I was woken up by the sound of a crisp packet being opened. That, in one sentence is the perfect summary for how much of a cliche my life is not. In that moment, though I still didn’t know what had happened, I knew exactly what I would see when I opened my eyes. This scene had played out all too often over the years: Cameron noisily opening and eating a packet of Walkers cheese and onion crisps, probably followed by Mars bar with equally as loud packaging. I sighed and opened my eyes, and saw what I knew I would, realising as I did so that I was hurting. A lot. All over. I was feeling pain in places I didn’t even know I could feel pain, and it wasn’t an altogether pleasant experience.
“Oh my God Skyler, you’re awake! This is amazing, I’m just gonna go grab the nurse, back in a sec.” He gabbled this in one breath, leaving me confused and able to finally take in my surroundings. The hospital room that I was lying in was pretty, with pastel pink painted walls and white furniture. I realised that it was a more private recovery room, small but secluded, with various pieces of medical equipment and a couple of chairs. There was also a low window, from which I could see a scene that I recognised as being outside the nearest hospital. What on earth had happened? All I remembered was the flash of headlights and screeching tires before I blacked out. Luckily my questions were about to be answered, as at that moment Cameron returned with my Dad, Alex, and a tall, kindly looking woman in a nurse’s uniform, who, due to the latter fact, I presumed was indeed a nurse.
“So how are we feeling this morning Skyler? I expect you’ll be confused, you were unconscious when you were brought in yesterday, but you mustn’t worry, I’m sure your friend here will explain. The nurse patted me on the shoulder.
“We were nearly back at your place yesterday, we’d got to the crossing next to the estate. There weren’t a whole load of cars at the junction, and the lights said it was safe to cross, but there was a car speeding along up to the lights, presumably hoping to get through before the light turned red. The light was red before they got there, but according to the police and a few witnesses they made an effort to stop but were going too fast. I tried to warn you but it was too late and the car struck your hip and knocked you over. It didn’t run over you, but you went flying and whacked off the ground. It skimmed the front of me, so I’ve got a massive graze all down my stomach, but that’s nothing. It’s you we’re worried about.”
“What are my injuries? Am I dying?”
Alex snorted unexpectedly from next to the door.
“You aren’t dying Skyler.” My dad told me briskly. “It seems to me as though you’ll be ok, since you’re talking coherently, but the doctors will run some tests just to make sure. You could have had much worse injuries, brain damage or worse, but it very much looks like you got lucky.”
“It certainly does.” The nurse smiled down at me, albeit slightly reproachfully, as though she didn’t think I had any right to have survived a car crash, but I ignored this. I happily obliged as she ran some tests and sent me off to be X-rayed in various places, but sprained wrists from where I had tried to break my fall and heavy bruising seemed to be the extent of the damage.
“You have no idea how scared I was! You weren’t moving, and it was hard to tell in the dark whether or not you were breathing. I called an ambulance on your phone first, you can do that without a passcode, then rang your dad on mine. It’s lucky I still have his contact from when you smashed your phone all those years ago.”
“Sorry for giving everyone such a fright.”
“It’s not your fault Skyler, honestly, you couldn’t have done anything about it. It was dark, the lights told you it was safe to cross, but the car was going too fast to stop, which was only obvious a couple of seconds before it hit you.”
Alex told me this surprisingly gently. Studying his face, he looked genuinely worried about me: crease lines ran across his brow, and it actually looked like he had been crying. For all our differences, he and I were really close, we had been through a life of single parenting, moving house, and having a dad who wasn’t really around much, but for the duration of that we had always had each other, and cared deeply for the other’s welfare.
The nurse muttered something about leaving me to be with my family, and there was apparently no way that Cam was going to sit through a conversation between my dad and me, so he made a break for it as well.
“Skyler, I just want to say this to you.” Dad laid a hand on my knee through the many blankets that covered me. I wasn’t altogether sure what was coming next, but my guess would be either a telling off or something soppy.
“Listen, Alex as well, I know that I haven’t always been the best dad to the two of you over the years, and since your mum left it must seem to you like I’ve been working like my life depended on it, but in a way it did. You two are my whole world, and my life would be nothing without you, but I thought that the way to make you happy would be by supporting you financially, and making sure we had a comfortable life that way. But the accident has made me realise how little I actually know about you. I was sitting in that waiting room, preparing myself for the worst news, and wondering what, if you had died, my last words to you would have been, and I didn’t know. I started to think about when the last time I had been in your bedroom was, the last time you showed me your grades, the last time we spent some time just the two of us together. I haven’t done a great job as a parent, so clearly it’s purely down to yourselves that you are both such incredible, funny, talented, brave human beings, yet I don’t tell you enough that I am so proud of you both, and I love you more than anything else.”
That was probably the longest dad had spoken to us for in months, and I could see where he was coming from. I saw that the reason he worked so hard and so much was for our benefit, not because he was a workaholic, and I loved him for it.
“I love you too dad. So much.”
“Am I forgiven?” He replied apprehensively.
I took a second to exchange glances with Alex before answering. “Of course.”