This I wrote based on a prompt for being too late.
As I burst through the doors to the critical condition wing in Beth Israel hospital, I felt my feet hydroplane on the recently cleaned floor as I turned a corner. I crashed into the wall, briefly demolished, lying behind a chair meant for anxious family members. My elbow throbbed and my face tried out new shades of red when I realized there was a desk full of nurses in the front row to my accident. A nurse with one eyebrow raised glanced up from her clipboard and looked me up and down. She moved in slow motion, disregarding that time was always of the essence in a place like this.
“At least you chose the right place to hurt yourself,” she said as she walked over to me. There was no obvious damage to my body so I saw that she wasn’t too worried about my pain level. “Maybe we should put up signs, although I thought it was painfully obvious. There is absolutely no running in a hospital.” She emphasized the last three words as if this is an inherent fact of life, taught to children in grade school.
“I’m looking for room 3B, patient is Victoria Wiking.” As I said the words, I saw clouds of red hair floating at the end of the hallway I had slid into.
“Sir, it’s family only,” a nurse with the large eyes squeaked. She seemed scared of me. Or for me.
“Yes, I am. She’s my fiancée.” Victoria wasn’t my fiancée; she was more than that for me. Victoria was my life. Her soul was my breath of air, her body traversed through my blood. She was the goddess I worshipped daily for the past three years. This woman simply kept me alive.
They exchanged glances and I could tell they didn’t consider us family in this instance. The head nurse looked like she was about to say something more as the smaller nurse picked up a telephone, but I was already walking away, headed toward the assault I knew would be coming from her uptight sisters.
“What the fuck are you doing here?” I heard her before I reached the room where Victoria was, hopefully still alive. Although older, Victoria’s sister, Deanna, was significantly short and hidden among the group of worried relatives. I didn’t have to see her to know it was her, though; she always was the loud mouth of the family.
My feet moved forward in a rush to bring me to my life support still, as I disregarded the rude welcome. “Is she, is she…”
“Is she dead? Is that what you’re trying to ask?” Her oldest sister, Isabelle. She always wanted to come off as the most responsible sister, but to me it appeared to be a front. “Darren, you need to leave right now. This is beyond inappropriate.”
“Look, I just need to see her. This is between me and Victoria so stay out of this, please.”
The glaring eyes of her mother burned into the side of my face, but I refused to look at her. She always seemed like a waste of my time, anyway. Not someone I felt it necessary to become acquainted with. All I needed was to see Victoria and know that everything was going to be right in the world again. If I was being perfectly honest with myself, I needed her forgiveness more than anything. But I never got to see her. Strong, thick fingers wrapped around my arms and began to pull me away from the door back down the hallway.
“No!” I shouted. “I need to know if she’s alive. I NEED TO KNOW!”
The women stood around each other crying with various shades of red hair entwining. Everyone cried, except Isabelle, the ringleader of the estrogen charged pack. Her curly strawberry hair was in a loose, sloppy ponytail and ringlets fell into her face as she shook. Her beady eyes buzzed back and forth in their sockets, and her anger vibrated off the walls in a similar rhythm. She said in a voice that oozed with pretention, “Thank you, officers. We knew he would be here. He’s insane. He’s obsessed with our sister.”
They kept me far enough away from the hospital room that I couldn’t see inside but still close enough to be tortured with not knowing what was going on so close by. I wasn’t struggling because I knew they would only pull me further away. My mind flew through different ways to maneuver closer to Victoria as I heard an office near my ear rattling off my rights robotically.
“Please, let me know she’s okay.”
“Darren,” her mother said with a cracking, aged voice that made me cringe. “Please leave my daughter alone. You hurt her – badly.” Her thin white hair stuck up at odd angles, her lifeless blue eyes staring into mine.
“She’ll be okay.” Deanna said. “Once you get the hell out of here.” She put her arm protectively around her mother as if I was some monster who was about to come charging, snarling with foam dripping from my mouth.
“I only ever loved your sister. I wouldn’t hurt her again, I promise.” I felt the grip of the police officer’s hand tighten around my elbow. Some unspoken signal must have appeared and my defense was too weak to change anyone’s mind.
The cops began to drag me away, not because I was resisting but because I couldn’t really feel my legs anymore. I was too late to get the girl of my dreams after our only physical encounter. I didn’t even get a chance to explain myself, which drove me mad.
A mixture of emotions tossed and turned inside of me. This day happened to be the best and worst of my life. Best because I finally got what I wanted; I conquered the red-headed goddess that strolled into my coffee shop three years ago. It was the manliest moment of my life because instead of being timid and letting my heartbreak intensify, I took what I wanted.
The only thing that made this the worst day was that it would be the only time I would ever get to have her. I began to brainstorm ideas for getting back what I felt I was rightfully owed, especially after this entire debacle I would have to go through with the police and her terrible sisters.