Mark had a better night and actually got about seven hours of sleep, which surprised even him.He woke up well rested and sat over breakfast at eight o’clock thinking about Chiara. She was either already in surgery or getting ready to go in soon. The doctor had told them that she was scheduled for eight thirty and the surgery would take about two to three hours.
Mark was planning to be there at eleven still, even if she wasn’t done yet but he wanted to be there when she woke up from the anesthesia. He was hoping very much he could possibly be in the recovery room with her but wasn’t sure if he would be allowed.
He was on his way out the door at shortly before eleven. The Honda was again parked across the parking lot in the furthest spot, watching from a distance as Mark got into his car, again taking pictures and again following him to Swedish hospital. Mark had no idea that he was being watched.
Meanwhile Trey and three other guys were leaving Astoria and heading up North on I-5, making his their toward Seattle.
Mark got to the hospital and Chiara was still in the recovery room. He found that out from the police officers stationed by her room.
“May I see her in the recovery room?”One of the two, Officer Newland, replied, “I’ve to make a phone call. I’m not sure really.”
Mark tried to be patient and calm, “Yeah, I’ll wait right here.”
While Officer Newland disappeared in the same office Mark had been in when he had to register.
Officer Barnard who sat on a chair right by the door asked, “So how are you doing today?”Mark was surprised somewhat at the personal question but answered, “I’m doing okay. Just hoping to see my girlfriend in the recovery room I guess.”
Officer Barnard nodded, “Yeah, sure.”
He looked at Mark and after a moment asked carefully, “I’m sorry but I have a question. Isn’t Chiara a…wasn’t she working as prostitute?”
Mark lowered his eyes and then looked back up at the officer, “Yeah, she was.”
Officer Barnard seemed to be slightly surprised by Mark’s direct answer and nodded insecurely. He really didn’t know if he should say something else but Mark kept his eyes on him waiting and probably making the officer slightly uncomfortable.Officer Barnard then smiled, “Right. It’s kind of like in that movie “Pretty Woman” then.”
Mark tilted his head some, “I’ve actually never seen that movie.”
The Officer still seemed slightly uncomfortable, now having to explain, “Like, in the movie a prostitute meets up with this rich guy and he actually falls in love with her and it gets all dramatic.”Mark bit his lips and grinned, “Well, it sounds about right for Chiara and me but I’m not a rich guy. I’m just a guy trying to keep my head above water.”
Just then Officer Newland came back and Officer Barnard seemed to be relieved about that. Mark looked at Officer Newland expectantly.Officer Newland explained, “So yes, you’re allowed to see her in the recovery room but we have to escort you and stay there as well. And you still have to leave all your belongings here.”
Mark was relieved to hear this, “Okay, no problem.”
Shortly after he found himself being checked in to the recovery room with the two officers right behind him. He felt somewhat awkward as people saw him enter the area with the officers behind him and everyone looking at him curiously. They didn’t know that he wasn’t a criminal but merely a guy who wanted to see his girlfriend who was under police protection.
There was not much he could do. He really just wanted to get in there and be with Chiara. Officer Barnard and Officer Newland stayed by the entrance to the recovery room and let Mark go in on his own. He was led to a bay in the large open room. The curtain was drawn and when the nurse opened it, Mark saw Chiara in the bed, her eyes closed and attached to a machine making several different beeping sounds.
The nurse explained, “She just got out of the surgery about thirty minutes ago so it’ll be a little while until she regains consciousness. Right now, she’s just being monitored as we are slowly letting her wake up.”Mark looked from Chiara to the nurse, “Did everything go well in the surgery?”
“As far as I know, yes, everything went well, no complications but the doctor will probably be here in a little while.”
Mark looked at Chiara again, “May I touch her?”
The nurse smiled, “Yes, of course.”
She then checked the machine and typed into the computer right next to it.
Mark softly touched his hand to Chiara’s hand and let his eyes travel from her face over her body down to her thickly bandaged right leg, propped up on a foam wedge again. Her toes were brown from the Iodine and the bandage looked fresh and new.
He sighed as he looked at her leg all wrapped up and then let his eyes come back to her face. Her eyes were closed, she was breathing steady with some oxygen flowing through tubing into her nostrils. Her red hair was stringy and unkempt on the pillow. She wore a hospital gown over her body.
Mark stayed by her side the whole time and it took another hour until she finally moved some and the nurse stood over her, “Chiara, honey, you may wake up now.”The nurse adjusted some things on the machine and IV’s and kept saying loudly, “Chiara, you may wake up honey.”
Mark watched as Chiara’s eyes twitched slightly and eventually, she opened them very slowly.
He now moved closer with his wheelchair and said, “Chiara, hey. I’m here next to your bed.”
The nurse leaned over Chiara some and repeated once more that she may wake up.
Chiara opened her eyes some more and Mark said again, “Chiara, I’m here next to you.”
She moved her eyes into Mark’s direction and he shifted some to make sure he was in her line of sight, “Hey Chiara, it’s me, Mark. Wake up.”
Chiara seemed to try to focus and the nurse said, “That’s good, wake up slowly, honey. Everything is good, the surgery is over, your boyfriend is here and you’re doing great.”
Chiara seemed to tune in to the voice but her eyes stayed on Mark and she brought a very weak smile over her face, “My beautiful Mark.”
Mark had to smile, “If you say so. Yes, I’m here. You’re doing good. You’re out of surgery.”
The nurse explained, “So she’ll slowly wake up and she’ll most likely be kind of out of it for a while still. She’s on IV pain medication right now so she may be a bit delirious too. You’re welcome to stay right here with her. I’ll be right outside at the nurse’s station and will check back in a few minutes.”Mark looked over at the nurse, “All right, thank you.”
The nurse walked out and pulled the curtain again and Mark turned his attention to Chiara.
She had her eyes closed again and Mark said softly, “Chiara, hey, are you waking up?”She opened her eyes again and Mark said, “Keep your eyes open and look at me.”
Chiara mumbled in a whisper, “I’m so thirsty.”
Her lips were dry and chapped, the wound on her lower lip was getting scabbed over. She still looked like she had been through a lot. Mark ran his finger over her check and she opened her eyes again and looked at him.
She mumbled again, “I’m thirsty.”“I’ll ask the nurse if I you can get like some water or something.”
He took his hand from hers and wheeled out to the nurse’s station.
Everyone glanced up at him and Chiara’s nurse asked, “Yeah, does she need anything?”
“She says she’s thirsty.”
“Oh, yeah. We’ll have to wait for about thirty more minutes, then I’ll let her have a moistened swab.”
Mark nodded, “Okay, thanks.”
The nurse confirmed, “She’ll be all right. Just try to distract her.”
Mark wheeled back behind the curtain and Chiara had her eyes closed again.“Chiara, hey, I’m back. The nurse said you can get some water in a little while.”
Chiara opened her eyes again and tried to focus on Mark.
“It’s me, Mark. Wake up Chiara.”
She kept her eyes open and said softly, “Mark.”
“Yeah, what’s up?”
It came out barely audible, “Where’s your wheelchair?”
Mark took her hand and answered, “It’s right here, under my butt. I’m sitting in it.”
Her eyes almost closed again but she asked softly, “Are you still paralyzed?”
Mark now had to smile, “Yes, still paralyzed.”
Chiara’s eyes opened, “But you had surgery on your legs.”
Mark squeezed her hand and smiled at her apparent confusion, “You had surgery Chiara. Not me. You had a surgery on your ankle.”
Chiara was barely able to speak, “I was there when you had surgery on your legs.”
Her eyes fell closed again and Mark said, “Try to wake up Chiara.”
He rubbed his fingers over her hand, “I didn’t have a surgery.”
Chiara opened her eyes again, “I didn’t want them to…”
She didn’t finish and Mark asked, “Didn’t want them to what?”
She took a deep breath, “I didn’t want them to fix your legs. I like them paralyzed.”Then her eyes closed again and Mark just looked at her and replied softly, “I know.”
Now Chiara opened her eyes wide and said, “I think I’m getting sick.”
Mark looked around quickly but before anything the nurse already rushed in. She must have heard what Chiara had said and Mark wondered is she had heard the things Chiara had said before about his legs.
The nurse took a pink spit bucket from a holder on the wall and let the bed up slightly. Chiara didn’t look good and her face was pale when the nurse held the bucket in front of her and assisted Chiara with her hand on her back. Chiara pulled her hand away from Mark and he watched as she vomited into the bucket.
The nurse looked over at him, “It’s a reaction to the anesthesia metabolizing in her system. If you want to wait outside the curtain, it’s fine.”Mark shook his head, “No, I don’t mind. I’m good.”
The nurse asked, “You’re not going to get sick?”
Chiara vomited a few more times and then exhausted she laid her head back and looked over at Mark, still confused.Mark just looked at her now as the nurse stayed by making sure Chiara was okay.
She adjusted some things on the IV pump and when it seemed that Chiara was okay for the moment, she walked out again.
Mark kept his eyes on Chiara, “Are you waking up?”Chiara didn’t answer right away, but after a moment said, “Did you have the surgery?”
Mark took a deep breath and answered again, “I didn’t have a surgery. You had a surgery. Remember your ankle was broken and you had to have surgery to fix it. You’re in the recovery room right now, waking up from the anesthesia. I didn’t have any surgeries.”
She kept her glistening, blood shot eyes on Mark, “So your legs are still broken?”
Mark nodded, “Yes, still broken.”
“Do you have a cast?”
Mark took her hand again and explained slowly for her to hopefully comprehend, “I didn’t have surgery, I don’t have a cast on my leg. My legs are paralyzed, I’m still in a wheelchair. You had a surgery on your ankle Chiara. Look down there.”
Mark was hoping she would move her eyes down to her leg and she did and she stared at her leg all wrapped up in thick bandages.She then said softly, “My leg had surgery?”
“Yes, you had surgery on your leg.”
Chiara kept her eyes on her leg and then she said, “I’m thirsty.”
“The nurse will bring some water soon.”
Chiara then looked over at Mark again, “Mark?”
Mark squeezed her hand again, “I won’t ever leave you.”
She kept her eyes open now, “I like your legs even if…if they don’t work.”
Mark nodded and smiled, “I know and I’m very glad about that.”
Chiara then said, “You’re not angry with me.”
“No, I’m not angry.”
Chiara then lost a tear, “But I’m glad you can’t walk.”
Mark lowered his eyes for a moment and then looked back up at her, “That’s all right.”
Chiara asked again, “You’re not angry.”
“No, I’m not angry.”
Chiara closed her eyes again.
It took another hour until Chiara somewhat seemed to focus again and realized where she was at and what was going on. She vomited again and she eventually had a cotton swab with some lemon water on it and she sucked on it. Mark stayed patient and calm. The things she had said in her confusion had somewhat struck him but at the same time it had been the confirmation of the things she had said weeks earlier at his place. It confirmed to him that she felt a certain way about him and his disability and he had in fact longed to hear it again since he had been with her in Portland but she hadn’t said anything until now. Now that she mentioned those things again, he was relieved that she still felt that way about him. Even though it stung him just a tiny bit but very deep inside it’s what he had wanted to hear from her.
It was almost three o’clock when Chiara was brought back to her regular room. She had recovered mostly from the anesthesia but still felt sick and had a blue plastic spit bag in her hand as they wheeled her back to her room. Mark followed and behind him came the two police officers.
In her room everything was set up again and the nurse made sure everything was running smoothly. She typed into her computer, adjusted the IV lines and made sure Chiara was pain free. Finally, everything was in order and the nurse asked if Chiara needed anything else.
Chiara looked up at her, “Maybe some water and I’m very hungry.”“You won’t be able to eat until later on, hopefully a late dinner around seven or so. I will bring you some water.”
Mark was parked next to the bed and Chiara looked over at him.
He smiled, “Hi, welcome back into the real world.”
She brought a weak smile over her face, “I’m sorry about earlier. I have a feeling I was not a good patient for post-surgery wake up.”
Mark smiled still, “You said a lot of stuff and you were confused with who had a surgery.”
Chiara tilted her head, “What do you mean?”
“You kept thinking that I had had a surgery on my legs.”
Chiara now bit her lips, “What? Why?”
Mark shrugged his shoulders, “I don’t know. I think you were glad when you realized it had not been my legs that had been fixed.”
Chiara now looked away and asked softly, “Did I say weird things? I’m so sorry Mark.”
He took her hand again, “It’s all right, I liked hearing it.”
“Liked hearing what?”
“That you didn’t want my legs fixed.”
Chiara kept her eyes down and Mark felt he needed to let her know that he was okay with whatever she had said.“I’m okay with the stuff you said. I was actually glad to hear it because it had been so long since you had said those things to me and I started doubting if I had actually been delirious back when you were at my place and had told me a lot of stuff I had never imagined hearing. I was glad when you confirmed it again that you were okay with the way I am.”
Chiara still didn’t look at him and he added, “I’m okay that you don’t want my legs working and are okay with me being in the wheelchair. I know it’s still difficult for you but I’m okay with it and I was glad to hear it again a while ago.”
When Chiara still didn’t look up, Mark took her hand and said softly, “Chiara, look at me!”She slowly moved her eyes over to him and he said, “I love you and I love that you love me in this way. I can’t wait to spend my time with you out there and be exactly the guy you want me to be.”
Chiara’s eyes were glistening and she nodded softly, “I love you for who you are and everything about you and not only certain features. I hope you know that.”
“I do know that and I’m very happy about that. I love you for who you are too.”
Chiara now looked at him shyly and Mark smiled softly, “It’s all good Chiara. We’re good.”
She nodded and replied, “I want to kiss you so badly right now.”
Mark looked up and down her bed, “Well, I can try to get up there but I’m not sure how you’re feeling. I don’t want to do anything I’m not supposed to.”
“I’m okay again. I want you to come next to me.”
And Mark angled his TiLite and Chiara let the bed down some with the remote.Mark nodded, “There, it’s good. I can get it now.”
He hooked his arm under his right leg and lifted it from the foot rest, then did the same with the left one and once his feet were on the floor, he placed his right fist onto the bed and for a moment he concentrated and then pushed his body over onto the bed. He pulled all the way onto the bed and squeezed himself next to Chiara. She moved over slightly but couldn’t really move too much with her foot all propped up.
Mark twisted his body around, his legs hanging lifeless over the edge of the bed and he held himself over Chiara. She put her hands to his face and ran them through his hair and even though her lips were dry and chapped, Mark softly let his lips come down on hers. He tasted the lemon water from earlier on her lips.
Chiara wrapped her arms around him and when their lips unlatched, they just laid next to each other.She said softly, “I’m glad this is over.”
“Yes, now it’s all uphill from here.”
Chiara added, “I hope so.”
They laid together for a while. Chiara was still tired and exhausted but she wanted to feel Mark close to her.
Six o’clock came quickly and there was no exception to the protocol; Mark had to leave at six.
Mark was back in his TiLite and was sitting next to the bed holding Chiara’s hand.
She smiled, “Thank you for being here for me all day. I know it was a long day.”
“There’s no other place I should have been. I’m glad you’re feeling better again.”
“Try to get some sleep tonight and tomorrow will be even better for you. I’ll be back at eleven.”
Chiara nodded and she leaned over some, “Mark?”
He looked at her, “Yes,”“I love you so much. You know I don’t ever want to hurt you with things I say or do.”
Mark lowered his eyes and nodded, then looked back up at her, “I know that and I don’t want you to worry about anything. I love you very much too. I still can’t believe that you’re in my life and I’m in your life. You’re a special person. I want to always be with you. You’re everything I need and want and I want to be the same for you in whichever way that’ll be. We’re good for each other. I told you before, we were meant to be together.”
Chiara nodded and her hand touched his cheek and she let her green eyes linger on his blue eyes for a moment when she confirmed, “Yes, we are meant to be together.”
Mark smiled, “I love you.”
“I love you.”
“I’ll see you tomorrow again.”
Chiara nodded and Mark took her hand in his and kissed her fingers, then put her hand down on the bed and put his hands to his push rims. Chiara watched as he spun his wheelchair around and she followed him with her eyes as he wheeled toward the door.
At the door Mark stopped and turned around once more and he smiled, “Everything will be okay. I love you a lot. That’ll never change, no matter what happens, don’t ever forget that, okay.”Chiara nodded, “I won’t. I love you too.”
Mark then turned around and she watched him disappear out the door. She let her head fall back onto the pillow and took a deep breath. She felt so much love for this man it hurt. Her eyes glanced over her leg and she momentarily worried about how everything was going to be but then she thought about Mark and how he always said that things would be okay.
Mark had collected his things outside and made his way out of the hospital. He wheeled over the parking lot, there was more snow coming down now. It was getting cold and the snow stayed on the ground and when he got to his Challenger it was covered. He wiped the windows with his hands some and threw his backpack into the backseat, then got ready for the transfer. If there was going to be more snow on the ground, his wheeling would get messy and difficult.
Two rows over the guys in the Honda watched as Mark got into his car and then pulled his wheelchair in piece by piece. They watched as the lights of the Challenger came on and saw when the windshield wipers came on, on the rear windshield pushing off the snow.
They watched as Mark pulled out of the parking space and they turned on the ignition and slowly followed Mark out of the hospital parking lot. The guy on the passenger side pulled out the flip phone:
Cripple is leaving the hospital and we found out that Chiara is here, she is heavily guarded though. Following cripple to his place again.
Trey was on the Southside of Seattle at a friend’s apartment and read the message, then replying:
Leaving right now to meet you over there. Be ready.
The Honda followed Mark out of the hospital parking lot. Mark decided to eat dinner at a Subway and instead of bringing it home he got out of his car and went into the restaurant. The two guys in the Honda kept Trey informed and watched from afar as Mark ate his sandwich inside the Subway and then got back into the Challenger to make his way home. He stopped at a gas station to get gas and again they texted Trey to let him know what Mark was up to. Trey was on his way to Mark’s apartment complex.