Awake, page 4
"I want to be a hairdresser when I'm older."
"Oh, sweetheart, you are destined for greater things."
My eyes finally flicked open but only for a second. The light slides through the gap and I wince, closing them immediately.
"Scarlett!" I heard Jeremy say. "Hey, can you do that again? Scarlett, open your eyes." I tried to but it was too hard and his voice sounded so far away. Then I was gone again.
I sat with David, Gregory, Linda and Freya, waiting for Mummy and Daddy to get back. The house was crowded today but we were the only ones still and reading. Jeremy ran through the room and out of the other door, chasing Evelyn. I wanted to join in their game but I had to read.
"Auntie Linda, how many days until I'm four?" I knew my birthday was coming up and reading about it with my family made it more exciting.
She didn't look up from her book but replied, "Twenty-one days to go."
"I can't wait!"
"Neither can we," Gregory said, stroking my hair and pointing back at the book, read to help me again.
"Is my daughter going to be okay?" Mum said. She sounded tired like she'd not slept in weeks.
I tried to remember my dreams but I all I could picture was Jeremy running after a little girl I'd never seen before. I didn't usually dream. Well, I didn't remember dreaming anyway. There were things I remembered. Mum combing my hair but she looked different. No one I saw was the same. I didn't recognise anyone but Jer.
"She opened her eyes," Jeremy said. "She's going to be fine."
Another voice I didn't recognise replied, "It's a very good sign that she opened them but there's still some way to go yet. Let's allow her to rest."
I didn't want to rest anymore. I wanted to wake up properly. I hadn't heard Dad's voice yet and I needed to know if he was okay. I tried my hardest, willing my eyes to open but it was useless.
The darkness was back for me.
The big room was the prettiest room I'd ever seen, especially because it was in a big, ugly grey warehouse. The floor was covered in leaves and Mummy said that's because I was so special. My party was going to be the best party ever. Candles were everywhere, making the room really hot. "Wow," I said, clutching my teddy in my hand.
Daddy held his hand out. He was standing in the middle of the room, in front of circle of rocks filled with green leaves. "Come, sweetheart."
I walked over to him and looked around. Everyone was here and they were all dressed in white - just like I was. "Where's Mummy?" I asked.
"Here I am, my special girl," she said, walking into the room. Everyone moved to stand in a big circle around me, Mummy and Daddy.
Jeremy tugged on someone's arm, but I couldn't see who it was because Aunty Linda was blocking them. He looked scared and had tears running down his face. Jeremy was tough and I'd never seen him cry before. It made me want to cry. I didn't like this anymore. Everyone looked down at me. They were so tall. I was scared. This was scary.
I looked up at Mummy and Daddy. "Can we go home now?" I asked, my lip trembling.
Mummy shook her head. "No, sweetheart. It is now time."
Everyone was screaming. The flames were taller than Daddy. I started to cry and my body was shaking. "Mummy! Mummy!" I didn't know where she was. I was too hot and I dropped to the floor. I wanted Mummy and Daddy to get me but I didn't see where they went when the fire started.
Someone picked me up but I was falling asleep.
I jolted awake, but I was still in the dark. What was that? I had a horrible, horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach.
"Can you hear me?" Mum asked, stroking my hair. "I can see your eyes moving. Try opening them, honey." That was all I'd been doing while I was conscious. Come on. I forced them open and this time they responded. "Oh, Scarlett." A tear ran down her cheek. "Thank God you're awake. Everything's going to be okay now."
I nodded slowly and smiled. My head felt like it was being bashed from the inside and my throat was as dry as the desert. "Water?" I croaked.
My heart was still pounding from the dream.
Jeremy was beside me with a cup of water and straw in an instant. "You sure like to be the centre of attention, don't ya?" he joked, but behind it I could see the relief in his eyes. I sipped from the straw until the water slid down easily and no longer hurt to swallow.
"Dad?" I asked when I'd finished.
"He's fine, being kept for observation as he had a mild concussion but he's okay. We brought him to see you earlier today and the doctor says if his latest results come back normal he'll be discharged this morning."
Thank God he was okay. "What happened?"
"Some arsehole fell asleep at the wheel and caused a six car pile up," Jeremy replied. I remembered the sounds of the crash and the screams but nothing else.
Mum ignored his colourful language. "There were no fatalities, by some miracle. You came off worst."
"She always was a drama queen."
Mum gave him a stern look. "Jeremy, go fetch a doctor, please." My brother saluted and left the room. "You feeling okay?"
"Head hurts, but I'm fine. I had strange dreams when I was out of it."
"Oh? What about?"
I frowned. "Um, a hot building, everyone in white, Jeremy chasing someone. I can't really remember." My brain felt fried. "Were you and Jeremy hurt?"
Mum's lips thinned for a second and then she stroked my hair. "Only a few cuts and bruises. I'll just go see where Jeremy's got to, hurry that doctor up," she said, standing up and dashing out of the room.
"WANT SOME, NOAH?" Chris asked, holding a bottle of White Lightening out to me. And I thought my parents had exaggerated about teenagers. My life before was fairly sheltered. I spent most of my time with a small group of friends walking, hiking, fishing, camping and building. I wasn't at all prepared for getting drunk at a park.
"Thanks," I said, taking a sip and passing it on. The idea was for me to fit in and make friends and I had a feeling asking to put the alcohol down and go exploring would do the exact opposite.
"When's Scarlett back?" he asked.
Great, going out with Chris and Bobby was supposed to take my mind off her. I was anxious for her to get home. My phone had died and been repaired but when I finally got it back on there was nothing on there from her. She'd be home soon, though.
"This afternoon. I would've thought they'd be back already but I've not heard yet," I replied. She was originally going to text me when she got home and I was going over. That should've been around two in the afternoon but it was now six and still nothing. But Scarlett told me they all like to talk so it was entirely plausible that they'd stayed the day and were coming home in the evening. I didn't want to pester.
"Missed her?" he asked, smirking. I had no idea why they felt the need to tease over things like that. Yes, I missed my girlfriend, and I wasn't afraid to admit it to them.
"A lot," I replied. They backed down when they knew it didn't bother me what they thought.
My phone rang an hour later as a second bottle of White Lightening was pulled out of Bobby's bag. I didn't care who it was as long as it got me out of drinking that vile stuff again.
"Hello?" I said, answering a number I didn't recognise.
"Noah, this is Marissa."
Her eerily calm voice sent chills down my spine. I stood up and walked a few steps away so I could hear her properly. "Marissa? Is everything okay?"
"We're in the hospital. There was an accident on the way home. Scarlett... She's doing okay, stable, in and out now, but I think you should come," she said, her voice finally giving away how scared she was.
I couldn't go. I could barely function. My muscles tightened, locking up. I felt cold. "Stable and in and out?" That meant something serious had happened. Stable was only used when it was touch and go but you were doing alright at that particular time.
Chris and Bobby stood up and moved closer. Both now giving me their full, undivided attention.
"Scarlett and Jonathan were on
I could feel my heart pounding. She'd said Scarlett was 'stable'. "She's not awake?"
"No, she's not right now, but she has been."
That wasn't good enough. I needed her awake, properly awake, and chatting to believe she would be alright. I had to get to her.
"I'm on my way. Is there anything you need?"
"No, thank you. She's on the children's ward, and me and Jeremy will be there, too."
"Okay, see you soon," I said and hung up.
"What's going on? It's Scarlett, is she okay?" Bobby asked.
"Yes, they were in an accident. She's fine, apparently, but I need to go."
Chris followed as I jogged towards the gate. "Wait, Noah, should we come, too?"
"I don't think they will even let me in." I stopped when I reached my bike. "Look, I'll call you when I know more. Think you can let Imogen know?" Just stop talking to me so I can get to her!
"Yeah, course," Bobby replied. "Let us know how she's doin' and tell her we'll visit when we're allowed."
"I will," I said, getting on my bike. "See you later."
I rode home, peddling as fast as I could. I had never felt so scared before in my life. It was an awful feeling. I couldn't lose her.
Throwing the front door open, I called, "Mum, Dad, Finn?" I was desperate to get to her, more desperate than I thought I could ever be. I didn't like how much she was starting to mean to me.
"Noah, what's wrong?" Mum said, grabbing my arm. Dad and Finn followed her out of the kitchen.
"Scarlett's been in an accident. She's in the hospital."
Mum's face fell. "Oh God. How is she, do you know?"
"Stable is all I really know. She's been awake." I felt the prickle of tears rush up my spine. I wasn't going to cry. "We need to go."
"Absolutely," Dad said, face ashen. "Get in the car."
I didn't question them when they all decided to come. Of course, they were going. Dad grabbed the keys and we rushed to the car.
"Who called you?" Mum asked when we were on the road.
"What did she say?"
"Just that. She said they hit trees so, I don't know, they lost control or something hit them. Scarlett and Jonathan were hurt but he's awake and she isn't right now." I didn't want to admit how scared I was.
"She has been awake, though, that's a good sign," Finn said. "She is going to be fine."
She has to be.
"Of course she is," Dad said. "Now, no negative thoughts. Positivity is key." He switched the radio on and sound drifted through the car. It didn't make me feel any better. I knew I should stay positive and I was usually so good at it, but I'd never cared for anyone else the way I did for her. There was just something about Scarlett, so pure, fun and innocent, that reached into my very being and attached itself to my soul.
I never stood a chance.
The hospital was eerily quiet and the stench of chemicals attacked my nose. Back home we made our own cleaning products and none of them made my eyes water or stomach turn.
We were given directions to a waiting room near where she was. I wanted to see her, to make sure that she was going to be okay but I wasn't permitted to enter her room.
We were told that she was doing fine and had been awake again. Even though she'd been awake my concern was increasing. Her mind was resting after a knock to the head but so far today all of her tests had come back normal. She would wake up when she was ready but the wait was excruciating. Scarlett had to heal soon.
We needed her more than she knew.
I WOKE UP to sunlight streaming through the window and Mum looking at me. "Hey," she whispered.
"Hi. How are you? Dad? Jeremy?"
"We're all okay. What about you?"
"I'm good. What time is it?"
"Almost nine. Dad's been released."
"Good." I wished I would be, too. "Mum...Did Noah come?" I bit on the inside of my bottom lip anxiously as I waited for her reply.
"Of course. Said he'll be back for visiting hours."
The relief I felt scared me. I really liked him. Most of my friends had boyfriends and all the boy drama that came with it. I'd decided that I wasn't going to worry about relationships until I was out of school, possibly even university but then Noah crept his way in. Now I had boy drama.
"He's been beside himself, worrying that he'd never get to see you again, especially after your difference of opinion."
"He told you about that?"
"Not details. I kind of figured anyway, you've been a little distracted over Easter. Usually, you love all the chocolate."
"I do." She was right, though, I had been a bit distracted.
Jeremy came in, followed by a new doctor and I could've kissed them both. No way did I want to talk about me and Noah anymore, especially with Mum.
"Scarlett, I'm Doctor Thorn. How are you feeling?" he asked in a thick Scottish accent. His bulging belly touched the bed as he leant down and raised a penlight, no doubt to shine in my eyes.
"Head hurts, but I feel fine."
"Okay, I'll sort something for the pain. It's good to see you back with us, we were worried."
"I can't believe I slept for so long."
"It's not unusual when there has been head trauma," Doctor Thorn replied. "I'm just going to check you over and then I'll give you something for the pain."
Once I'd been poked and had a light shone in my eye, the doctor left to get me something that would hopefully stop the hit-by-bus feeling.
"Can I see Dad, please?" I asked. Last night I'd fallen back asleep before I'd seen him or Noah.
"He'll be back soon. He popped home for a change of clothes," Mum replied.
"When do I get to leave?"
She smiled and took my hand. "As soon as you're feeling better and the doctors are happy."
That meant forever. I didn't like to be still for long, especially not in the same place. Never had in any situation. I was even feeling bored of staying in one house for the three years we'd been there. We'd always travelled and moved around.
"I feel fine."
Mum laughed. "Oh, do you really? Relax, Scarlett, you need to give your body time to heal. You were lucky, sweetheart, we almost lost you."
"Don't apologise! Just rest and get better."
"Okay," I conceded.
When the pain meds kicked in, I fell asleep, waking up every now and then. I'd had hours and hours of sleep but felt like I'd had none at all. Dad was fine and it was good to see him. He exchanged his room for mine, refusing to go home until they were kicked out at night.
At two o'clock in the afternoon, it was visiting time and I sat up in bed waiting for Noah. My parents and Jeremy had gone to the cafe to get some lunch and to give me and Noah some time alone.
"Scarlett, you're awake!" He rushed over, sitting on the bed and wrapping his arms around me. "You okay? I was so scared."
"I'm fine," I replied, burying my head against his neck.
He pulled back, looking me over to make sure I wasn't lying. He checked everywhere with his eyes and fingertips. I closed my eyes as his fingers trailed over my cheek, jaw, chin, neck. His touch made me feel more alive and more awake than ever.
"You're really okay," he said once he'd finished his examination.
"Yep, I'm really okay. I had some weird dreams when I was coming round, though. I don't know what they mean."
He raised his eyebrow. "They probably don't mean anything. They're dreams."
"But it was so weird and so real."
Smiling, he said, "Alright. Tell me what happened?"
"I don't remember all of them, just pieces. Mum - but she looked different - brushing my hair. Jeremy chasing a girl. Candles everywhere. Being in some old building with lots of red then there was some sort of fire. I'm not sure. Wow, okay, maybe that does mean nothing." What I could remember sounde
He took my hand, squeezing a little harder than usual. "Don't worry about it. Perhaps they are memories or nothing at all but right now we should focus on you healing. I thought you would want something 'decent' to eat," he said, handing me a packet of Oreos.
I took them and stroked the pack. "Thank you! Do you have any idea how much hospital food sucks?"
He turned his nose up. "I can imagine. Do you know when you will be discharged yet?"
"No, but it'll probably be a day or two. Bet I'm all better right for the start of the school term," I said, turning my nose up. "Evelyn!"
Noah looked at me like I was crazy. "Pardon?"
"Evelyn. That's what the girl in my dream was called. The one Jeremy was chasing."
"Are you sure you feel alright?"
"Yeah. That has to mean something, right?"
"Not really, Scarlett."
"You don't know that."
"Alright, you've just been knocked out for a day, I don't think it's a good idea to be stressing yourself out over a dream."
"Dreams. There were a few and apart from the one where Mum was brushing my hair, Jeremy was in most. Who's Evelyn, though?"
"She was younger than Jeremy, probably younger than me, too."
"They were dreams."
But where they? They seemed like more. I wasn't fully asleep when I had them but not fully awake either. Something wasn't right.
"They seemed more like memories." His eyebrow rose subtly. "Look, I know you think I'm crazy right now but what if I'm not?"
"About what, Scarlett? About Jeremy chasing a girl? He probably did. You've probably seen a room full of candles and had your mum brush your hair. I don't doubt you, but you've had head trauma and as you were waking up you were piecing back together who you are and what happened. Things got muddled and you're confused."
"Right, but these things were from before I lost my memory."
"How old were you in the dreams?"
"I don't know. Young. No, three. I was three and it was almost my birthday. I think."
"You think? So you could have been six and half dreaming/half trying to remember what was going on."
I frowned. That was a possibility but I thought I remembered it being my birthday coming up. Was it a birthday? "I wish you weren't so cynical."
Turning more towards me, he grabbed my hand. "I'm sorry. I don't mean to be. It's just that... Scarlett, you almost died. You're hurt and right now you're stressing over dreams. I would rather you focus on figuring out what your dreams mean once you're better." He swallowed. "I thought I'd never see you again, and I want you to be okay."
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