The Aurora was lowering in the sky and seemed to be coming closer. The sparkling motes of light now seemed large and spherical as they fell and Sean could see some were farther from him than others. As each fell, it seemed to hit a different note of music that was faintly perceptible to his ears, but even though there must have been hundreds or thousands of different notes there was no cumulative volume to them. Now the motes were falling all around him as slowly as snowflakes. The Aurora was right on top of him. It was bathing him in its glow and motes of colored light fell on him as gently as snowflakes, only to disappear in those same musical notes.
Sean turned around, feeling light-headed and dizzy. “Holy moley!” he cried – and then he fell off the roof.
The next day, Roger was at Sherman Hospital, pushing Sean’s wheelchair through the hallway towards the elevator on the floor where Sean had spent the night under observation.
“I’m telling you, I’m fine,” Sean insisted again.
“You’re just lucky,” Roger said without sounding at all happy about it. “It’s amazing you fell three stories and didn’t get killed.”
“But the point is that I wasn’t. The doctors thought I had broken my legs. Then this morning they rechecked me and decided they were wrong and they were only sprained.”
“I know. Like I said, you were lucky.”
“Luck had nothing to do with it,” Sean said as he was pushed into the elevator. Roger scooted them over to one side so a fat nurse could step in with them. “Now this afternoon I’m walking again and the doctors are releasing me. I’m telling you, this isn’t natural healing. I’m healing faster now.”
“Or, a tired doctor misread your X-rays last night and you weren’t so badly injured to start with. People have fallen thousands of feet when their parachutes don’t open and land unhurt. It just happens sometimes.”
“And were they touched by the Aurora before it happened? I’m telling you, something special happened up there last night. This is my origin story!”
Roger paused before responding. The nurse was staring at them. “Head injury,” Roger said as a made-up explanation for her. “He’s a little delusional right now.”
The nurse did not respond, but stepped out of the elevator first when they reached the ground floor. She held the elevator door for them as Roger pushed the wheelchair out.
“My head is fine,” Sean said. “I don’t even need this wheelchair.”
“Hospital procedure,” the nurse said as boringly as if she had explained this a hundred times already that morning. “All patients exit the building in a wheelchair.” She did not stay to chat or even wait for a response, but headed down a separate hallway from them.
“Sean, you’ve got to stop this,” Roger said. “I’ve always supported you being Captain Amazing because of the good things you did and because it was, well, you know, cool – but if I’d known you were jumping around on rooftops I would have kicked you out long ago.”
“I can’t believe you’re being so unsupportive,” Sean said sullenly. There was a moment’s pause as he thought. Roger was wheeling him through the winding, crowded corridors as fast as they could manage towards the waiting rooms. A likely explanation rose to Sean’s mind – Roger’s girlfriend. “Did Lauren put you up to this?”
“Nope,” Roger said as he finally pushed Sean through the doors that led into the waiting room. Lauren Avery was standing out there. Unlike Roger, who was wearing a polo shirt and jeans because he had the day off, Lauren must have just come off work as she was still wearing her FedEx uniform.
Sean did not suspect Lauren long when he saw who was standing beside her. “Hello, Jill,” he said coldly.
Jill Petran, even out of her scrubs, looked right at home in the hospital. Sean speculated that she routinely visited the rooms of dying patients as their angel of death when she was off-duty as a nurse. “Good to see you didn’t get killed, Sean,” she said, but she did not sound like she meant it.
“Good to see you too,” Sean said, without meaning it either. “Can I get out of this wheelchair now?” he asked Roger.
“The nurses said you could get up once you’re outside,” Roger responded quietly, not wanting to be drawn into the veiled hostility between Sean and Jill.
“I wonder if I’m the only one in this hospital whose kid brother fell off a roof while playing at being a superhero yesterday,” Jill asked.
Sean, eager to be on his feet again and not looking helpless in a wheelchair in front of Jill, began wheeling himself forward so that Jill would have to step out of his way. “I wonder if I’m the only one here with an arrogant older sister,” Sean shot back. Had he really been feeling cruel, he would have emphasized the “older”, knowing that Jill hated being 32.
“Sean, be nice,” Lauren said. “Jill paid your hospital bill for you.”
Sean groaned and rolled his eyes. Perfect. Another reason to feel indebted to Jill.
“I’ll pay it back,” Sean grumbled.
“No, you won’t,” Jill said as she took over pushing Sean’s wheelchair to the doors. “We’ll discuss it on the car ride home.”
Sean squinted at the bright daylight outside and his legs felt weak when he forced himself out of the wheelchair. Roger and Lauren had remained behind, so Sean was clearly meant to ride home with Jill. The Captain Amazing mask, gloves, and jacket were in a plastic bag hanging off the back of the chair. Sean slung the bag over his shoulder, grit his teeth, and forced himself not to limp on his way into the parking lot. No weakness in front of Jill.
Black Cat by Steve Rude
7 hours ago