The Real Apparition
| Autumn recognized the voice. She had to be dreaming. There was no possible way this could be true! Still, the voice continued, and Autumn knew what she would have to do. She opened her eyes to the tiniest slits and quickly squeezed them shut again. It was that person She never thought...well, it jujst couldn't be...no, she just wouldn't believe it! But the nightmare was not over for Autumn.
"Hey, don't ignore me, you little good for nothing..."
It was just like always. Could things ever really change? Well, the sooner Autumn talked, the sooner that incidious poison would go away. I thought it would end with Lynn, she thought, refusing to think of her mother in any other way.
"Yeah?" Autumn finally opened her eyes and spoke, but she didn't look at the visitor. She didn't have to; she knew exactly who it was.
"Look at me!" the woman raged.
"What do you want??" Autumn snapped.
"I am still your mom's best friend. Don't ever speak so to me again!"
"Okay, so tell me why you're here."
"I'm gonna tell you somethin' ya should have figured out a long time ago. You have gotten used to this special treatment and think you deserve this. Well, let me tell you, little girl, that ain't the way it goes. You start to think you're a person, but you're less than a snake."
"And you came to tell me this because..."
"You told your ma she needed to treat you like a person. You're the oddball. you held your mother back some. She had a kid so that dampened her social life a little. But don't worry: we wouldn't let her ruin her life entirely. But you know what? You were the thorn in her side. You got this cancer stuff and screwed things up. and then you got your father here, but what in blazes happened to him? Now he's just like the rest of you hopeless blobs of nothing. Your simpering devotion to each other really made us sick. Do you know how hard it was for your mom to play..."
"Get out!" Autumn said as loudly as she could.
"Listen here! You ain't gonna talk to me thataway. So shut up and listen...and look at me!" She grasped Autumn's face and abruptly turned the girl's head so she had no choice but to look into the smoldering eyes.
"Well, at least she's free of you. If you had died earlier she wouldn't have had to deal with you. See, the cancer would have allowed her to throw you into the trash so she could get on with life." Autumn lay there silently with her mouth slack. Becky laughed maniacally.
"So you think the last time we partied together was that day your no-good excuse for a father came to get her out of there?? Lance was the best thing that happened to her since you and your dad betrayed her. But you ruined that, too! You're just a..." Autumn finally wrenched her body away from Becky's grasp. Autumn had never known a time when they weren't together. After all, they were best friends. What the heck was she doing here now that Lynn was dead? Would Autumn's torment never end?
"What in God's name do you think you were doing to that poor, stupid fool?...I mean, your dad. I never thought he'd fall for that nonsense!"
"You'd like to know what we were doing in God's name? We were trying to point the way to Him!"
"You're all so darn stupid..."
"What's going on here?" the sharp voice and demand for immediate answers made Becky spin around. She faced some human tree. He towered above her some eight inches. And he wasn't just tall; he was quick, agile and strong. Why hadn't Lynn ever mentioned this person? Maybe Autumn didn't meet him until after her mom's death. But if that was the case, why did he look like he'd just as soon beat the crap out of her as look at her? And Autumn's expression and voice suggested something more than a passing acquaintance.
"Jamison!" she exclaimed. Becky could tell that she was relieved to see this mountain of a human being.
"Well, who the heck are you? Don't demand things of me, boy. You have no right--"
"I have that right if you mean to harm my friend. Now tell me who you are, what you're doing here and why you can say all that stuff to her?"
"It's...well, um, it's her fault that Lynn is dead. I was Lynn's best friend, and I know what really happened!"
"Listen here, lady. No matter how it happened, you have no business coming here to berate her. She is a person, one of God's creation, contrary to what you might believe." Becky peeked at the girl and almost laughed when she saw Autumn cower against the bed rail closest to the wall and cry. Becky decided she could handle this loser. If he believed all that nonsense about God, surely he wouldn't do anything to her.
"You sniveling, useless version of a--"
"That's enough!" a new voice shouted, just as that tree-sized man's fist connected with Becky's nose.
"Oh God!" the nurse gasped at the same time Becky screamed, "You blasted--" she started to talk as blood spurted from her nose and rushed down her face. The boy looked as shocked as she felt.
"What in blazes is going on in here?" yet a third voice demanded. The two latest arrivals could see that it would be difficult to separate the brawlers and get them out of Autumn's room without a fight. One had what looked like a cell phone in her hand, and the other person sprinted toward Autumn's bed. The man in scrubs turned to a smaller figure Becky hadn't noticed before.
"Kambra," he said, and without a word, the girl pulled the I.V. pole along as the man rolled the bed out of the room.
"Get someone from housekeeping in there when we get security over here," he ordered. The CNA he addressed immediately went to do his bidding.
"I hate this!" Autumn said. She managed to infuse her voice with some resentment. Three more people were walking toward Autumn's room with grim expressions. Two continued on their way, but the third went straight for Autumn and the male nurse.
"Josiah, what the heck happened here?" Jaycee spoke softly, though she was seething inside. But Josiah had turned back toward Autumn's room when something caught his eye.
"Don't leave her," he commanded Jaycee, the hospital social worker. By this time, there were some seven people in Autumn's room, but Josiah went straight for just one.
"Go take care of that," Jacob the security guard said. Then he turned to Josiah and continued, "and you see that she does." Josiah ushered Sariah out of the girl's room and turned down the hallway opposite of Autumn.
"Let's go this way," Sariah said, pointing in the direction she wanted to go. "I don't want Autumn to see my bloody face."
"So what exactly happened?"
"I guess Jamison could tell us the whole story. That boy isn't violent...he's such a gentle person, but I guess he just snapped...I mean, I can't figure anything else." Sariah spoke as Josiah got supplies to help her clean up.
"I can do this, you know," she began.
"No!" Josiah said in a voice that did not invite argument.
"So that woman was one of Lynn's drinking--" Josiah stopped when he saw Jamison walk toward them.
"what the heck happened in there?" the two nurses asked in unison. Jamison explained what he knew and finished with, "I just...I don't know what happened. I mean, that's not something I would usually do. This is all my fault!" Jamison said in utter despair as he looked at Sariah's swollen face.
"Nonsense!" she said, "I have known you for quite some time, and I know for a fact that you do not have a violent nature. The pressure became too--"
"When she saw Autumn shrink back and begin to cry and said that was amusing, I just...I didn't think. So I apologized, but she...well, you saw what happened."
"Yeah, and I can sure feel it," Sariah said from behind a cold compress. "I'd rather have her break my nose than for her to harm Autumn..." Sariah's voice trailed off as Jacob and another security guard physically carried Becky away.
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