I Hate Valentine’s Day (Chapter 9)
Story by Joan Lopez-Flores“
Uh, is there a Lexie—Alexandra Stowes checked in here? I’m a good friend of hers, I’d like to see how she’s doing.” I must have looked terribly alarmed because the nurse at reception I spoke with quickly typed into her computer and gave me an answer in seconds.
“Yes, Ms. Alexandra Stowes is in room 403. She got wheeled in by an ambulance at about 2am this morning. May I get your name, please? So you’re not a relative? I’m not sure if they’ll allow you inside at this point…” the nurse didn’t get to finish as I was off to the elevator the second she told me where Lexie’s room was.
Terrible accident daw sabi ni Julie…her leg was shattered in places? Diyuskupo, ano kayang nangyari?!
Pagdating ko sa may pinto ng kwarto niya, nag-alangan akong kumatok. May maliit na window kaya sinilip ko muna., may isang doktor na mukhang kinikilatis mabuti ang mga paa ni Lexie, habang isang nurse naman ang nagche-check ng pulso niya.
Hindi ko kaagad makita ang mukha niya mula sa pinto. Nakakakaba, sana hindi naman ganoon ka-grabe ang nangyari na pati ang maganda niyang mukha nadali din.
Maya-maya nang nakaalis na ang doctor na nakaharang sa katawan niya, nakita ko si Lexie. A white bandage was wrapped around her head and the left side of her face had a big red bruise. I’m not sure but I think there were stitches under her chin. She looked like she was sleeping.
Her right leg was also covered in bandages. Her left leg had a thicker covering on it and the foot that poked out of the bandages showed that it was perhaps the leg in worse condition.
The lady doctor finally opened the door while the nurse followed suit. The doctor saw me and asked, “Family or relative of the patient?”
“Uh, I’m a good friend. My name is Kiko…Lexie is very special to me, I hope you allow me inside…please, allow me to see her.”
I was practically begging. I don’t know which crushed my heart more at that moment, the fact that Lexie was hurt so bad or that I can’t even see her because of these hospital protocols.
The doctor and nurse looked at each other.
“I’m sorry, sir. We cannot allow other visitors in at the moment other than family or relative. The patient is in very critical condition, which I also cannot disclose at length other than to immediate family,” said the doctor, whose hair chopped short and steady gaze through her glasses showed me I can’t bend the rules today. They started walking away.
I took one wary glance at the door window and saw Lexie there in her sad state.
“Her only family is her dad, living in Australia and I’m sure he won’t be able to fly in quickly… and she has a fiancé who’s so busy he probably doesn’t know about this yet. I learned this from an office mate she was with last night and I dashed to this place the quickest way I know…because I care that much about her. Please, doctor.” They were already yards away from me at the hallway when I said this. The doctor kept on walking, but the nurse turned around and walked toward me.
Her voice was firm and a little lower than I expected from someone who looked petite and stocky. She quietly spoke, “If someone questions you, just say you’re a cousin.” She quickly went to the door and unlocked it with the key in her pocket. Smiled at me briefly and nodded, perhaps in quiet understanding, and then followed the doctor, who’s already at the end of the hallway.
Buti na lang at nakaswerte ako ng mabait na nurse. Pumasok na ako agad sa kwarto ni Lexie, kumuha ng silya sa isang gilid at inilagay sa tabihan niya.
Tahimik pa rin siyang natutulog, baka maraming painkillers ang binigay sa kanya.
Nakakaiyak tingnan ang mga binti at paa ni Lexie. Hindi ko napigilang hawakan ang kanang kamay ni Lexie, marahang-marahan lang dahil baka masaktan siya.
Naramdaman kong gumalaw ang mga daliri niya.
“Rob?” Lexie’s soft voice cracked and with difficulty she turned her head to face me.
She looked surprised and yet relieved to see who it was beside her. Her eyes then welled up with tears. “Kiko…it’s you.”
I smiled and held her hand with both my hands now, gave it a light squeeze.
I decided it’s best to not say anything at this point, she may be having mixed emotions right then and I didn’t want to give her a hard time at all. I just wanted to be with her and make sure she was all right.
I guess Lexie felt the same way. She just looked at me and smiled back when I did. She then closed her eyes and said almost inaudibly, “Thank you for being here.”
She wrapped her fingers into my mine, and must have dozed back into sleep.
Nothing else mattered to me at that moment. Not my job, certainly not Jenny who’s actually already been expecting a call from me since last week.
I didn’t care if Lexie’s fiancé Rob came in any moment and punched my face in for being there and lovingly holding her hand. Or if her dad came in and wondered what the hell I’m doing there since I’m not the fiancé he could be expecting at Lexie’s side.
An hour later a male nurse came through the door. He took the clipboard from the bedside table and began doing his routine checks.
Dahan-dahan kong binitawan ang kamay ni Lexie mula sa pagkakahawak ko—after all I was supposed to be her “cousin” if anyone asked. I then looked down on the floor and avoided the nurse’s gaze.
“You’re the patient’s cousin sir?” the nurse said after checking Lexie’s pulse. “That’s what the other nurse who did the earlier rounds told me.”
I just smiled and said instead, “Can you please tell me about Lexie’s—the patient’s condition?”
The nurse took a pen from his side pocket and jotted down some notes onto the clipboard. His pen had a Philippine flag design—I looked more intently at him and realized he looked like he could really be Filipino.
“Basically it’s a slew of serious fractures all over her body, with the left leg in very bad shape. The knee cap is shattered and the bones of the lower leg as well. It’s a miracle she survived without a serious concussion, although the right side of her head was bleeding when she was brought in here. A truck hit her car from the left side, we just found out from the CCTV camera report that came in early morning today.”
I quietly listened as the nurse thumbed through the notes on his clipboard. He then looked up and talked to me. “I’m not the doctor so I can’t tell you the next course of action.”
“I also know you’re most likely not her cousin. I know the patient is Australian and you look every bit Filipino to me,” the male nurse added with a knowing look.
“Filipino-Australian, man,” I corrected the nurse, opting to stay away from the other topic he’s going into.
“You look Filipino and you look like you’re in love with her,” the nurse said, adamant.
“Iba talaga tayong mga Pinoy ma-in love, ano?”
Napatingin ako sa nurse, na may name plate na Jonathan Eusebio ang nakalagay. “Salamat, kababayan. Alam ko ‘di mo naman siguro ko isusumbong. Mahal na mahal ko lang talaga ito eh.”
“Ikaw ba ‘yung fiancé na sinasabi nilang baka dumating daw? May tumawag kasi kanina.”
Napangiti lalo ang Pinoy na nurse.
“Good luck sa’yo, brad.” He then placed the clipboard back onto the side table and walked out of the room with a friendly wave.
The room was silent again, and Lexie was still asleep. In my head I rehearsed what I was going to say to Lexie once she wakes up. I want to let her know I’m in love with her, and I’m willing to take care of her until she’s well…
I didn’t care right then if I may be out of line. All I know is Lexie deserves more, so much more than what this fiancé Rob is able to give her. Eh hanggang ngayon nga’ng ilang oras na si Lexie sa ospital, wala pa rin siya sa tabi niya.
A little later, the door opened and in came a tall, Caucasian-looking man in a thick sweater. I recognized him from the pictures. It was Lexie’s dad.
He looked every bit sad as he walked toward Lexie’s bed. I quickly stood up and walked away so he can sit beside his daughter. He didn’t seem to care much who I was or why I was there. He just sat down and touched Lexie’s hand, and wrapped his arm around Lexie’s shoulders where there were no bandages.
This woke up Lexie, who knew in an instant it was her dad. She wrapped her right arm around him in a half embrace and she began crying.
I just stood there in the corner of the room, watching the not-so-happy father and daughter reunion that perhaps hadn’t happened in a long, long time.
Just then Mr. Stowes turned to look at me, and I heard Lexie say in a soft voice, “It’s all right, dad. That’s Kiko right there. Kiko, the good friend I was telling you about.”
“Come here, Kiko. I want to thank you for being with my daughter during this time of pain.” Lexie’s father looked so much like her I realized, and he seemed like the kindest old man you would ever meet.
I walked toward them and he stood up to shake my hand and give my shoulder a firm squeeze. “Call me Art. You seem like a good man, Kiko.”
“Uh, thank you, sir—I mean, Art. Lexie and I work together. She’s a very good artist, you must be very proud of her.”
Maya-maya pa may kumatok sa pinto. Pumasok ang nurse at nagtanong kay Art kung pwedeng papasukin ang ilang bisita sa labas. I peered out and saw Rick, Julie and two other people from the office.
Kahit papaano sumaya ang mood ni Lexie nang nakapasok na sa kwarto niya sina Rick, Julie, Clint at yung isa naming Singaporean account executive na si Pam. May dala silang flowers at prutas.
Nung una they seemed kind of surprised that I was there before anyone else was. But I guess they also knew the only thing that mattered then was that Lexie made it alive through the fatal accident, and we all just want her to be all right.
The doctor I had met earlier that morning entered the room. She asked Lexie’s father if they could be left alone for a moment as she was about to disclose something important. Rick and company understood in an instant and made their way out the door. I was actually going to follow them out as I knew it was probably a family-only matter, when I heard Lexie speak.
“It’s all right, Kiko, please stay. Doctor, I want my good friend Kiko to be here when you discuss with my dad about my condition.”
The doctor nodded. “Certainly, Ms. Stowes.” She then began to speak once the other visitors were out of the room.
“Mr. Stowes, we just finished running the tests and bone scans. Besides the crushed bones on her left leg, we found a bacterial infection starting to spread from her left knee cap. I regret to say that if we do not amputate her left leg from the knee down, the infection may spread all the way up her left thigh and hip, and that might cause an even greater complication and affect her other organs.”
Art began to cry and so did Lexie. Art held her daughter’s hand and they embraced each other.
“Dad, I don’t know what to say. I don’t know…”
Art stood up from beside Lexie. “Doctor, are you absolutely sure about this? I’d bring her to another specialist if you can’t tell me straight to my face that that is the best course of action.”
“Mr. Stowes, we have been throwing the possibilities back and forth since your daughter was brought to us, and since the tests showed the results. This is the only way right now that we can ensure your daughter recovers without further complication. You can opt to take her to another hospital, but this I can tell you, you may be wasting precious time by doing that.”
The sadness in the room was intoxicating. I was choking up with tears myself.
Precious time was all I wasted too, letting Lexie go running back to the man who broke her heart who was probably the reason why she got so drunk the night before and got into this terrible accident in the first place.
“I’ll return in about 30 minutes, Mr. Stowes, so you can discuss with your daughter and you can decide on the amputation. I’ll have the waiver ready. It’s all up to you, but let me tell you that I recommend the procedure if you wish for your daughter to resume living a healthy life.” The doctor then began walking toward the door.
I realized I should give Lexie and father a few moments alone so they can talk, weigh their options. I was going to excuse myself when a soft knock came from the door, and a man just about as tall as I am with an air of unsure confidence walked in. I assumed it was Rob.
I looked at Lexie, who then looked at her father. Art’s face went from utter sadness to a stiff look of resentment upon seeing the man that just stepped in. I froze where I was and have never felt so uneasy myself.