A Tale of Two Moons
When Harla did open her eyes, it was the middle of the night and her mother happened to be awake still. She looked like she was contemplating life heavily and there’s no better time for that than the middle of the night.
“Mom?” She sat up in bed, her brows furrowed from confusion.
“Harla! Rich, she’s awake. Get up,” Margaret spoke in a sort of whisper scream.
“What happened? Why am I here?”
“Oh, baby. You fainted and hit your head pretty hard.” She paused and looked into her eyes, speaking softly again, “And you haven’t been eating, have you?”
Harla detected two sets of weary eyes staring back at her in the dark room and it hit her. Her face colored itself from pale to a flushed pink hue in a matter of seconds as tears filled her gaze and stained her cheeks. “Mom, I’m so sorry. I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”
They raced to her side and held her fragile body in a delicate embrace.
“It’s okay, Harla. You’re going to be just fine,” her mother stammered through a flood of sentiments. “Get some rest. Your body needs it.”
As the next day approached and Harla regained some of her strength, she just couldn’t find it in herself to be thankful for her health. She was ashamed that her secret had been found out but mostly, she felt discouraged that all her hard work would be counteracted now that her parents will make sure she eats and keeps it all down.
Her parents anxiously paced the room making necessary phone calls to request time off of work while the nurse checked her vitals. When the doctor came in to speak to her, she felt overwhelmed with all the unwanted attention and exaggerated expressions on the familiar faces surrounding her. He proceeded to ask her a series of questions which she found intrusive and was met with brutally honest answers laced with utter discontent.
“Can you take this thing out of me, please?” She asked in an aggravated tone referring to the IV in her arm.
“Sure. You think you can eat something?” The doctor asked with a smile ignoring her bitter resentment toward him.
“Great. We’ll bring you something.” He motioned for the nurse to remove the needle while he jotted notes on his clipboard before heading out the door again.
“I need to get out of this bed.” She stretched her legs over the edge and carefully slid down.
“Is that a good idea? I don’t think you’re strong enough to walk, honey.”
“I’m fine, Mom.” She could depict concern painted on their faces and realized she had just put them through something fairly traumatic. She needed to humor them or at the very least, ease up on them. The only way they would feel better is if they saw progress. “I’m hungry. I don’t want to wait for the nurse to bring me jello or pudding or whatever they make you eat in here. Can you guys get me some fruit from the cafeteria?” She would say anything to clear the room if it meant a few minutes of freedom from being constantly monitored and fussed over.
“Of course! We’ll be right back.” They jumped up and made their way to the elevator leaving her alone for the first time in hours.
This was her chance to leave the room if only just for a moment. She stepped down impatiently and staggered across the room, almost falling several times from her lightheaded state of being. Soon she was able to manipulate her feet to walk slowly and carefully enough to make it out of her room, just in time to bump into another patient and knock his bag of chips out of his hand to scatter across the shiny, hospital floor.
“Whoa! Aw man, I just bought those,” he exclaimed.
“Sorry, I didn’t see you. Here, let me help you.” She bent over forgetting the condition she was in and also that she was wearing a hospital gown that opens in the back. Even though she had tied the strings together tightly before leaving her room, it didn’t do a very good job at concealing her backside.
He laughed at the sight and said, “Hey, don’t worry about it. They’ll clean it for us sickies. Besides, you’re mooning the whole place.”
“Oh, my gosh!” She stood up quickly and instinctively held her hand to her forehead and grabbed onto the boy with her other hand so she wouldn’t tumble over.
“I got you. Where you staying?”
“Yeah, your room. Which one is it?”
She didn’t want to go back there, she only just escaped that fortress seconds earlier. “I’m fine, I just need some air.” She realized she was still holding his hand and jerked it away, looking slightly embarrassed.
“Okay.. Well, I’m-” Just then, he was cut off by a shrill voice.
“Levi! You’re supposed to be resting. Back to the room, now.” She was a tall woman with a strict manner about her. She glanced at Harla hastily then turned to walk back to whatever room she had just stormed out from.
“Levi.” His mouth pressed into a forced smile as if to say, ‘Awkward.’
“I take it that’s your mom?”
“How’d you guess? Dianne is a little short-tempered right now but that’s normal considering where we are.”
“You call your mom by her name?”
“Only when she’s not around to hear it.” His smile was distracting and she was presently at a loss for words creating an uncomfortable lull between them. He broke the awkward silence though, interrupting her temporary daze. “Well?”
“I shared my name. And you are?”
“Oh, I’m Harla.”
“Harla, that’s a pretty name. Well, I better get going before Dianne flips out again. It was nice bumping into you though. Maybe I’ll bump into you again.” He walked off in the opposite direction of his room and she wondered if he knew he was going the wrong way.
“I thought your room was the other way,” she called out to him.
“It is, but someone dropped my chips.” He turned and flashed her a charming smile and then he did something quite appalling. He deliberately untied his gown and turned to moon her just as she had done earlier, except her indecency was purely accidental.
As soon as his bare backside was exposed, Harla burst into laughter. “Oh my gah! What are you doing?”
“You show me yours, I’ll show you mine. It’s only fair.” With that, he turned the corner unashamed of his preposterous action, although his naked flesh turned a light shade of pink as if to blush for him.
She couldn’t believe the shameless nerve of that boy. Who was he to have such confidence in himself? But she had to give him his props for having the ability to make her laugh in the middle of a hospital full of sickly people. He was different and she liked different. Maybe this scary turn of events wasn’t all bad. She stood there smiling a little longer, too long actually.
“Harla, what are you doing out here? You shouldn’t be wandering the halls.”
She rolled her eyes at her mother’s insufferable habit of exaggerating every little thing. She was barely two feet from her door and to Margaret that was “wandering the halls.” She couldn’t wait for this all to be over, but it was only just beginning.