Chapter Four

Two months later

Taylor looked around. Everything was white...he didn’t like that. He hated white. It meant death. Or precision cleanliness. Both royally sucked shit, in his opinion. A large black nurse appeared in front of him, with a huge, friendly smile.
“Hey, we doing today?”
Taylor sat up.
“How we doing? How about where we doing?”
The nurse grinned.
“Oh, sorry, hon. I forgot to tell you. You’re currently in the recovery ward at the Oklahoma State hospital. Bad accident...I don’t think you’ll be able to walk without crutches for quite a while, hon.”
Taylor looked down at his left leg, which was in a brace. He couldn’t wiggle his toes, and that alone scared him shitless.
“Soldier,” he muttered. The nurse (her nametag read Grace Owens) looked confused.
Taylor looked up at her. Her deep brown eyes were not unlike Veronica’s...and that made him miss her even more.
“Soldier,” he repeated. “My brother wrote a song when he was ten called Soldier. It was about a boy with lots of toys, and one of them was a one-legged soldier...and a ballerina,” he whispered, trailing off and getting a horrible sense of recognition. One-legged soldiers and could Zac have ever known it would end up the truth?
“Um, Nurse Owens? Did a girl about fifteen come in here, brown hair and brown eyes, real pretty?”
The nurse took a minute to think about that, then slowly shook her head.
“No...not that I know of. Any names you want me to look out for?”
Taylor nodded.
“Veronica...Veronica Chandler. Look for that.”
She nodded, and went to leave.
“Oh, can go home in about three or four days. I don’t think you’ll be fighting for a long time.”

Veronica sat on her bunk, crying softly into her hands. She only wished to be safe at home, with Dawn and maybe even Taylor, if wishes worked that way. But they usually didn’t. A hand touched her shoulder lightly, and she looked up at Zachary. He had changed so much since they brought him into this...his eyes used to sparkle with childhood liveliness. Now they were dull and clouded with pain, knowing what death was and sorely afraid of it. He sat down beside her, and wordlessly put his arms around her. She, in turn, slid her arms around him and they cried together, sick of fighting and scared for Taylor, whom they both knew had been attacked. Nobody would tell them anything, and they were both tired and frustrated.
“Oh, God, Zac...why did this have to happen to us? Why couldn’t it have happened somewhere else, after our time?”
Zac couldn’t answer her, and she knew he couldn’t. He just hugged her tighter and buried his face in her neck, sobbing in a way that she’d never seen a boy his age do. Zac suddenly sat straighter, with a look of sick horror on his face.
“I just remembered...they told me he got shot in the leg, Ronnie. One-legged soldiers and ballerinas...holy fuck, this isn’t happening.”
Veronica looked at him.
“I only slightly remember that don’t think?”
He shrugged.
“We can only hope and pray...because Soldier had a happy ending.”

"Being bed-ridden isn't so bad...there are lots of things you can do. Well, let's can sleep, or you can lie there awake..."

- The Old Lady, Marvin's Room

Back Home
Chapter Three
Chapter Five