Helen is waiting for us when we pull up, she’s sitting in one of the rockers on the front porch wringing her hands together. Everett appears in the door as we are walking up, concern all over his features. I’m not used to this, all of this attention and people being there to rescue me. Dave and I have each other’s backs, but in reality, it is nothing like this.
“Emerson is sleeping Becca, would you mind checking on her, she’s in our room,” Helen says nervously.
“Taylor, can I look you over,” Everett says softly coming through the door.
I attempt to protest, but he insists and before I know it I’m in his den with a blood pressure cuff around my arm, “I’m fine really, it was just a really bad panic attack.”
“I know sweetie, Ethan called us, I just need to be sure for my own piece of mind,” he says taking my pulse next.
“I’ve made you some chamomile dear, I put it up in Ethan’s old room, you girls are staying for a sleepover it seems,” Helen says softly.
“I really should get home, I have work tomorrow, Helen,” I try, but the look she’s giving me says she isn’t taking no for an answer.
Everett finishes with a gentle smile and clears me to head upstairs. I take the steps feeling like my feet weigh thousands of pounds, being exhausted earlier is nothing compared to a panic attack hang-over. Ethan’s old room is just as I would expect it to be, full of trophies, and guy stuff. The blue and red walls partially hidden with posters of bands I’m familiar with and sports figures I’m clueless about. It makes me chuckle a little when I spot the worn looking rabbit tossed in a chair, I’ll have to remember that for a later date. I sit and take a nice long pull of the soothingchamomilee tea Helen has brought up for me imagining her doing the same for her own children during their times of woe. Becca in the doorway startles me some and I nearly drop the cup from my hand.
“You okay in here?” she asks.
“I’m exhausted, have you talked to Ethan?” I ask, not able to resist.
“I have…” she starts and then stops when we hear a car door, “Everett is heading down to the hospital, Elliot is okay, but he has a few broken bones in his right hand.”
The worry must be visible on my face as flashes of him pummelling that guy rush in my head, because she comes and sits down next to me.
“He’ll be fine Taylor, really…” she tries to comfort me.
“I don’t know whether to be happy about that or not though, it isn’t like him to act that way. At least I’ve never seen it before,” I say.
“I’ve never seen him wild like that, but I’ve seen them brawl before, usually when those two idiots were together though…” she says with a laugh.
“I can only imagine… Becca, I shouldn’t have called him, I should have waited till it was over,” I say, letting my head fall into my hands.
“I would have done the same thing, trust me, you did the right thing. Elliot on the other hand, well he is the one who couldn’t keep it together,” she says softly.
“I’ve never seen that look on his face, that pure rage. I’ve seen him angry, hurt, upset, but nothing like what I saw in his eyes tonight…” I mumble.
“I know…” is all she offers before Helen knocks on the door.
“I just wanted to tell you girls goodnight, Taylor, if you need anything I’m just down the hall,” she says giving each of us a hug and then disappearing through the door.
“How can she be so calm?” I wonder out loud.
“She’s been through so much worse than this Taylor,” Becca says standing up.
She gives my hand a squeeze and with a sad look on her face she quietly leaves the room. I hear the door across the hall close and then silence. I’m glad I had the sense to stop at my car before we came and grab my gym bag, at least I can be comfortable while I try and find sleep. Mindlessly scrolling through the online news while I lay here isn’t helping, it’s all chaos, every story. At some point I fall asleep, it doesn’t last long though as the images of Elliots busted cheek and swollen eye startle me awake.
“Taylor? Are you okay, honey,” Helen says from just inside the door.
“I’m fine, just a bad dream…” I answer, though the fear is still making my heart pound.
“I heard you yelling for Elliot, I can’t imagine how hard that was to watch. You know there was a time I would have wished for him to snap, not hurt someone else mind you, but all that anger he had trapped in there. It wasn’t healthy, Taylor, nothing he did these past few years has been healthy. Having to sit back and watch that, that was a pain I would never wish on anyone,” she says.
“I think I’ve gotten off easy in that respect with Elliot, I didn’t know him before the accident. I don’t have anything to compare him to. Tonight though, he scared me. I saw a side of him I never want to see again…” I reply, terrified that that statement might mean the end of us.
“Elliot has always been my peacekeeper. Even when his little brother dragged him into his messes. He was about twelve the first time he came home with a black eye. Ethan was seven…it was the first time he defended his brother and it nearly made him sick. He couldn’t stand the way the other boys face looked, how hitting him made him feel. I knew that night that he was going to be a great man. That was the moment I knew that he wouldn’t foolishly look for a fight, but wouldn’t back down from defending another person either. He was the best of both worlds. Strong willed and stubborn, but empathetic to a fault. He was always so even keeled, I know that sometimes it’s hard to see that now, but things change a person. My great man’s world has been changed so much by some very painful things Taylor. I don’t condone what he did tonight but everyone breaks at some point. He shouldn’t have let it all build inside there while he was too busy trying to protect everyone else. I don’t have to talk to him, or see him to know that his internal war just finally came to the surface. You should know better than anyone what it’s like to finally just give in to that… whether it’s shutting down or lashing out, it happens…” she trails off.
“He broke the door of the bathroom stall, he crushed another man tonight Helen,” I rebute.
“He broke that door because he was trying to get to you… it doesn’t make it any better, but his heart was in the right place there Taylor. I think in his own way he thought he was protecting you. Did he make poor choices? Yes. Did it scare you, yes. Did he do it to prove that he still can, maybe a little. But I can guarantee you the repercussions of his actions will haunt him, they will tear at him like nothing else can because it isn’t in his nature to be violent,” she says.
“How do I know it won’t happen again, that he won’t lash out at me?” I ask.
“You don’t…” she pauses, “He came to see me today. Do you know how long it’s been since he voluntarily just showed up here unannounced and without goading? Three years. Three years I’ve had to beg my son to just be present. Today, out of the blue he appears at our door, he was the happiest I’ve ever seen him. It was my son, finally. Like nothing bad had ever happened to him, the pure person he used to be before all the bad crept in. He has plans, he has goals for the future, Taylor, goals that include you. He wants to be a better person for you,” she says as a tear falls from her eye.
I don’t know what to say to that. I want more than anything to have him in my life, but at the same time I can’t be with a ticking time bomb. Tears are flowing from both of our eyes now and while I don’t think she’s waiting for me to respond I finally find the words.
“I want to be a better person for him too, Helen…”
The physical repercussions are more than evident as I lay here, hating every second of being in this hospital. The psychological ones, they are much worse than anything being broken. How could I have done that, and mostly how could I have done that to her. I’m drowning in the regret of my actions and the guilt that comes with it and at the same time I feel so much lighter. There is a lack of frustration in my soul now that I can’t explain. Nothing will ever fully remove my limitations and the shit that comes with them but the anger that has scared me for years is gone. But at what price? I think to myself.
“Dr. Turner you have a visitor,” the nurse says in the doorway.
“Who is it?” I ask, wishing with everything in my being that it is Taylor.
“Your father and a Dr. Rupert… can I send them in?” he asks.
I nod, not surprised that my father has called Joe. I’m not even mad, I need to talk.
A few minutes go by and I’m wondering where they are when they finally step into the room.
“Son, I heard you put on quite the show…” my father says with a look that shows me he’s pissed.
“That’s what they said,” I answer not really sure if I remember much before seeing Ethans big melon.
“Elliot, you could have really gotten yourself into a mess. What were you thinking?” my father says, while Joe just watches us.
“Dad, I really don’t know what happened, it was like I just snapped… and then Ethan was there lifting me up. Is Taylor okay?” I manage out before I’m choking back a sob.
“She is just fine, a little fatigued from the panic attack, but otherwise just shaken up,” he says taking my left hand.
“I scared her… it was like i couldn’t stop…” I mumble.
“Elliot listen, it isn’t okay what happened tonight, but we’ve talked about the anger, and how one day it might surface. How sooner or later you were going to have to deal with it. I know you’ve been doing well these last months, coming to terms with the accident, your sister, everything that you found out that happened to Taylor, but here it is. It happened, and now you need to deal with that, or else it will just happen again,” Joe finally speaks and I feel like I’m six years old and have just broken the window in the bathroom.
“He’s right El, I’ve seen you hold it back for way too long…” my father chimes in.
“I know. I could feel it, like electricity building when all I could think about was that someone hurt her, at first I didn’t know what happened, and then I couldn’t even help her out of the bathroom…” I say.
“It doesn’t matter how it happened, it did happen. Because all this time you’ve held onto that anger instead of letting it out. Coming to terms with what happened and letting it go are two completely different things Elliot,” Joe goes on.
I lay there listening to what he’s saying but at the same time I’m wondering where Taylor is. Did she go home, or was she scared that I would be there, did Becca take her back to their house? I never thought I’d be one of the people in her life that she would have to be afraid of. Now I’m the one who’s scared, I’m terrified that my actions tonight will have ruined everything with her. The look on her face said it all, the way she jumped when I half heartedly reached for her drove the nail into my chest a little deeper.
I’m listening to them talking, and little snippets here and there creep into my brain, but I’m not really listening. I move to sit up and instantly regret it, lightning bolts of pain shoot up my arm and before I know it I’m gasping for breath.
“Jesus…” I spit out, realizing for the first time just how horrible a broken hand is going to be.
“I’ll call the nurse,” my father offers.
“No! It’s my own damn fault…” I nearly scream the pain is so great.
“Elliot?” my father says shocked by my outburst.
“What? What do you want me to say, dad? Do you realize how badly I screwed up? Not just this, and well this is pretty damn bad for someone like me, but as far as Taylor goes, I planned on proposing to her tonight…now…now it doesn’t matter. She isn’t going to want someone who acts the way I did tonight, someone who can lose their shit and not stop…” I cried.
“Elliot, this isn’t you…” my father says before Joe interrupts.
“Elliot, this happened. In a way I saw this happening for a while. Did I expect you to beat the shit out of someone, no… But you did, and you will get through this, whatever the consequences. It isn’t something you can hide anymore and I think that is a good thing,” Joe says.
“How is losing her a good thing, Joe?” I say softly.
“I never said you were going to lose her. You don’t know what that girl can handle…” he answers.
“And I don’t know what she won’t…” I seethe.
“Dad, uh, sorry, I’ll come back,” Ethan says popping his head in the room before seeing the scene in front of him.
“No, stay… it’s fine,” I say watching his hesitation.
Before we can go on the doctor is in the room he hesitates momentarily, obviously sensing the mood before he clears his throat, “Elliot, you were quite lucky in that it’s just a few hairline fractures, six weeks tops, shouldn’t give you any problems after the cast comes off. You’ll need to adjust your daily routine some I’m sure but after a few days you should be able to work around it. I’d like to stitch up the laceration to your cheek and then we’ll get you casted, any questions?”
“Six weeks?” I ask.
“We can reevaluate in four but my guess is that with the need to use that hand it may take a little bit longer for everything to heal properly,” he answers.
“When can I leave?” I ask, now itching to get out of here.
“Once we know that the cast is set I’d like to see you move around a little before we decide that but my guess is morning…” he chuckles a bit.
“Thanks doc, can we get started then?” I wonder.
I ask everyone to leave for a few minutes because thinking about it I can’t remember when I cathed last. I ask my father to send a nurse in when he leaves and sure enough it isn’t three minutes before I’m asking for supplies. The realization of just how incapable of functioning without my right hand I am hits me as I can’t even open the packages. Flashes of just after my accident rip through my mind before I have to call the nurse back in.
“I uh… I’m going to need some help…” I say through gritted teeth.
I decide to just let her do it, I look away. I haven’t had to have someone else do this in such a long time. I throw my left forearm over my eyes to sheild myself from the embarrassment and silently she does what needs done.
“Elliot, I’m finished,” she says softly.
“Uh, thanks…” I answer, allowing myself to look again.
“Is there anything else you need?” she asks with a smile.
“No, no nothing else…” I say.
A fierce wave of fear washes over me, wondering if once the cast is on I’ll be able to do this and if not, what I’m going to do about it. The repercussions just keep stacking up.