Continuation of 1.9 – Oranges
We arrived at the infirmary a short time later. An and I walked in and got directions to Patterson’s room. The nurse let us in but warned us that he was currently sleeping. I released a breath I didn’t realize I was holding. Was I scared to see him after all this time? No, it couldn’t be that. Did I feel responsible for his injury? Maybe terrified I would provide him with false hope? I couldn’t tell, but fate decided I wouldn’t have to face those fears just yet. We walked into the room and he looked much better than when I had last seen him. I looked at him, sleeping peacefully. The weight had returned to his face, he was all around healthier.
“What happened?” An asked.
“It was an accident while working the mines. A tunnel collapsed.”
“How’d he make it out of that?” She asked.
“I pulled him out and carried him the rest of the way. The controllers wanted to leave him. The nurses said I probably exacerbated the injury. But, otherwise, he would have died in that cave. Alone and stuck.”
I pursed my lips and blinked back a tear that threatened to make an appearance. I had done a decent job of repressing these feelings, but seeing him again brought them to the forefront.
“Is that why you want me to help?” An asked. “Because you feel guilty?”
I shrugged. Logic told me it wasn’t my fault but I did feel guilty. Eventually, I answered in the affirmative. I waited for An to tell me it wasn’t my fault, like the nurses and the few others who knew.
“I’ll help him,” she sat down and stared into space. “We’ll get him on his feet once we fix Ikalga.” She looked at me, eyes slightly glassy. “Did you want to stay until he wakes up?”
I shook my head. “Not yet.”
She stood and I followed her out of the room.