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Part II: Seconds
"I informed him that I was a patient and that he was hampering my recovery."
Before I can comment she's speaking again. Warning bells go off when an impish grin crosses her features as she delivers the punch line.
"Then I told him to fuck off."
I almost swallow my tongue; I can't ever remember Kerry using that particular epithet.
"You did NOT!" I am flabbergasted at the turn our conversation has taken.
"I most certainly did. Hey, I'm not the Chief in here, I deserve the same care and respect that any other patient does."
She stops suddenly and a faraway look captures her gaze.
"Can you believe I just said that? Now why would I have to bleed out onto my own bathroom floor to get any care and respect? God, I need serious therapy."
I keep silent until the urge to agree disappears.
"Actually, I do you know," she says, nodding at me.
"You do what?" I ask warily.
"Need serious therapy."
I clamp my lips together in a determined line and stare back at her. But she's not joking.
"Susan gave me the name of her therapist and I've been seeing him for about three weeks."
I need a drink.
"I think it's going badly. I hate it, it makes me uncomfortable to talk about all these things that I should just be able to get past, you know?"
"It's only been three weeks, Kerry. Do you at least like him?"
"Yes, I do. He's pleasant and he doesn't answer my questions with a question or say things like, 'It's not important what I think, it's important what YOU think'. And he has excellent taste. He has a Stickley that makes my mouth water every time I look at it."
"He doesn't let you sit in it?"
"It's a Stickley, Kim." This as if she's speaking to a slow child. She smoothes the sheets and blanket around her waist before absentmindedly reaching up and fingering the stitches on her forehead.
"When are you leaving?"
I blink once, twice.
"Going back to California, you know, returning to work."
"Uh, I'm not sure, really. I was in such a rush to get here. I have a vague memory of demanding a leave of absence in case um, I suppose I should check in and see how things are going."
Kerry nods silently and I wait, uncertain what she wants to hear. Uncertain what I want to tell her. Wait a second, that's not true, I know exactly what I want to tell her.
"I'm due to be discharged in a couple of days, barring any complications."
I swallow hard. Reading her first EEG almost gave me a heart attack.
"I need you to stay."
To say that I'm astonished that she would just come right out and say it is the understatement of the year. I must resemble a guppy as my mouth flops open and closed, caught between responding and being struck dumb.
"At the very least I think we should finally talk about things, don't you?"
I know I'm staring but I can't stop myself.
I reach into my bag and retrieve my cell phone.
"I should tell them I'll need at least a week."
She smiles and the world disappears.
"You didn't really tell Romano to fuck off did you?"
There goes that impish grin again.
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