I was scrolling through my old files when I came across about copies of 3 variations of the same flash fiction idea.
They’re pretty (see: very, very) bad and clearly I never ending up developing or editing them further than just what I wrote down, but I thought it was interesting reading back through them years later (since the file says it was last edited back in about early 2017!) to see the variations I was going through to try and find something I liked before ultimately scrapping the idea.
I rush to the hospital reception. “Where’s Josie Williams?” I ask.
“She’s still in surgery…” the receptionist begins. I immediately take off down the hall.
At my destination, I’m greeted to a horrible site. Josie’s sister is curled feebly up into a ball, rocking back and forth in her chair. Her eyes are puffed. She looks horrible. It’s Dan who notices me first. He just glances up though, before returning to stare ahead at a spot of the white, pristine walls. He doesn’t look any better, though he doesn’t look like he’s shed a tear yet. Just sitting there in shock.
I kneel in front of Marie, placing my arm in a hopefully comforting gesture on her shoulder. She tilts her head up slightly to look at me and breaks into a fresh new batch of tears. “Hey, hey,” I sooth her, rubbing her shoulder. I can only imagine how hard it could be for her right now, the reason for admittance being less than pleasurable when the receptionist told me.
“How could anyone do this to her?” Marie wails, “What monster stabs someone repeated times for no reason?!” She crumbles against me, meaning that I have to use all my weight to support her and move her back upright into her chair. She covers her face again and continues to cry into her hands.
I carefully glance over at Dan, still sitting there in shock. “How are you going there, buddy?” I ask.
“I-I went over- and – and – we were meant to go out tonight – but – but,” he breaks off.
I clamp my hand over his back, “She’s going to be alright mate. She’s going to make it out fine. Josie’s a fighter, no matter what.”
Dan nods his head in agreement.
I sigh, casting my feet towards the ground. I’m an asshole, and I may be brash and honest even if the situation so clearly needs a white lie, but at least that means that they know the words I’m saying, that I mean them.
(That damn phone is still ringing. Honestly, why can’t a guy just have a shower in peace anymore? “I hate these thin walls!” I bang my hand up against the shower frame. Reluctantly, I turn off the water and step out into the cold, unwelcome air. I wrap a towel around me loosely and march over to where the offending noise is coming from.
“This better be important,” I growl into the phone.
I’m greeting my muffled sobs on the end of the phone. My anger instantly cracks.
“John, John, John,” the voice wails to me. “She’s… she’s…,” it cries.
“Hey,” I reassure, “What’s wrong? You can tell me.” I curse myself for not bothering to look at the caller ID before picking up. Lord knows who’s calling me at this hour to cry, and their voice is too distressed for me to figure out who it is. I hear another muffled voice in the background, and what sounds like some shuffling.
“Can you please come to the hospital?” a flat voice replies.
“Of course, Dan,” I reply, already shoving my damned long legs into a pair of jeans.
I skid across the white, marble tiles. “Where’s Josie Williams?” I ask.
“She’s still in surgery…” the receptionist explains the situation and soon I take off sprinting down the hallway. At my destination I’m greeted to Josie’s sister curled up into a ball, rocking back and forth in her chair. Dan’s the one who notices me first though. He glances up at me before returning to stare at a spot on the pristine hospital walls. They both look terrible. I go to kneel down in front of Marie and place my arm in what I hope is a comforting gesture around her shaking frame. This only makes her break into a fresh new batch of tears though.
“Hey, hey,” I rub her back, trying to soothe her. I can only imagine how hard it is for her right now, especially with only limited knowledge about exactly how her sister ended up in ER.
Marie wails into my shoulder, “What monster would do this? How did they even get into her house?”
I continue to let her cry before risking a look over at Dan. He still just looks numb to the whole situation. “How are you going?” I ask him.
“I-I went over and… and I was going to ask her to take me back. To for-forgive m-me but… but I got there an-and…,” he breaks off.
A feeling of dread passes over me, but I quickly shove it back down into the dark hole it came from. At the moment, it’s most likely that Dan’s just remembering everything that he saw after entering Josie’s apartment.
“She’s going to be alright,” I assure.
We wait for what seems to be hours until finally, a nurse appears. He leads us over to Josie’s bed and Marie cries at the sight of stitches running down her sister’s arms. We all know that there’s
a lot more of them that we can’t see. I notice though that Dan’s walking towards the exit, a sombre expression on his face. I follow him out of the room.
Dan’s walking towards the exit when I call out to him, “Don’t you want to be here when she wakes up?”
Dan doesn’t even turn around before shaking his head, “She wouldn’t want me there.” That dark feeling begins to creep back to me. “I shouldn’t have gone over…” Dan whispers into the empty hallway.
Upon hearing that revelation my jaw drops and I back away slowly, trying to process what I just heard. Dan turns to look at me, “I was just so angry…”
“Had you been drinking?” I cut him off. That look of shame on his face says it all though, and now I realise exactly what happened to Josie tonight. Rage boils through my veins, “You know what you’re like when you’re drunk. You’re fucking out of control! Are you serious right now?!” I seethe.
He hangs his head lower.
“Guess I’ll be seeing you in court,” malice drips as I slam the door shut behind me.
The abrupt noise shocks Marie a bit, but she smiles when she notices that I’m back, “Everything’s going to work out just fine, isn’t it?”
“Yeah,” I say, putting on my best fake smile for her.