calls were inconvenient in the way that they broke my focus. I sighed and sat back down at the table, typing away at my essay.
I'd been at it for about four hours when I finally decided to call it good. It was supposed to be a small essay anyway, so I didn't mind when it only printed out two and a half pages. My empty bowl sat next to my computer on the table. I checked the clock above the stove and sighed. It was only about seven o'clock, yet I felt worn out. This weekend had been horribly stressful, with the party, the fact that I woke up in Niall's house, Niall's outburst, talking about my parents, our embrace...
I was tired. That was plain to see.
So I simply closed my laptop, set my dirty dishes in the sink, and trudged up the stairs, my eyelids fluttering closed the whole way there.
The next morning felt odd. Just waking up felt strange, as if it weren't day, night, or any time of the week at all. I felt uncomfortable in my own skin. When my foot slipped on the stairs I didn't even have the awareness to cry out as my arm reached behind me to brace my fall, but ended up twisting under the impact of my tailbone against the corner of the stair.
I slid down the next three stairs in a daze, my teeth ground tightly together as I pulled my hand out from under myself. As I came to a stop at the bottom of the staircase, the pain in my hand and wrist started to sink in. I cursed multiple times as I shuffled into the kitchen, arm held out to inspect the injury. It wasn't broken, I knew that. But by the way I'd twisted it, maybe a strained ligament. I wasn't sure.
I checked the clock. It was only about seven thirty. I contemplated the importance of first period, seeing as it was only a study hall. I had all of my homework completed and I felt that a trip to the doctor would be beneficial.
I tried moving my wrist but winced at the sharp pain. I'd definitely strained something, and pain killers definitely wouldn't hurt. So I grabbed my jacket, phone, and school bag, then headed out to my car.
Driving with only one hand was horribly complicated. My left arm was held out as I used my good hand to steer. Thankfully my right hand was my dominant, or otherwise I would've been having even more trouble. By the time I'd made it to the clinic, I swore at least three horns had sounded in my direction.
I parked as well as I could and walked in, the gazes of two small children falling upon me. I smiled softly at them in acknowledgement and walked up to the front desk.
"How can I help you?" the lady sat at the desk asked, giving me a warm smile.
"Erm," I said, wiggling the fingers on my left hand to make sure they were still moving alright. They were, so I was positive that it wasn't a break. "Could I see the physician about an injury I recently got?"
"Sure," the woman said, clicking the mouse while scrolling around the screen. "Just have a seat right over there and I'll have a doctor for you in just a minute. Could I get your name?"
"Samm Carter," I told her.
She nodded and typed a series of letters on the keyboard while I made my way to a seat on the other side of the room, away from the toddlers that I now noticed had shiny trails of drainage flowing from their nose. Colds, I assumed. I settled into the seat and studied the pictures on the walls, mostly paintings of mountain or beach sceneries. They were interesting, blending in nicely with the colors on the walls.
"Samm Carter?" A high voice said from the other side of the room, drawing my attention.
"Yes?" I said as I stood.
"Right this way," the lady said, gesturing down a hallway. She looked like she was in her mid-thirties. Scrubs with small ducks dotting them were worn by her, a good fit for her benevolent face.
I nodded, following her as she took me down two different hallways, then to a door on the right. "Make yourself comfortable," she said as I walked in ahead of her. "The doctor will be in with you in a moment."
"Thanks," I said quietly, taking a seat on the small stool next to the padded table. The lady left the room, closing the door behind her.
I studied the walls of this room, not much different than the waiting room out front. The walls were a neutral tan, orange pictures every few square feet. It gave a comfortable feeling to the room, almost a sleepy vibe. I sighed and leaned against the arm rest, setting my chin in my uninjured hand. There was a dull throb in my left hand, emanating from the base of my wrist. The pain was bearable, but I would've preferred to go without. Thankfully, the doctor entered about two minutes later.
"Hello," he said as soon as he was through the door. He had a peppy attitude about him. His glasses balanced on the end of his nose, and I felt like they would fall off as he sat down in the chair across from me. "Samm, right?"
I nodded. The doctor smiled.
"I'm Dr. Phillips, but it's alright if you call me Phil," he told me, clicking his pen against the clipboard in his lap.
When I said nothing to start with, he did so.
"So what seems to be the problem?" he asked me. He ran a hand over the small head of hair adorning him, and I bit my lip.
"I - erm," I said, not sure how to word the explanation without feeling like a complete idiot. "I fell down the stairs - and when I tried to catch myself, I - I fell back and sat on my - erm - hand."
I tucked a lock of hair behind my ear as I folded my hands in my lap, making sure not to put any pressure against my wrist. It wasn't my hand that'd been hurt, it'd been my wrist. The twist was what'd done it, along with the pressure applied to the already vulnerable point.
"So," Dr. Phillips said, tone turned serious. The sudden change threw me off. I hadn't been to many doctors, but none of them had been able to change mood so quickly. "You say your hand?" I nodded. "May I see it?"
I held out my left arm. Dr. Phillips took my wrist gently, turning it over carefully. I realized that, in this light, my wrist looked slightly bruised, and felt as such.
"Hmm," he said, brushing his finger over the most sore part. "You can move your fingers?" I flexed all five in response. He nodded. "Can you rotate your wrist?" I grit my teeth, moving my wrist carefully in all directions. It hurt, but slowly it was manageable. "It's not broken, that's for sure. I'm positive that it's not a fracture, either. You'd be in much more pain."
He dropped my hand, letting me rest it back in my lap. He stood, turning to the cabinet in the corner and browsing the contents. A few seconds later he drew back his hand with a roll of gauze. He then sat back down in front of me and motioned for my hand again.
"From what you're describing, it's just a strain," Dr. Phillips said. "Icing, rest, and a gauze wrap should have it better in a few days."
I sighed in relief. I didn't think that I could've gone through a broken bone, not by myself. At least I could use it, somewhat.
"Here," Dr. Phillips said, wrapping the first of the gauze around my wrist, then up over my thumb and back down again. "This is how you wrap it. Don't use so much that you can't move your wrist, but enough that it's not flimsy. It'll hurt for a while, but I don't think that painkillers are necessary."
I nodded, though painkillers would've been a luxury. He quickly ran through icing instructions and certain things that I should and shouldn’t do. Basically, if it hurt, I shouldn’t do it. Needless to say I was fine with that.
After he’d left the room I went back up to the front desk to give her my insurance information. I didn’t owe anything, my parents paid for it with their work. After I’d left, the time indicated that school was already well into third period.
I sighed. If I’d have gone to school right away and not had the mishap with my wrist, I would’ve been obligated to carry out the school day. But now I didn’t feel like doing anything except lying in bed and sleeping the day away. I mean, what was the harm in taking a free day? I hadn’t missed a day of school in about three years, and now seemed like the perfect time to break the streak. So before I could think better of it, I directed my car toward home.
I all but fell into my bed when I got home. My blanket surrounded me and seemed to swallow me whole, but I didn’t mind it. The trek up the stairs had been nearly impossible, my eyelids falling closed the whole climb. Thank God I’d decided to stay home, or I probably would’ve fallen asleep in class. I didn’t really have anything to worry about at school anyway, other than the paper I’d just turn in tomorrow.
I curled myself in my blanket, my breathing slowing to a steady pace. I breathed through my nose and rubbed my eye, something I'd always done when I became overwhelmingly tired. I was in no shape to think, so I didn't. I didn't think about anything, really. My mind was clear, the events of the past week and the previous hours slipping my memory. After all, I always slept the best with a blank head.
I shifted over, making sure not to put any pressure on my injured wrist. And from there, I buried my face into my pillow and drifted off.
My unconsciousness was broken by the blaring ring of the home phone. It echoed throughout the house, seeing as there were several phones around the home. This tone was terribly irritating. I groaned and rolled over, trying to cover my ears with my pillow. The noise still reached my ears, and I growled as I sat up and strode over to the phone in a daze. This was the third time I'd been called in not even a full day, and whoever was calling wasn't getting the memo that my parents weren't here. They never had been.
I shook my head, tucking a bit of my hair behind my ear. When I felt the knot in my hair, I knew that it'd be a nightmare to comb through. Just another thing to worry about. I was already angry from the rude awakening.
I stomped down the upstairs hallway in search of the phone. I'd left the door to my room open, letting the already echoing ring to resonate in my room. And since the phone was placed at the end of the hall, it took me more time than I could tolerate to stop the noise.
At first I debated just pressing the button that stopped the phone from ringing. But then I saw the number, same as before. The same person was calling for the third time.
My eyebrows rose noticeably. Maybe this person wasn't trying to reach my parents. Maybe they were trying to reach me.
Slowly, I reached out for the phone on the small table. I took it in my hand and pressed the 'connect call' button, then held it up to my ear. I couldn't remember the last time I'd picked up the home phone, much less answer a call.
"Hello?" I said hesitantly, hearing a lot of background noise through the receiver.
"Samantha!" a high voice piped on the other end. I almost dropped the phone. It was my mum.
"Mum?" I asked frantically, confused beyond belief.
"Samantha, it's me! I tried calling you last night, but you didn’t answer!" she shouted over the noise. I winced. I didn't like being called 'Samantha', especially with my mum's higher voice.
"Hi, Mum," I said. I hadn't heard her voice in so long, it almost felt like I was talking to a complete stranger.
"How have you been? I hope I caught you at a good time." she said cheerily. To me, the sound felt like fingernails on a chalkboard.
"I've been alright," I said, careful not to allow any emotion into my voice. "Why are you calling?" I'd always been one to be quite up-front with my parents.
"Can I not check in on my daughter?" Mum laughed. There was the sound of rough movement in the background, almost like a zipper being tugged closed.
"You haven't before," I pointed out. There was a bit of silence on the other end of the line as I leaned my weight against the doorframe leading into the upper level bathroom.
"I'm sorry, Love, I can't hear you very well," she said, thankfully more quiet than before. "Let me move someplace I can." I heard more shuffling in the background, then a quiet 'John, will you stay with the bags?'. John was my father's name. My parents were traveling together again? Usually their jobs took them in separate directions.
I held the phone away from my ear as a painful burst of noise sounded through the receiver. No wonder Mum couldn't hear. Then, all at once the noise ended.
"Alright, I can hear you now, Love," my mum's shrill voice came through the phone. Obviously she hadn't heard my comment, so I let it slide.
"Okay," I answered simply. When I said nothing more, a sigh came through from her end of the phone.
"I'm sorry, Love," she said, high voice now apologetic. "It's been a while since we last came home."
Four months. That's how long it'd been since I'd seen both my mum and my dad at the same time. Sure, Mum and Dad had stopped in, but never at the same time and only for a few brief hours. I hadn’t seen them together since Christmas, and truthfully, they didn’t even seem like parents - they seemed like friends who simply stopped by once in a while.
“Your dad and I are at the airport,” Mum continued after I didn’t say anything.
I rubbed the tips of my fingers, where the barely noticeable scabs from my paper cuts remained. My parents in an airport didn’t surprise me. They were always traveling place - last I’d heard from them, Mum was all the way over in Australia for a consulting job and Dad was on his way to Saudi Arabia to tie up some loose trading ends.
“We have another business trip together over in the United States,” she said quickly. I heard the whirr of a blowdryer in the background, along with the flush of a toilet.
“Mum, are you in the restrooms?” I asked, disregarding the information she’d given me.
“Yes, I had to get out of the - are you even listening, Samantha?”
I resisted the urge to hiss a sigh. “Yes, Mum. You and Dad are going on a business trip over to the states.”
“Okay,” she confirmed my answer. I could hear the goofy smile in her voice. “Well, I thought after that… We’d stop in for your birthday?”
I furrowed my eyebrows. My parents, stopping in? My birthday?
“What’s the date?” I asked her, pinching the phone between my shoulder and cheek to allow my good arm to shuffle through the outdated calendar sitting on the table next to the home phone.
“It’s the end of April, Love,” she laughed. “Your birthday is in two weeks.”
I nearly collapsed. “It’s almost May?” The months had flown by, or so it seemed at the moment.
“Two weeks until May 11th - my baby is going to be eighteen!” she sobbed through the phone, but I knew the act was fake. I’d never seen much of my mother, but I knew when she was faking emotions. It happened a lot.
“Mum, I’m not that much older,” I grumbled through the phone. “You don’t have to stop working for me.”
“I can’t miss my baby’s eighteenth birthday!” she squealed, making me wince and holding the phone back from my ear.
You’ve missed several other’s, I silently thought. “If you have to work, I understand,” I said instead. Truthfully, having my parents around was a bit awkward. Maybe if they’d been here more, I wouldn’t feel so uncomfortable around them.
“Nonsense!” she laughed. There was a rustling in the background noise, and I heard her mutter a few incoherent words. Then, she was back on the line. “Listen, Love,” she said. “Our flight is being called. I’ve got to go. I hope you’ve been doing alright in school, I’ve been checking your grades online and they’re looking outstanding.” There was another sound from the background, and a more urgent mumble from my mum. “Sorry, Samantha,” she said abruptly. “I’ve really got to run now. We love you so much! Be with you in two weeks!”
And then the line went dead.
I sighed and set the phone down on the table, rubbing my eyes and shuffling lazily back to my room. As soon as I’d made it to the bed I groaned and collapsed onto the mattress. My parents were coming home for my birthday. I should’ve been happy, but I wasn’t. No matter how much I may love my parents, I wanted them back just about as much as I wanted them gone.
It occurred to me that I hadn’t gotten the chance of talking to Dad. I also hadn’t told them about my wrist - like I would have anyway. It’d be better in the next week, as long as I did what the doctor had said. Speaking of which…
I sat up and pulled at the end of the gauze on my wrist. It peeled off of itself easily, and I tugged the rest off. The roll that Dr. Phillips had given me rested on my bedside table, and I tossed the used bandage into the wastebasket next to my bed after grabbing it. Slowly, I wrapped my wrist in the way that Dr. Phillips had shown me, careful not to get it to tight. When I finished, I set the roll aside. The clock caught my eye.
It was just after three-thirty, when school ended. I’d slept for that long? I shook my head. I couldn’t have been. Was I really that tired?
An abrupt knocking nearly scared me senseless. I jumped about ten feet in the air, a gasp escaping my lips. Okay, maybe I was tired. The knocking sounded again, and I tossed my legs over the edge of my bed. First the phone, now the door? It must be a package, my parents sent home things for me all the time. And since Mum had called home not two minutes ago, a delivery would make sense.
I trotted down the stairs, using my good arm to hold on to the railing. I sighed as I glanced in the hall mirror. I looked about as tired as I felt. Oh well. I’d never seen the same delivery man twice, so I doubt he’d remember my appearance anyway. So I turned around and threw the door open. But when I did, my eyes widened in painful surprise.
It wasn’t a package resting on my steps — it was Niall.