The days slipped by. Each time I awoke Dante or Elise spooned hot broth down my throat. It took all my energy to stay awake for even those few minutes.
“Dante, am I every going to be well?” I asked one day. “I’m sick of lying around.”
Dante smiled. “I think you are getting better. You’re more spirited. The doctor said that in a few days we could get you out of here and sit you in a chair by the window.”
“Can’t we do it now?” I looked eagerly towards the window. “Is it December yet?”
“Just.” Dante removed the tray from my bed. “Let’s get you tucked back in.”
I frowned, than sighed. There was no arguing with Dante. I had tried it yesterday and it hadn’t worked.
I let him lay me back down and pull the blankets up to my chin. Truscott bounded in and jumped up on the bed.
“Truscott,” I said.
I rubbed my silly dog’s ears and he licked my face.
“Down, dog,” Dante said.
Truscott sat down on the bed and stared at Dante.
“He doesn’t listen very well, does he?” Dante commented as he pulled the curtains opened farther. “Would you like me to open the window?”
“He listens to me.” I stroked Truscott’s head and he snuggled down beside me. “Please, if you think it will be alright, I’d like the window opened.”
Dante unlocked the window and managed to open it a few inches. “It seems stuck. Oh well, this will do. We don’t want you getting too cold.”
I shifted in the bed. Turning my head I closed my eyes. The cool breeze washed over my face and I drank in the fresh air.
“Well, I’ll leave you to it. Elise will be by in a while to help you bathe.”
I cracked open one eye. “Bathe? I had a bath yesterday.”
Dante frowned. “So?”
“I only take baths on Wednesdays and Sundays.” I laid back and closed my eyes.
“We’ll see about that,” Dante muttered under his breath before the door clicked shut.
I waited a few more minutes, making sure he was far away. I tossed the blankets off of me and sat up. It took less than a minute for the dizziness to pass today. Yesterday it had taken a lot longer.
My arms trembled as I pushed myself to the edge of the bed. I dangled my legs over the side of the bed. My feet dangled a good foot above the blue rug. Truscott whined as I slid off the bed. Holding onto one of the bedposts I let my legs take my wait.
I closed my eyes as a wave of dizziness swept over me. They have wanted me to take it easy but I wasn’t going for it. The sooner I was up and better the sooner I could go home.
Truscott pressed against my legs and I rested my hand on his head. Taking a step I smiled. My legs were weak but I could still walk. It took awhile but finally we made it to the window. I crawled up onto the window seat and pressed my forehead to the cool glass.
It was heavenly. I drew the dark, blue drapes closed. Alone I allowed the tears to fall.
Outside a grey sky cried with me. December was everything November was not. The warm weather we had happily accepted was gone. But instead of snow it rained, a hard, cold rain. A rain that made the world as dreary as I felt. It pelted against the glass window panes, running down to soak the stone sills and scroll work.
I ran my finger listlessly down the glass. I was weak, I knew that. I would stay here until I had my strength back. Then I would be gone, away back to where I belonged.
The drapes parted and a black nose followed by a brown muzzle appeared. Two bright, brown eyes peered at me.
“Truscott.” I pat the seat beside me and the dog jumped up beside me.
Truscott pressed his nose to my arm and I rubbed his ears. He comforted me when nothing else could.
“God,” I raised my eyes to the sky, “can you give me a hand here? Just tell me what I’m doing here. I really want to go home.”
Truscott curled beside me and began to snore. I laughed. If only I could fall asleep that fast and leave my troubles behind me. I leaned against the wall and turned back to staring out the window.
For a moment I wondered what this place would look like in the spring and summer. I shook my head. I couldn’t think like that. Before this place even saw a hint of green I would be gone.
Quincy would have had her baby by now, I was sure of it. I wondered if Macy missed me. I missed her. Her sweet smiles and the smell of little girl, all the things I loved seemed so out of reach now.
A tear rolled down my face and I wiped it away impatiently. I couldn’t feel sorry for myself. If I got depressed I’d never get out of here.
“Come on, Crystal, you can do it girl.” I gave myself a shake and straightened.
I would beat this. I was a survivor.
I pulled up the cotton and lace top I wore. There on my stomach as a bright red scar. I touched it and hissed as the pain ran through my body. Gingerly I pressed my fingers to the small of my back. More bubbled skin met my fingers. I shook my head. That was four scars from three bullets.
I hadn’t yet met the doctor that saved me. He had the habit of coming when I was sleeping. But when I did see him I would demand that he tell me how bad it was.
I shivered and rubbed my arms. Taking one last breath of the fresh air I closed the window. Too bad they didn’t open any farther. If they did I’d climb out and be on my way.
I lifted my head. Peeking between the drapes I saw Savannah standing in the doorway. Her perfect blond curls framed her face and she wore a blue dress that matched her eyes.
“Miss Crystal? Are you in here?”
I smiled to myself. Leaning back against the wall I waited.
“Dante! She’s not in here.”
I peered out to see Savannah’s skirts swish out of the room.
From somewhere in the vast house I heard Dante’s voice. “Of course she is, Savannah. Where else would she be?”
Hurried footsteps sounded in the hall and Dante’s voice echoed through my room. “Crystal, stop hiding.”
I giggled. Would he know where to find me? I wasn’t about to leave my hideaway.
“I told you she’s not in here.” Savannah sounded close to tears. “What if she left and is lying somewhere hurt even more? What will we do?”
“Savannah, stop it.”
Savannah seemed to be worry wart to me. The one time I had seen her I also knew her to be person who followed the rules to the letter.
Truscott raised his head and growled low in his throat.
“Sshh.” I patted his head.
But it was too late.
“She’s behind the drapes,” Dante said.
The drapes pulled back and I blinked up at them.
“Crystal, you should be in bed, resting.” Dante crossed his arms and glared at me.
I shrugged. “I’m resting here. It’s comfy enough.”
“You gave me such a shock,” Savannah said pressing a hand to her chest. “I swear my heart nearly jumped out of my chest when I didn’t see you.”
I wasn’t repentant at all but I said it anyway, “I’m sorry. I’ll leave a note the next time I leave my bed.”
Dante laughed. I smiled up at him. His laughter was deep, the kind that came from the belly, a true laugh. Savannah just looked annoyed.
“Come on, time to get you back in bed.” Before I could protest, Dante scooped me up and swung me out of the window.
Savannah hurried to the bed and turned back the covers. Dante laid me down and she put the blankets back over me.
“Now, next time you want to move somewhere ask for help.” Dante stood over me, a frown on his face. “How did you get there anyway?”
“I walked.” I snapped my fingers and Truscott jumped to the floor and onto my bed.
“Down, dog,” Savannah said pointing at the floor.
Truscott buried his head under the blankets and ignored her.
“He’s just as stubborn as she is,” Dante muttered.
“I taught him everything he knows.” I smiled cheekily at the both of them.
“What did they teach you in the slums?” Savannah fussed with the coverlet again.
I closed my eyes.
“Let’s leave her to rest.” Dante’s voice sounded softly close to my head.
Then the sound of their breathing disappeared. My door clicked shut and I was alone again.
“God,” I whispered. “Thank you for them. Be with my family until I get back. Let Macy know that I haven’t deserted her.”