The coffee was bitter; the irony of this was not lost on John as he handed a polystyrene cup to Ramesh who sat poised on the edge of a chair on one side of Riya’s hospital bed. A lemon waffle-weave blanket followed the contours of her body, from the neatly positioned feet, knees and up to her hips – so narrow she suddenly looked child-like.
Riya was sleeping, heavily sedated. She had drifted in and out of consciousness during the ambulance ride and was now being monitored closely. A nurse came in half-hourly to check pupil dilation and encouraged the men to talk quietly between themselves so Riya would hear familiar voices if she woke. A knock on the glass panel gained the attention of them both, before Aditya attempted to wheel himself through the door, his right leg in a cast from his thigh to his ankle, balanced on a support directly out in front of him.
Ramesh moved to assist with the door and the look of concern altered slightly as he moved behind the wheel,s John noted.
“How’s she doing?” Aditya’s eyes strained to interpret the screens.
“She’s comfortable. There’s slight swelling of the brain on one side but they have sedated her and are confident it won’t cause long term damage.” John fought the urge to reach for Riya’s left hand only inches away, as he updated her brother. Ramesh sat again and it was as though he had read John’s mind. He reached for her right hand and while a boss should care about their employee’s wellbeing after an accident, the way Ramesh’ thumb moved back and forth over her fingers left John feeling a little uneasy. Aditya appeared not to notice and had moved his attention to his phone.
“Do you think I could get away with making a call in here? I really need to get back to the dam. Ramesh, you will take me. Riya is in good hands.” he grunted as his foot caught the end of the bed as he turned his wheelchair awkwardly in the space. “Now Ramesh!”
“But what will I drive? You won’t get in a car! I’ll reserve a big cab!” their debate continued along the corridor and as the door swung slowly closed, the room was once again restored to the sound of machines and the gentle rythm of breath. John moved his chair a little closer and did not hesitate to take Riya’s hand this time. “Um, I don’t know what to say. Only that I hope you can hear me.” the whisper which escaped his lips surprised him and he coughed to regain control of his voice. “The thing is, silly really, but since December when I saw you last, I’ve been thinking about you a lot.” with his free hand, he picked at an errant thread on the blanket and watched it refuse to alter its direction. “I know we have a lot of work on the dam to discuss; even more so now ….. God only knows what damage has been done today, but sometimes … you meet someone and y’know….” he trailed off again and stared at the creases in the skin of each knuckle. He was desperate to kiss her fingers, the back of her hand, the tendons fanlike from her wrist.
“I’m scared. Don’t let him near me.” the voice caught him off guard and he glanced to the pillow to see Riya’s eyes just barely open, the long dark lashes fluttered and her head turned slightly towards him. She sucked inwards and groaned “My head.” the groaning came again.
“Stay still. I’ll get someone.” but as he stood, a nurse came in anyway.
“It’s ok, she will gain consciousness but we want to keep her quiet and motionless for a few more hours.” she fiddled with something and Riya almost immediately relaxed. “She’s a fighter this one!” the nurse smiled and left him to his confusion…
Fun with daily word prompts from wordpress … to join in press today’s word selection: Reservation