It was sunset when I got back to Lorhen County. I dashed towards the old house in the wheat fields. I noticed the fields have been harvested. It looked more like an eerie wasteland than farmland. I promptly knocked on the door. I was a little suspicious to find that the door was unlocked. I went inside and looked around. Everything appeared to be normal. No sign of struggle, and yet, I found no evidence of Luana’s whereabouts. The coffee pot wasn’t on. The oven wasn’t on. All dishes were washed and cleaned. Had she gone to the theater?
I sped upstairs to the bedrooms. Luana’s bed has been neatly folded, as usual. I peeked into the room that I had used during my stay. I noticed the outfit she made for me had been neatly folded on the bed. I noticed there was a thin layer of dust over it. I frowned.
Just then, I heard a car engine ride toward the house. I quickly threw on the outfit and dashed downstairs. I peeked over the living room window. It was a four seated, bright red car. A girl stepped out. I recognized her as Ayanna. She parked her car and started her way up the steps. I bit my lip. She would know where Luana was. But how awkward was this gonna be?
I decided to take a chance and dash onto the front porch. I startled Ayanna and caused her to drop her car keys. She threw her hand to her heart and sighed deeply.
“Sonic…” she exclaimed.
“Ah, heh, hey…Ayanna” I replied, sheepishly.
She picked up her car keys off the ground and threw them in her purse.
“We thought you weren’t coming back” she stated.
“Well, things changed. I needed some time to think.”
I put my hands in my pockets.
“I’ve decided to stay.”
“Really?” She asked, “Well, I hope you get the chance to.”
I raised an eye. I was growing concerned.
Ayanna shifted her weight uncomfortably. I was growing anxious.
“Ayanna, where is she?” I asked again.
Ayanna looked away, played with her fingers for a bit, and sighed.
“Luana’s in the hospital, Sonic.”
I felt like a sword pierced my heart.
“What!?” I exclaimed, “Why!? What happened!?”
“Her car collided with a van a few weeks back,” Ayanna explained, “A mother was disciplining her children and wasn’t paying attention to where she was going. Luana tried to get out of the way, but couldn’t. Thankfully the mom and kids weren’t seriously hurt, but Luana…Her car was totaled. She’s been in a coma for almost two weeks.”
I couldn’t believe this. I lost my entire island, and everyone I loved, and now I almost lost Luana too!? I slowly sunk to the porch steps and gazed down at the ground, eyes widened.
“I shouldn’t have left…” I breathed.
“Sonic, no one is angry at you for leaving,” said Ayanna, “I can’t even begin to imagine what you went through, what you’re still going through!”
“Yeah, but I left Luana alone!” I insisted, “She almost died because of me! She might still die! If I was there, I could’ve saved her!”
“You would have been discovered! And you wouldn’t have been so lucky to get away like that robbery!”
“I DON’T CARE!”
Ayanna shrunk back. I huffed, then turned away.
“I would’ve gladly risked it to save my friends” I said, more quietly, “I’ve never cared about my own safety…”
We sat in silence for a long while. A breeze blew in from the sea. It was chilly, like the first signs of Autumn were upon us. My eyes felt moist. I buried my head in my hands and rubbed my eyes viciously.
Finally, I took a deep breath.
“Can…Can I see her?”
“Of course! I can take you there right away!”
I nodded with a small smile.
Lorhen County Hospital was small compared to the big cities. It was only four floors instead of eight, and it was quiet. I walked silently beside Ayanna as we rode up to the third floor and down a long hallway. Finally, we got to Room 114 and went inside.
Sure enough, there was Luana, sleeping in the bed, with tubes up her nostrils and in her left arm. Her right eye had scratches, still in the process of scabbing-over, while her left was bright red and swollen.
“Her eye seems to be doing better,” Ayanna commented, “It was a black eye from the accident. They must’ve taken the gauze off.”
On the nightstand was a big green glass vase with flowers of all kinds: orchards, daisies, tulips, daffodils, etc. Ayanna chuckled.
“There was always someone who gave her a bouquet after every theater performance, even though she didn’t perform on stage. Finally, she said ‘All I need is one flower to feel special’. So, that’s what everyone gives her now. I think she presses them and puts them in a scrapbook somewhere…”
“Yeah,” I chuckled, “That sounds like Luana… Always holding on to memories.”
It was quiet for a moment, before Ayanna said:
“I got some errands to run, but I can pick you up and take you back to Luana’s house. I’ll get you a key too.”
Before she left, she placed something on the nightstand with a note before leaving: it was the locket I saw Luana wear a while ago. Only it was dirty, tarnished, and smashed, and her grandfather’s photo was gone.
After a period of silence, I pulled up a chair and sat down to the right of her. It had been a long time since I had seen anyone I loved in a state like this. It was a haunting sight. The only sound to fill the void was the sound of Luana’s heartbeat on the monitor, which beeped every other second. I leaned forward.
“Hey…I came back” I spoke.
Of course, Luana didn’t respond. I frowned.
“I’m…I’m sorry I didn’t come sooner. It was dumb, and I shouldn’t have run away…”
I sighed, ashamed.
“I never run away from my problems, and yet…That’s what I did; and it might have cost you your life.”
Gently, I took Luana’s free hand into mine.
“I want to stay. I want to be with you, Luana. You are all I have left to care about, and I won’t lose anyone again.”
I placed my head on the bed, staring at Luana.
My eyelids were heavy. The sound was muffled. I felt something soft in my right hand. Someone was holding it. With all the strength I could muster, I peeled my eyes open. My vision was blurry, but after a few blinks, it grew clearer. The sound was now clear. I recognized where I was: it was the hospital. I furrowed my eyebrows when I glanced over to my left to see a heart-rate machine and a stand with bags of liquid, and tubes up my left arm. What happened to me?
I looked to my right, and that’s when I saw him: a little blue hedgehog, sleeping soundly, clutching my hand. He was even wearing the outfit I made him. My heart began to race, not out of fear, but joy. Gently, I moved my hand away, and slowly pulled the hood of his head, revealing his quills. Softly, I began to stroke him. I started with his ears, then moved along down to his quills. It was the first time I really got to stroke his fur. It was so soft, such a calming sensation.
Then, he began to stir. I continued to rub the back of his ears until he realized what was happening. Tears filled my eyes. Despite feeling weak, I don’t think I ever smiled so widely in my life.
He lept into my arms. I cuddled him close. I cried. We didn’t even speak. We didn’t need to. I felt his tears drip onto my shoulder, and it only made me squeeze him tighter.
Finally, I heard the door of the room fly open. I quickly flipped his hood back over before the nurse came in and saw us. She was overjoyed to see me awake, and called in two other nurses to tend to me.
“Sir, visiting hours are over. Could you come back tomorrow?” The head-nurse asked Sonic.
He nodded, and started to move off, but I clutched his hand.
“No, no, please, can he stay?” I asked, tiredly, “He’s like my emotional support dog. I need him here.”
She looked at both of us for a long moment, then graciously complied. I held his hand the whole time, and all he did was smile.
After a month of sleepless nights, I had the best in my life. I cradled that blue hedgehog in my arms like he was my own son, and that brought me a peace I had never experienced before. I had Ayanna and many others from work come and visit. I was delighted, though slightly embarrassed, by all this attention. I loved the flowers everyone brought me. I was sad to see my locket had been crushed, but somehow, I didn’t seem broken by it. I had too much to be grateful for to really care. I had Sonic by my side, nothing else really mattered.
By two days, I had fully recovered. All that remained were the tears around my left eye. Unfortunately, the doctor said it would scar and take a while to heal. Ayanna wheeled me outside the hospital main doors with Sonic by my side.
“Huh. Well, I have no car to my name anymore…” I commented, “That’s gonna be interesting.”
Sonic grinned mischievously.
“Well, now you’ve got the fastest thing alive. You’ll have no problems!” He brushed off.
“I bet you’re glad that old junker is trashed!”
“No…! I mean…! Maybe…?”
Sonic didn’t sound convincing. Ayanna and I exchanged glances and went “Mhmm…” in the most sarcastic tone possible. Sonic glared, then we all laughed together. Ayanna convinced Sonic that it wasn’t a good idea to take me on a high speed run after I just recovered from a car crash. He begrudgingly agreed. We got into the car, and started home.