A moment with Jaxson and Anna in Germany.

Copyright @ K.C.LYNN 

Alone in his hospital room, Jaxson stared up at the ceiling, lost in his guilt and the overwhelming despair that continued to plague him.

The tortured memories continuously assaulted his mind, offering no reprieve from the hell he now called home. His body was broken, soul fractured and life irrevocably changed in a way that no human could fully comprehend.

Yet, there he was, heart still beating with vigor in his chest, air still pumping through his lungs. Deep down he knew there was only one reason for that.

The light knock on his hospital door pulled him from his haunted thoughts. He was too weak to call out until he saw who it was. The nurse slowly wheeled Anna in, her face covered in scrapes, cuts and bruises. Some deep enough to leave scars for the remainder of her life.

His chest twisted with agonizing pain at the sight of the sad broken fourteen-year-old girl, adding to the suffering he was already experiencing.

“Hey, kid.” He finally summoned enough words to greet her. They were weak and it hurt like hell to talk, but he’d found them anyway.

Anna’s cracked lip trembled as she fought to hold her tears at bay. “Can I stay with you for a little while?” she asked, a tiny morsel of hope lying just beneath the fear in her voice. “I don’t want to be alone. I’m scared.”

The admission came as a shock to Jaxson. He couldn’t understand why she felt safe with him. Not when he failed her like he did but he would not turn her away. He’d do anything for her. “Yeah, you can stay with me.”

The nurse wheeled Anna closer to his bed. “I’ll come back in an hour to check on you,” she said, before leaving them.

Anna’s cheeks hollowed and her chin quivered as she tried to hold herself together. “You look like you’re in a lot of pain.”

“Nothing I can’t handle. How about you? Any pain?”

She shook her head. “I haven’t felt much since they gave me the medication. I’m just… afraid.”

“Don’t be. No one can hurt you now. Your parents will be here soon to take you back home where you belong.”

She swallowed thickly, her tears finally escaping down her cheeks. “Is it horrible for me to say I wish you were coming with me? I love my parents, but my dad isn’t the kind of guy who knows how to use his fists or a gun. He’s a surgeon.”

“Well, I’ll bet he’s good with a scalpel and that shit can cause some serious damage to someone,” Jaxson said, hoping to get a laugh from her.

It worked.

Anna busted into laughter and he couldn’t help but smile. It quickly evaporated though, when the beautiful sound broke into a sob.

It killed him, like a cruel blade twisting in the center of his chest. No girl should ever have to go through what she has, especially one as young and innocent as her.

“Listen, kid. I know we just got out of some crazy shit but you’ll be safe with your parents. I’ll bet your dad will take all precautions necessary to keep you safe.”

Anna nodded and reached for the Kleenex next to his bed, dabbing her cheeks with it and erasing the tears. If only the pain on the inside could be wiped away as easily.

“Maybe you can come visit me sometime?” she asked, hope thick in her voice

“Yeah, maybe.” Jaxson’s reply was wary. He didn’t know if he would be able to face her again. To look her in the eyes months from now and know his best wasn’t good enough. “I’m going to a rehabilitation clinic for a while, but I’ll come check on you when I’m out,” he promised her in the end.

It was enough to bring a soft smile to her face.

Silence fell between them but their demons were loud, consuming the room.

Anna broke it a moment later. “Who was the girl that just left?”

Jaxson tensed at the question. “What girl?” He knew exactly who she was talking about. The pain was still fresh from the decision he made to send her away, the self-inflicted wound in his chest was as painful as the physical ones he wore on his body.

“The pretty one who was crying. The one your friend took away.”

“Her name is Julia. She’s my best friend,” he answered, his voice as hollow as the organ in his chest.

“You didn’t want to see her?”

“I did. I just didn’t want her to see me,” he explained. Even speaking of her hurt in a way he couldn’t describe.

“Was she the one who gave you the necklace?”

Jaxson nodded, the fire in his chest growing hotter by the second.

“Are you in love with her?”

He glanced over at Anna, his eyes narrowing. “Do you always ask this many questions?”

She cracked a smiled, embarrassed by her curiosity. “Yeah, I do, sorry. I won’t ask any more.” A yawn escaped her, exhaustion slipping over her tired body and she laid her head down next to his arm.

“Why don’t you go rest if you’re tired? You can come back after. I’m not going anywhere.”

“No,” she mumbled, tiredly. “Please don’t make me leave. I want to stay with you or I won’t sleep.”

Her plea had his burning chest tightening further. “You can stay as long as you want,” he told her.

“Thank you.” She reached for his hand, gripping it tightly in hers.

The feel of her small fingers clinging to his shifted something inside of him. He held on tight, staring up at the ceiling, his thoughts fixed on Julia.

“Can you keep a secret?” he asked her a moment later.

“Yes.” she whispered

“I’m in love with her. I have been since I was nineteen years old.”

It felt good to confess that to someone. He wished he had been brave enough to tell Julia, but he knew in the end it was better this way. She was better off without him, especially now. There was no way he could drag her into this hell with him.

He was forever changed by this fateful week and she deserved so much more than what he could give her.

Anna never replied but her fingers squeezed his, as if she felt his pain, knew it. It wasn’t long before her breathing evened out and she fell asleep.

When the nurse came back an hour later, Jaxson ordered for a bed to be brought in for Anna. The nurse obliged and woke Anna only long enough to get her situated. After she left, Anna grabbed Jaxson’s hand once more and fell back asleep. He was glad he could offer her comfort. He wished he could find some of his own, or even a couple of hours sleep.

But sleep never came for him and peace was even further.

Jaxson spent the remainder of the night staring out into the darkness, wishing for a love he couldn’t have, and remembering all the reasons why he didn’t deserve her anyway. He stayed awake until morning came, until the promise of another day offered him a temporary escape from the demons that would continue to haunt him for the rest of his life.

© Author KC Lynn. Designed by © Melissa Gill Designs