Alright i really hope somone reads this because this was one of the most draining chapters ive ever wrote ive had tough relationships recently and this was...hard so please i hope you read this through :)
I ran my finger across the horseshoe bruise over his heart one more time. I timidly took my hand away from him, “Sean…” I squeaked in agony. He slowly pulled me into him, resting his head on top of mine. I slowly put my arms around him but making sure my hold wasn’t too tight so he didn’t fall into a million pieces, “Does it hurt?”
“No…” he whispered into my hair.
I sniffed and backed away from him, “You’re lying…” He didn’t say anything; he just stared at the ground. I sat down hard on his bed, hiding my face in my hands.
“Erica…” Sean whispered, sitting down softly next to me.
“I was six. Dad, mom and I went to a rodeo in Austin. It was a huge event and the best were competing in it. My dad’s friend, Pedro, was competing in bronc riding.” I continued, my hands still covering my face, “He was an amazing rider and… experienced. When it was his turn I remember my dad’s expression, Pedro was one of my dad’s closest friends. The second he was out of the chute he lost his balance and was falling.” I sighed, “He hit the ground like a led weight but the horse’s hooves pierced his body like he was a stick of butter. I remember… the crack… when the horses hoof went straight through his chest cavity and… his heart.” I looked up; tears now streaming down my cheeks, Sean’s face was as white as a freshly bleached sheet. “He died instantly…”
I started sobbing now, Sean tightly wrapping his arms around me. “You were this close!” I screamed, jumping up in frustration, my arms flailing. “You were this close… to being killed!” I started pacing back and forth, my hysteria matching the feeling felt at the rodeo when Pedro lay lifeless on the ground. I vigorously rubbed my face, “Do you understand that I can’t live without you? What would have happened Sean?! What could’ve…” I was already falling but luckily Sean caught me and I crumpled into his arms.
He sat down on his bed, picking me up with him, and let me sit on his lap and cry myself out into his shoulder. I remember Maria, Pedro’s wife, doing the same thing I was doing this very second, weeping over her husband’s gruesome death. It’s every cowgirl or cowboy’s absolute fear- losing their spouse in a rodeo accident. The remorse they feel for encouraging them, the pain of watching them die. And that almost happened to Sean. I kept on with my sobbing and my screaming- re-running the incident in my head, watching him being trampled… Eventually I started to calm down, and then there was silence.
Sean put his forehead on mine, “I’m sorry.”
“It wasn’t your fault…” I responded, my voice still a bit ragged.
“But you’re upset, and I hate it when you’re upset.”
“But you’re hurt and I hate it when you’re hurting.”
I kissed his nose. I got off of his lap and sniffed, walking over to the pot with the roots in it. I grabbed a dish cloth and brought it over to the bed. I wet it in the tea and left the pot on Sean’s side table. I used my forearm to wipe the tears salting my cheeks, I didn’t want to see the bruises, hell I wanted to pretend they didn’t exist but they needed to be taken care of. “Stand up… let’s get your shirt off.”
As delicately as I could I pulled his sling off with just his bandage showing now, “Can you bend it?” I asked, referring to his elbow.
“Better not try…” he grunted as he finally got it off. I pulled his sleeve off of one arm and then the next. I scanned his arms, only a few knick here and there, nothing like the brands on his chest.
“Sit,” I said, nodding towards the bed. I sat next to him with the cloth soaked and ringed out with the brew. I gently dabbed at the grotesque mounds of black and blue, trying not to barf. That’s one thing I have a problem with whether it’s horses or people I’m not totally stomach-proof when it comes to the medical field.
He caught my expression and leaned forward to lay his lips on my forehead and he kept them there for a while. I sighed and scooted closer but he just scooped me up and put me on his lap until I was facing him cross legged. I held the cloth on a particularly sickening contusion and leaned my forehead on his shoulder. “Thank you for doing this…” he whispered.
“It’s the least I can do,” I whispered back in an almost desperate tone of voice because I know what I’m doing is useless and not good enough.
“I don’t want you to worry about me,” he said flatly.
I laughed sarcastically, “Oh okay that’s easy enough.” I could feel the muscles in his neck closing his face into a frown. I removed the cloth and made sure the bruise had soaked in enough of the healing nutrients from the tea. I moved onto the next patch of discoloration, “Tell me if it hurts.”
As I put pressure on the next bruise he breathed in sharply. I yanked my hand away and peered at him in search of any sign of pain. Luckily he was a good liar and smiled, “Didn’t feel a thing.”
I bit my lip and hid my head on his shoulder again so he wouldn’t see my eyes pile up with tears. This time I made sure to use the least amount of pressure possible. To distract myself I started tracing the veins on his other hand. He shuddered at my ticklish light touch. I sighed and moved onto the next bruise. After all the bruises had soaked up enough of the root concoction and turned into a pruney kind of state I stood up and stretched, “Do you have any bruises on your legs?” I asked, hoping the answer to be no.
He nodded, “It’s a bad one though, I don’t think that would help.”
I shrugged, disappointed that I just keep finding new injuries on Sean, “Might as well try.”
“But,” he interrupted me, “it’s pretty gruesome,” he explained making a disgusted face just picturing it.
I gulped, “I can handle it. Now take off your pants.”
He chuckled, “Yes m’am.”
I half-smiled and unstrapped his leg brace and slid it off. Sean and I were comfortable enough with each other that I didn’t care if he was half naked in front of me or not. On the leg without the leg brace was a bandage covering the mid section of his thigh.
“On a scale of one to ten, how bad?” I asked, trying to prepare myself.
He frowned, “Nine…”
I sucked in a gulp of hot air and started to unwrap the gauze. Underneath was a patch of cotton but it was soaked in some sort of fluid. I bit my lip and peeled it off revealing one of the most horrid, most repugnant, most hideous things I’ve ever seen or smelled. It was obviously another kick from the bastard bronc but it had penetrated the skin, although the gash not wide or deep enough for stitches. Oozy puss trickled from the wound like a leaky faucet, explaining the mysterious liquid soaking the cotton patch. As I realized what it was covered in I hurled it into the sink and dove for the bathroom door, making it to the toilet just in time to heave up all of today’s food I had taken in. Every time my stomach took a rest the image popped back into mind and I hurled again and again until I could finally picture the repellent image and manage to not regurgitate.
Sean hobbled quickly over to my side and tried to soothe me. He held back my hair and kept repeating, “I’m sorry Erica… I’m sorry…” I sat on the bathroom floor my arms hugging the toilet seat. Sean flushed the toilet and whispered again, “I’m sorry Erica I shouldn’t have let you see that… don’t worry about it…”
“No, I’m fine,” I muttered, standing up on shaky legs. I peeked down at Sean’s leg and managed to maintain my stomach, seeing that as a good sign. “Uh… go lay down on the bed I’ll be there in a second.” Sean left and I quickly took a swig of water from the bathroom sink and rinsed my mouth out with it. I hobbled back in and sat down beside his body.
As I got to take a closer look at it I noticed the wound around the horseshoe print wasn’t red which was a good sign. It seems the paramedics beat me to it with the antiseptic then.
“Okay,” I said slowly to myself and Sean. “I’m going to drip in some of this root tea and then put some antiseptic on it, which I’m assuming you have?” Sean nodded, pointing to a cabinet. “Good, then I’ll just bandage it back up again.” Sean groaned and I squeezed his hand with mine. “Just warning you, it’s probably going to sting when I drip this stuff in.”
“Great,” he muttered.
I sighed, rising and walking over to the cabinet which he had pointed to. In it I found a first aid kit complete with gauze, cotton and antiseptic- all I needed for my patient. I walked back over and sat on his bed next to him. I soaked the wash cloth in the tea bringing it over towards the wound.
“Get ready,” I warned.
He shrugged like it was no big deal, his eyes giving him away. I squeezed and dropped in no more than four drops but I could tell it hurt. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry…” I muttered as I fumbled for the antiseptic. I quickly sprayed some on and laid down a fresh cotton patch.
“Not…bad…” he grumbled, his nose crinkled at the pain or the smell, or both.
I started to wrap his thigh, glad that I got that over with. I pinned the gauze and he was finished. I looked up at him, “Be honest with me, do you feel better or worse?”
“Better, definitely,” he lied.
I sighed, grabbing his leg brace and starting to gently shimmy it up his leg. I strapped him in tightly and looked his mid section over- he looked awful. Tears started to prick my eyes once again, I tried to make him better and it didn’t work…
Before I could say anything I was already pulled into his lap, Sean’s strong arms surrounding me, “Thank you…/so/ much…” he whispered.
“I’m sorry I couldn’t do more,” I whispered back.
He put his hands on my neck, underneath my hair, his nose gently touching the tip of mine, “I couldn’t have been blessed with anyone better than you Erica… I mean it,” he said, gently touching his lips to mine.
I leaned back, giving him a weak smile and sniffing, “Where’s Becky?” I asked, realizing how late it is.
“She said her friend was having trouble delivering a foal a few miles down the road so she went to go help. She said she’d be back by now…”
I shrugged and stood up, “Are you all set?”
He smiled, trying to lift my confidence concerning his health, “Yep, feeling like a million bucks,” he said with a wink.
I leaned down and kissed his forehead, “Goodnight…call me if you need /anything./”
As I headed for the door he said softly, “I love you…”
“I love you too…” I whispered back. I closed the door gently and walked over to our lot. The second I saw my dad’s face as I stepped into the trailer I flung my body into the side of his and burst into tears.
He sat me down on the couch and let me cry into him, “Aw…Squirt…” He murmured.
I cried. For hours. Until I blacked out and gave into sleep.