Just Let Me Die Here (A Serialized Novel) 16
The two ski patrolmen guide me all the way to the bottom of the mountain and across to the buildings of the ski resort. When they reach the walkway, they remove their skis and carry me, still strapped to the stretcher, the short way across the open space, to the First Aid Clinic. I turn my head as far as the brace will let me as we pass the lodge in hopes that I might see Tucker. He and Millie could be sitting out on the deck and I’d have one of the medics get his attention. But I don’t see them. Probably keeping warm inside.
As we approach the First Aid Clinic, the double doors on the front swing open and a tall, severe-looking female nurse comes out, pushing a gurney. One of the ski patrolmen had radioed ahead as we were on our way down and the nurse is ready for my arrival. She looks at me with what I can only read as disappointment. Just another skier who didn’t know what they were doing and causing problems for everyone involved. The two ski patrol lift the stretcher up onto the gurney. I am rolled into the center to a few quick glances from clinic staff. I am exhausted and ready to go home. The patrolmen work to transfer me onto the hospital bed.
“The doctor will be with you in moment,” the nurse says with a heavy German accent that reminds me of Adele, but without the warmth of her smile. She turns and walks away.
I sit up in the hospital bed in the far corner of the center’s small ward. There are four beds in total here, but only one other is filled. A man with a sprained finger sits in the bed across from me. He leans against the side railing of the bed looking rather pathetic. His wife or girlfriend is sitting in the chair next to him, looking quite bored and put upon. She swipes through her phone with a long, exhausted sigh, before clicking it off and tossing it into the purse at her feet. She glances over at the man in the bed and then back to the clock on the wall.
“Um, hello,” she says to a passing nurse. “How much longer does he have to be here?”
“Damnit, Jenna,” the man in bed says. “If you don’t want to be here, you can just leave.” He fiddles with the splint on his finger and then, looking pained, places it back on the ice bag that rests on his lap.
“Yes, I could leave, Jake. I could go have fun with all our friends, but then how would that look to all of them? Me out skiing and you, poor little Jakey, all sad and injured in the First Aid Clinic.” She turns her attention back to the nurse. “Seriously, can’t he go? He barely hurt his finger taking off his skis. It’s not that big of a deal.”
I would like to follow this drama further, it’s a good distraction from my own pain, but the doctor appears at my bedside.
“So, you took quite a tumble,” he says, doing a quick scan of my body. He is exactly what I would imagine a doctor at a ski resort would look like. Part ski bum, part academic. His thick-rimmed glasses fit snugly on a face that has been padded by the overly-greasy lodge food. His hair, bordering on dreads, is pulled back in a short ponytail.
“Yeah, looks like it,” I say. I try to sit up straighter in the bed but the pain in my side and shoulder hit me at once and I wince.
“I’m Doctor Strange,” he says and I must look a bit unconvinced because he follows up with, “Yes, seriously. So, Ms. Logan, can you tell me what happened?”
“I was skiing and I had pulled off to the side of a run.”
“And were you on the slope alone?”
“Yes, but it was some other guy that ran into me. It was like he didn’t see me or something, but he skied right into me. We both went over the edge into the trees.” As I’m talking, Dr. Strange is poking at different parts of my body, moving limbs and placing them back on the bed gently before moving to the next. Several times, I am forced to let out small cries from the pain caused by one prod or another. Trying to move my left arm proves to be particularly torturous.
“Well, you’re lucky you came away with as few injuries as you did. Looks like you have a dislocated shoulder and a bruised rib. I’m sure you’ll have plenty of other bruises too.”
“Yeah, snow is not as soft when you’re falling on it.”
“You also hit your head pretty good. I want to keep you here a while for observation. Maybe send you to the hospital to get checked further. For now, we’ll get that shoulder back in place and let you rest a bit.”
The doctor walks away and I lay back on the bed. My head hurts. My neck hurts. Breathing hurts. This is not the way I imagined this vacation going. This wonderful vacation that Tucker planned just for me and I go and get myself wrecked. Oh god, Tucker. It’s getting late. He must be worried. And Millie, she’s going to be needing a feed soon. I should try and call them, make sure everything is okay. This reminds me that someone had called me while I was waiting to be rescued. I grab my phone and see that there is a voicemail. It’s probably Tucker, just checking to make sure I’m okay. I open it and am overwhelmed with emotion when it’s not him. I was stuck up there in the snow and it wasn’t him trying to reach out to me.
“This call is for August Logan. My name is Steve and I am calling today because you may be eligible to receive-”. I hang up and delete the message before it can finish.
Not Tucker. But why not Tucker? It’s way past our agreed upon meeting time. Shouldn’t he be wondering where I am? What if something is wrong? That’s the only explanation. Something must be wrong. Something has happened to him or Millie. Oh, god, Millie. Before the worry swells too much, I dial his number and listen as the phone rings. But after several rings, it goes to voicemail. “You’ve reached Tucker Logan. Leave a message.”
“How are we feeling?” The German nurse arrives at my side with paperwork and a small cup of pills, interrupting the voicemail’s beep. I hang up.
“I’m fine, really,” I say. I just want to get out of here. Tucker and Millie are waiting for me. They have to be. I can’t think otherwise. “My family is waiting for me in the lodge. Is there any way to contact them?”
“Names?” the nurse asks.
“Tucker. My husband’s name is Tucker Logan.”
“We’ll page front desk and let them know. But for now, you take these for pain and please you rest a bit. I’ll be back to check soon.” She pours the pills into my hand and nods to the water bottle sitting on the table next to me before walking away. I take the pills and settle back into the bed. It’s not comfortable at all. There is a crack in the mattress covering at the base of my back and when I move at all it pinches. I imagine being back in our big, soft bed at The Scarlett House, surrounded by pillows, snacking on leftover breakfast pastries. I want Tucker to hurry up and get here so I can go recover in comfort. I shift my body and the pain in my ribs throbs again.
I have finally found a somewhat comfortable position when the door to the First Aid Clinic swings open and two ski patrol roll in a man on a stretcher. I immediately recognize him, with his bright green jacket, as the man who plowed me over up on the mountain.
“The second party to the collision up on Star Trek,” one of the patrolmen says to the doctor as they roll the stretcher into the space next to my bed.
“His ski pass says Brent Howard.”
“Condition?” the doctor asks.
“Still unresponsive,” says the other medic. “But pulse and breathing are stable.”
“We’ve called an ambulance, it’s on the way,” says the first.
“Possible fractures in both legs. Laceration on the face.”
The man had continued a bit further down the mountain than I had and had hit his head on a rock upon landing in a snowbank.
“We’ll keep a watch on him until the ambulance gets here.” The doctor asks the nurse to check all the man’s vitals before crossing the room to check on the other patient. The man with the sprained finger is sucking on a juice box. His girlfriend is gone.
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