His eyes refused to open, and he barely heard the whispered words of the girl hovering over his bed. “I’m sorry, Eric. I had to. I’m so sorry, Mom.” Before he could panic, his world faded, turning the girl’s words into a dream.
When his brain got itself squarely back into his head, Eric’s eyes popped open, and he winced at the sandpaper feel of his eyelids as he blinked awake. His heart was still pounding from an unremembered nightmare, and he was sticky with sweat.
Eric squinted out at his surroundings. He didn’t recognize the pale blue walls or the huge arched window with its gauzy curtain. He definitely didn’t recognize the girly, flowered quilt covering his legs.
He tried to scratch at his itchy hand, but pain ran up his arm as he jammed into something sticking out the back. Ew! One of those hospital things was stuck in his hand, and tubing snaked over to . . . oh, God. Yuck. A big bag of water was dripping into his arm. He was twelve years old! He shouldn’t be in a hospital.
Although . . . his brain was not working quite right, but he thought he remembered being in a hospital before. He couldn’t quite remember why or when, but he remembered a sterile white room that smelled of disinfectant and an uncomfortable hospital bed with its metal railing running around the side.
This place didn’t even look like a hospital. Maybe somebody was trying to steal his kidney or kidnap him or experiment on him or something. It’d have to be somebody rich because this place was nice, if you liked the girly look.
A machine behind his bed beeped, and something started inflating by his head.
Someone needed to tell him what was going on.
Eric tossed back his covers, but as he tried to push, pull, or roll his legs off the side of the bed, his vision faded to black, his ears buzzed, and he started sweating again. His head felt like it was going to fly away and leave his body behind as the machines chorused their disapproval.
Exhausted, Eric dropped back down, and the machines shut up.
He must have drifted back to sleep because the next thing he knew, a girl was looking down at him. She was way older than him and had long, reddish brown hair and plenty of freckles.
“Eric,” she said, relief shining in her warm brown eyes. “You’re gonna be fine.”
Who was she and why was she looking at him like that?
He tried to speak, but his throat felt like it would crack into a million pieces. The noises coming out of his mouth were crackly and broken and didn’t sound anything like his questions.
Eric felt like he should know her, but he could not get his brain to tell him who she was. She must have seen something in his expression because she asked, “Do you recognize me?”
Eric shook his head.
Joy and relief were replaced by a squinched up look of concern. This girl had definitely looked at him like that before.