“I don’t know about you, Mila, but I’m ready to go home and watch The Boss Baby,” my mother says, and Mila nods her head. I pick her up and carry her outside as she shows everyone her pink cast.
We make it home, and we camp out on the couch while my mother fixes everything else. Mila finally falls asleep in my arms as I’m watching The Secret Life of Pets for the second time, so I lay her down in bed. “Did you give her some Tylenol for the pain?” my mother asks me as soon as I come out of Mila’s room.
“I did,” I tell her as I sit on the couch and rub my neck. “Let’s hear it.” I look over at her as she turns off the television and turns to me.
“Jessica called me the minute she walked Mila into the room to tell me the whole story. Do you know that she ran down the beach, no shoes, over shards of glass?” She puts her hands up. “Obviously, she didn’t see the smashed bottles, but nothing would have stopped her from getting to Mila.”
I look at her, the shock seeping in. “I didn’t know all that.”
“Well, now you do. But even if you hadn’t, how dare you treat someone like that? Especially after she put your daughter’s needs in front of hers.”
“I didn’t ask her to do that,” I say, now getting up to start pacing.
“You didn’t have to. She would have done it for anyone else.”
“I don’t know what she told you, but I didn’t ask her for anything.”
“She isn’t the enemy here,” she says softly.
“What, and I am?” I place my hands on my hips. “Mila had Jessica and Norma by her; she didn’t need Hailey.”
My mother shakes her head, getting up. “Yes, and where is Norma?” she asks looking around. “Because it appears she hightailed it pretty fast.”
“Look, I don’t want to argue with you.”
“I’m not arguing with you, Jensen. I’m telling you what you did to that girl was unacceptable, and if it was my daughter, well, you can bet your ass I’d be breaking down your door.” She comes up to me, and she puts her hand on my cheek. “Stop punishing her for what Julia did.”
I roll my eyes at her. “I’m not punishing her for anything. Why do I have to like her?”
“You don’t have to do anything, but you need to let go of that chip you have on your shoulder when it comes to her.”
“Fine. I’ll be more civil,” I tell her, and she nods her head at me.
“Good. I’ll see myself out,” she says. She turns to grab her things and waves as I walk her out the door. I turn off the lights before going to Mila’s room and checking on her. Her cover already kicked off her, she’s also tossed the pillow I’d propped under her arm to the floor. My dreams are foggy all night long, the only thing staying the same is the storm brewing in the back.
“It’s so itchy,” I whine to Crystal two days after the whole ordeal.
I had no idea I was even bleeding when I walked into the clinic. The only thing on my mind was getting Mila help and having her stop crying.
When I finally left her, I went into another room. Sitting down, I look down at my now dirty black feet, the blood dripping from my left foot. “Idiot,” Crystal says as she walks in. “Put your feet up.” I did as she told me, and I hiss from the burning as she cleans them. “You’re going to need a shot and stitches for sure,” she says as she assesses the bottom of my foot. Gabe walks in.
“There she is, wonder woman.” He smiles as Crystal glares at him. “Hey.” He raises his arms in surrender. “I’m not the bad guy.”
“Whatever,” she says as she gathers the supplies to start the stitches.
“How is Mila?” I ask him as Crystal prepares to give me a shot to numb it. “Motherfucker, that hurts.”
“She’s fine. Listen, about my cousin,” he starts to say, but I raise my hand to stop him.
“Don’t even bother.” That’s all I say because then I start to hiss under my breath as Crystal works on my foot. Gabe walks back out of the room.
She bandages me up and says, “I’m going to get you some crutches for home because you shouldn’t put any pressure on it. Emma, the other nurse, will come in. I have to get Mila in for her X-rays,” she says as she walks out.
“Great,” I say as the throbbing in my foot starts. Emma comes in with the crutches, and as I grab them from her, I ask, “Will you be able to call me a taxi?”
“Jessica will drive you.” I hear from the side of the room and look to find Heidi. “Are you okay?” she asks as she blinks away tears.