Apple of Her Eye

Chapter 5

I was getting really bored lying in the hospital bed. I was going nuts. The nurses would come in and check on me from time to time; but since I was getting better, their visits were becoming less frequent.

Television in a hospital sucks. No MTV or Comedy Central. Most of the channels showed dumb soap operas in the afternoon. Then, there is the stupid hospital channel. The one time I tuned into it, they were talking about breast cancer. Yeah, right! That was really entertaining!

I was starting to feel better. The pain was beginning to subside. The doctor was ordering less medication, so I didn’t sleep as much. It would have been better if I were sleeping. At least I wouldn’t have to sit alone bored out of my mind. I wanted to go home. At least at home I had cable TV and my PlayStation to keep me occupied. I would even be happy to go back to school, just to have something to do.

My mother usually arrives around four o’clock. School lets out at three, but she often meets with students or talks to other staff before coming to the hospital. I know she gets tired. She comes directly here and stays until visiting hours end at eight. Then she goes home, grades papers and works on her lesson plans before going to bed. She will be just as happy as me when I finally get released.

I looked at the clock. It was almost 4:20. I was beginning to get a little worried. I figured she was in a staff meeting or parent conference. My mother is always punctual. She is one of those people you can set your clock by. I guess it comes from being a teacher. Half her life is determined by bells. So, when she didn’t show up at four, I became concerned.

I wil be glad when she got here. At least it will break the monotony. We really don’t talk about much. She tells me how things are going at school. She teaches at the same school I attend. Lucky kid, right? She informed me that my teachers were asking how I was doing. She also said some of the students were concerned, but I didn’t believe that.

Often, it gets really quiet, and I can tell she is staring at me. It becomes very unnerving. I know she wants to ask me about the beating, but she doesn’t know how to approach the subject. I have made it quite clear that is an issue I do not want to discuss anymore.

I also know that she has heard all the rumors that are probably running rampant- the fag who was tripped in the cafeteria, ran out and then got his ass kicked in the bathroom. She will just look at me. When I glance at her, she will give me a slight smile and then go back to watching TV.

I wonder what she is thinking. Is she disappointed in me? Does she regret having a gay son? I know she wants to talk about it. We will talk about it soon, but now just isn’t the time. Too much has happened to me recently, and I don’t think I can handle much more.

After a few more minutes, the door finally opened, and she entered the room. She had a wide grin on her face. It was like she was keeping a secret from me.

“Hey, honey. How was your day?” she asked.

“I’m fan-tas-tic!” I replied sarcastically. “The activity director has kept me so busy today. I’m really bushed. It has just been go..go..go all day!”

“Well, that’s nice dear,” she replied, playing along. “I guess I’ll have to talk to her and tell her you need more rest.”

“Seriously Mom,” I whined. “When I can I leave this prison? I’m bored to death.”

“I’m going to talk to the doctor tonight and see if he can release you soon,” she responded while feeling my forehead. Why do mothers do that?

“I have a surprise for you,” she said with a smile. “You have a visitor. A friend has come to visit you.”

Shaun!! It has to be Shaun! He isn’t mad at me anymore! Who else would come to visit me? I had pushed all my other friends out of my life over the past two years. I figured they’d leave me anyways once they found out I was gay. I just made it easier for them.

He does care about me. He came to visit and see how I was doing. My stomach started turning somersaults.

“Just a minute, Gary,” said mother. “Let me go get him.” Yes, it was Shaun! She left the room and closed the door behind her.

It was about five minutes before she returned. I couldn’t see anyone with her. She turned and looked behind her, then retreated once again. Seconds later, she came back in holding someone’s hand.

Who is this? This isn’t Shaun! I didn’t know who he is. I think I remember him from school. I’ve passed him a few times in the hallway, but we have never spoken. How can she say he is a friend?

However, he is cute…very cute! He is rather small. He must only be about 5’5” tall and weigh about 110 pounds. His hair is blonde, cut short and spiked on top. Adorable would best define him. He is also very shy. He is hiding behind my mother with his head down. He won’t look up at me.

“This is Todd Mathews,” my mother said, breaking the awkward silence. “He’s in my Advanced Algebra II class. He’s been here every day after school to see how you’re doing. I’ve tried to get him to come in and see you, but until today, he has refused.”

What is going on here? Why would a kid I have only seen at school a couple of times and never even spoken to, be coming to the hospital every day to check on me? I was very confused.

My mother finally answered my question. “He found you in the boys’ restroom the other day. He ran for help, and then he came back and stayed with you until the medics arrived. He’s been very worried about you.”

Todd was still standing behind my mother with his head down. He was blushing! His cheeks were red. It was so cute. I began to giggle.

Suddenly, he looked up at me. God, he was so cute! He looked at me and a slight smile began to form. I could see his lips begin to curl at the edges. We stared into each other’s eyes for a moment, and then he again directed his eyes back to a spot on the floor.

“Thanks, man. That was nice of you,” I said appreciatively.

“It’s okay, nothing really. I Hope you’re feeling better,” he replied timidly. He was still looking at the damn spot on the floor. I wanted him to look at me so I could see those beautiful blue eyes once again.

“Tell you what boys,” interrupted my mother. She had been looking back and forth at us, noticing our reactions. “I’m going to run out and get a pizza. I talked to the nurse, and she said you can eat anything you want. I know you’re getting tired of the great cuisine they feed you here.”

“Oh, no! What shall I do?” I shrieked as I clutched my chest, playing along with her. “You’re going to feed me like a commoner!” I could hear Todd giggling in the background. I could quickly get used to that giggle.

“Deep dish or thin crust?” she asked us.

“Thin crust!” We both responded at the same time.

“What kind?” she asked.

“Pepperoni!” Again, at the same time. I couldn’t believe it. It was like we were on the same wave length or something. How weird is that?

My mother smiled as she looked us. Then she looked at me and winked. What was that? She seemed to be very happy to see Todd and me together. I guess she knew that I have few friends left. She had to have heard what Shaun said about me. She must realize that our friendship is over.

“You boys stay out of trouble,” she said with a smile. “I’ll be back in about a half hour. Todd, will you be all right?”

“Yes, Mrs. Carson,” he replied. “I’ll be fine.” She ruffled his hair before kissing me on the cheek.

“Then I’ll be right back with two very large, thin crust, pepperoni pizzas,” she exclaimed and left the room.

To say the next few minutes were awkward would be an understatement. I looked up at the television, occasionally watching Todd out of the corner of my eye. He stood shuffling his feet and looking down at the floor. Neither of us was very comfortable.

Finally, I broke the silence. “Why Todd? Why did you help me? Why have you been coming by every day after school?” I had to know. It just didn’t make any sense. Why would a complete stranger go to such lengths to help me?

He looked up at me and I could see tears begin to form in those beautiful blue eyes.

“My brother did this to you.”