Divorce and Dating and Other Disasters at Age 40: Part 16
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part Two
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part Three
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 4
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 5
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 6
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 7
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 8
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 9
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 10
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 12
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disasters at Age 40: Part 11
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disasters at Age 40: Part 13
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disasters at Age 40: Part 14
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 17
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disasters at Age 40: Part 15
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disasters at Age 40: Part 16
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 18
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 19
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 20
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 21
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disasters at Age 40: Part 22
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disaster at Age 40: Part 23
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disasters at Age 40: Part 24
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disasters at Age 40: Part 25
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disasters at Age 40: Epilogue
Recently divorced Anna Waite is learning to appreciate life after first love. With the support of her best friend Kira, and a solid sense of humor, Anna tackles the world of dating. This is her coming of middle age story.
THE (NON) DATE WHERE I GO TO THE HOSPITAL
I’m floating, swimming in a deep well of nothing. It swallows my senses. Devours all my thoughts and chains me to the dark void of oblivion. Until a soft touch lingers on my cheek, an insistent voice pokes at my consciousness.
“Dylan,” I whisper, remembering him calling my name. No, yelling my name.
“It’s Isaac,” the voice says. “Are you hurt? Are you in any pain?”
Memories awake in my brain. Large, prize-worthy biceps. The warmth of a shared kiss. A security camera catching my pants around my ankles in a wild, hip gyration-filled ladder escape. I remember my promise to hide from Isaac and dodge all future encounters.
“I can’t see you,” I say.
“Your eyes are closed.” Humor lurks in his tone. “Try opening up and you’ll see me just fine.”
I flutter my eyelids and stare into his glowing golden orbs. The amber color swirls in contrast against his dark skin—he MUST wear contacts. “No, I can’t see you anymore. You’re going to find out I was a pants-less hula dancer.”
His lips flatline, those same lips that took an all-expense paid vacation with mine. “You must have hit your head pretty hard.”
What? In a rush, the confused fog blows away, and the situation becomes clear. The car’s headlights approaching, bashing into my rear driver’s side and spinning me. Glass raining down as something shattered the window. Maybe my head?
I evaluate my body, wiggling toes, moving my arms, rolling my shoulders. A sharp pain stabs my chest and I gasp.
“Anna?” Isaac’s fingers gently probe around my neck.
“I’m fine. Really.” I attempt to move, but his hand stops me. His body crouches, filling the space where my car door used to be.
“Stay still. We’re going to help you.” His grip glides from the steady clasp on my shoulder to my hand in my lap. Curling his fingers in mine, he holds on. “You’re good. You’re safe.”
I grip Isaac’s hand as the aftermath of the accident sets in. Taking a pained breath, I try to remain calm. The sights and sounds are like a scene from a movie. Radios squawk with echoes of words like collision and ambulances. Red and blue lights blast the night in a disorienting stream.
Within minutes, I’m loaded on a board and transferred to a stretcher. Isaac talks to me through the entire process, reassuring me with words and soft touches. The only time he leaves my side is for less than a minute when he retrieves my cell and purse from the crushed Mom-mobile.
“You’ll want these, I’m sure.” He gently places them next to me.
“Thank you.” Lifting my phone, I see the image of me and the boys spidered with cracks. The fractured screen distorts our happy faces into a web of warped eyes and crooked teeth.
And for whatever reason, that breaks me. Tears build and slide down my cheeks. My car; totaled. My finances; crap. And my pool of people to rely on; a puddle. Desperation doesn’t just knock at my door, it comes in with a battering ram and a S.W.A.T. Team.
Turning to hide my watery face, I see something unexpected. Dylan stands on the outskirts of the police line, talking to an officer. Then I wonder if maybe I did hit my head harder than I thought. Because what is Dylan doing here?
He must feel my gaze, and he looks up. I read my name on his lips, and he points at me, pushing forward. The police keep him back as I’m loaded into the ambulance.
What feels like a lifetime later, I’m settled in a hospital room, forced to stay overnight for “observation.” No one asked my opinion. My preference would have included brownies, Netflix, and my bed. But the accident left me with a concussion and a bruised sternum. Not to mention the demolished Mom-mobile. So here I sit, in a flimsy hospital gown that opens to flash my butt every time I get up.
Am I falling into a habit of pants-less-ness? First the ladder, now a breezy piece of fabric that barely covers anything.
Since the ex-hole is supposed to drop off Josh and Devin in the morning, and who knows when I’ll get home, I send a quick text. Sadly, anything I say or do can be used against me when he wants a battle over child support, and I think through my words.
Had an accident and I’m in the hospital overnight (interpretation: I would not willingly give up any time with the boys). I’ll text you when I leave, and we can arrange a pickup (interpretation: I’ll try to keep this from causing any extra inconvenience on your end). Tell the boys I love them, and I’ll see them tomorrow.
Once I finish the mandatory transmission of information, I wonder if I should call the boys myself. But neither of them has a phone, and I’d have to go through the ex. Which sounds about as appealing as throwing up bad milk.
Setting down my phone, I pick up the remote and flip on the TV. I search for a distraction, but instead, my head pounds. The left side of my face bears the brunt of visible injuries, little Band-Aids patching over the cuts and abrasions from shattered glass. My ear is swollen from the impact.
The channels blur, one after another, but nothing captures my focus. My mind wanders to the accident, to the sounds of crashing metal. The shared laughter with Dylan shifting into a gut-clenching fear as the bright headlights plowed straight for me.
The door opens, dragging me from the nightmare, and a girl steps in—too young to be a nurse, and not dressed like one either. Her shoulder-length blond hair hangs loose, and she wears denim shorts paired with a Buc-ees t-shirt.
“Hello?” I emphasize the question mark.
“Hi.” Her eyes trail over me, seeming to take stock, and I resist the urge to primp my hair. “Sorry to barge in. I’m just waiting.”
“Oh, okay.” Who is this teenager? Does she have the right room?
The chair cushion poofs as she flops down and throws her legs over the arm, her attention settling on the phone in her hand. Purple toenails wink from the flip-flops flapping on the heels of her wiggly feet.
“Are you hiding from someone?” I ask, and she looks at me like I have a brain injury. Which, yep, concussion. But I clarify the question. “I once hid in an office closet for ten minutes because this Tupperware woman was stalking me. She wanted me to host a party, and I kept dodging her.”
A small smile tips her mouth, though she continues to stare at her screen. “Why didn’t you just tell her no?”
“Past Anna, that’s me by the way—” I place a hand over my chest and grimace with the movement. Bruised sternum. Forgot about that — “didn’t have the savvy to refuse. Today Anna would kick her to the curb.”
“That’s me… Savvy” She places a hand on her chest, mimicking my introduction. And as I piece together who she is—Dylan’s daughter!—she continues. “I see why my dad likes you.”
Savvy teenager says what? Words clatter in my mind, my mouth struggling to voice them. What I want to say is: Hi Savvy, nice to meet you. Your dad likes me, huh? Tell me more about that.
“He freaked when he heard the accident,” she says, unbothered by the precious idea she’s planting.
Before I reply, the door opens and Dylan steps in. His large frame makes the space shrink in half. His gray eyes run from my head to my toes, and I fight another urge to primp my hair.
“How are you feeling?” he asks.
“Better than the Mom-mobile. She’s beyond fixing now.”
Concern crinkles at the corners of his mouth, his lips barely moving at my joke. Stepping fully into the room, he takes the three paces to my side and clutches the bed rail. Nervous energy vibrates off him. Sweat dapples his brow. Dylan is an attractive man, no doubt, but he looks a little worse for the wear.
“I was so scared.” A shaky breath blows from his lungs. “The crash. Your screams…” He trails off, squeezing his eyes shut. “And then you didn’t say anything.”
“It’s okay. I’m okay.” Reaching out, I hesitate, then brush his fingers where they white knuckle the rail. He turns his palm and swallows my hand with his, the touch better than any painkiller. “Although okay is relative. I asked the nurse to pump chocolate through the IV and it was a no go.”
“Oh, I got you something.” He reaches into his pocket, with the hand not holding mine, and pulls out a cellophane wrapped square. “I had Savvy wait for me in here while I went to the cafeteria.”
“You got me a brownie?” A swelling that has nothing to do with my bruised sternum aches in my chest.
“I got you a brownie,” he repeats, placing it on the side table.
We stay in the moment, relief painting our soft smiles, Savvy playing on her phone, until the door opens. All eyes swivel as Isaac walks in, still dressed in his blue fireman uniform. He pauses at the sight of Dylan, his steps stuttering before he finishes the walk to my bedside. The other side across from the other attractive man.
“I wanted to check in and see how you’re feeling,” Isaac says, eyeing Dylan, his pointed stare noting our clasped hands.
“Oh.” Awkward tension strains around us, tighter than a blood pressure cuff. “I’m alive. Thanks,” I say.
“You helped at the accident, right?” Dylan’s fingers grip mine tighter, leaving me no choice but to hold on for the ride.
“I did.” Isaac glances at Dylan before turning his full attention to me. “It’s crazy to get called to a scene and realize the girl you’re dating is involved.”
Ratcheting the awkward up to an eleven! Dylan’s eyebrows lift to his hairline. Savvy’s phone drops to her lap. I open my mouth, nothing but gurgling noises escaping, and try to figure out how to ease the discomfort. Maybe if I pretend to suddenly fall asleep? I long for my heels stuck in the firetruck’s ladder. Living my best life on the back of Lola and not here where we all cast blinking gazes at each other.
The door opens again, thank you hospital staff! But it’s not a nurse. Or a doctor. Mike, the ex-hole extraordinaire, strides into the room like he belongs.
“Anna.” He sees both of my sides are occupied and places himself at the bottom of the bed. “I left as soon as I got your message.”
“I need to use the restroom,” I shout, flinging the blanket from my body. Stepping down on Isaac’s side, I shake off his assistance and fast walk, eyes on the floor, to the attached bathroom. Closing myself behind the door gives me a minute to think. To collect myself. And I come to one solid conclusion. The bathroom is my home now. If I dodged the Tupperware woman in an office closet, certainly I can live out my life here, where there’s a place to pee. Better that than having to face three men and a little lady.
Unfortunately, a second conclusion comes with the cool breeze on my behind. A reminder this hospital gown opens in the back.
Great. I hope the handsome man I kissed, the one who wants to be just friends, his daughter, and the ex-hole all enjoyed the view of my retreating butt cheeks.