Thursday, February 13, 2014

No Strings Attached Chapter 22

Ariana is not a family member and there are visiting policies in place at the ICU. Is there a way for her to see Jason anyways and tell him things she needs to say?


Ariana’s heart was racing as she walked through the automatic doors into the foyer of the hospital. There was a reception to the right and a large sign in the middle of the foyer showing a map of the hospital and all the different units. On the map she found the Intensive Care Unit displayed on the second floor. When she looked around she couldn’t find any kind of signage directing to the ICU and she walked over to the reception and asked the lady behind the desk. With a friendly smile the lady explained to Ariana where she had to go and even offered to escort her to the ICU but Ariana declined, assuring the receptionist that she would find it on her own.

Ariana took the elevator up and once she stepped out turned to the right. As she walked through the hallway with arrows pointing to the ICU she felt her heart beat in her neck. She had not been this nervous in a long time. She reached the ICU waiting area with comfortable looking chairs, tables, an aquarium with colorful fish and an area with vending machines and a coffee dispensing machine. Obviously this waiting area was designed for longer periods of waiting. Two large doors leading into the ICU were locked. To her right she found a door bell with the words “Please ring for assistance” printed under it.

Momentarily after she had pushed the button a female voice answered, “Yes, can I help you?”
Ariana felt her own voice tremble, “I am here to see Jason Flanagan.”
“Are you a family member?”
Ariana felt panic as she feared the worst of possibly not being able to see Jason.
For a moment she considered lying but then answered, “I am his girlfriend.”
The voice on the intercom replied, “Only family members are allowed to see him.”
Ariana felt a knot in her throat, swallowing, “Is there any way I can see him? I really need to see him. It is very important.”
“I am sorry but only family members are allowed to see Jason at this time. You can keep checking back though in the next few days.”
Ariana felt her whole body tremble as she begged, “Please, I really need to see Jason. How can I make that happen? Is there anything I need to do? I will do anything.”
Tears in her eyes made her vision blurry and she could barely talk but all she got in reply was, “I am so sorry Miss, there is nothing I can do. Please just keep checking back every day and maybe depending on how Jason is doing the visiting policy will be lifted. Can I get your name?”
“Ariana Sands.” She choked under tears.
“Could you just wait for a moment?”
“O.K.” She closed her eyes and praying that there would be some way for her to see Jason. She couldn’t bear it if they wouldn’t let her see him.
It took a moment and the voice came on again, “Ariana? Mr. Flanagan, Jason’s father will be right out to talk to you.”

Ariana was very surprised now but also relieved that maybe there was a chance for her to see Jason if his dad would come out to talk to her. She stepped away from the door over to the side and waited until after a few moments the doors automatically opened and a man, obviously Jason’s dad, walked out. Ariana could see the resemblance right away and quickly she wiped over her face as Jason’s dad walked over with a smile, “Ariana?”
Ariana nodded nervously and hoped Jason’s dad wouldn’t see her tears but Darryl had already seen them, “Hi I am Darryl, Jason’s dad!”
He stood in front of Ariana and held out his hand. Ariana took it with a low greeting, “Hi Darryl, I am happy to meet you.”
Darryl smiled, “It is nice to meet you.” He gestured to some chairs over to the far side of the waiting area, “Let’s sit down for a moment.”

Ariana walked ahead and sat down, Darryl took a seat next to her. He saw her shiny eyes and the trails of tears on her face and said softly, “Are you all right?”
She nodded weakly and asked, “How is Jason?”
Darryl looked down for a moment, sighed and then back up at Ariana, “He is getting better.”
When he didn’t say anything else Ariana said nervously, “I am so sorry to hear about him being sick, his friend Britt contacted me. As soon as I found out I took a taxi over here and I was hoping so much I could see him. I had no idea.”
Darryl said lowly, “I heard a lot about you from Jason.”
At his comment Ariana got nervous wondering what Jason had told his dad about her. She didn’t know what to say and Darryl continued, “I am not sure what is going on between you and Jason but I thought that it was….” he paused and looked at Ariana, “…over, you know?”

Ariana felt her tears come back and looked down, trying to keep her composure. She looked back up at Darryl and stuttered nervously, “I…it has been…complicated…but I really care…for Jason and when I heard about…him…being sick…” she stopped and felt her voice choke under the tears.
Darryl watched her closely and could tell she was struggling to keep herself collected. He sat up and softly touched her arm, her hands were clutched together tightly as she trembled and couldn’t stop her tears anymore, “I really care about Jason and I….didn’t want to hurt him…..and I….”
She was incapable to talk anymore and Darryl replied softly, “I think he cares a lot about you as well, Ariana.” Ariana looked up at Darryl with tear filled eyes and Darryl shifted in his chair, “I will go in there and see if they somehow can let you see him with my consent. I am not sure if they will but I will try, o.k.?”
Ariana nodded, patting her cheeks with a tissue she had pulled out of her purse, “Darryl, it would mean so much…to me. Jason…” she stopped again, took a breath, “…he means so much to me.”
Darryl nodded and got up, “Let me see what I can do.”
She watched him get up, “O.k.”
Darryl then smiled down at her, “It will be all right. I will be right back Ariana.”

He disappeared through the ICU door again, getting buzzed in without a problem after he had stated his name. The following moments seemed like eternity to Ariana, she was still crying, tried to dry her face as good as possible and waited for Darryl with trembling hands and a racing heartbeat.

After a few minutes Darryl came back out and Ariana jumped up expectantly looking at Darryl who nodded at her, “You can see him.” It felt like a huge weight dropped from her shoulders when she heard the four words. Darryl softly touched her back, “Come with me.”
They got buzzed into the ICU again.

Ariana was relieved that they would let her in but at the same time she felt even more nervous now as she walked beside Darryl through the doors into the ICU. She came into a dimly lit hallway and saw rooms with large windows, some with the curtains drawn, some curtains open and buzzing and beeping noises everywhere. She heard low noises of people in the rooms and nurses in the hallway. As she walked by the nurses station with Darryl’s hand still on her back she saw the nurses eyeing her curiously, making her feel like an intruder into the hallowed space of the ICU and Darryl being her savior of having the power to let her see Jason.   
Still guiding her softly Darryl said, “Jason is in room 1202, it is further down the hallway. His nurse is back there and she knows you are coming.”

Ariana walked down the hallway with Darryl next to her, passing rooms 1210 through 1203, until they reached 1202. The curtains were not drawn and she caught a glimpse of Jason in the bed.
They stopped in front of the room and Darryl looked over into the room, “He is still very weak but progressing.”

Just then a nurse came out of the room and greeted Ariana, “Hi Ariana, you are here to see Jason?” Ariana glanced at the nurse’s name tag, Becky.
Ariana nodded and Becky kept on, “Well, he is somewhat awake right now but still weak. We ask you use hand sanitizer before you go in, wear a mask and not touch Jason. His immune system is suppressed right now and we can’t afford any kind of further infection. We are limiting his visitors to not put him at risk. Darryl gave his permission for you to be able to see Jason but if he gets stressed from the visit we have to ask you to leave and let him rest. Too much commotion can disrupt our patient’s recovery process.” With that Ariana felt a cool look from Becky.  

She was intimidated at the strict ruling of the nurse but Ariana only wanted to see Jason and she never wanted to put him at risk for anything. So she nodded in understanding and Nurse Becky gave her a smile and nod and walked away.

Ariana looked over at a smiling Darryl, “She just seems like a “you know what”…she is really not that bad.”
He laughed lowly and Ariana kept her eyes on him, “Darryl, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for letting me see Jason. It means so much to me.” Her face was still wet with tears and she tried to explain, “Jason and I….we are…..it…I really…”
She didn’t know how to finish, she had no idea how much Darryl knew about her and Jason.
Darryl still smiled assuring, “Don’t worry about anything…are you ready to go in?”

Ariana nodded. They sanitized their hands and slipped the masks over their mouths and noses. Darryl let her step into the room first. Ariana thought her heart would burst out of her chest, she felt her hands tremble and knees get weak as she slowly walked up to the bed and seeing Jason in this state. She saw all the IV lines attached to Jason and ending at the bags of medications hanging over the bed. The sheet was only slightly draped over his waist and legs and there were sticky sensors on his chest. He had IV lines running into his right arm and back of his hand. Darryl walked up around Ariana and she felt his hand reassuringly on her back again as he leaned over Jason and said somewhat loudly, “Jay, can you hear me, son? You have a visitor.”

Ariana looked at Jason, his mouth was covered with white medical tape and the tubing coming out of his mouth attached to the ventilator on the side of his bed, which made a humming sound and showed blinking lights monitoring his breathing. There was some tubing in his nostrils, the tubing ending at a bag with a yellowish liquid. Jason had his eyes closed and Ariana had tears in her eyes seeing him like this.

Darryl attempted to arouse Jason again, “Jason, Ariana is here.”
At those words Jason’s eyelids twitched a little bit.
Darryl stood up and said softly to Ariana, “He is getting better.”
Ariana couldn’t take her eyes off Jason’s face and said lowly, “What are all the things he is hooked to?”
“He is still on the ventilator, a nasogastric feeding tube, lots of different IV’s, meds and fluids, catheter and others.”

Ariana felt the urge to touch Jason but remembered Becky’s stern ruling.
Darryl leaned over Jason again, “Come on son; wake up for us.”
Darryl stepped back and said, “Maybe if you say something. They say he can hear us now.”
Ariana was nervous and cleared her throat, then said softly, “Jason, it’s Ariana. I am here with you. Can you hear me?”

Jason’s eyelids twitched again and while Ariana was leaning over him she watched as he slowly opened his eyes like it was the hardest thing to do. He didn’t open them all the way but just a little, his dark eyes barely visible.
Ariana said, “Can you see me? Jason, baby?”
Jason opened his eyes some more and Ariana saw his dark brown eyes and shiny pupils. He seemed to try to focus on her and she stood up a bit. Jason’s eyes followed her face and stayed on it.
Ariana felt her vision blurry and she couldn’t help tears from running down her face when she leaned over again, “Jason, I am here.”
Darryl saw Jason somewhat focusing on Ariana and said softly with his hand on Ariana’s back, “I will give you some time with him. I will be outside and be back in a little while.”
Ariana looked after him, “Thank you.”

Darryl walked out of the room, drew the curtain and closed the door to give Ariana some privacy with Jason. Ariana looked around the room, trying to ignore the beeping sounds and all the monitors flickering. Her eyes came back to Jason and she saw his eyes open more and still focused on her.

She leaned down a bit, “Jason, I have missed you so much. I can’t stop thinking about you. Jason, I need you to get well again. I realized a lot of things lately; I know what I want now.”

Her tears were flowing as she talked to him and she realized Jason’s eyes moving around her face. All the sudden a tear dripped right on Jason’s cheek and his eyes seemed to flicker and he moved his head slightly.

She had a difficult time talking, “I wish I could hug and touch you Jason, but I am not allowed to. I don’t want you to get worse. I want to hold you and I want to feel you next to me, Jason.”
She hung her head, crying, “I was wrong Jason. I never meant to hurt you, never….I know now that I feel so much more for you than just a fling. I am so sorry. I was stupid and ignorant and I want us to be together.”  

All the sudden she saw tears slowly rolling out of the corners of Jason’s eyes. Seeing his tears made her cry even more. With a tear filled muffled voice under the mask she said, “Jason, I love you!”

His eyes seemed to flicker even more and he moved his head toward Ariana, triggering the monitor to beep announcing a fluctuation in his heart rate. Ariana wanted to touch him so badly, his hair, his face and his body, “Jason, I need you to get well again. I miss you so much.”

Nurse Becky knocked on the door and came in. Ariana stepped back and let Becky do her job, “I am sorry Ariana. I need to check on his blood pressure and heart since the monitor is going off.”
Jason’s eyes followed Ariana and tears were still flowing out of his eyes. Becky saw it too and said leaning over him, “Hey what is all of this about Jason?”
Ariana wiped over her own eyes and put her hand to her masked mouth in worry. Jason had obviously heard her words which had triggered a reaction in him.
His eyes stayed on Ariana even when Nurse Becky was checking his heart monitor and telling him, “Jason, you need to calm down, buddy!”
Ariana felt bad for being the obvious source for Jason’s distress. When Becky had adjusted some things she turned to Ariana, “Only a few more minutes.”

Ariana didn’t want to leave yet. She walked back over to the bed. Jason’s eyes were alert on her. She could only hear the sounds of the ventilator measuring every breath Jason took. Just as Ariana leaned over him again suddenly he grabbed Ariana’s left wrist with his left hand and his eyes were dark and shiny on her as to tell her something. Ariana was worried and didn’t know what was going with Jason.

She leaned down closer to him, “Jason, baby, what is it? I am sorry Jason. I will come again if they send me away, tomorrow and every day until you get out of here.”
His grip on her wrist tightened and as Ariana said, “Jason, you are not allowed to touch me”, he pulled her hand over to his chest and with his hand around her hand he pushed her hand flat on his heart, the whole time staring at her with shiny dark eyes.

The warmth of his bare skin radiated into her hand and she felt his heartbeat, fast and close. The machine was beeping again and she could see Jason’s chest rise up and down quicker than before. Tears were still flowing from his eyes as he pressed her hand firmly on his heart. Ariana could now feel his racing heartbeat under her hand. She cried as he held her hand there and didn’t let her move.

Just then Becky came in and when she saw both their hands on Jason’s chest her expression turned serious. She didn’t object but said, “Ariana, you are causing quite a stir in here. I am sorry, but he has to rest now.”
Ariana looked at her with teary eyes and Becky’s face showed some compassion, “I didn’t see your hands together but you know you are risking him getting sick. I know you don’t want that for him.”
She walked to the door and said, “He will sleep again in a moment, it’s better for him.”

Ariana nodded at Becky, she couldn’t say anything, and she felt like the knot in her throat was suffocating her. She could feel Jason’s warm hand on hers still flat on his heart. Slightly lifting his right hand with all the IV lines in it he actually raised his middle finger toward the door following Becky. Ariana thought she saw a trace of a smile in his eyes, but they were wet from tears still. They looked at each other until Jason’s hand lost its force and even though he tried to keep his eyes open, after a few minutes the sedative kicked in again and right before his eyes stayed shut Ariana managed to tell him once more into his ear, “I love you Jason!”

Ariana softly pulled her hand out from under Jason’s hand on his chest. Then she just looked at him sleeping and she could still see the moist trails from the corners of his eyes just like her own eyes were still wet from crying. She just stood and watched him. He was sleeping again without even being able to make his own decision on the situation.

Ariana didn’t want to leave, she just wanted to stay there and sit next to the bed. She pulled a chair up and sat in it, silently watching him breathe, his chest rising up and down and the ventilator humming, the blood pressure monitor beeping a steady rhythm.

Darryl came into the room again.
Quietly he leaned the door almost shut and glanced over at Jason, “He is out again?”
Ariana nodded, “Yeah, I don’t think he wanted to be put to sleep.”
Darryl came up to the bed and pulled the other chair over and sat next to Ariana.
She told him, “He gave the nurse a middle finger.”
“He did? Did she see it?”
“No.”
Darryl laughed, “That’s him all right. Almost back to his old self.”

After a moment pause he asked, “Are you going to hang around some more then?”
Ariana nodded, “If you don’t mind I would like to.”
Darryl replied, “No, I don’t mind at all. Was he happy to see you?”
“I hope so.”
Darryl had not missed the shiny trails on Jason’s face.

Ariana looked over at Darryl, “Darryl, I appreciate so much that you let me see him. Jason is….” she swallowed, then said with a tremble, “…he is very important to me. I care a whole lot about him.”
Darryl nodded, “I think he feels the same way about you. I was a bit worried though because he said things had been difficult between you two and I didn’t think he would see you again.”
Ariana looked down on her hands, “There are things I have to sort out but I want Jason to be in my life and I want to be in his life. You know he misses Northern California very much?”
Darryl nodded, “I know, he never did like it very much down here, too dry and too hot for him. I know he is only here because of me.”
“I am from Northern Cali.”
“Is that so? Where are you from?”
“Arcata.”
“That is where my sister lives, Jason’s aunt. What a coincidence…does Jason know?”
Ariana nodded, “Yeah, we were really surprised when we found out we both were from there.”
“So how did you end up down here?”
Ariana told Darryl her story about moving down to Vegas with Trey a few years earlier and she ended, “Well, I got a job here and just haven’t moved back to Cali, but I really want to.”

Darryl looked at Jason and then back at Ariana, “Jason told me you are an escort?”
Ariana was caught off guard, surprised that Jason had told Darryl about her job. She sighed and looked down onto her hands nervously, “Yes, I am.”
Darryl asked lowly, “Do you enjoy doing this for a living?”
Ariana looked up at Darryl, “It pays really well and I am trying to save money for my move back to Cali.”
“I see.” Darryl looked over at Jason again, then back at Ariana and smiled, “I really hope you two can work it out…Jason has been lonely since the accident.”

Ariana nodded and looked at Jason, who was breathing in a slow and regular rhythm now.
It was almost 9 o’clock and together Ariana and Darryl walked out of the hospital.

Darryl had his truck there and asked Ariana, “Do you have a car?”
Ariana answered that she was going to catch a taxi.
Darryl looked at her with a warm smile, “I would love to give you a ride home.” Ariana thought for a moment if she should accept Darryl’s offer and decided to decline.
Darryl confirmed, “Are you sure? It would be no problem for me.”
Ariana nodded, “I am o.k. Darryl. Thanks so much for the offer though.”

Darryl smiled and stopped in his step, “Ariana, I am very happy you came to see Jason and glad to have met you today. I am sure it meant a whole lot to him. You seem like a good woman and I hope to see you again. You know, Jason will pull through this, he is a tough guy, always has been and it is the hardest thing for him to be depending on others with so many things, being disabled and not able to offer a whole lot. He has been there for me and he still is, but I am not going to be around forever and I want him to be happy.  He is a good kid who has lost his passion for life somewhat but I have a feeling you got what it takes to give him back that passion. If there is one thing he has not done yet is giving up. He has been weary and tired but he is not ready to give up on life yet. When he first met you and talked about you I saw this glow in his eyes I had not seen in forever and it made me so happy.”

With that Darryl touched Ariana’s arm lightly and said, “Take care Ariana and I hope to see you soon again. I had the ICU put you on the regular visitor list so you can go see Jason whenever you please.”
Ariana smiled, “Thank you so much Darryl, you don’t know how much this means to me. I plan on going to visit Jason every day.”
She looked down for a moment and added softly, “I care a lot about Jason; I want to be there for him and with him.”
Darryl smiled, “Good, I am very happy to hear that. I will probably see you around then. I try to visit him as often as possible when I feel o.k.”
They said their Good Bye’s and with a slight hesitation Ariana eventually stepped closer to Darryl and gave him a hug which he replied with his own warm hug.
 
Soon thereafter Ariana sat in the taxi and played everything over and over in her head and thought about Jason. She was certain now that she wanted to be with Jason. How could she have thought that her plan would work to just have a sexual fling with him? She felt like slapping herself for being so ignorant. She loved him and the way he had reacted to her words seemed that he felt the same way. Nothing was more important to her now than seeing Jason get better and making things right with him. Her thoughts also drifted to the girl Britt and she wondered what the status was between Britt and Jason and she worried. She was nervous about the meeting with Britt on Saturday

7 comments:

  1. I am loving this story and can't wait for the next chapter.

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  2. This is so heart breaking! I wish Jason gets well fast enough. I can't wait for the next chapter!

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  3. Beautiful and spectacular! You writing has gotten so good. You're become a keen storyteller. Thank you so much for posting every week!

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  4. Well handled! I love reading this story, and you always add interesting layers upon previous chapters.

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  5. Wow, what an emotional read.
    It is such a unique story.
    I just love it.
    Brave of you to make Ariana less than perfect.
    So good and so touching. Thank you.

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  6. Wow! what a dilemma for Jason when he feels better. Thanks to Britt Ariana realizes her true feelings for him. Hope she will learn her lesson and stop playing around. But now I feel sorry for Britt. Let's see where it goes and how they all sort things out

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  7. Thanks so much for your comments, I appreciate them so much

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