I felt a large, sweaty hand on my forehead. It was burning.
I sat up straight, instantly regretting that decision. Pain surged through my body, and I clutched the rough, thin blanket that was draped over me. Groaning, I glanced up to see Jeremy’s relieved expression. I gave a weak attempt at a smile and grunted. Serena was glaring at the wall, like usual.
“What the hell?” I croaked.
Jeremy rolled up his sleeves, sighing in relief. “You had another panic attack,” he chuckled, “I actually thought you were dead this time.”
I smirked, remembering the first day I had had a panic attack. It was only a month ago. After Sadie. And I had about five more a week after that.
Serena rolled her eyes, smacking him in the shoulder. “I’m going to get something from the cafeteria.” She then stalked out of the room, sighing.
“So, was there actually a dead body or was I just hallucinating that too?” I gave a half-hearted chuckle.
“Ryn.” His tone was serious and I raised my gaze. “I was worried. About you.”
I found it strange how he had waited to say that until Serena was out of the room. He wasn’t the type of person to hide anything- especially not from me. He lowered his gaze, hiding behind a curtain of fluffy blond hair. I raised an eyebrow, playing with the hem of the blanket.
I was about to open my mouth to respond when he jumped to his feet, startling me. He rested a hand on the back of his neck, gazing out the window. He almost looked like he was about to puke. And suddenly he was out the door, slamming it behind him.
I had pulled my hair back into a messy bun- well, I tried. It was a tangled mess of red waves that was held together by a black hair tie. I had always kept my hair long. I never wanted to cut it; even after persistent complaints from my mum.
I buried my face into the white pillow, mumbling about how my mom would kill me when she found out that I had snuck out again and landed myself in the hospital. I turned on my side hoping to see what time it was; but, instead, my eyes focused on a huge red flag hanging on the wall near the door. It had two golden lions printed on either side of a black crown. Something about it was peculiarly ominous, and I remembered that it was King Stephen’s flag. He had changed the original red, blue, and white crosses for his own personal design. Why had he changed it? And why was it such a threatening symbol? Pondering the question, I stretched, noticing my calloused hands. There was still dried blood buried deep into my fingernails, making my hands look exceptionally disgusting. Why hadn’t Jeremy answered my question about the body earlier? Considering the blood on my fingers, the nurses would have asked questions. But what if the blood was mine? Since I dragged my hands across a brick wall, maybe I had cut myself or broke a nail. That thought made my stomach churn. What if I was hallucinating? Is that why Jeremy didn’t answer me? Did he think I was crazy? A knock on the door broke me from my never ending cycle of questions. I looked up to see a nurse with a hideous orange tan and a taped up clipboard shuffle into the room. She peered up at me through black rounded glasses. “Ryn Elizabeth Archer,” I waited awkwardly for her to continue but she just kept looking at me, “That’s you isn’t it?” She smirked.
I nodded, “Yes. . .”
“We’d just like to run some tests now that you’re awake,” She tapped her acrylic nails on the clipboard. “Nothing too serious.” Her smile was generic and insincere, and I was happy as ever when she turned to leave the room.
A few minutes later a lean man with a unibrow entered. As he walked through the doorway, he looked up and gave a half-hearted smile. Although his lips were pointed upwards, his eyes resembled nothing but complete boredom. I brought my legs over to the side of the bed. My posture was horrible and my back arched in the wrong direction. The doctor moved in front of me.
“I’m doctor Mazen.” He said, placing the stethoscope in his ears. I gave a weak nod, only focusing on his unibrow. It bothered me how the two hairs were only barely touching.
After placing the instrument onto my chest and back, he moved on with checking my eyes.
“Don’t you guys check my vitals even while I’m unconscious?” I questioned, glancing at the blinds covering the windows.
“Yes, but we wanted to make sure there was no damage that took effect after you woke up.” Doctor Mazen glanced at my wrist. And I did too.
There was a bright bulging line trailing from my palm to the corner on my wrist. It wasn’t deep, and it completely avoided my artery. But I was only concerned on how it had gotten there.
The doctor looked up at me, his expression twisted in concern. “Miss Archer, you know-”
Instantly realizing what he meant I shouted, “It wasn’t intentional!” I was boiling with rage now. Mazen said nothing, just glared and turned to grab his SmartScreen. He started typing, and I just sat there impatiently, tapping my fingers.
“Thank you for your patience Miss Archer,” His face was dull, yet he was still glaring at me. A feeling of relief swept over me as he left the room. I got up from the creaking bed and sat on the thick windowsill. I glided my fingertips across the window pane, causing an unpleasant shiver to run down my spine.
It’s was freezing cold.
Of course in London, it was usually pretty cold, but it was only June. Sadie loved cold weather, and so did her boyfriend. They would always just sit in the snow outside our apartment for hours. As a little kid, I used to get concerned that they had gotten hypothermia after a while and I had run out the door every fifteen minutes giving them oversized mugs of hot chocolate. But that was years ago. Before she died. Before her boyfriend left and never showed up to the funeral. He and Sadie used to go out every Saturday for the whole day, and I never found out what it was they were doing, even now it still confused the hell out of me. But every time they came back they were always talking about a bunch of people I’ve never heard of. I walked into her room one morning, asking if she had any jackets I could borrow for a school play, and as I walked in, I saw her bare back. Usually there was nothing special about a back, and at first, all I noticed was the freckles. Of course, we shared our dad’s freckles (and she had way less than me), but that wasn’t the only thing covering her back. There were dark bruises and cuts all over her. I had gasped in surprise. She turned around, a towel draped across her front. She held it tighter to her body as she saw me. “Ryn.”
Then her eyes widened, and I guess she knew what I saw because she started shouting and shaking her head. She stomped to her door and shoved me forward so hard I hit a picture frame in the hall. It fell and shattered onto the floor. As soon as I turned around to apologize, she slammed the wooden door in my face. I had run downstairs, tears in my eyes, saying that Sadie had pushed me and she had big bruises on her back. My parents were fuming, and they marched up to her room. I sat behind my parents in the doorway, keeping my head down as they started yelling at each other. And I had to cover my ears because they were so unbelievably loud.
“Ryn-tin-tin,” A soft voice broke me out of my reverie. Only one person in the entire world called me that. I glanced over to my right. It was Jeremy. His blond hair was a mess of tangles, and there were vivid dark circles under his stormy gray eyes. His green sweater was ruffled all over just like his pants. As I looked him up and down, I realized he also didn’t have shoes on.
“Either you got laid, or you got attacked. Both of which are pretty hard to do in a hospital.” I joked.
He rolled his eyes. “Oh yeah, I totally asked a fifty-year-old nurse in scrubs if she wanted to ‘get freaky’ tonight.” He smirked.
“I wouldn’t doubt it.” I shrugged and patted him on the shoulder.
“I fell asleep smartass.” He said.
I itched at the bun in my hair. “I think I’m allowed to leave tomorrow. My mum is going to-”
“Ryn, I’m sorry, I completely ran out on you earlier,” He scratched his ear, staring at the polished floor.
“It’s okay Jer.” I squatted lower so I could meet his eyes. “I would have too. I know us freckled gingers are pretty terrifying sometimes.” I gave an overdramatic wink and went in for a hug.
After a moment I pulled away and asked, “Where’s Serena?”
He scoffed. “Probably in the lobby rearranging the furniture,”
“Let’s go find her then.”