This is my entry into The Tsuruoka Files Mid-Week Blues-Buster Challenge – Week 48
PIlls and Regret
by Stephanie Fuller
The desert sun beat down on the rooftop of his Chevy as he drove, creating an oven effect inside. Dane wished his old beater car had working air conditioning. That wasn’t his only wish. Dane wished a lot of things: that he had been honest about being scared, that he had never left town, and that he sure as hell had never broken her heart. At the time, it all made sense. Break it off while he could. Six months later and a single text from Abby’s sister, Maggie, stating that Abby had swallowed a bottle of sleeping pills and he knew he was wrong.
When he saw the text a few days ago, he immediately grabbed cash and what clean clothes he could find sitting around. A quick stop to the corner gas station for a fill up and he was on his way back from where he had run away. He was almost there and only hoped he wouldn’t arrive out of luck.
Dane had barely eaten much while on the road. He needed to make sure he had enough cash to get to Abby. He decided early on that stopping at a convenience store would be good to grab some miscellaneous foodstuffs, negating the need to eat at a diner or restaurant. More time on the road.
As Dane got closer, he started to see the hospital signs. With every sign, he looked at the sky and said, “Please,” because the updated texts he was getting from Maggie were not promising. He found the hospital and pulled into the visitor parking. As he neared the front entrance, he found Maggie sitting there, waiting.
“They think we found her in time, but won’t tell me for sure what is happening or if there will be any lasting effects. Go see her. She’s in room 509. Hey, Dane…I still think you are a jerk for leaving, but thank you for coming back.”
Dane ran down the main corridor till he reached her room. As he reached for the door, it opened and a man in a stained doctor’s coat and scrubs exited, shaking his head as he walked past Dane. Did that mean what he thought it meant? Was she really gone? He pushed the door open slowly and peaked his head inside half expecting her body to be still on the hospital bed, turning colder by the second. Instead, what he saw made his heart practically leap out of his chest.
Abby was sitting up, facing the window with her eyes closed. She turned when the door hinges creaked. Eyes wide and filled with tears. “Dane? What are you doing here? How did you…”
Interrupting her, he walked to her bedside. “It doesn’t matter what. Or how. Or why. I’m here. That’s all that matters. Well, and that you are alive and safe.” He reached over and touched her cheek with his hand, lightly rubbing her lips with his thumb.
She sighed and leaned into his hand, closing her eyes. “Dane. I’m so sorry. I couldn’t take it. Couldn’t take life…without you.”
He sat on the bed. “You don’t need to be sorry. I wasn’t honest with you before about my feelings. I was scared and ran. This is all my fault. Please forgive me.”
Abby opened her eyes and looked at Dane as fresh tears wet her eyes. “I forgave you the moment you left. I did this because I felt empty and everything I tried didn’t fill the hole in my heart.”
“I’ll never leave again. I regret it every day, but felt like if I came you wouldn’t let me back in. I couldn’t live like that. Can we go back to the way it was? Or maybe start new?” Dane looked at Abby with eyes, pleading and hopeful.
She ran her fingers through the front of his hair, fixing a few strays. “Of course. That’s all I want.”
Abby moved to one side of her bed and reached out to Dane. He grabbed her hand softly and kissed it. Lying down next to her, she was able to put her head on his chest and they sat in silence. Together.