When Gus finally awoke, he was hooked up to an IV and the room around him was dark. Where was everyone? He had been tucked into a private room somewhere in the hospital, but he couldn’t see anyone from his vantage point.
He fumbled around and found a nurse call button and waited. A handsome older woman stepped into the room and held her hand to Gus’s wrist, then to his forehead.
“How are you feeling?” the nurse asked in a quiet, comforting voice.
“Is Alex gonna be okay?” Gus’s mouth was dry and his throat scratchy.
“It speaks volumes that the first words out of your mouth upon waking was to ask about your friend.” She pursed her lips and glanced at the machines, noted the amount of fluid left in the IV bag, and then looked back at him. “Your mom’s just out in the waiting room on a phone call. I’ll go tell her you’re awake.”
The nurse left and Gus’s mom hurried in, completing her phone call and tucking her phone in her purse.
“Hi honey,” his mom said.
“Is Alex gonna be okay?” Gus asked.
“He’s in a coma, and the doctors aren’t sure when—or if—he’ll come out of the coma. But his vitals are good, and all signs point to an eventual recovery. It was touch and go for a while.”
“Can I see him?”
“No, honey, he’s in the Intensive Care Unit and won’t be able to receive visitors until he’s no longer in the ICU.”
“What happened to me? Why am I still here? I thought I was being discharged.” And going to jail, he added in his head.
“You had a mild nervous breakdown, that’s all. It’s a common thing to happen after a traumatic event like that.”
“Can I go home soon?” Gus asked. “I want a shower.”
“We brought you some clean clothes,” his mom said, then looked to the nurse and raised her eyebrows.
“Why don’t I get this IV out of your arm and you can take a shower while you’re waiting to be discharged,” the nurse suggested.
“Can I get some water too?”
“Of course,” she answered. “Let me go get that for you and I’ll tell the doctor you’re ready to be discharged. He’ll want to look you over just a little to make sure you’re clear to leave.”
She left for a few minutes and Gus took the opportunity to allow a few tears to flow down his face. Then he took his mom’s advice.
Hey God, if you even exist, please don’t punish Alex for my stupid choices. Please let him live.