Rockford, Illinois, 2003 — Within a few seconds after opening her mixed-brown eyes, Kelly immediately squinted them against the bright lights surrounding her.
Where on Earth…hospital. She was in a hospital. What had happened again? She could only remember driving and another car appearing out of nowhere. Then there’d been flashing lights, people, and–
A soft snore penetrated her fogged mind and she turned her head to the right, seeing first the head of auburn hair laying on the space between her and the edge of the bed. Then the familiar face that somehow looked a decade older, and then…the hand that was barely touching hers.
Connor? She blinked. Sure, she shouldn’t have been surprised he’d show up at some point; he was a friend after all.
She moved her index finger, brushing it against his hand. He shifted, then straightened up and yawned. He glanced over and gave her a soft smile.
“Hey, Kel,” he said, moving the chair he was sitting in to be closer to her. “This is a silly question, but how are you feeling?”
“Terrible.” She sighed, adding, “Pray you never end up in a hospital like…this.” She gestured to herself.
His small smile didn’t reach his light brown eyes. “I’ll keep that in mind.”
“So,” she started, trying to smile herself. “What blew you in from the windy city?”
“You. Your grandma got a hold of me and told me about your hit-and-run accident. At the first chance I got, I came here.”
“How long have you been here?”
“Since this morning.” He yawned again, stretched, and glanced at the clock. “I should probably leave in about an hour though. After all, the streets won’t patrol themselves.”
Kelly studied his face, noting the weary look in his eyes. “Are you okay?”
She frowned, showing she didn’t believe him. “Something’s…off,” she told him. “You look like you want to say something. What is it?”
He looked down and fiddled with his hands. A few minutes passed before he said, “I was…worried about you. I was told secondhand that you barely escaped death. That if you’d landed in a different manner, you’d have likely died before you were found. Then I started thinking about what could’ve been and–” He abruptly stopped and she waited while he composed himself.
“Kelly,” he started. His voice was huskier than usual. “There’s something I need to tell you.”
One look. One look into his eyes was all it took to prompt her to say, “You love me, don’t you?”
He blinked. Then a smile slowly spread across his face, reaching his eyes as he said, “Yes.” His expression turned curious. “Do you–do you love me?”
Feeling as though she’d burst from happiness, Kelly smiled back and nodded.
©H.S. Kylian 2018
(Critiques are welcome and appreciated!)