Hickey(9)

By: Cora Brent



Saffron made such a racket in the ER that she caught the attention of the hospital staff. She ended up being bumped ahead of less vocal patients and swept into the triage area the second Bran set her down in a wheelchair. When she was rolled down the hall by a nurse in pink scrubs I stiffly followed and avoided glancing behind me.

Saffron sobbed wretchedly as the nurse questioned her, trying to figure out how she ended up with two broken feet.

“She jumped off the balcony,” I volunteered. “She was just trying to reach the pool. They do that, the kids.”

The nurse looked at me funny but that was probably because the story sounded weird. However, I didn’t have anything else to say at the moment because my brain was still suffering from Branson Hickey Shock Syndrome.

“You’re from the university?” the nurse asked a little wearily. She probably saw the aftermath of a lot of crazy stunts featuring drunk or careless students.

“Yes. I’m a Resident Adviser in a freshman residence hall. I was reading about international economic policy when I heard screaming.” I knew I was babbling about unnecessary details but somehow I couldn’t stop myself. “When I got to the hallway I found Saffron in the arms of Bran Hickey. He carried her to my car.”

“Hmmm” said the nurse. She frowned and typed something on her keyboard. “Who’s Bran Hickey?”

“He’s the man who carried Saffron in here.”

The nurse peered over my shoulder. “What man?”

I turned around and saw the empty doorway. “He’s not here now. He’s in the waiting room I think.”

“Oh.”

“We used to be married,” I said. “Not for very long. Only five months. Sometimes it seems like it was much longer. Oh, but you probably don’t care about that part.”

The nurse shrugged and glued her eyes back to her computer screen. “Not really.”

“Who’s married?” Saffron croaked. Her face was so raw from crying that she looked like she’d been sitting in the sun for six hours. Her legs were sticking straight out to keep her feet from touching anything. I tried to avoid staring at her feet. I was afraid they’d remind me of that scene in Misery where Kathy Bates bludgeoned James Caan’s legs into a pulp. I always closed my eyes at that part.

“No one,” I told her.

“Insurance?” the nurse asked.

Saffron’s face crumpled again. “I don’t have my wallet. But I do have insurance. It’s Blue Cross or something. You can ask my mom.”

A shadow appeared at our backs and I whirled around, half expecting Bran to be looming there. Instead there was a dark-skinned middle aged fellow wearing a cheerful smile and a hospital badge.

“It’s all right. We can deal with insurance details later,” the nurse said as she stood up and beckoned the man at the door. “Let’s get you down to X-Ray.” She offered Saffron a comforting pat on the shoulder.

“Cecily!” Saffron said before she was wheeled away. “Can you call my mom?”

I stared at the silver iPhone she was trying to hand over. “You want me to call your mom?”

Saffron glanced at her feet and grimaced. “If that’s okay. There’s no screen password. Just look for Home in the contacts list.”

“Um.” I stalled, trying to think of an excuse.

“Please.” Saffron sniffed and looked like she was about to melt into tears once more. “She’ll totally freak out and I just can’t handle that right now.”

I wasn’t sure I could handle Saffron’s freaked out mom either. Yet I couldn’t say no.

“Yes, I’ll call her,” I promised, plucking the phone from Saffron’s fingers as the attendant rolled her out of the room. The task would actually buy me at least another minute before I had to head out to the lobby and deal with my own personal emergency.

Of course Saffron’s mother went nuts when she received a late night phone call from her daughter’s number and listened to a stranger explain current events. In fact she got so hysterical you’d think I had just delivered news that Saffron had been vaporized by a laser beam from outer space. She calmed down after a few minutes though. She’d be on the next plane from Portland to Phoenix.

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