Character: Liz Sherman, Agent Clay, John T. Myers, Dr Tom Manning
Word Count: 800
I know he can’t hear me. I don’t know why I’m even bothering to talk to him. They say he won’t last the night. “I…came back.” I’m clutching his hand, so tight my knuckles are turning white. “I came back and I was really excited to see you. You always knew how to make me feel better. I thought you could take me for coffee and…” The tears start to fall. They’ve been building since yesterday, since I exploded.
I was doing so well. I had control of my fire; for once in my life it was staying where I told it to. Sure, I’m on lithium and thorazine and barely talking to anyone so I wouldn’t get upset but… I hadn’t had an episode in months. But then…
“Your hair looks nice.” I cautiously run my hand through Clay’s hair, almost afraid I’ll hurt him. How can I hurt him more than he is now? His hair doesn’t look nice. It looks fake and plastic, like hair plugs always do. Why am I lying to a dying man?
“Who’s gonna teach me how to take care of myself now?” I’ve moved to kneeling next to him. “Clay…we need you. I need you. You can’t die. Not yet.” I know how childish and selfish it is to say that, but right now I feel like a child. Clay’s been here longer than I have. Every time I needed someone he was there. When I killed someone while I was away, he took care of me. He covered it up, never told Broom or Red or ANYONE.
“I’m sorry. I should have come back sooner.” I rest my head on his chest, feeling the useless bandages rub my cheeks. “I should have told you how much you being here meant to me.” I sniffle and sob and hold him tight, knowing he can’t hear anything I’m saying or feel that I’m holding him so tight.
Things have changed. I know I said nothing had changed but things have definitely changed. I’ve changed, Red’s changed, there’s the new guy, John T. Myers. Something’s wrong with Broom, Abe’s hurt. Clay is…dying, here as I hold him he’d dying. I can see his heartbeat getting weaker on the screen.
“Miss Sherman?” A new but familiar voice comes from behind me. Myers “You need to let him rest, please.” I don’t move from holding Clay, leaving my head resting on him. He’s been like a brother to me, just like my real brother was. Protecting me, making me laugh, keeping me safe. “No, just let me stay here a little longer, please.” I’m begging the rookie. How sad is that?
“Dr. Manning says he needs rest.” Myers repeats.
“Manning can kiss my ass!” I pick my head up and look at Myers.
“I can what, Miss Sherman?” The condescension drips out of Manning’s mouth. I hate him so much. How long was he standing next to Myers?
“You can…” I know he heard me. He was probably there the whole time. “You can send Clay’s family my sympathies.” I stand and wipe my eyes before pushing past him into the hall.
“Miss Sherman?” I hear the new guy calling me, but I ignore him making my way fast to Red’s room. I need someone who’ll understand me. Someone who will make me feel normal. Red won’t make me feel normal, but he will understand.
“Miss Sherman?” I can hear his footsteps moving faster. I cross my arms over my chest and drop my head, as if the action will make me invisible.
“LIZ!” I stop dead in my tracks and turn to him, my eyes still blurred from my tears.
“What?” I fix a stare at him and snap coldly. “What do you want?”
“Is there anything I can do to make you feel better?” He asks sheepishly, almost afraid. Is there anything he can do? One of my best friends is dying, I just blew up a hospital and he wants to know what he can do to make me feel better?
I stare at him a moment, really looking him his eyes. Big, innocent, eyes. They won’t stay that way for long, not if he stays here, or survives long enough to grow cold and hard and uncaring.
Clay never did. He never changed. That’s what I’ll miss the most. Clay was…is…was always just Clay.
I smile weakly at the new guy. He’s really got his work cut out for him, watching over Red. He’s half the size of Clay and nowhere near as brave or commanding. I bet his first days have been hell. Despite my better judgment, and the fact that I should be here, with Red and Broom and Abe and Clay, I smile at him and ask, “Do you…like coffee, John?”