Getting to Me

Chapter Thirty-Four

Zack sighed impatiently as he looked at the wall, seeing that it was a little after four o’clock in the afternoon. He’d been in the hospital for about a week and a half now, and he still hadn’t been able to see Mandy. He’d been able to talk to her on the phone, and that wasn’t enough for him anymore. He needed to see her; he wanted to be able to hold her hand and look into her eyes and tell her that he loved her and never wanted her to leave his side.

The conversation he’d had with her father had been weighing heavily on his mind, and he knew that marriage was a step he was ready for in his life. He wasn’t sure if Mandy would agree with him, since she was only nineteen and she hadn’t really started living life yet. Hell, she wasn’t even old enough to legally drink. But that didn’t stop the feelings he had for her. He loved her more than any other person he’d ever loved, and he wanted her to understand that. Even if she told him no, she would at least understand how he felt about her, and how serious his feelings were.

They spent most of their days talking on the phone, because they weren’t yet cleared to see each other. The crash had seriously injured Mandy, and the doctors didn’t want her to feel stressed or overly excited. Zack, however, was virtually healthy; all they were waiting for now was for a few scans of his brain to be checked and a few blood tests to ensure that he hadn’t gotten tetanus or any diseases from cuts he’d gotten when the car had gone off of the cliff. Once all of those things were done, he would be given a clean bill of health and he’d be able to check himself out of the hospital.

He watched as a doctor walked into his room, the same one that kept an eye on Mandy for him. A wide smile was present on his face, which was a good sign to Zack. If the doctor was smiling, perhaps it meant that he would finally be allowed to see his girlfriend. He was getting tired of not being able to pull her into his arms and tell her how much he cared about her.

“Am I able to go see her now?” Zack asked the doctor. He shook his head, his frown turning into a frown for just a few moments before he cleared his throat, holding a simple white piece of paper out to Zack, who took it and allowed his green eyes to scan over the black writing before he looked back up at the doctor. “What’s this?” He asked, blinking.

“That is your discharge from St. Alexis Hospital,” the doctor said. “Now, as such, Ms. Haner is allowed to receive a few visitors a day, and I’m more than certain that you’ll be happy to know that she’s been asking for you every single day since she’s woken up.”

Zack’s mouth upturned into a huge grin as he pushed the blankets off of his body. He had been taken off of the IV and liquid drips a few days before, so he didn’t need to worry about ripping any out of his hands as he got up and walked over to his closet, pulling out the clothes that Brian was going to let him borrow until he could go back out to the ranch to get his own clothes.

“Thanks for everything, Doc,” Zack said as he turned to look at the doctor, putting a huge smile on his face. He knew that he hadn’t seen eye to eye with his doctor, but if he knew anything, it was that he owed a hell of a lot to the older man, who’d put in a lot of extra hours to see to it that Zack got healthy as soon as possible. The doctor just shrugged and put a pleasant smile on his face before he turned to walk out of the bedroom.

“Don’t mention it, Zack,” he said as he left. Zack didn’t say anything else as he quickly started pulling the clothes on, his eye scanning the room to make sure that he hadn’t forgotten anything before he walked out of the room, stuffing his wallet into his back pocket before he started making his way to the nurse’s station so he could sign the papers that would get him the hell out of this place once and for all. After he did that and politely told the nurse there that he wasn’t interested in her phone number, he started making his way towards the gift shop on the first floor—he knew for a fact that they had her favorite flowers in stock, since he asked the doctor every single day about them. He was going to get them and another small gift or two for her, and then go up to visit her. He wanted to make sure that she realized how much he loved her, and gifts were just one way he could do that to ensure that she saw it.

When he got to the gift shop, he saw that there were more options than he had originally thought there would be, and it was a shock to him. He gulped, wondering if he’d actually be able to get the flowers that would put a huge smile on her face. It was then that he saw the perfect bouquet sitting on the front desk. There were several white lilies with a few sprigs of greenery added for some color, and in the center was one large tiger lily. He had no idea how the hospital had gotten them and kept them in such good shape since it was such a rough winter, but he wasn’t going to care. He knew that was the bouquet that he wanted to get for her, since they were her favorite flower. After he grabbed them, he found a simple white teddy bear for her and bought that as well, knowing that it was cheesy but hoping she’d appreciate it.

After he made sure that he had the right room number in the ICU, he asked a doctor in the hallway about how to get there. She told him to walk just past the gift shop and take a right turn, followed by another right at the next hallway. It sounded like a maze to Zack, but he didn’t question her, nodding and following her directions. It was only when he started walking in that wing of the hospital that he realized how morose everything in this part of the hospital was.

Unlike the section he’d been in, the place had an almost eerie silence to it; a stillness that reminded him of death, and it scared him half to death. The walls were painted a deep teal color, and it was somewhat soothing as he started to make his way towards the large metal doors that read Intensive Care Unit on the front in bold yellow letters.

When he walked inside, it felt like he was stepping into an episode of E.R. There were some doctors sitting at their computers, doing their filing work and then there were other doctors that were busily moving around from unit to unit checking on patients. The entire place was eerily quiet as it had been in the hallway, and he immediately could feel the foreboding sense of death and sadness in the place.

He turned his head to look into the third unit, and saw a woman covered by some type of insulating blanket, her head wrapped in a white blanket as well. She had a breathing tube attached to her mouth and so many IVs in her arms that he wasn’t sure which ones were vital to keeping her alive. Sitting by her bedside were two crying women, and he somehow got the sense that the woman wasn’t expected to make it out of that small, tan room alive. His attention was taken away from that room as he heard his name called from another room. He smiled when he saw Mandy sitting on her bed, a bright smile on her face, though he could see the slight bags under her eyes and the fact that her tan skin had turned at least two shades lighter while she’d been in the ICU. He approached her, temporarily forgetting about the woman as he walked over to his girlfriend.

“They told me this morning that you were getting discharged,” she whispered as she looked up at him, grabbing his hand in hers and smiling when he leaned down to press his lips firmly against hers. He knew he couldn’t do much more with her because the doctors were in the other room, and she herself was still in critical condition if she was in the Intensive Care Unit.

“I didn’t know until about forty minutes ago,” he told her, leaning over to push some hair out of her eyes before he put a cheeky smile on his face. “I came straight up here after I got something for you,” he murmured, pulling the bouquet out from behind his back and putting them on her nightstand before he handed her the teddy bear. Her eyes lit up, and he could tell that the two small gifts had made her feel at least a little better.

“They’re amazing, Zack,” she murmured as she looked over at him. “I love the flowers. They make this place seem a little bit less depressing,” she added softly. Before she could say anything, a loud beeping sound came from outside, and Zack looked out of the room with Mandy to see the room with the old woman being attended to with several doctors. The old woman inside had passed away from the looks of it; the women by her bedside were crying hysterically, and the light above the door was blinking erratically.

“That happens all the time here,” Mandy said under her breath as she caught Zack’s attention again. “So many people die in this place that it might as well be the morgue.”

Zack frowned, not liking the fact that his girlfriend had to be here in the ICU. He knew the doctors were taking good care of her, and that being here was necessary for her to get better because it was the only part of the hospital that had the right equipment. But that didn’t mean he felt right about it. He didn’t like the fact that she had to see people die around her every day; people she didn’t even know.

“You’ll be out of here any time now, baby,” Zack murmured to Mandy, leaning down to kiss her forehead again. “And then we can go back to the ranch and settle back into our life,” he murmured almost as an afterthought. Mandy didn’t say anything, just nodding her head. Zack was thinking about his future with her, and whether or not she would want to marry a man like him, or even if she wanted to get married at all.

He could definitely see himself settling down with her and having a little baby or two. He could see himself living on that farm with her for the rest of their lives, watching deer cross through the front yard and occasionally killing rattlesnakes that happened to come into their grass. He could see himself sitting with her on the front porch in their older years, holding her hand and watching a beautiful sunset over the rolling hills of Southwestern North Dakota. He could see all of that for them, and he just hoped that Mandy could see it, too. Because he couldn’t imagine spending his life with anyone else but her. He had fallen so completely in love with her that he almost felt it was too good to be true. He knew it wasn’t, though. He had found his real life fairy tale; he had found ‘the one’ that was meant for him.

He had gotten an inkling of how he’d felt for her when he’d first met her, and then he’d let her get to him emotionally even though he hadn’t really wanted to. Now, he was in full love with her, and it was the best thing he’d ever felt. He looked down as Mandy squeezed his hand tightly, a grin on her face as she looked up.

“That sounds nice, Zack,” she murmured quietly, her reply delayed to his question before her eyes closed, soft snores starting to come out of her mouth. Zack knew that she was probably exhausted and that she needed sleep, so he wasn’t going to bother her. Instead, he just sat in the chair that was next to her bed before he started to take a small nap himself.