|nishka//loki (nishka) wrote in paxletalelogs,|
@ 2018-01-02 22:22:00
How To Disappear Completely
Who: Nish, Jen and Lucas
What: Nish, broken in more ways than one, is taken care of by an old friend.
Where: Nish’s Apartment
When: Saturday, December 16, 2017
“Okay, tilt your head back a bit,” Jen said, angling the spray of water over Nish’s hair and shielding her eyes, rinsing the soap out. Nish quietly obeyed, closing her eyes and silently letting her friend take care of her.
“There,” she said, shutting off the water and squeezing her hair out. Very gently, she guided Nish to sit up in the tub, gingerly touching her back in order to not cause any more jostling than necessary. She turned and grabbed a towel, lightly drying her hair and wrapping it up on top of her head, and then carefully dried off the rest of Nish’s body with another towel. More careful movements, and more wincing and whimpering, and she was pulled up to stand. Jen carefully helped her into a pair of loose sleep pants and a button-up night shirt, covering up the angry looking cuts and bruises littering her skin. Nish whimpered in pain, taking shallow breaths even though the doctors had told her not to. Jen noticed and frowned slightly.
“Hey no,” she scolded gently, “stop that; breathe,” she instructed, watching Nish’s silent dirty look as she struggled to comply, holding her broken and casted arm against her chest for stability, her cracked ribs causing stabs of pain with each breath. “I know it hurts,” she said sadly, “but it’ll be worse if you don’t.” The doctor had told her that people with cracked ribs were at risk for pneumonia if the pain caused them to not take normal breaths, which was why they no longer bound the ribcage for those injuries. As it was, they’d stabilized her ribs with a few tensor bandages, but it was only gentle pressure.
She helped her out of the tub and back to her bedroom, carefully getting her back in bed and settled in as comfortable as possible. “Thank you,” Nish whispered sadly, eyes unfocused and full of tears. Jen startled at the sound, surprised, and then smiled softly down at her, sitting on the edge of the bed and leaning over to gently smooth hair out of Nish’s face.
“Hey, no problem,” she said, happy just to hear her voice again. Nish hadn’t spoken more than a handful of words since the accident, but she hadn’t pushed her at all. She was not only injured, she was grieving. Jen cupped Nish’s face with one hand, gently running a thumb over her cheek in comfort. “I’m happy to do it,” she assured her, “you’re my friend, and I care about you. I’ll be here as long as you need me.” At those words, Nish’s frown deepened into sadness, tears slipping down her face already reddened with emotion. Jen leant forward and pressed a kiss to her forehead. “It’s okay, you don’t have to hide it from me,” she whispered against her skin, cradling her close and letting her cry.
Once Nish had finally fallen asleep, Jen got up and headed out into the living room, picking up a few dishes from the coffee table and bringing them into the kitchen. She started a load of dishes in the sink, and then began making a pot of chicken stew, intending to freeze it in portions, as she already had a few other dishes, so that Nish could microwave them for meals if she wasn’t there to do it for her. She was chopping vegetables and tossing them into the pot when the phone rang, and she answered it.
“Hello, this is Doctor Peters, is Nishka available?” asked a male voice.
“Sorry, she’s sleeping,” she replied, “can I help you?” she asked, putting the call on speakerphone so she could throw the pile of carrots in the pot on top of the chicken, onions and herbs already in there.
“Maybe; is this Jen?” he asked, consulting the note in the chart in front of him.
“Yeah...you’re Lucas, right? Nish told me you’re neighbours.”
“Yes, I live a few floors up,” he replied, happy that they were finally meeting. “How’s she doing? I got the ER report this morning.” Jen frowned and sliced into one of the pile of potatoes in front of her.
“Better than yesterday,” she said carefully. “She actually spoke today, which is an improvement, but she’s in a lot of pain.”
“I can imagine,” Lucas said with obvious sympathy. He flipped through her chart and nodded. “She’s on good painkillers, so that should help. I just wanted to let her - or you - know that if she needs anything I’m right upstairs. I know our other neighbour took the cats and offered to help out too, but I can definitely make house-calls if she needs it.” Jen nodded and dumped the newly chopped potatoes in the pot.
“Thank you,” she said sincerely. “I’ve taken time off work to take care of her, but right now it’s one day at a time for her, you know?” She sighed softly and put the knife down on the cutting board. “I’ve already fended off the police that came looking to talk to her, but she’s nowhere near ready for that yet.”
“I’m not surprised; they need to get a statement from her about what happened, but she’s grieving. If she’s barely talking, they won’t get anything out of her anyway,” he mused. There was a note in the file that they’d already gotten a report from the ER staff. “If they call again you can give them my number and I’ll try to hold them off a little longer.”
“Thanks,” she said with a smile. There was a pause when she wasn’t sure exactly what to say, but then she finally put her thoughts into words.
“Did you know...him?” she asked carefully, wincing slightly as she did. She knew James had lived in the building, so she just assumed they may have met. There was a longer than normal pause, and a soft sigh.
“Yeah, I did,” he replied, sounding tired. “He was a co-worker. There’s a lot of long faces here today,” he said sadly.
“I’m sorry,” she murmured.
“Thanks; me too,” he replied. “But how are you doing?” he asked, “being a caregiver is a difficult job, especially if it’s unexpected.” Jen took a breath and really thought about that question.
“Ohh, I’m alright I guess,” she said honestly, “I had to take time off work so I can be here; I’m a freelance massage therapist, but I work out of two different chiropractic clinics. Both of the owners completely understand, but I’ll eventually have to go back to work so I can pay the bills,” she said with a little grin. He chuckled in answer.
“Okay; I was going to offer you a doctor’s note if your boss was giving you a hard time, but sounds like you’re okay. Just make sure that while you’re taking care of her, you make time to take care of yourself too. I’ve seen too many caregivers burn out fast because they didn’t. If you need anything at all, let me know.”
“I will, thanks. And thanks for calling,” she said, really meaning it.
“No problem; take care.”
She hung up and set the pot on the stove, filling it with water and turning it on to slowly simmer. That done, she set a timer and headed back into Nish’s bedroom, slipping into bed next to her and watching her sleep.
She’d never stopped caring about her, even after they’d broken it off. It had hurt, being ‘cast aside’ when James came back into the picture, and she’d be lying if she said she wasn’t a little resentful of that, but she understood. Old love was hard to forget, and she’d rather it happened the way it did than find out Nish had cheated on her. And now things were...awkward. They were friends, and they had remained friends (albeit a little distant) while James was in the picture, but now the potential was there to maybe someday reclaim their previous relationship. But with Nish still freshly mourning James, that possibility seemed far far away.
Breaking into her thoughts, Nish shifted slightly in bed, turning her head so that she could look Jen in the eye. “Hey,” she murmured, frowning slightly, but the tears were gone.
“Hey,” Jen whispered back, smiling softly.
“Was that Lucas?” she asked. Jen nodded. “He’s a great guy,” she said, the shadow of a smile tugging at her lips, but dying quickly. And then, as if clouds had suddenly passed over the sun, her face crumpled into an expression of pain.
“He’s gone…” she whispered miserably. Jen reached for her good hand, lacing their fingers together and giving them a squeeze. “I see him...every time I close my eyes…”
“I’m so sorry,” she murmured, holding her hand in both of hers and letting her pour out her grief. Tears rolled down Nish’s cheeks again, but she held back from openly crying. She stayed quiet for a long time, clinging to Jen’s hand while tears dampened the sheets.
“He was in hiding,” she whispered finally, and Jen shifted to look at her. “He was in witness protection for four years. And three months after he leaves the program, he’s dead. In an ’accident,’” she added, leaving no doubt that she didn’t believe it had been. The tears had stopped. Now, there was a hardness in her eyes, the set of her jaw. She turned her head to look straight at Jen, transitioning from grief to anger in the blink of an eye. “I’m going to find out who did this to us,” she vowed, her voice now barely audible. And Jen believed her...the determination in her eyes was so powerful, she believed she could do anything.