Fumbling in the Dark
“Louise! Answer me, are you OK?”
“You’re not a ghost,” I replied. Then, through the pain, I realized that was the wrong reply. “I mean…I…I hurt my head. But I’m OK. I thought I heard voices. Must have been the fall. I’m already feeling much better. I just, erm, I need to get up.”
“Wait!” Jason stepped forward and gave me his hand. “Don’t move too fast. We don’t want you to faint, or anything. Looked like quite a nasty fall from where I was?”
“Where were you? In the bushes again?” Too late I realized what I’d said. Man, falling on your head really isn’t good for one’s conversational skills! “I mean, I saw you going for a walk the other day. I just thought most people don’t walk here at night. You know…shit that hurts.”
Jason had grabbed my hand and I was slowly starting to rise.
“What hurts?” Jason looked concerned, although I could swear he had been smiling at me when I was rambling on about his walk.
“My knee.” I looked up into his eyes, as he frowned and looked at my knee. What was it with those eyes? So big, so brown, so… He was just gorgeous. And I wanted to find out what was in there. Who he was. Like really was. Maybe if I just kept looking into his eyes…
“How bad does it hurt?”
“Uhm.” I’d forgotten about my knee momentarily. Maybe one could hire Jason as a painkiller substitute for the local hospital? Kills pain with the look in his brown eyes… Yeah right. My knee and head still felt pretty awful and my hands didn’t feel great either.
“I…it doesn’t hurt in a bad way, hurt. I mean it’s bleeding. I scraped it. It feels like someone poured acid on it. It stings, I mean. Badly. But that’s a lot of scraped skin, not a big injury.”
“Hmm, let me have a look at it, so you don’t have a stone in there, or something. Maybe you got a deep cut?”
As I struggled to stand up properly, leaning on Jason’s hand, I wasn’t sure if I felt dizzy from the shock of seeing ghosts, falling off my bike, or holding Jason’s hand. Probably a combination. Johanna would love this — so much drama in just one moment.
Once I was standing fairly straight, Jason sat down to inspect my knee.
“You have dirt all over the knee from the gravel. I need to rinse it.”
He looked up at me, as if asking my permission.
“OK.” At that point, I would probably have said OK no matter what he asked. I only wished it was something more interesting than cleaning my knee. Then again, it was JASON cleaning my knee.
He grabbed a bottle of water from his backpack. “This is gonna be wet and cold. OK?”
I tried nodding, but that hurt too much.
“OK.” Maybe my vocabulary had shrunk too?
As Jason poured some water over my bloody knee and torn jeans, I realized he was right: it was wet and it was cold. But it didn’t hurt too much.
“I think it’s just a scrape, but it covers pretty much your entire knee, so it will hurt. Also, you might have banged it and if it was bad there could be an internal injury. I hope it's just a scratch. You had impressive speed and when you fell you slid a meter, or so, on the ground. I had these kind of scratches all the time as a kid. I constantly fell over. It was like a curse.” Jason looked up at me with a smile. “I was a clumsy kid.”
I wanted to say something clever back. I really did.
“Uh, yeah I’ve had a few too. Scrapes. Not the first time I fall off a bike. Normally don’t hit my head, but still.”
Jason looked concerned again and stood up.
“Yeah, about your head, can I see it? I normally only treat animals, but I should be able to figure out if you need to see a doctor, or not.”
Consciously I tried to put my hand to my head where it was hurting.
“No, don’t.” Jason caught my hand just before it went to the wound. “You don’t want your dirty fingers in there and they are dirty after the fall. Actually, let me rinse those too. Also, it’s bled quite a bit, as head wounds do. And you don’t want more blood on your hands!” Then he stopped, realizing what he just said. “I mean that in the literal sense.” He grinned at me.
“Uh, OK.” Really? Was "OK" the only thing I could say? He was so close now and stepping even closer to look at the wound. He smelled nice. Like leather and soap.
“It doesn’t look too bad. How does it feel? Does it hurt a lot?” Jason was busy studying my wound and speaking into my hair. Then he stepped back and looked at me.
“I…I don’t think so. It hurts, you know a pulsating kind of ache, but it’s not too painful anymore. I don’t feel nauseous, or anything. I should probably just bike home and Wilda can put one of her ointments on it.”
I was looking at Jason, who was looking straight back at me. Somehow that was really weird. I felt a strange sensation of butterflies in my belly. It was strange because I had just fallen off a bike, my head, knee and hands hurt and I was starting to feel really cold. Especially my wet knee had started feeling icy. Still, I was also all warm and fuzzy inside, because Jason was next to me.
“I don’t think biking by yourself is a great idea right now. I’ll come with you.” He gave me a small smile and my heart made involuntary jumps. Suddenly it seemed pretty hard to breathe too.
“You don’t have to. I’m sure I’ll be fine. Really, my head is alright. I just want to go home and rest.” Suddenly I remembered my previous daydream about pumpkin spice cake and reading Shakespeare by the fire. That somehow didn’t seem so great anymore, not with an aching head.
Jason shook his head.
“You never leave someone with a head injury alone. I don’t think you have a concussion, but just in case. I could call your aunts for you if you prefer?”
In my mind’s eye, I saw my aunts getting into the Rover and driving to find me while being their overwhelming selves and worrying about how badly hurt I was.
“No, they’d just worry. I’m fine, really.” A part of me wanted to scream that I wanted him to come with me home, another part of me felt disheveled and wanted to go and hide, yet another part felt like I was a big burden on him for crashing his night. Pretty literally.
“No, you aren’t fine. You look like a train wreck, no offense. And leaving a hurt person alone is just unthinkable. Try to reverse the situation. Would you leave someone bleeding on their own?”
Thinking about it like that…no.
“OK, sure. You can come with me. Thank you. I appreciate it. Really. I just don’t think I have a concussion or anything like that. It doesn’t hurt that bad.”
“I know,” Jason smiled, “but I’m coming with.”