The last thing I remembered was saying something to Brian, but everything else was a blank. When my senses returned, I knew something very bad had happened.
Nick: *sarcastically* Gee… let me guess… another car crash story?
Howie: Hey, at least you’re conscious in this one, dude. Usually you’re in a coma for the whole story and wake up at the end, just when they’re about to turn off the life support.
AJ: Yeah, right after the rest of us get done giving our inspirational speech, singing you a song, and weeping at your bedside. *rolls eyes*
I was lying down with every part of my body aching. I slowly opened my eyes, but my vision was badly blurred and I couldn’t make out any objects or faces. What was worse, it didn’t seem to get better. But at least my hearing was OK; I could hear familiar voices nearby.
"Hey, look. He’s awake!"
"What? Oh, I’ll get the others!"
"I’ll talk to him."
Definitely Brian and Howie. I sighed inwardly; I had to be alive.
Brian: Wouldn’t you already know you were alive by the stabbing pain shooting through your body?
AJ: We’re talking about Nick here, Bri.
"Nick, can you hear me?" Brian’s voice rang clearly in my ears.
"Yeah, I hear you," I replied.
"Are you OK? Are you in any pain?" he asked with concern.
"I ache all over, but otherwise, I’m fine," I answered wearily.
Kevin: Except for that you can’t see…
I heard Brian sigh, and saw the hazy silhouette of someone move next to me, so I guessed it was him.
"That was a close call, Nick. The doctor said you have a serious head injury, and you had us all worried!" he told me with relief.
Nick: Well, what the hell happened to me?
"Erm, Bri? I’ll try to put this in simple terms. WHAT HAPPENED?" I demanded in slight fear. I really didn’t want to know what had taken place, but I had to find out. My mind was a blank.
Brian hesitated, "You mean…. you don’t remember?"
"That’s exactly what I mean!" I retorted in frustration. Why couldn’t he just answer the question?
Nick: Good question.
"Nick, you… we were in a car accident," he started, "My car was hit by someone going in the other direction, and it was flipped over."
Nick: Ha! I knew it was another car crash story!
"WHAT?!! Are you OK?" I blurted out in surprise, "Was anyone else hurt?"
AJ: Well, Nick, considering he’s there talking to you, it’s pretty safe to assume that he’s not on his deathbed.
"I broke my arm, but I’ll live. You were the one we were worried about. You hit your head badly and we were wondering if you would ever wake up!" Brian claimed.
"How long have I been out?" I queried anxiously.
Nick: What’s ‘queried’?
Kevin: It means ‘asked’, dumbass.
"About 36 hours. Howie’s just gone to get Kevin." Brian answered.
"Your welcome, Nicky!" he chuckled.
Brian: Why am I chuckling?
Nick: Who knows. *shrug*
I realised my vision was still blurry, and asked Brian about it, "Bri, are you sitting on my right?"
AJ: It took you that long to realize your vision was still blurry? Damn, Nick, you’re slower than I thought!
Nick: Shut up!
"Well, duh!" he replied with sarcasm, then he paused and his silhouette rose up; he had obviously stood up.
"But…why are you asking me that? What’s wrong?" he asked in fear.
AJ: Cause he’s Nick… Nick’s the king of stupid questions.
"I…I can’t make anything out! There must be something wrong with my eyes ‘cause all I can see is your silhouette!"
Brian didn’t say anything, but I could hear him stuttering slightly, "I’ll go get the doctor. Here comes Howie with Kevin."
Brian’s point of view
I waited until Kevin, Howie and Nick’s parents had arrived before I left.
"Keep an eye on him, Kev," I whispered to my cousin. "I think he might have damaged his eyesight, so I’ll get a doctor."
Kevin looked very concerned, but nodded. I left down the corridor, head hung in despair. What if he was permanently blinded? Would his life be worth living if he was?
AJ: Whoa, sounds like Brian might be pulling a Dr. Kevorkian here… I thought you were against euthanasia, Rok.
Rok: Shut up, Bone.
I hoped it was just a temporary side effect. Still, I had to get the doctor and see what was happening. I was awoken from my thoughtful trance as AJ stood in my path.
"We got more company, Rok!" he claimed as I looked at him. It took me a second to come back to reality.
"W...who?" I stuttered wearily.
AJ didn’t need to bother answering, as Leighanne appeared beside him.
I guess Leighanne and me are like a couple of magnets, as we seemed to automatically fall into each other’s arms.
Nick: So true…
"I was so worried about you!" she exclaimed through tears of happiness.
Kevin: Wait… didn’t it say Nick was in a coma for thirty-six hours? Why is she so late in coming?
Howie: Good point, Kev.
"Shh. I’m OK," I tried to calm my wife down.
"Sorry I didn’t get here sooner, but I only heard about six hours ago and got here as fast I could," she apologised.
Kevin: Brian, you didn’t bother to call your own wife to tell her what happened? What, you were just going to let her find out from the news or something?
Brian: Uh, Kev… this is fiction. Not real. Stop getting all anal on me.
AJ: *pats Kevin on head* It’s okay, Train. Sometimes these stories are hard to separate from reality.
Kevin: *glares at AJ*
"I told you, I’m fine! I only broke my arm," I reassured.
"Only broke your arm?!" Leighanne repeated in surprise, "Since when was that not something to worry about?"
AJ: Dude, chill out. It’s a broken arm. You set it and put a cast on it. Big whoop.
She did have a point. A broken arm was quite an accident.
AJ: As compared to what? A papercut, yes. A head injury like Nick’s, no.
"I’m just lucky compared to Nick," I informed her sadly.
"Oh, not Nick, too!" she groaned.
Kevin: She doesn’t know Nick was involved? Where has she been? How did she find out Brian was in the crash and not Nick?
AJ: Two words, Kev – dumb blonde.
Brian: *smacks AJ*
Nick: Who, me?
AJ: Three words, Kev – very dumb blonde. *points to Nick*
"He’ll live. He’s woken up, by the way, Bone. I think you can go see him." I said, turning to AJ. AJ nodded.
"Thanks for looking out for Leighanne for me!" I thanked as he walked down to Nick’s ward. He waved at me casually in reply.
"I’m so sorry about Nick, and your arm." Leighanne sympathised.
"I have to go see the doctor about Nick. C’mon, he’ll be down here." I led Leighanne down the long corridor.
Kevin’s point of view
Brian: Kevin gets a part? Wow!
Howie: *glumly* Wonder if I’ll have a part…
AJ: *snickers* Poor D.
I stood and listened in concern as Nick told Howie and me what was bothering him.
"I can’t make out any detail, just differences in dark and light!" Nick claimed, his voice filled with fear.
"Don’t worry Nick, I’m sure it’s just temporary. You hit your head quite hard." I tried to sound comforting, but I could see by his expression that he could tell I wasn’t even sure of my own words.
AJ appeared at the end of Nick’s bed.
"Yo, guys. Nice to see you awake, Nicky!" AJ chirped.
AJ: *makes chirping noises*
Kevin: Oh, lovely…
Nick obviously wasn’t in the mood for being wound up, "Bone, did you know you voice seems a lot more annoying when I can’t see you properly?"
Kevin: Hey, good one, Carter!
AJ: *smacks Nick*
AJ frowned and looked at me.
"His eyesight’s gone weird," I explained to AJ.
He looked worried, "Really?"
AJ then proceeded to wave his hand in front of Nick’s eyes. Nick frowned, "Stop that!"
AJ: *snickers* I’m so bad…
"Sorry, Nick." AJ apologised withdrawing his hand. "Brian was goin’ to see the doctor. Leighanne arrived as well."
"I hope your eyes are OK, Nick," Howie said softly.
Howie: I have a part! I have a part!
Nick’s point of view
Howie: Aw, I shoulda known it wouldn’t last more than a line…
I heard Brian come back with two others. Leighanne and the doctor he went for, probably.
"Would you please leave while I check him over," the doctor requested.
The other footsteps signified they were complying. I lay in silence as he checked my vitals, then he shone something bright into both of my eyes.
"I see you’re sensitive to light." He stated.
"Yeah, that’s the only thing I can see with my eyes right now," I claimed.
AJ: The only thing you can see with your eyes? What else would you see with? *laughs*
The doctor remained silent for a few seconds, but I could hear him writing something down.
"This is just a temporary side effect, right?" I asked hopefully.
"Erm…well, I’m not sure, but I’ll go check it out. I’ll tell you as soon as I know anything,"
I nodded and he left. I hoped someone would get back and talk to me. It was boring only being able to listen. No TV, no books, not being able to write…
Nick: No Nintendo…
AJ: And since when does Nick read books? Nick can barely make it through “The Cat and the Hat”
Brian’s point of view
We all saw the doctor approach.
"Do you know what’s wrong with him?" I asked.
"I believe he has damaged retinas. That’s at the back of the eyes." The doctor explained, "It’s where the light…."
"We know what a retina is! Just tell us what you can do about it!" Kevin demanded. He was clearly losing his cool.
Brian: That’s a new one…
The doctor glanced at his clipboard, and clearly hesitated, "I don’t know how to say this, but…Mr. Carter has an irreversible condition."
"Irreversible?" I echoed in horror and disbelief. I knew what he was going to say next.
AJ: Hey, Nick, you know what “irreversible” means in this story! Congratulations!
"I’m afraid so. No one’s ever been cured of this condition," the doctor added. "Nick can only see the difference between light and dark, but over time he’ll lose that as well. I’m very sorry, but your friend is now permanently blind."
AJ: Damn, sucks to be you.
Howie: Well, gotta give the author of this one props. Blindness is a new one in the car crash genre.
Brian: Hey, Nick, maybe you’ll get a cool cane! And you can train one of your pugs to be a seeing eye dog!
Nick: And I can learn Braille!
AJ: Nick, how do you expect to learn Braille when you can’t even read regular stuff?
Nick: Can too!
AJ: Dr. Seuss and video game manuals don’t count.