Ted was seated upright on his bed humming a song when he heard approaching footsteps. A delighted smile found itself on his face as he recognized the sound of the footsteps as well as the mild distinct fragrance of her perfume.
“Lucia,” he heard someone call her. She stopped and turned.
“Are you okay? You look…a bit shaken up.”
“I’m fine, Cindy. Just had a rough night.” Cindy touched her face. Lucia winced.
“Rough night, huh? That vagabond hit you again, didn’t he?”
“Shush, Cindy….no, he didn’t. I fell.”
“Uh huh…you slipped and your face just happened to meet his fist, right?”
“Stop it, Cindy. I’ve a patient to check up on.”
“If only he could see how horrible your face looks right now! All the make-up cannot hide the gruesome evidence, my dear.”
“Would you get me some painkillers? I’ll be done with him soon.”
“Fine; and we need to talk about this.”
“Fine,” she said and entered the room.
“Hello…” she said cheerfully. “Are you awake?”
“Yes I am. How are you today?”
“I’m great; couldn’t be better.”
“Are you sure?” Ted asked.
“What do you mean?”
“I thought I heard someone talking to you outside; asking whether you were okay.”
“Don’t pay attention to her; she can be quite meddlesome sometimes.” Ted stretched his hand toward her.
“Can I touch your face?”
“Please…I just want to feel your face…”
“Mr. Bourbon, I feel that is quite inappropriate…”
“Mr. Bourbon? Since when did you start referring to me by my surname?”
“Since the moment we re-established the fact that you’re my patient and I, your nurse which was a few seconds ago. So please stay still so I can do my job,” Lucia said coldly. Ted dropped his hand and became quiet. Few minutes later, Lucia turned to leave. She froze when he caught her by the wrist. She turned sharply.
“Bad day, huh?”
“Take a wild guess…”
“Did someone hit you last night?” Lucia took her hand away.
“Oh so you’ve been eavesdropping into people’s conversations too! You really must be bored in here. Thank God you’d have your surgery soon and leave this place.”
“Hey…why are you shouting?” Lucia inhaled deeply.
“I’m not in a good mood today; excuse me,” she said and left the room.
“Oh my, I kind of forgot how woman drama felt like…I really need to get back out there,” Ted said to himself and chuckled.
Lucia rushed to the locker room and burst into tears. She wiped her face and then realized she had wiped away her cover-up of the unfortunate incident that occurred the night before. The door opened and she turned in panic. It was Cindy.
“Oh no, Lucia…this is really bad,” Cindy said with a worried face as she carefully examined her face.
“You’re not safe around that guy, Lucia. You should break it off with him and report him to the cops.”
“Oh no I can’t do that.”
“I love him.”
“Ouch…it hurts, Cindy.”
“Exactly…that is why you should be wise about this or the next time no one would be able to recognize you.”
“We’re working through it…he’s going for therapy.” Cindy snorted.
“Then his shrink is surely a quack! Leave him, Lucia.”
“Just help me fix my face, Cindy.”
“Ms. Baker!” Dr. Grant called out as Lucia came out of the locker room.
“Doctor Grant, can I help you with something?”
“It seems you’ve left your patient unattended to,” he said, pointing to Ted’s room.
“Oh I’m sorry.”
“It’s all right; he wishes to go out for a walk. Are you busy with other patients?”
“No sir. I’ll get right to it.”
They sat on a love bench in silence for some time.
“I’m sorry for snapping at you today, Ted. You didn’t deserve it and it was totally uncalled for. I’m just having a bad day and you shouldn’t have to suffer for that. I’m sorry,” Lucia apologized.
“It is okay; at least I get to know this side of you.”
“I know you see me differently now and I assure you…”
“It just convinces me you’re as real as any woman out there. Even the nicest, sweetest, loveliest person throws tantrums sometimes and you proved that so don’t worry.” Lucia looked at him, puzzled.
“How are you able to take everything so cool?” He chuckled.
“Well, the last time I decided not to, I had a fatal accident and ended up here with my sight gone so it is a lesson well learnt,” He replied. Lucia sighed as she closed her eyes and inhaled deeply.
“Was it your boyfriend?”
“Was he the one who hit you?”
“I thought we were done with that.”
“I thought you were in a bad mood then but if you don’t want to talk about it, fine.”
“Yeah, I don’t want to.”
“Maybe I could help you feel better.”
“I doubt it, Ted.”
“Do you love music?”
“Good; then please take me back to my room. I have a surprise for you.”
“Surprise? I’m not a big fan of surprises.”
“You’ll like this one; trust me. You liked my flowers, didn’t you?”
“Yeah I did.”
“Then trust me,” he said with a huge smile and an outstretched hand. She took it and she helped him up.
As they walked back inside, Ted remarked, “I had always wondered how it felt to live blind and now I know. All you have to do is to trust your instincts; that’s all you’re left with to depend on.”
“Not very comforting, right?” Lucia asked.
“It’s better than to be coupled with deafness.”
“Couldn’t agree more.”
She got him settled on the bed.
“Please call me the male nurse.”
“Are there many around here?”
“Ok…I think he’s called James…”
“Sure.” She called him to the room. Ted beckoned him nearer and he whispered something into his ear. When he left, Lucia asked, “What’s going on here, Ted?”
“Just relax; it’s nothing out of line.”
“I hope so.” Lucia’s eyes widened when James entered with a guitar.
“Here it is, Mr. Bourbon,” he said, giving it to him.
“Thanks James; I owe you one.”
“It’s nothing. Excuse me,” he said and left the room.
“You play the guitar?”
“You don’t look like the artist-kind of guy. I figured you to be in the corporate world or something.”
“A man can be both, my dear,” he replied and began to play.
Tears filled Lucia’s eyes and after some moments of struggle, she gave up the fight and the tears began to fall freely onto her face.
“Are you okay?” he asked when he was done.
“I am now, yeah. Thanks for playing.”
“Anything for you, Lucia.”
“Why do you go out of your way to do these things for me? You don’t even know me.”
“I may not know you enough but what I’ve found out so far is real enough. And I do these things to let you know you deserve every good thing on earth, Lucia. You definitely deserve better than an abusive boyfriend.” She chuckled as she shook her head.
“You don’t understand, Ted; no one understands.”
“It’s quite simple: a guy who raises his hand against a woman isn’t fit to be called a man. And he’s a big liar if he tells you he still loves after he has hit you.”
“Let it go, Ted. It is my life and only I know the whole story.” He raised his hand and blindly searched for her face. He touched her cheek gently.
“Badly bruised; can feel it. You don’t deserve this, Lucia; no matter what.” Lucia took his hand away.
“Thank you for trying to cheer me up, Ted but I’m fine. You concentrate on regaining your sight and getting your old life back.”
“I’m not returning to my old life…why should I when I’ve found something new?”
“Well for some of us, all we know is what we have right now. I’ll leave you to rest,” she said and walked out.