Perfect Strangers


Photo from Together Stock Photos

He left his job at the post office and started his walk home. He loved to walk, that’s part of the reason he went for the job. Sure he saw a lot of the same things everyday, but sometimes, life gave him little surprises along the way. Today was no different.
He was taller than average, slim with long rough fingers from working hard in his teen years before falling in with the post office. He had been married, but they drifted apart. Now he was enjoying reading books and has his dog Shooter, who was getting to be salt and peppered just like his master. They spent their evenings strolling around local parks and chatting with other dog friends.
As he walked along his usual game trail that he had carved through an old field, he saw an impression in the grass he had never noticed before. His dark brown eyes squinted in the evening light. Whatever it was, it was large. He reached down for the box cutter he had attached to his hip as he approached. But then his hand pulled away and soon he sprinted over to the spot. 
He scrambled into the impression and felt for a pulse on the young woman lying there. He sighed with relief when he felt it. He looked at her face, she was dirty but pretty for a young woman. Her clothes were tattered and her hair was a mess of tangles. He tried to wake her and she wouldn’t wake up, so he pulled out his phone and called for an ambulance. He didn’t move from her side until she heard the approaching sirens. Once he was able to wave them down he came right back to her side, holding her limp delicate hand, telling her it will be alright.
The EMT’s checked her vitals, braced her neck and put her on a gurney very delicately. He watched it all with worry painted heavily on his face. Before he knew it, he was in the ambulance with her as the bumped away to the hospital. 
The EMT’s name was Emitt, which he found ironic. Emitt worked on the girl, looking for injuries. He held her hand until Emitt took it away from him. He checked her pupils with a pen light after putting the oxygen mask on her. He commented on how someone was home but no one was answering the door. He turned as Emitt examined the woman’s torso. He did see some large bruises out of the corner of his eye. Emitt hollered to his partner in the front as he made note of it, he said that there could be internal bleeding with that much bruising to the torso.
He frowned, the ride seemed to last forever until they finally bumped across the speed bumps of the hospital. They rolled out and he followed along, a doctor and a nurse joined the EMT’s and got the report which made little sense to him but he listened. He started to follow them back but the nurse stopped him and asked who he was. He explained the situation. She asked him to wait in the waiting room, police would be notified in a case like this and they would want to speak to him. He nodded and took a seat in the waiting room.
He pulled out his phone and called his neighbor. He asked if she could feed Shooter for him and she said yes. Then he proceeded to save his battery and people watch as he sat there for an hour before the officers were shown to him by the nurse. He told them everything, he answered their questions. He asked if they knew her name. They said no but they also could not give that out. He nodded. They said he could go home, but he was content with staying. He told them he wanted to make sure she was okay. They gave him their cards and took his information.
He waited for three hours. He walked around and stretched and drank some coffee. The nurse came to get someone else in the waiting room and saw him there. She stopped and put her hands on her hips and asked him why he didn’t go home. He said he didn’t know if she had someone to look after her and thought someone should be there for her, even if it was a stranger.
The nurse smiled kindly at him. She told him, that she was in the ICU, they had to do surgery to stop a bleed on her right side. She leaned towards him and whispered that she should be okay, and that he could come by tomorrow and see her. They would allow visitors if she is doing better. He nodded, picked up his windbreaker from the chair beside him and thanked her.
The next day, he waved goodbye to his work buddies, tossing his bag over his should and headed to the bus stop. He hummed a little tune to himself as he rocked back and forth on his heels. The bus pulled up and whisked him away. He stared out the windows and took in the sighs of the world and soon they were pulling up to the hospital. A little worry line worked itself into his forehead.
He picked up some flowers he thought were simple and nice in the gift shop and went to find out where the young lady was. He walked by the ER and saw the nurse standing there. He waved to her and she smiled brightly at him. He made his way to the ICU and asked the charge nurse about her. She said that she is in stable condition and they moved her to a regular room. He asked where, she said that cases like hers were moved to the third floor. His brow furrowed at the sound of that. He took the elevator up to the third floor and found a nurses station. He told them who he was looking for, they said that she still hadn’t woke up, but he could look in on her and told him the room number.
He walked to the room and heard the machines. He rounded the curtain and saw her laying there. She only had an IV and a heart monitor and oxygen flow monitor. He saw that there was chart. He looked around and then picked it up. Her name was Dorothy Kane. She was 22 years old. His brow furrowed again and he set the chart in it’s place at the end of the bed. He saw no flowers or cards around her bed and found a place for them on a side table to her bed. She was cleaned up and her long brown curly hair was in a braid. She laid there peacefully, he said hello to her and took a seat. He set down his bag and opened it up and pulled out a book. It was Dave Eggers The Wild Things. He began reading to her. His voice was soothing but he still invoked the emotion of the book while he read it, painting the picture of the story Max and his adventures in a far away land as an escape of the life he didn’t want to face.
That’s how he spent his evenings for a week, one hour every night, he would come by and read to Dorothy while she laid there peacefully.
On the sixth day he walked into the room and said hello to Dorothy and patted her hand before sitting down and reading. He was on the last two chapters and had Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game waiting in the wings. He began painting the picture of the climax of the book when something caught his eye. He looked up from the book to see a pair of hazel eyes looking back at him. He lowered the book to his lap, keeping the place with his finger, and said hello to Dorothy. She said hello and asked where she was, he said she was in the hospital. He said that he found her in a field in a pretty bad way and got her help. She tried moving and winced. He told her they had to perform a small surgery to stop some bleeding. Her brow furrowed. He scooted close to her and asked her if she had any family. She said no, her parents had passed some time ago and she had recently moved here trying to find work. She was supposed to start work tomorrow. He frowned and explained she has been in a coma for six days. By the end of it, her eyes were pooling with tears. He got her some tissue and apologized for having to give her all the news. She asked his name and he realized he never introduced himself. She thanked him and put her hand on his. She said that she heard him. She heard his voice and followed it through the fog a little at a time. Tears began to roll down his face. Then his eyes widened and he said they should call a nurse. He hit the button.
A detective came by and talked to her about what had happened. She admitted to being caught by some men, beaten and then they had their way with her semi-conscious body. She described what she could remember of the men and the incident. He came back after the detective was done and she was looking out the window of her room. She said that it didn’t seem real, almost like it was a bad dream. He said that maybe it was just the way her mind was coming to terms with it and dealing with the trauma. They talked about everything else for the following hour. He made her smile with his funny tales of being a postman. She would tell him about her life and how it was always one little adventure after another but she just wanted to try and find a place to live.
Two days passed and he came and visited Dorothy and they would talk until visiting hours were over. He even brought her some things from her apartment for her on the third day because she was supposed to be leaving the day after. What he saw on the door of her apartment was an eviction notice for non payment. He stared at it before using her keys to go in. When he arrived at the hospital he handed her clothes and sighed before he told her the news. She swallowed hard and started choking on tears. It was too much, she just wept. He sat down and held her, letting her cry as he rubbed her back. When she was done she looked up to him with eyes that looked a hundred years old. He smiled, reaching up with a tissue and wiped away her tears.
He reached into his pocket pulled out her keychain and put it in her hand. She looked down and saw a key she didn’t recognize. She looked up at him, his soft smile warmed her wet cheeks. He said that she was going to have a hard time getting around until her side healed up all the way and he was sure that his dog Shooter would love the company. She tried to tell him that it was too much. He stopped her, he told her that he was alone in the world and so was she, they could help each other and they wouldn’t be alone. She would have a place to stay until she got on her feet and he would have company, so really no one was losing out on the deal. Plus he was sure he could probably fit all of her things into his spare room. She smiled with tears in her eyes and hugged him as hard as she could without hurting herself. He gently hugged her back and told her it would get better. And you know what? It did.
“Perfect Strangers” by Rio Martin

#love #father #writing

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