Saturday, January 18, 2014



Gil Stephens saw tiny blinking light flashes, then felt pulsations in his head. A rush of sound followed and stirred him, then it quieted down. He opened his eyes to a blurry field of view. No. He was looking out of just one eye. Sounds clicked behind him and fogged faces appeared, then torsos and arms. He felt himself lifted and placed on something soft. Voices murmured. I'm sliding, he thought. He tensed.
"Mr. Stephens," he heard echo somewhere. The voice repeated his name. He tried to grasp its meaning. Mr. Stephens, he thought. He tried to shake his head to clear it but the pain jolted him. Oh. This is a hospital. The accident, the highway, the snow. Alicia. What happened to Alicia?
He tried to speak, frightened, and attempted to raise himself. Another jolt of pain, now up his left side. He couldn't move his arm.
"Mr. Stephens," the voice repeated again. "Can you hear me?" It was a female voice. Someone lifted his right arm and connected a tube. He felt attached and detached at the same time. The image of the crash consumed him. He tried to speak.
"Is she alright?" he heard his voice, slurred, say. "Is Alicia alright?"
"Your passenger is fine. She was injured, a couple of cracked ribs, but went home yesterday."
"Oh," he said. "Oh." He shuddered at the torrent of emotions that swept through him. "Where am I?"
"You're in the ICU at Oquaga General. You've just had an MRI. It looks like you'll recover. You've been pretty banged up."
"Helen," he said. "Does my wife know? She's in The Netherlands." A sense of clarity returned. I need to think straight, he thought.
"She was here earlier today, came right from the airport. She went home to change. She said she'd be right back. I'll call and let her know you're conscious. How do you feel?"
"Overwhelmed. Totally overwhelmed."
Stephens tried to see who he was talking with. Her image was still blurred.
"I'm Jeanine, a nurse," she said. "You have a broken upper arm and collarbone. We've got you bound up. Your left eye and the left side of your head is bandaged. We put you on a morphine drip."
"How bad? How bad are my injuries?"
"We need to monitor you to check for any swelling inside your head. So far, so good. Your vital signs are positive. We're not sure about your eye yet?"
"My eye," he said. He felt his awareness slipping away. "I'm having trouble."
"Go ahead back to sleep. It's okay."

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