At some point she heard people screaming, sirens, someone trying to pick her up. Then, nothing. It was like she’d been sucked into a black hole and not even the wind’s breeze was audible anymore. She knew something bad had happened. Emilia was also certain it would involve some nasty, purple and gross looking bruises on her nonexistent bottom and on her arms.
Maybe if Sam came by looking for her later, he would see her and realize he had almost lost her and wouldn’t want to wait a minute longer to marry her……..
Focus, Emilia, focus.
First, she needed to do something about this lightheadedness she was feeling right now. Was she still lying in the middle of the street?
Oh no, that would be so embarrassing! I should just open my eyes and hope the only person looking at me is some cute paramedic.
The minute Emilia opened her blue eyes she saw nothing. As her eyes adjusted to the unfamiliar surroundings around her, she was able to make out the white blinds covering a window and the joyless white of the walls around her. Then, she heard the faint sound of a woman’s voice over an intercom outside paging Dr. Gilmore to the nurse’s station.
I’m at the hospital?
She lifted her hand to touch her face but felt no wincing pain. Nor the texture of any bandage covering her head or the sting of any recent stitches. She wiggled her butt but no pain came either.
Wow, the doctors in here must be better than Dr. Carter from ER or the real-life doctor that did my snotty boss’s nose job last summer.
As much as she hated her guts, Emilia had to admit that the new nose was a huge improvement from her Rachael-from-Friends nose, when they reminisce about their younger days during a Thanksgiving dinner.
Her admiration had been short-lived, though. The pain-in-the-ass-but-still-the-one-in-charge Amanda had said the day she came back from her recovery, “Really Emilia, you might want to think about getting breast implants. Dr. Bob is a genius. I’m sure he could give you a hand.”
Emilia had wanted a hand but in pushing the obnoxious Amanda down the stairs so she could have the satisfaction of seeing her go through another painful nose job. Hopefully, one that left her looking like a Picasso painting.
Shutting out her boss’s nasal voice booming inside her head, she closed her eyes again as she tried to remember what had happened. She had been really distraught and focused on getting inside the National Art Gallery and wallow her hurt away with some soothing art. She had been crossing the street when……..
Oh shit! The car……
Okay, so she’d been hit by a car and had been brought to the hospital. That still didn’t explain why Emilia felt no pain whatsoever and why she was alone in her room. Certainly someone would’ve heard she’d been in an accident. More accurately, Sam, since he was one of her emergency contacts on her insurance card.
A young nurse came into her room and without so much as a quick glance, started carting out the machines Emilia had seen used many times on ER and Grey’s Anatomy. Maybe they had given her a strong sedative so she was supposed to be deep in a painless sleep. That’s why the nurse didn’t bother with her. However, she was wide awake now and she certainly didn’t want to feel like she didn’t matter.
Thanks, I’ve had my fix for today.
It was time someone told her what the hell was going on. Thankful that she wasn’t at all dizzy, Emilia sat up on the bed and took a good look around. People walked by past the open curtain.
Oh, great. I didn’t even qualify for a proper room?
Gently, Emilia moved her legs so that they dangled from the edge of the bed. She looked down and saw that the cute short-sleeved cotton black dress and black leggings she had chosen for her disastrous proposal dinner were not ruined. She didn’t even have any traces of dried blood or anything.
The rest of the white-coat world seemed oblivious to the woman just waking up from a very serious accident. Emilia cleared her throat which didn’t feel raw and called out to the first nurse she saw passing by. The lady in the lilac scrubs didn’t even flinch when she heard Emilia’s voice.
“Hey, someone. I’m awake, and I need some assistance.”
Nothing. A couple of doctors with their white coats walked by talking animatedly while Emilia practically screamed at them.
“Hey you, man in the white coat. Help!”
Suddenly, one of the doctors stopped and turned around to walk back toward her. With his hand he pulled the curtain open and let out an annoyed grunt.
“This is just wrong.”
“You can say that again.” Emilia crossed her arms over her chest.
Looking directly at her, Dr. Michaels, at least that was the name embroidered on his breast pocket, narrowed his eyes at her and said.
“Who’s in charge here?”
“You’re asking me? I’m the one whose been in this terrible accident. I think, unless my mind went wandering again and I’m probably standing like an idiot in the middle of the National Mall.”
Emilia shut her eyelids one more time and counted to ten. When they fluttered open again, Dr. Michaels was still staring at her with pure annoyance painted all over his aged face.
“Listen, if you could just come over here and tell me what’s wrong then I could….”
But he didn’t let her finish. Dr. Michaels only closed the curtain again and started yelling at whoever was standing outside.
“Sure, ignore the injured woman.”
Seconds later, the curtain was pulled open again. A group of two male nurses and one female nurse, thankfully the first two in more manly looking scrubs, strode in with chagrined looks on their faces. Right behind them, Dr. Michaels stood with a clipboard in his hands, his eyes scanning the pages on it.
“So, this woman, she had an ID on her?”
“Hey, I’m right here, you could just ask me.”
The female nurse stepped up and answered in a small voice.
“Yes, her name is Emily…”
“I mean Emilia Barton. She came here after she was hit by a car outside the National Art Gallery. Head trauma, multiple fractures, lacerations, and she lost too much blood.”
“What? Wow, just hold on a minute. First of all, head trauma? I’m pretty sure I would know if I had one of those. Second, fractures? What the hell are you talking about? Are you sure you have the right chart? I mean look at me. I’m okay, I should be studied or something. Not a single scratch.”
“Any family or friends have come by?”
“No sir, we’ve tried to locate the emergency contact we found on her insurance card but no one answers.”
Why would he? Emilia thought bitterly. He probably thought his phone ringing off the hook was his psycho ex girlfriend wanting to talk things over. Only that his machine would’ve picked up and after listening to the formal voice from the hospital’s nurse, Sam would’ve come here, right? Even if she had sent him straight to hell, Sam wouldn’t leave her alone in her time of need, would he?
“I see. Nevertheless, I expect this situation never to repeat itself. To leave her here without moving her out to another area is irresponsible. We need the space and she no longer belongs here.”
Doesn’t belong here?
It started to dawn on Emilia that neither the nurses nor the doctor had acknowledged her presence in the room. She put on her best you-people-will-hear-my-complaints-to-customer-service expression as she eyed the doctor and said in an exasperated tone.
“Remember me? Emilia Barton? Although, I’m not arguing about being moved to better accommodations, but please could someone tell me what the hell happened to me?”
Dr. Michaels’s stare landed on her and made her shudder. He looked at her almost with pity, then his eyes hardened and he glanced back down at the chart in his hands.
Oh no, what if the reason I don’t feel any pain is because something is wrong with my legs?
She glanced down at her legs hanging from the side of the bed. A huge wave of relief washed away the momentary panic. Nonetheless, the way that doctor had looked at her, it made her uneasy and for the first time, afraid.
“It’s unfortunate, so young. What exactly happened?”
“Okay, there’s no need to be so dramatic about it. I was distracted, that’s all. It happens to everyone, especially if you have just left your boyfriend of ten years.”
Just like finding out your boyfriend just didn’t want to marry you, that happens all the time.
The nurse who had been answering the doctor’s questions spoke over her and said.
“Paramedics said witnesses saw her as she came running out of nowhere. The car had no time to stop. She was thrown into the windshield before landing on the pavement. Her whole left side sustained serious bone fractures, she lost an alarming amount of blood and her skull cracked when it hit the pavement.
“Oh my God!” Emilia started to hyperventilate. The nurse’s grim tone made it all sound even worse. And then a horrible idea, even worse than the fear of losing the feeling of her legs grabbed her by the throat. She let out a frightened whimper. Her whole left side fractured? Oh no, what if……….She had heard about it during those medical shows on the Discovery Health channel and of course on her favorite T.V. medical dramas. Patients who had had a limb chopped off sometimes without their awareness due to the extremeness of the situation in which they first came in to the emergency room.
Had they had to amputate one of her limbs? Her left arm? Or her leg? No, no, no. She had lifted her hand before and she had touched her face, right? Or had it all been an illusion, a trick played by her mind as it normally happened to amputated victims, when they swore they could still feel that limb that had to be cut off.
Emilia took a deep breath, shut her eyes and opened them again. She studied her arms while she extended them in front of her. Then she did the same with her legs. It was all there, and without a single scratch. Maybe this doctor really had her confused with some other more critical patient.
“Doctor Michaels, I think there’s been a terrible mistake. I’m fine, I’m…”
“Dead. It says here she died at the scene.”
Emilia’s entire body sprang from the bed, as she exclaimed.
The nurse spoke in a calm voice.
“Yes, they tried to resuscitate her on the way here, but by the time Dr. Johnson attempted to shock her heart back to life, it was already too late. He was the one to call it.”
“I see. Well, she should’ve been moved out of here right away. I don’t care for a dead woman’s body lying around, while there are other patients walking around.”
The whole room around her began to spin out of control.
An angry voice answered.
Of course you’re not dead. These men are just seriously confused.
Couldn’t they see she was right here?
“Okay let’s just focus here.” Emilia inhaled and counted to ten. She let out a shaky breath, wondering if maybe she needed to go all the way up to a hundred to achieve a decent level of calm.
“I’m not dead. See,” she waved both her arms in the air.
It was then she realized neither the doctor nor the nurses with him had flinched with her shocked scream. Nor did they even blink as she continued to wave her hands frantically up in the air.
Dr. Michaels approached her side. For a fleeting second, their stares locked and hope surged inside her. It vanished when it was clear he was looking beyond Emilia. To something behind her. Or was it someone? God was he like the woman from Ghost Whisperer? Did he see dead people? This was a hospital after all, there were probably countless spirits or ghosts from other deceased patients roaming the halls. Was she one of them? It sent a chill up and down her spine.
“No offense, but could I maybe ask for another doctor to come and talk to me? You seem really smart and those bags under your eyes tell me you’ve probably been up for hours. So, why don’t you take your break or whatever and page someone else? Maybe this other doctor, Dr. Johnson, maybe he is awake enough to see I haven’t seen the light at the end of the tunnel.”
This time Emilia didn’t bother to conceal her growing annoyance. This had definitely not been her day. Not only had she broken up with a guy who couldn’t even pick his stupid phone to come to her side but she didn’t care to be treated with such carelessness.
Unfortunately, when the doctor’s arm reached out, she let out a glass shattering scream. Dumbstruck, Emilia’s gaze lowered to where Dr. Michaels’s arm was currently going through her stomach. She waited for the piercing pain of having someone’s arm tear her skin and pass through her like she were a human doughnut, but none came.
What she did feel was a sensation of lightness, like all of a sudden those one hundred and thirty pounds she fought very hard to keep in check inside her five foot five frame every day, had magically disappeared. Emilia also started to feel really cold, hollow, as if more than just the doctor’s arm seemed to be passing through her.
As she lifted her arms, she noticed they were a little pale, but then again, it had to be a normal symptom for a person who’d just been in an accident, right?
“What the hell did you people do to me?” She demanded in a tone full of dread.
The middle aged doctor gave no sign of having heard her, not even now when he was standing this close to her. He stretched his other arm in front of him, this one going through her chest.
This has got to be some bizarre nightmare or some very strong painkillers.
Her scattered thoughts were like bouncing marbles in a tin can inside her mind. Emilia was bracing herself for the first signs of the mother of all headaches to surface. But just as the pain from the rest of her body hadn’t come, the headache didn’t either.
Suddenly, she felt the pull of whatever thing or person or situation had attracted the doctor’s attention, forcing her to look in the same direction. Even as some far away voice warned her she was not going to like what she was about to see, Emilia couldn’t fight against her own curiosity and turned around.
It was like waking up with a start from a dream where you were falling down a precipice, and you could feel your stomach all the way up to your throat. She clutched her chest, as she had seen all those people do when having a heart attack.
Oh no, no, no. This can’t be real.
The rest of the nurses that had come in behind the doctor began closing in around her. Before they enclosed her and trapped her with the nauseating thing behind her, she went to stand at the edge of the blue curtain.
Emilia was too much in shock to notice the speed with which she floated from one place to the other. The image she had just witnessed was still fresh in the foreground of her mind. Every detail had been imprinted perfectly inside her head. Doctor Michaels was wrapping the body in a white blanket. A body that looked exactly like Emilia’s, it was even dressed like her. She remembered she’d chosen that cute black cable-knit dress because it made her look slim and it was elegant yet not too Gossip Girl elegant. Just plain Emilia, comfortable, bought at one of the outlet stores at Leesburg Corner and until a few hours ago, one of her ex boyfriend’s favorites.
Only that contrary to the state of the same dress she was also wearing, the former did look like it had gone through some serious damage. Just as the nurse had said, her left side was a mess. Even though the color of the fabric was black, Emilia was able to make out the darker stains of blood covering the entire outfit. Her black wool tights were teared up, exposing deeply bruised skin as well as more dried blood.
But what caused her the most disturbing of impressions was the face, her face. Even if it wasn’t as badly disfigured as she would’ve imagined by the way the nurse had described her fall on the pavement, it was what she couldn’t see there that was the most terrifying of all.
It was lifeless. Even with all the dark red trails of blood that had rolled down from what she imagined had been a really hard blow to the head, the cracked skull, there was no sign that face belonged to a woman who until a few seconds ago, swore she had made it alive.
Her eyelids were closed, still Emilia knew they would be like two black bottomless pits, hollow, emptied from that spark which separated her from being a healthy twenty-seven year old woman to being an extra in Supernatural or CSI.
I’m dead. I’m dead. I’m…
“No! This can’t be happening. Oh God, please no. I can’t be dead!”
Emilia’s loud pleas got lost with the chatter and bleeping sounds from outside in the hallway. Doctor Michaels finished putting the white blanket over her face and silently, the two male nurses got behind the bed and wheeled her away.
When the bed was no longer there, Emilia now saw the blood staining the white linoleum floor and the trails left by the wheels as the bed disappeared. When the female nurse passed right next to Emilia, her hand shot out to touch the nurse’s arm. Like with the doctor, her hand couldn’t get a firm grasp.
Because it was pretty obvious no one could hear her now, or ever, Emilia dropped down to the floor while she wept for her own death.
A voice had her turning her head in the same direction the bed with her lifeless body had gone to. With a speed she assumed was due thanks to basically being just filled with air and having nothing substantial alive inside her, she was outside in a second, trying to find the owner of that voice.
If she would’ve still had one, Emilia was sure she would’ve felt her heart disintegrate with grief and sorrow for the man currently running in her direction. As she tried to hold on to that brief flicker of hope that maybe Sam could see her, she felt it fly away the moment his body ran right through hers.
“No, no, Emilia! What happened? I was….I….she’s….Oh God, no.”
“I’m sorry, sir. Did you know the victim?”
“Her name…” Sam swallowed, his face ashen and his eyes disoriented, as if he couldn’t quite figure out where he was.
“Maybe if we go sit someplace….” Dr. Michaels took hold of Sam’s arm, but he shook off his hand and said.
“Her name is Emilia Barton and she’s……she was my girlfriend….” Sam’s voice broke. He seemed to lose his balance but was caught by Dr. Michaels.
“Sir, please come with me. I’ll get you some coffee.” The doctor ushered a visibly shaken and distraught Sam to the waiting room at the end of the hallway.
Even though she knew things between them had pretty much ended a few hours ago, the thing she had become now felt a pang of remorse as she realized that despite their own different dreams, Sam had just lost his best friend tonight.