• P.C. Rogers

Jack Broad Miniseries: Part 2


The next day Shannon was sent through a battery of tests. More ultrasounds and blood work as well as an x-ray for her foot. The prognosis was excellent. Her feelings about it all, though, were mixed. The doctor expected her to be able to go home in ten days.

The blood clot had indeed been original to the accident and explained the pain and occasional swelling in her leg. Even her foot was healing well with the few screws and metal plates that held it together.

She had been taken downstairs for testing in a wheelchair. It was nice to go down the halls sitting up and fully clothed instead of flat out on a bed covered in a sheet. Jack was back in their room when she arrived and the curtain had been left open between their beds. He was rolled away from her, though. His back moved in rhythm as he slept, no doubt making up for last night's lost time.

The nurse that brought her in helped her into bed and left without any more fanfare. The blinds were pulled across the windows and the fan was on, blowing cool air around, but the room was still warm and sleepy. There was a new book from the book cart waiting on her nightstand. Her neighbor was far more entertaining though and her attention was fully focused. This was the first time he'd been visible in the daylight.

Jack had on sweat shorts and a t-shirt. He lay cock-eyed in the bed, his legs and his left arm stuffed awkwardly behind him. His legs were horrifically scarred. It made her own legs cringe with empathy. His calves were littered with pockmarks from shrapnel and his right foot was bandaged to the ankle. She had met enough of Collin's military friends to know that those scars were only the ones that could be seen. The rest were untouchable. Little gaps in the connections between his emotions and memories that seared his dreams and haunted his days. Those men seemed unreachable. Like broken windowpanes that she couldn't imagine how to fit back together.

She picked up her new book to read and in the process knocked something off the nightstand onto the floor. She pulled herself to the edge of the bed and looked over. The shiny dark-brown wrapper of a chocolate bar stared up at her. It had been left under her book on the table by the bed. She was amused by it, a tiny smile creeping across her face as she reached down to grab it.

“Shannon? Are you awake?” She heard her father in law's voice from the doorway suddenly.

“Yeah Dad, come on in.” She grunted with the effort it took to push herself back onto the bed with her candy bar firmly in one hand.

Bill walked in quietly and pulled the chair away from the wall by her bed and sat down. He smiled at her a little but looked troubled. He looked around the space without speaking, almost as though he were avoiding making eye contact. Though he did pull the chair close to the bed and rest his arm beside hers. Finally, Shannon spoke.

“I didn't know you were coming today.” She smiled. Somehow it felt nicer to be around him on their own terms. She loved Heather but she was more tactile and talkative. Bill's quiet ways were soothing in the same way Collin's had been.

“I wasn't planning on it, although I wish I was here every day.”

“What's going on? Is something wrong?”

“No, nothing's wrong.” He pulled an envelope from his pocket and handed it to her, “This came in the mail today for you. I wanted to bring it to you now, before Heather could see it. I don't think she could handle it.”

Shannon knit her brows as she accepted the envelope. She turned it over and read the address. Her stomach fell. It was Collin's handwriting. Despite herself her fingers trembled as she opened the seal and pulled the dusty page free. It was an innocuous letter. He spoke of the weather and vaguely mentioned running supplies from cargo ships and fixing machines. Mostly he talked about missing her, and all the dirty little things a man misses doing to his wife while he's away on the other side of the world. He renewed his promise to start a family and hoped she was surviving alright without him. He ended the letter by promising her that he was safe and would return home soon.

She folded the letter back on its creases and stuffed it back in the envelope. She nodded a little as she bit her lip and stared into space.

“You alright?” Bill said as he smoothed her arm with his wrinkled old hand, snapping her back into reality.

“Yeah. It's just a regular letter. Nothing exciting.”

“How are you doing otherwise?”

“Oh. I was going to call you guys today. The doctor is expecting me to head home in a little over a week.”

“That's great kid!” He gripped her arm, “The surgeries and tests all went well then.”

“Oh yeah. All the pain in the leg was mostly from the blood clot. Apparently there's not even as much nerve damage as they originally thought. I walked today for the first time, actually. They expect me to be on crutches when I leave.”

He stood up and leaned in to kiss her forehead. “I'm so relieved. Heather will be too. We can't wait for you to come home. At least one child can come home.”

His statement hit her like a train. She hated being responsible for their happiness. Yet she felt that she owed them any relief she could offer. She felt as though she were no one's child, and she desperately craved that painful anonymity.

“We'll stop in again this weekend. On Sunday, after church.” He said before walking away.

“Alright. I look forward to it.” She lied, watching him go.

Shannon laid back on the bed and sighed. Her candy bar no longer sounded tasty. And the book didn't seem entertaining. She pulled the letter back out again and reread it. The silly chicken scratch penmanship she knew so well and the terrible grammar. It took nothing away from her being able to hear his strong voice clearly in her mind as she read the words. She even held the paper against her nose to see if there was any detectable scent of him lingering on the paper. But there wasn't.

Finally she folded the sheet up a second time and put it away on the nightstand. She cried silently for a while, with actual real tears. Hating the hospital room and the foreignness around her. She hated the thought of going home. She felt bound by her physical limitations and betrayed by her own body that seemed to be in refusal to strengthen and rally. She desperately wanted to run away and loathed that she was unable. In that moment those things made her cry even harder than the prickly pain of being widowed and missing Collin. Eventually she ran out of tears and laid motionless in the bed waiting for the late evening sun to set. Sleep tugged at her eyelids until she escaped into that oblivion.

A while later she sat groggily in her bed glaring at a blue-clad woman. The nurse that had rudely awakened her threatened her with a psychological evaluation if she refused another food tray. So she picked over the plate the nurse brought her. It was grilled cheese and green beans with pudding and a carton of milk. None of it appealed to her but she did manage to take a few bites, enough to satisfy the woman looming over her. Jack ate his dinner in silence on the other side of the pulled curtain without any meddling attendants.

She hated all of it. Bedtime could not come fast enough. Everything made her angry. The more she thought about her situation the less she felt sorry and the more she felt mad. Seething, even. She wanted to tear things apart. Throw objects around the room and punch things. But instead she closed her eyes and listened to the horrible shrieking inside her bruised mind.

A few nighttime hours had passed without her realizing she'd fallen asleep. She'd woken again to Jack crying out in his sleep. She waited for the nurses to rush in as his yelling and thrashing grew in intensity. The door was shut and no one came.

He'd settle for a few minutes before crying out again in his sleep. After fifteen minutes she finally pressed the nurse call button on the corded plastic remote attached to her bed. But still, no one came.

Shannon sat up on the edge of the bed and squinted at the uneasy man in the dark across from her. She eyed the tables along the wall between them for a long while before finally standing up and grabbing onto her nightstand there. She felt wobbly and uneasy and her legs felt far weaker than the youth in them. The floor under her bare feet felt delightfully cool, however. She ignored the fear of falling and focused on the smooth chilly surface pressed under her feet as she put them down in turn. As she neared Jack's bed he cried out again and flailed around, his arm landed funny, sticking straight out from the mattress.

Shannon considered it a moment before leaning against the nightstand and taking his hand.

“Jack?” She whispered. His fist clenched around her hand in surprise and he sucked in a breath as he woke. “You're alright. It's just a dream.”

His face was pressed between the pillow and the mattress where she couldn't see his eyes. She'd still had yet to get a good look at his face. All she knew was he was tall and had blond stubbly hair, like most soldiers. She held his hand on her lap as she rested against the nightstand. He didn't try to take it away, so she sat silently in the dark.

A relieving wash of cool emotions coursed through her. It felt good to silence someone's fears. To be useful. It took her mind off her own frustrating issues. Although the selfish question of where her own savior from self was grew out of the dark quiet space around her. Her champion, as it just so happened, was under six feet of hard Texas soil.

Suddenly the door flew open and a nurse dashed in. She glanced at Shannon's bed and flicked on the little light above the bed before glancing around the room.

“What's this?” She asked quietly, walking up to them.

Jack pulled his hand away and rolled over, blocking everything out.

“Just a nightmare. Can you help me to bed.”

“You are not his nurse and it is not your responsibility to care for him. You should not be up walking around unattended. Do you want to tear something or get hurt and have to start all over?” She nurse chastised her as she helped her across the room to her own bed.

“You know, last time I helped myself it dislodged a blood clot and not only saved my life but solved all the pain I was in.”

“Humph.” The nurse chuffed, carefully placing Shannon's feet on the bed. “We just had a man flatline unexpectedly. I am not interested in any more catastrophes or disasters. Stay in your bed until someone comes to get you.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah.” The nurse said with attitude, “My floor, my shift, my rules.”

“Aye Aye, Cap'n.” Shannon spouted, saluting her as she paced out of the room indignantly. “I'll do what the hell I want, when I want. My life, my time, my fricking rules.” She said just quiet enough so the leaving nurse couldn't hear.

She heard a faint chuckling from Jack on the other side of the room. His bed made noises as he got comfortable and he punched and fluffed the crackly plastic-covered hospital pillow under his head.

“Man. Now I'm just ticked off again. I swear I spend half my time either feeling sorry for myself or so angry I want to break anything or anyone I see. I was so angry earlier I fell asleep.” She said in her best angry voice.

Jack only chuckled again.

“It's not funny, Jack. It's serious. There was nothing to break so I just closed my eyes and screamed in my head until I passed out. And now I'm not tired.” She laid back and moaned irritatedly. “Everything effing blows.”

She counted the little square ceiling tiles for a while. She imagined the quiet ticking of the wall clock getting immeasurably louder with each passing second. Even the comforting whir of the fan blades eventually took on an annoying inconstant wobbling sound. She felt her pulse and blood pressure throb in her head. She still hated everything.

“Are you awake?” He said, not at all quietly.

“Yeah.” She jumped a bit at the sound of his voice. It was the first time he'd bothered to interact with her directly.

He didn't say anything else. Shannon broke into the silence.

“You got the remote over there?”

“Yeah.” His voice was low and gravely.

“Can you turn something on?” She looked at the tv on the wall before them. It was silly that there were two beds and a single television in the room. But apparently it saved significant costs hospital-wide.

“Yeah.”

She heard him fumble around on his bed and nightstand looking for it. Jack sat up and reached for the wheeled tray nearby and pulled it to him.

“How about any other words? You do speak English, don't you? Or is 'yeah' all you got?” She tried to sound lighthearted, but it came out irritated instead.

Jack grunted with the exertion of reaching the table and sitting back up again. He took a deep breath as though he were preparing himself mentally for pressing buttons and replying. It whooshed out his nose noisily. Finally, he pressed the power button.

“Yup.” He answered in a devilish tone.

She looked at him in the light of the television. He had an ornery grin on his face, pleased with himself for his facetious reply as he channel surfed. Shannon couldn't help but smile too. She shook her head and inclined her bed as she watched the channels flip by.

“No, stop. Go back.” She said, pointing. “To the nature show. Yeah.”

He laid the remote down on the nightstand and sat his own bed up to watch television with her.

“I've seen this before. It's really interesting. It's about hurricanes and thunderstorms. They have an awesome home video from this guy that filmed a tornado as it crossed his back yard.”

“Huh.” Jack said.

“You mind watching it? Or you wanna watch something else?” She turned to look at him again. He looked like an ordinary guy. And it felt good to be doing something as ordinary as talking and watching television with another person. “I don't mind. We can watch whatever.”

He hadn't looked at her yet, and still didn't as he considered the show.

“This works.” He finally stated.

“Wow. Two whole words.” She muttered.

They sat without talking and watched the flickering images of the program. The volume was only loud enough to hear if they were silent and didn't move. Shannon didn't want to ask him to turn it up because the more she watched the sleepier she became and she wanted to be able to fall asleep without needing the television turned off.

“I get to go home in ten days.” She announced suddenly. “I'm terrified. I don't think I can do it.”

The screen showed a video of hurricane-force winds tearing roofing from buildings and bending traffic signs. Jack didn't answer. His head rested on his arm and one of his knees was bent. He looked like he might be on a recliner in the comfort of his own home, as if everything were normal in life. Shannon stared straight ahead, too, struggling to imagine what the new 'normal' of her life would be like.

She sighed terribly, “I wish I could just run away. I so want to run away.” Then she chuckled sickly, “I don't even have a car to leave in. It was totaled in the accident. I suppose I'd have to buy a new one with the insurance money from Collin's death. God this sucks. Why'd he have to leave me? Why the hell did I fall in love with a soldier? How the frick did he manage to die hundreds of miles from any war?” She felt like screaming. Instead, she whispered, “I just want him back. I want my life back.”

She slammed her head back on the mattress and kicked her good leg against the foot of the bed defiantly. The television told them about El Nino and mudslides. Shannon chewed her lip and tried imagining various ways she might escape ever going back home. Nothing seemed possible except facing that heartache. It made her chest constrict and feel flighty. Suddenly Jack's quiet voice pulled her out of herself.

“Lucky bastard.” He mused to himself.

“Excuse me?” She said, irritated and not following him.

Jack turned and looked at her blankly. His eyes were angry and intense, but he didn't really seem to be focusing on her, as much as at her.

“I said, 'lucky bastard'.” He pulled his shirt off clumsily, moving slowly like a man who's injured. His chest reveled the same puffy red scar as her own, as well as many pockmarked scars that matched his legs. “No one loved me when I died.”

“Sure they did. Family or friends. An old flame. There's always someone.” She waved her hand at him, trying to brush him off.

“Nope. No one.”

“Really?”

“Yeah.” He looked back at the television, throwing his shirt away in disgust. “Can't love you if you don't have any.”

“Man. You were built for the military.”

“It was better than prison.”

She shrugged in agreement and fell silent for a while before speaking again.

“Where did you serve?”

“Everywhere. This is from Iraq.” He gestured at the constellation of red and purple marks on his chest.

“But we're not in Iraq anymore.” She pointed out.

He rolled his head around, stretching his neck and rubbing it a little with the hand his head rested against. “There's still military personnel there. We oversee security for the government while they're rebuilding. Glorified fricking police. Babysitting the Iraqi army, making sure they get trained and armed right.”

“That sounds fun.” She said with sarcasm.

“It's a blast.” He said dryly.

“Sorry you got hit.” She said, more sincerely. She really did hate the brutality and effects of war. Even before it cost her her husband.

“It was supposed to finish me off. And it did. Except some bastard medic on a flight home managed to get the old ticker pumping again.” He tapped the left side of his chest, “I've been busy the last eight months having the little bits of metal picked out of me to keep me alive. Might as well get patched up and go back and try to get killed again.”

“How many times over so far?”

“Six.”

“Lifer.” She chided.

“You bet.”

“Maybe someone would have loved you when you died if you weren't gone all the time getting killed. Love doesn't just fall in your lap, you know.”

“No, I wouldn't know.” He said, flipping the television off without asking.

“You're old enough to know.” She reclined her bed and fluffed her pathetic hospital pillow. “Thanks for the candy. I was excited about it until...” She trailed off, suddenly remembering the letter she'd forgotten.

Jack stopped talking. Just as fast as the fountain of conversation had begun it dried up. He rolled over and shut her out. Reminded of her losses and saddened she did the same.

~*~



“Do you remember that show with the transforming dinosaurs? I loved that show as a kid. There was one that changed into some kind of cat or something. That was that show, wasn't it? I had the action figure.” Shannon droned on about unimportant subjects in the dark.

Another five nights had made it a routine. At one point or another, they'd grow bored, angry, or overwhelmed and simply fall asleep. At some other point in the night Jack's nightmares would wake her up and she'd stagger over to his bed and calm him down.

She had crutches now, although she lacked the strength to shuffle about with any great speed. It felt incredible to be upright and in control of her own movement. She had five more days until she left and she was determined to walk with only the protective boot on her foot. As a result, she exhausted herself cruising about the room whenever she wasn't in testing or physical therapy. By the time darkness fell she was in more pain and subject to more exhaustion than she could hardly stand. But she was making progress in leaps and bounds.

“You still haven't said where you grew up. I'm assuming its somewhere in the area. It seems so dry lately. I know its always dry in Texas, but I just don't remember it being so ungodly crisp when I was a kid.” She paused to yawn. “Have you ever been to Freeport? Down there between Corpus Christi and Galveston? My mom had a boyfriend when I was a teenager, a real asshole. I hated him. But he had a place down there and we used to visit it a lot. God, it was beautiful. Not the town, but the outlying area. There's a park down there, Hurst something. I'm one of those odd girls. I love camping. You can camp on the beach out there. The sun rises over the gulf. It's like magic. You should go some time. When you're not trying to get killed.”

Shannon sighed. Jack was having one of his quiet nights. He actually hadn't spoken more than a word or two since the evening they watched television.

She'd forgotten about camping. She let herself remember that part of life. Life before Collin. She had always been carefree and adventurous. Now she just hated everything. She wondered how to get back to that place. Surely it was possible. She just couldn't imagine how.

Eventually, she ran out of energy even for talking and drifted off to sleep. She dreamed about Collin that night. But not a pleasant dream. She was roaming places searching for him and would catch a glimpse of him only to lose sight of him when she ran closer. By morning she woke up out of breath and grumpy with sadness.

Her doctor was reading her chart at the end of her bed. He smiled at her as he finished the last page.

“You're doing incredibly well, Shannon. I wouldn't have expected you to make such progress in such a short period of time.” He doubled checked one of the pages. “You're not even taking pain medication? It's been almost three days I see.”

She nodded. “I'm stubborn.”

“That's the best way to be in this situation.” He sat down as usual on the edge of her bed and patted her good leg a little, “Be careful pushing yourself too hard. The nurses said they've seen you in here walking around with your crutches. Your leg and foot are doing wonderful and they're ready to be used. But you've had major heart surgery only a couple weeks ago. Take it easy. I want that artery fully healed before you take on any strenuous activities. You'll be all set for that when you get home.”

“But it feels good to be mobile.”

“Just the same. Take it easy. You have another ultrasound today for the heart and the leg- just to check on how those arteries are healing. If everything looks good it'll be the last test until the day you leave.”

“Sounds good to me.” She sat up and inclined her bed as he left.

Jack was already awake. He laid motionless staring at the ceiling. There was no time to strike up a conversation because the morning routine of arguing with a nurse about breakfast was about to start. The evil cart of unappealing foodstuffs was pushed through the doorway and a tray offered to her and Jack.

The nurse she argued with had big crazy brown hair and bright blue eye-shadow. She was pear-shaped and followed on the heels of the tray cart. She took up her station at the foot of the bed and watched Shannon with a level stare. Shannon felt like a child. It was infuriating. But she managed to eat a whole egg and half a piece of toast and drank all of her orange juice before shoving the plate away from her.

“Take the banana. Eat it later.” The gruff painted woman stated, pointing at the fruit with a fat finger. Shannon obeyed. Even though she hated bananas, even on her best days.

Her first daily task was completed. She felt liberated. Especially since she was then able to take herself to the bathroom without any help. While there she decided she definitely wanted to shower, except she had no toiletries. In fact, she had no personal belongings at all besides her wallet. She swung her way back to bed and dialed the gift shop downstairs to request some items for showering.

The thought occurred to her to call her bank. The woman on the phone checked her balance for her. The insurance money from Collin's death had already been cleared to her account. It made her sick to think about. It was only fifty thousand. All the money in the world couldn't have sufficed to make a dent in her loss.

A sudden thought struck her. What if she just didn't go home? She remembered, as a very young child, her mother's parents buying a car from home. They just called the dealer and told him what they wanted and they delivered it. Surely she could do that? She could pay cash, she did have her checkbook. She could just leave. Her right foot was good. She could drive. It was a big nation and she could slip away into ambiguity. Disappear.

She brooded on her idea the rest of the day. Even though the strenuous torture of physical therapy she imagined different scenarios. The more she considered it all the more she felt like fleeing. She'd never have to feel terrible again. She could just disappear and be a different person with a different life. Like Collin never happened. There would be no one to remind her of him. She'd learn to forget.

But how could she abandon Collin's parents? They had been so good to her in the years they'd been together. They'd been her constant support while Collin was deployed. Without them, she had no one. The grim reality of it though, to her, was that there really was no one even with them. She was alone. And she cared less and less about anyone else as the days slipped past. Even herself.

Shannon asked for a phone book from the nurse's station and set about calling car dealers in the immediate area. It proved to be not as simple as she imagined to convince a salesperson to believe her story. Thankfully a Chevy dealer on the other side of Dallas finally relented. After running down a used inventory list she settled on a little Silverado truck with a cap on the bed. It was only five years old and wouldn't make too big a dent in her savings. The salesperson was a sympathetic woman and agreed to come over as soon as Shannon's bank could fax over proof of funds.

That night she hobbled across the room to the window with her new set of keys. She pressed the lock button on the remote and waved it around, seeing if maybe the vehicle would respond from her fourth-floor vantage point. Sure enough, a grayish-tan pickup's lights flashed from deep in the parking lot below. She grinned to herself. One thing accomplished. She had a getaway car.

Jack slid up some distance from her and looked out the windows too. “New car?” He asked casually.

“Truck.” She pressed the button and the lights flashed. She gestured in that direction.

He nodded and limped back to his bed. Shannon shuffled back to her own with the aid of a single crutch. She'd been pushing herself while alone to use only one instead of two whenever possible. It was making her arms sore but she felt her legs growing stronger.

“When do you get out of here, anyway?” She mused as the setting sun cast them in a huge shadow from the building around them.

“Eventually.”

“You've been in here over a week and all we do is stare at the ceiling. Let's play cards or something.” She grabbed a deck that had been laying in her table drawer from someone before her and hopped over to his bed without asking.

Jack looked stiffly at her, as though he were trying to decide if he welcomed her invasion of his personal space or not. Shannon was too burnt out to care. There wasn't a thing in the world that amused her but a game of cards sounded diverting. She waved her hand at his feet before crawling up onto the area they vacated.

“Grab your table.” She said as she shook the cards from their little box and shuffled them in her lap. Jack pulled the wheeled piece of furniture between them and she dealt out hands of rummy.

She set the deck down and turned over the first card and set to putting her hand in order. Jack only stared at the little pile of cards on his half of the table. Shannon pushed them a little closer to him with one finger.

“You do know how to play rummy, right?”

“Yeah.” He said indifferently.

“Good. It's your turn.”

The game picked up pace with each hand. Shannon enjoyed a competitive game, especially when she was already irritated. She laughed excitedly when she caught him discarding a card that could play on her threesome of fours and yelled rummy at him. She followed it by drawing a card that played on his paltry set of tens and emptied her hand with a flourish, slapping the table with an exclamation.

“You didn't even try!” She accused.

Jack shrugged.

“Don't be a tool. Deal!” She stacked up the cards and shoved them in his direction, “This time play like a man. Come on!”

A little smirk pulled his lips into the tiniest of smiles as he shuffled and handed out cards. Again they played a lightning-fast game, and again she beat him. She laughed again, this time pointing.

“You play like a girl.” She chided.

“You are a girl.”

“Yup.” She said halfheartedly, making eye contact with him for the first time in the week they'd spent together.

Something in his brown eyes was sorrowful and pathetic. It pricked her heart. His eyes darted away almost instantly, but she looked at him a little longer. He was like her. Just an average person. Not remarkable, not unpleasant to look at either. But the sadness in his stare was haunting.

She gathered up the cards. They hadn't been keeping score, although she'd taken a mental note of who had been earning more points. She was still in the lead on both counts. The hands were dealt and he drew a card from the pile.

“I have two more surgeries before I'm out.” He said to no one in particular.

“I'm sorry. What for?”

“The little bits of metal stuck in me, some of them worked their way against nerves or into arteries. Little by little the surgeons track them down and pull them back out. Just the deep ones. They just finished getting all of them out of my chest and torso. There's just the two left. One in my shoulder, the other is precariously close to the artery in my left leg.” He waited for her to take her turn.

“I.E.D.?”

“Yeah.” He picked up a card that she laid down and played it from his own hand, “You know what the crazy part is?”

“What?”

“I saw the damn thing coming. You know how it is over there, right? Everyone drives eighty miles an hour everywhere they go, like its still a war zone or something. Well, sometimes it is... We were in the middle of nowhere on some little road in the country, it was probably left over from the war or something. I saw the little bump in the dust and thought, 'huh, wonder if its a bomb?' and boosh!, the whole damn vehicle busted apart around me. And then nothing.”

Shannon played out her hand for the third time, “That sounds terrifying, Jack.”

He shook his head as he shuffled the cards, “Nah. I don't remember anything. Not even being dead. I just remember waking up in the hospital after the first surgery.”

“I'm glad you survived. I might have had to share a room with some silent grumpy guy who's nightmares kept me up all night.” She tried to make light of the awkwardly heavy topic. “Or someone that could have actually beaten me at cards.”

“I could. You just get so excited because you win.”

“How chivalrous.” She'd beat him at another hand and handed out more cards for the next game. “You might like it if I lose. You should try and find out.”

“Nah. I don't want to play anymore.” He shoved his cards at her.

“Suit yourself, sissy pants.” She stacked the cards and stuffed them back in the box.

She sat looking out the window for a minute. Jack didn't move. It didn't feel as though he were looking at her either.

“Go away.” He said with a slightly questioning inflection.

Shannon turned her head quickly from the window. And almost burst out laughing. He looked entirely out of place, as though he was panicked over the situation of a stranger in his space and unsure how to make it stop. The more she looked at him the less she was able to resist until finally, she did giggle.

“Go away? How delicate.” She laughed even harder at his confused face. “Lordy. You've been in the machine so long you forgot how to function!”

“Go away, please?” He offered.

“Oh, that's so much better.”

Shannon shuffled to her bed where she grabbed up her crutches and swung her way to the bathroom. Laughing the whole way. Her toiletries had been delivered long ago and she figured she had just enough energy to get her first independent shower in before the day ended. It was a refreshing end to a busy day.




(TO BE CONTINUED...)


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