His to CherishBy: Stacey Lynn
I was afraid to blink; too terrified of what I would see when I closed my eyes. The ear-piercing screams from earlier still echoed in my mind as if I were seeing the accident happen right in front of me.
It was a prayer and a plea.
I couldn’t stop seeing Derrick splayed out on the pavement.
A simple skateboarding accident on the hill outside my house.
If only they’d worn helmets.
Tears burned in my eyes and I sniffed them back, trying to stay strong.
Next to me, Shane held my hand and squeezed.
I turned to look at him and knew the zombie-eyed, pale-faced expression on his teenage face mirrored my own.
“He’ll be okay,” I whispered fiercely, and squeezed his hand back. “He’ll be okay.”
Shane let his tears fall and dropped his head. Next to him, his mom, Beth, wrapped her arm around her son’s shoulders as he began to sob.
“I’m so sorry, Miss Dwyer. It’s my fault. He wanted to play baseball, but I just wanted to skate.”
“It’s not your fault. It was an accident. That’s all.” I leaned forward and pressed my fingers to his chin, forcing him to look at me. I hoped like hell my expression was filled with confidence even though I knew it was a stretch.
There had been so much blood.
“He’ll be okay, Shane. You have to believe it.”
I didn’t know what he saw in my eyes, but he wiped the tears off his cheeks and nodded once before he collapsed into his mom’s hold.
I lifted my head and looked at Beth. I had known her for years, since I worked at her son’s school. She’d been head of the PTA for the last two years. She was as kind as she looked, although now her grief and fear was as evident as mine.
Thank you, she mouthed, trying to force her lips into a smile.
There was nothing to smile about. Not yet.
Most likely not for a long time.
A flash of movement and a quick gasp gained my attention, and I turned to look from Beth and Shane to see Trina and Declan flying into the hospital waiting room. I had called them immediately after I called 911 so they could notify Aidan. I hadn’t expected them to drop everything at the restaurant and rush down here, though.
As soon as they saw me, Trina’s arms wrapped around me, pulling me to my feet and into her arms.
I hadn’t known her long. She’d only been with Declan for a few months, but she was one of the strongest women I’d ever met.
I lost the hold on my emotions and my fears as my forehead hit her shoulder. Declan’s arms surrounded us both. As my shoulders shook, their arms tightened.
“What happened?” Trina asked.
“Skateboarding. He fell and hit his head.”
“Oh my God.”
I nodded against her shoulder, uncaring that I was losing it. It was terrifying.
“Did you get ahold of Aidan?” I asked, pulling away and wiping my tears to look at Declan.
He and Aidan were friends, and I knew both of them from spending time with my girlfriends at Declan’s restaurant, Fireside Grill. It was also how I’d met Trina several months ago.
“He’ll be here soon.” His eyes dropped to my shirt and he flinched. “We should probably get you cleaned up.”
I followed his gaze and pulled at the hem of my oversized and frayed T-shirt. I’d been at home, relaxing on a Friday after a long week of school. With nothing planned, I’d changed into my most comfortable and well-worn clothes.
They were still covered with Derrick’s blood.
A noise escaped my throat, but I didn’t have time to react before Trina wrapped her arm around my shoulders and pulled me toward her.
“Come on,” she said, holding me close. “Let’s get you cleaned up. Declan called Tyson and Blue, and they’re on their way here, too. We’ll see if the nurses have a change of clothes for you.”
She spoke to me like I was a child as she led me away.
I let her.
I couldn’t think of anything except Shane’s screams as he yelled for help and the blood and the ambulance I’d called as I held on to Derrick, praying with everything I had in me.
We reached the front desk in the waiting room of Detroit General when the doors behind us slammed open.
A voice I immediately recognized bellowed, “Will someone please tell me what the fuck is going on with my son?”
Trina spun around, taking me with her, and we locked our gazes on Aidan, rushing toward us, tool belt clanking around his hips.
He froze when he reached us.
“Trina…Chelsea…” He blinked as he looked at me, and then his eyes dropped to my shirt.
My arms went instinctively around my stomach to shield it from Aidan’s view, but it was too late.
“What happened?” His hands wrapped around my biceps and he shook me, making my head snap back. “What the hell happened?”
Tears spilled down my cheeks before I could stop them. His grief. His fear. It was as real as the feeling of his fingers on me.
I began to shake my head. I wanted to erase the images I’d seen from my mind as much as I didn’t want to have to be the one to tell him.
“I’m so sorry, Aidan. He fell…off his skateboard outside my house.”
He knew exactly where my house was. When he drove by in his work truck and I was working in the yard, he’d give me a friendly hand flip. He knew my house sat at the bottom of a hill around a blind curve.