I promised I’d look after him.
She stepped out of the room, and I erased the board. I sat back beside Brooks and took his hand in mine once more. My cheek fell against his arm, and I went back to taking in every slight movement he made.
“Oh, and, Maggie?” Sasha said, stepping back into the room. “I just want you to know that I see it.” She shifted her feet and gestured toward Brooks and me. “You look at him the same way he looked at those books. Thanks for not being the monster I built you up to be in my mind. I just wish you were a bit ugly, that’s all,” she said with a hint of charm.
I smirked. Ditto.
Mom, Dad, and Jamie told me I’d be okay. They told me how lucky I’d been to come out of the accident with only minor injuries. Minor—bad word choice from my brother, and when he said it he realized his mistake. “Sorry, I don’t mean minor, I just mean…” His words faltered. “I’m just happy you’re here to see another day.”
My eyes darted to my hand, which was wrapped in bandages. I hadn’t spoken a word. People kept coming in and out of the room, smiling at me the kind of grins they gave to kids who lost their puppies.
I felt pathetic.
The band came and sat with me awhile, and the air was thick with guilt. What hurt the most, though, was how they reminded me of music. How they were a reminder of the thing I’d lost in one moment’s time. When the managers came, I’d almost lost it.
“We have to come up with a plan of attack. The media is going bonkers. We need a statement,” Dave ordered.
“We need a break,” Calvin said, short with Dave. “You’re acting like Brooks didn’t just go through a major trauma.”
“But he survived,” Dave said with his sly smile. “Which is the message we should push. We should showcase how strong he is and how for his comeback—”
I huffed and grumbled.
Everyone’s eyes shot to me.
Hours before, I’d been in an accident, and now they were expecting a magical comeback for me.
Dave furrowed. “You know what, let’s give it a day or two. We’ll give it some time.”
When everyone left the room, I sighed, not even knowing where my mind was. I still felt as if I were in that water. When I closed my eyes, I swore I could feel the waves.
The door to my room opened once more, and I wished it hadn’t. I was sick of seeing people, sick of hearing them talk about what a miracle my life was—how lucky I’d been.
My body rotated to the door, and I almost fell from my bed.
She was standing in my hospital room, staring at me, with her hands wrapped around her body. Her blue eyes were bloodshot as if she’d been crying for hours, and her hair was pulled up into a messy bun. She never wore her hair up.
Then again, she never left home.
Was it a dream?
If so, I hoped not to wake.
I parted my lips to ask her what was happening, but my throat burned. It hurt to open my mouth. It hurt to move to my left and turn to my right. It hurt to breathe.
She gave me a tight smile and walked over to my bedside. Taking my right hand, she kissed my palm, and I shut my eyes. I kept trying to clear my throat to speak, but she squeezed my hand once, ordering me not to. So we stayed there, my eyes closed, and Maggie May holding my hand.
She hardly left my hospital room for days. When they offered her a visitor room, set up like a hotel, she declined, holding my hand tighter. She’d curl up into a ball on the small sofa each night and fall asleep. Maggie smiled at me daily, but at night, when she was one with her dreams, I’d watch her twist and turn, and sometimes waking in a sweat. Her demons weren’t gone simply because she left home—but she was trying her best to keep them at bay.
“All right, it’s about that time to get you up and moving around, Brooks,” a nurse said, walking into my hospital room one afternoon. I hated that time of the day. They forced me to walk around the hallways using a walker. Maggie always took the laps with me, and when my left side felt like giving up, and I’d start to fall, she’d leap over to help me, but the nurse ordered her not to save me. “You can come to support, but you can’t help. Don’t worry, I won’t let him fall.”
Halfway down the hall, my chest felt tight, and my breathing grew short. “Back,” I coughed out, my voice hoarse. I wanted to go back to my room and lie down.
“Nope, remember? We’re gonna complete a whole lap before—”
I slammed the walker up and down, my neck throbbing with pain. Back. Back. Back.
It was embarrassing, feeling so weak. My hand hurt. My side burned. My mind was a mess.
The nurse gave me a tight smile, before looking over at Maggie. “I think it’s a good time for a nap.” She winked at Maggie. Maggie frowned, and her worry was loud and clear in her stare.
I grumbled some more. We started back to the room, and after I was placed back into bed, Maggie grabbed a notepad and sat beside me.
You okay today, Brooks?
I squeezed her hand once.
Truth was, I was angry. I was angry at my management team asking what the plan was for the remainder of the tour—even though I wouldn’t be able to play. They brought up all kinds of different plans that included the guys touring without me, replacing me with another performer for a while, and having me hammer out my voice in intense vocal courses.
The scars on my body were nowhere near healed, and they were already treating me as if I didn’t exist anymore. To them, even after ten years of dedicating my life to them, I was nothing more than a paycheck in their eyes.
“We won’t do that,” Calvin argued. “We’ll wait until he’s better,” my best friend told them over and over again.
“Yeah. Without Brooks we’re literally just The Coo. And who the fuck wants to listen to The Coo?” Oliver said.
Rudolph hadn’t said much of anything. He hardly looked at me. I had the feeling he blamed himself for the accident. What I hated the most was the dark corner of my brain that sort of blamed him too. Each day I was becoming less and less of myself. Each day I was a little more bitter. I hated that Maggie sat there watching it happen, too. I hated that she witnessed my destruction.
When the time came for me to leave the hospital, Maggie and I sat in my hospital room while the nurse went to get a wheelchair. My parents had plans for me to come stay with them for a while. To get a nurse to watch over me, so I could focus on healing. But that wasn’t my plan.