At first, he thought he had gone blind. There was only
darkness. Then he realized his eyes were closed, but when he tried to open them, he failed. He heard voices speaking in hushed whispers; an urgency in some of them, the rustle of clothing,
shoes squeaking on polished tile floors. And other strange sounds encircled him. Beeping noises. Alarms ringing. Something was making whooshing and
The sharp smell of disinfectant hung heavy in the air, and
something else, something tangy and coppery. A foul odor Rob had never smelled before.
He tried to lift his arms but couldn't. He tried to move
his legs, but they held fast. He opened his mouth to scream, but there was something stuck deep in his throat.
The panic rose in him, choking him. He needed to
breathe but was afraid he couldn't with his throat clogged. He started thrashing around. He made guttural sounds, wanting to call for help.
The tears rolled from his eyes.
"Hey, hey, we'll have none of that."
He hadn't heard her approach. When she drew close enough,
he reached out a hand and found her uniform, started pulling on it, trying to bring her closer.
"Stop, Mr. Starre," she said, grasping his hand,
forcing him to let go of her. "You're only making things worse for yourself."
She touched his eyes, removing something holding
them down. He opened them, then closed them immediately, making the guttural sound from his throat.
"Too bright? Let me fix that."
He saw the room darken through
his closed eyelids. Slowly he opened them.
"You're in the emergency room," she explained as
she closed the curtain on the window. Dressed in a white uniform, her brown hair pinned up on top of her head showed streaks of gray through it. She wore no
make-up. Her pantyhose swished on her thighs as she walked. "You were brought in with an overdose. You've been intubated because you weren't breathing on your own." She turned around and
looked him in the eye. "You almost died, Mr. Starre."
Rob touched the tube that disappeared
into his throat.
The nurse nodded. "Yes, that's what that is.
There's no need to panic."
Somebody strapped both of his hands and feet to the side
of the bed. He saw the bag of fluid hanging near his bed. The fluid flowed into the needle stuck in his hand.
He shook his head no, trying to point at
the straps holding him down and the tube in his throat.
The nurse gazed down at him, the sympathy plain
on her face. "I'm sorry, I can't do anything about that. You'll have to wait for the doctor. He should be in soon. You just need to relax." She picked up the remote and turned the television on,
lowering the volume. "There, that's better."
The guttural sounds came
from Rob again as he tried to speak.
"Don't do that," the nurse stepped closer.
“If you keep that up, you won't be talking to anyone. You'll ruin your voice. You need to stop fussing. Your doctor will be in soon, and he'll remove the ventilator."
After straightening his blanket and checking his IV,
the nurse flashed a quick smile and left.
Terror flashed in his eyes. Ruin his
voice? His voice was everything. He had a contract to fulfill. He couldn't lose his voice. He couldn't stay here. He was leaving to go on tour. Right now, he didn't know what day it
Rob started thrashing about in the bed
again, trying to loosen the straps. The tears streamed from his eyes, making his nose run. With the tube in his throat and
his nose clogged with mucus, he thought he would surely suffocate. His panic set in and now controlled him.
He dripped sweat. His sheets grew damp beneath him.
Exhaustion was trying to overtake him, and he was ready to cry when the curtain opened.
"Oh, Rob!" Lucy cried, rushing to the side
of his bed. "Look at you. You're soaking wet."
The guttural sounds returned. Rob's eyes
greedily drank in the sight of her. He tried to say her name, but it was no use. Instead, he raised his fingers to her.
She took his hand. She lowered her face to his and kissed
him on the cheek. "Don't worry, Rob. You won't be in here much longer. I'm getting you out of here."
to cry again.
"Shh, baby," she smoothed his hair from his
forehead, letting her cool hand rest in place. "Don't try to talk. I don't know why you did it, Rob, and I promise not to hound you about it. I just hope it wasn't my
Rob rolled his head back and forth on
"I'm glad. Do you know why you did it?"
Rob shrugged his shoulders.
"It's okay. We can talk about it when you get out of
here." Lucy placed a hand on his face and caressed his cheek. "I'm going to run by your place and get some clothes for you. As soon as they get these tubes out of you, I'm taking you
Rob gave her a grateful blink with his
"I love you, too, baby," she whispered, kissing
his cheek one last time. "I'll be back soon, I promise."
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