The Pale Blue Sky

by Jack Lynch

Part 6 - Carey and Connor, Chapter 5


Everything was white.

Then it wasn't as white anymore. More like gray.

A forklift was backing up. Beep. Beep. Beep. The sound kept going but it seemed to change. It was less of a beep, beep, and more of a ping, ping. As it pulsed on, the pinging seemed to be timed with the beat of his heart. That was strange. He wasn't used to feeling his own heart beating in his chest.

His eyes fluttered and he looked up. He realized the not so white white was actually the ceiling of a room. There was nothing on the ceiling except a small light fixture. Just then, a woman came into his view from above. Was she hovering in the air over him? No, she was standing next to him, leaning over.

"Carey? Carey? Hello?" She smiled. "Hi there!"

He looked at her. He opened his mouth to say something, but his throat was so dry it was like it was glued shut.

Everything hurt. Hurt really bad. Stinging. Burning. Aching. Legs. Arms. Feet. Hands. Chest. Face. Everything. Even his hair hurt. He had a massive headache.

He smacked his lips a little. The woman, a nurse he now realized, grabbed a water bottle and a straw and brought it up to his mouth. His teeth ached but he was still able to suck a few drops into his mouth. His throat burned but he was able to swallow.

His eyes were fully open now. With great effort, he groaned as he turned his head to the right. The pinging was coming from a heart monitor. His nose was filled with the smell of alcohol and laundered cotton.

The nurse made adjustments to all kinds of tubes and cables.

She glanced at him again, smiled and said, "I'll get Dr. Patel to come talk to you."

She left the room.

Carey had questions. But his mind was so fuzzy. He couldn't think of what he wanted to ask first.

Minutes later, the nurse bustled in followed by a man in a white coat. He had dark hair and dark skin. The name embroidered on his lapel, said, "Dhruv Patel, MD."

"Carey, how are you doing?" he asked in a rich Indian accent.

What was he going to say? Gee, doc. I feel great. Can't wait to get out and run a few miles. He just looked at the doctor. He made a noise. Somewhere between a groan and a grunt.

Glancing at the nurse who was injecting something into an IV tube, "We're giving you some medicine now. The pain will lessen in just a couple of minutes."

He stopped for a moment as he tried to think of what to say.

"Do you know what happened to you?" Dr. Patel asked.

Carey couldn't talk. He shook his head.

"You were in a serious car crash. The car you were driving was hit broadside by a semi-trailer truck going at a very high speed."

No. That couldn't be, Carey thought to himself. He saw that truck just miss them. He saw it with his own eyes. He shook his head. His eyes started to water.

Dr. Patel continued, "You've been here six days. You were brought here by medevac helicopter."

There was a pause. Using every bit of strength he had, Carey finally whispered, "The others?"

Dr. Patel glanced to his right for a second. Then his gaze returned to Carey. With sad eyes, his mouth tightened into a grimace.

He shook his head.

"I'm sorry."

Carey could feel his eyes filling with tears.

"The two young men with you were killed instantly. The boy survived the crash. He fought bravely but he died the next day."

A pause.

"I believe his funeral is today."

Carey turned his head so his eyes faced the ceiling. The tears overflowed and ran in two streams down the sides of his head, one on each side.

Dr. Patel continued talking but Carey wasn't listening. A word or two crept in: recovery, rehab, surgery, learn to walk again, time.

Slowly, Carey turned his head to the left to look out the window next to his bed. He realized that he must be on one of the upper floors of the hospital because he couldn't see any buildings or even the tops of any trees.

The only thing he could see was…the pale blue sky.

The End

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