A Long Wait
“Visiting for Room 4A.” I stated like clockwork as I reached the front of the line at the hospital. Melancholy engulfed me as the same stark white halls that smelled like antiseptic greeted me on the fourth floor. Another day of waiting. I pushed open the door to Room 4A with nary a creak. The only sound I could hear in this cold room was the steady beeping of a heart monitor. My lips set into a tight line as I took my usual seat beside the host of this room.
Seconds had turned into minutes. Minutes had turned into hours. Hours had then turned into days I counted off dead-eyed from my calendar. The doctor's words on the day of the accident still haunted me. "We don't know when she will wake up." Day after day, his words echoed in my head as I stared at Bailey's lifeless body in her bed. A blanket of misery wrapped around me as guilt flooded my head. My face was ashen from many sleepless nights, and my blood ran cold whenever I thought of the possibility of Bailey never waking up. I could only clutch her tiny, clammy hands with my own, day after day. Waiting. The memories rushed back to me unbidden.
It was all my fault.
It had been a day like any other. A herd of students crowded around me and my best friend, Bailey as we exited our school.
"Ugh, I hate Ms Lim's classes so much. Isn't it annoying how she keeps droning on and on?" I groaned as I stretched out my weary body. Bailey nodded quietly beside me as she always did, but she had a tiny smile on her face. Bailey and I had been best friends since we were in kindergarten. We were nicknamed the Mouse and the Dragon, with Bailey being the timid, petite Mouse and me being the fierce, rowdy Dragon. Unfortunately, Bailey's small stature and cowardly countenance painted a huge target on her back for bullies wherever we went. For the longest time, I had also been her bodyguard, protecting her whenever I could. In return, Bailey was my anchor, reminding me not to go overboard in whatever I did. "It's true that you never finish your homework, though," She reminded me teasingly. I simply rolled my eyes in return with a grin on my face.
I remembered the ravenous sparkle in Bailey’s eyes as I invited her over to my house for curry afterwards. The traffic light turned green, and I took to my heels, bounding ahead. "I almost forgot! Do you want more potatoes? I can ask her!" I called out. I remembered bewilderment colouring my face when I realised that Bailey was sprinting towards me with a panicked expression contorting her face. She was screaming my name. It was only then I realised with horror that a car was careening straight towards me.
I remembered every detail of that incident like a movie I was utterly sick of. I watched the driver at the wheel wake up blearily from where he had dozed off. I heard the screech of tires on tarmac. I felt Bailey's tiny body crash into mine with astonishing force as I flew backwards, the wind knocked out of me.
I smelled the metallic tang of blood.
I scrambled over to Bailey’s mangled body which lay limp, slumped over her backpack. "A-Are you okay, Melly…? Ah, it hurts…" She stammered out, blood oozing from the grievous wound on her forehead. I shook my head mutely as a crowd started to gather around us, muttering in horror. Bailey closed her eyes and I could hear ambulance sirens approaching, but my mind was a blur as we were whisked off to the hospital.
I was overwhelmed by anxiety as I paced back and forth across the hospital lobby. I tried to ignore the sound of Bailey’s mother sobbing while her husband soothed her. A viscous slurry of guilt, anger, despair, and every other awful feeling sloshed around in my belly. My eyes had long since run out of tears to cry as we waited for Bailey’s operation to finish.
Every second of those three hours felt like pulling teeth.
“Bailey’s condition has stabilised,” The doctor had announced. “However, we don’t know when she will wake up,” He added gravely. Bailey’s mother collapsed to her knees. I felt like the air had been sucked out of my lungs all at once. Thus began the longest wait of my life.
My mother's gentle voice snapped me out of my haze. She whispered my name into my ear and lay a hand softly on my shoulder. I nodded numbly, forcing a smile onto my face. "See you later, Bailey," I muttered, offering her a small wave. I would wait for Bailey as long as it took, rain or shine.
I will never forget how horrified I felt when Bailey sacrificed herself to save me from getting hit by a car. Friends are a dime a dozen, but a friend who would sacrifice themselves for you is one in a million. The long wait I will have to go through for Bailey to wake up taught me a priceless lesson to treasure those closest to me.