Story Go Round 01/03/2004, round 1, #3

A Vow of Silence

Time had never been his friend, and now here he was, laying in the hospital in traction. Pretty nurses giggled at him as they passed in the halls, carrying trays of pills. Weariness stole over him, then a wave of self-pity lapped at his consciousness. He wished for blissful unconsciousness, but it continued to elude him cruelly. Did a New Year's Resolution made in a drunken revelry still count? The events that had followed that last drink replayed in his mind.

The snow and wind had bitten him as he walked to his car, and he had figured that should be enough to cure the effects of five cocktails. He hadn't even noticed his girlfriend napping in the passenger seat, huddled under a quilt. At the party he had stood on the coffee table, waved his arms wildly and called for everyone's attention. He wanted to make his Resolution public, accountability was important, so he shouted over the blasting music:

"I want you all to be my-" "-mud on your face-" "-come to a very important-" "-kicking your can all over-" "-never again will I allow myself to-" "-rock you, rock you-" "-even if it's free." The girl in the low-cut cashmere sweater who joined him on the table thought he was good for a boogie. The indifference of the crowd to his future had finally disgusted him enough to try driving. He couldn't see Sheena anywhere. She'd mocked him viciously in the car on the way over when he'd told her, so he was just as happy to blow her off as the rest of the hateful ingrates he used to call friends.

He grabbed his jacket and started his way toward the door, then stopped when it hit him that Sheena had given him that jacket because she was embarassed by his old parka. "You look like a gangster," she had said. The irritation had still been driving him as he gunned the car's motor. The fact he was putting poor Sheena in danger as he fuzzily eyed the road barely occurred to him. She was snoring daintily under the quilt, and had obviously been sick in the back seat. He touched the button and both the windows in the front sped steadily down, filling the vehicle with a crisp chill. Snowflakes swirled in, conferred briefly, then settled down on the dashboard. He caught himself watching them melt.

The fence caught him totally by surprise. One moment he was lost in the motion of dying snowflakes, the next, there was a sudden crunch. And then silence. And then pain.

It was Sheena who hiked two miles to find a phone to call an ambulance, and Sheena who rode in the ambulance with him. She had slid down onto the floor when the impact came, and aside from bruised knees and ankles, she was okay. His debt to her was boundless. Thinking of her in his now pitiful state, with bubbly feelings of fondness, he remembered the New Year's resolution and he groaned. You can't give it up now, he thought fiercely, last year you resolved not to break New Year's Resolutions within 24 hours of making them. I will keep this one, I never will allow myself to ... no matter what they say ... The pain medicine kicked in finally and his face relaxed - he looked like a completely different person.

So it was that his mother thought she was in the wrong room when she came to visit him. She returned five minutes after her initial appearance and stared at him for a moment. "Car wrecks don't agree with you, dear," she said. "Where is that lovely woman who rescued you?"

"Right here," said Sheena from the chair next to his bed.

"Sorry, love," his mother mumbled distractedly, not even looking at her as she began to straighten the blankets and fluff the pillows around her sleeping son. Sheena gave her a look, then picked up Adam's hand and began stroking it. For a moment the rhythmic beeping of the heart monitor was the only sound in the room. It became irregular. There was a panic of motion.

His breathing came in harsh gasps, then stopped. Sheena pressed her lips to him in an attempt to resuscitate, but found them tightly closed. No effort would pry them open. She did not know it was her will against his when it came to being resuscitated. The New Year's resolution did its work. He slipped deeper into inky blackness.

Amber is purple; John is pink; Alan is blue; Terry is orange