Ticking

July 16, 2020
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I looked up at the clock for what felt like the hundredth time, and just like all the other times, it stared back at me, quietly moving its arms and creating the usual ticking sound of a clock. It was as if it was taunting me, letting me know that I had been waiting for hours to hear any news, and with each 'tick' reminding me that it would be hours before I heard anything at all, but that at any second something could go horribly wrong. 


I tapped my index finger against the plastic arm of the chair, creating a sound that was a rhythmic copy of the clock's ticking. My eyes connected with a set of doors, and my stomach flipped around as I awaited the person I longed to see walk through them. I looked back to the clock, it was still there, ticking away... taunting me. I could practically hear it saying; 


"Another hour down, five more to go," with every tick. 


I glared at the white object, but slowly my gaze softened. It wasn't the clock's fault that the boy I loved was in an operating room with surgeons by his side as they all, including himself, fought to keep his heart beating. My finger stopped tapping, but my heartbeat remained fast in my chest. Every time the door opened, my head turned to it like lightning, only to be disappointed when it was a doctor who I didn't recognise, but each time, someone else in the waiting room did. 


It had been a freak accident. The accident that lead to this very moment. I had been driving along the road, calmly, joyously singing along to the soundtrack of my favourite musical, when all of a sudden a car turned around the corner of the side street ahead of me. I hadn't seen them, and they hadn't seen me. I slammed on the brakes, but by the time I did, it was too late... my car had already slammed directly into the driver's side of the other vehicle. 


When I came to, my ears were ringing with a high pitched, bell-like noise. As my vision cleared, I managed to lift my head, looking at the car in front of me... the car I had collided with. My heart sunk as I realised that I recognised the car, and my worst nightmare was confirmed when I saw that stupid, loveable head of black, curly hair. Tears had poured into my eyes and before I could stop them, they had rolled down my cheeks. 


I was sobbing loudly by the time my door was opened by a paramedic. They checked me out, they called me 'lucky'; I got off with barely a scratch, maybe a few bruises... Cooper on the other hand, well, he got everything you'd never want. A broken arm, broken ribs, glass in his face, in his head, a ripped open leg... you could see the bone, a piece of metal pierced through his chest that miraculously missed his heart by mere millimetres, a broken ankle, a broken wrist, some broken fingers, a broken nose... God knows what else. 


The thing was... I was the one who escaped unscathed, but I was far from lucky. Because now I was the one sitting in the waiting room, waiting for a doctor to come out and tell me what I already knew; that I had killed the only boy I ever loved. Yeah, it'd been an accident, but surely I could've paid more attention to the road. Did I look over to a tree and miss a stop sign? Did I look down at the wheel for one second, a second too long, and not see him coming around the corner soon enough? I must've done something wrong... and if I could find out what it was and go back in time to change it... God knows I would. 


The worst part of all this? 


He was driving to meet me. At a cafe, that we always went to. It was routine; every Tuesday at 4:30 pm, we were both off work and we would meet at the cafe. I would order a medium hot chocolate with marshmallows and extra whipped-cream on top, along with one of the amazing white-chocolate and raspberry brownies they made... and he would get a large caramel latte with cinnamon sprinkled on top, as well as a piece of their famous peppermint slice. His favourite flavour was peppermint... is peppermint. 


I looked down at my phone; I had called his mother hours ago... she hadn't called me back. Was she mad? Did she somehow know I was the one responsible for her son being in the hospital? Did she herself get into an accident? 

 

So many questions ran through my mind, faster than my brain could even begin to attempt to answer them. I looked back up to the clock... it'd been another few hours, and still nothing. No news... was that a good thing? Or was it bad? The clock still ticked away... it still taunted me. I slumped down in the seat, practically begging the ground to swallow me whole. This... this was what unbearable felt like. 


"April Nerin?" My head snapped over to the direction my name had been called from. I had been slumped in the chair for the past hour, looking up at the taunting clock every now and then, but upon hearing my name I had immediately sat up straight. I felt my shoulders tense as I mentally prepared myself for the bad news that I was more than likely going to get. 


I watched as the doctor walked towards me, and with every step she took, my heartbeat increased. It was as if she was walking in slow-motion, I could hear as she took each step... and I could hear the way her steps matched the rhythm of the clock. As the doctor sat next to me, I felt my heartbeat slow... it slowed right down as the world around me became fuzzy. My throat felt as if it had closed up, and all I could hear was the clock ticking away. As my eyes tried to focus, I saw the doctor... her face was blurry, but I could see the way her eyes widened as she looked over her shoulder to call for help. I slid from the chair, landing on my side on the cold floor of the hospital waiting room. 


Maybe I hadn't been so lucky after all. 


The last thing I saw was the doctor looking into my eyes, and behind her, a figure running towards us, with a skirt that was extremely familiar... it was Cooper's mum... she'd made it to the hospital after all. The last thing I smelt was the disinfectant hand sanitiser that was placed in many bottles all over waiting room; on tables, hanging from a holder on the wall... everywhere. The last thing I felt was the rubber gloves against my skin as the doctor frantically checked my face, my head... everywhere. The last thing I tasted was the peppermint chewing gum I'd had earlier... before the accident. And the last thing that I heard before everything went black, and silent... was the taunting, rhythmic ticking of the clock. 


Maybe the clock wasn't taunting me after all... maybe it wasn't counting down the minutes until I found out the result of Cooper's surgery. Maybe it was counting down the hours, minutes, seconds... until I died. 

 


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