Nick woke up early to see his mother standing over him.
“Why are you still in bed? I’ve been calling you.”
“Sorry. I’m not feeling well.” Nick whispered. His mother drew a breath and then bent down before grabbing him by the wrist.
“I’m awake….please….” he cried as she dragged him across the room to the bathroom across the hall.
“Get in the fucking shower and get ready for school. That’s the least you can do since you didn’t make my breakfast, you ungrateful brat.” she said as he fell into the bathtub. He could hear his arm impact with the porcelain tub and he winced, he knew something happened to it.
He felt pain in his arm all day and kept it balanced carefully on the desk to make sure it was elevated….but he knew he couldn’t hide it during lunch. Brian had snuck him a ham and cheese sandwich again, this time he ate it to placate him and Amanda.
Amanda noticed Nick’s arm….he kept adjusting and rubbing at it during lunch as they all talked.
“Nick, let me see your arm. What’s wrong with it?” she asked, nibbling at a french fry. Nick stared at her, she could see his eyes searching.
“Nothing’s wrong with it. I just bumped it during gym class.” he said softly. Brian rolled his eyes.
“Are you being serious right now? Nick, you can’t keep lying all the time. Just let her see it.” he snapped. Amanda didn’t wait for Nick to okay it, she got up and walked to where he was sitting, taking the empty chair next to him.
Pulling back his sleeve, it didn’t take her very long to determine that his arm was broken and had already begun to bruise…not to mention the new scrapes. This injury had to have happened recently.
“We should go to the nurse, Nick. It’s broken…”
“No….please. She’ll send me to the hospital.” he said tearfully. Amanda felt bad but at the same time, she didn’t want to subject Nick to any more treatment from his mother. Obviously things were worse than she thought they were.
“Nick stop being so damn stubborn.” Brian hissed. Amanda shushed him and after some gentle pleading, Nick finally agreed to go see the nurse. She examined him and then shook her head.
“I’m afraid we have to call an ambulance. He’s dehydrated and his arm is definitely broken. I can’t allow him back to class. Carter needs a doctor.” Nurse Grayson said. She was an older woman but very kind to the students.
“I need to call his mother.”
“I need to call his mother.”
At the sound of his mother Nick lost it and began crying. He knew what she would do if she found out he’d run to the nurse.
“NO!” he shouted, trying to get up.
“Now, now. Just lay back and rest until they get here. No need to fret.”
Amanda knew how frightened he was so she offered to stay with him.
“They’re gonna find out everything, Amanda. What am I going to do? I’m dead when she gets hold of me.” he muttered as he wiped his eyes with his good hand. She placed her hand over his, her thumb stroking gently to calm him.
“Just tell them what you told me. Tell them you got hurt in gym. I don’t like you lying but do what you must.” she said. Nick nodded and eventually the paramedics came, but he began to cry again as they put him on the stretcher. The paramedics tried to calm him but nothing was working.
“May I go along?” Amanda asked. She explained to the paramedic that she wouldn’t get in the way and she could also keep Nick calm on the way to the hospital, so they agreed.
That’s when the waiting began. Nick was taken in to be examined and she had to sit in the waiting room….feeling nervous for him. How would he handle all of this? Nick wasn’t very good at lying, how would he fool a bunch of trained doctors and nurses?
After what seemed like forever, Brian came by the waiting room and sat next to her.
“How you holding up?” he asked tentatively, and she looked up at him, her eyes moist.
“How am I supposed to feel, Brian? Nick’s not doing good. He told me not to tell anyone….but he’s really sick. His mother hurts him…a lot.” she replied. He didn’t reply but he just held her and let her cry on his shoulder.
After a while, they broke apart and went to see where Nick was, he was in a room and being kept overnight.
“The doctors said I’m really dehydrated, malnourished and need to rest. They also want to keep me here for observation.” Nick said once they’d gotten his room number and went to visit. Brian had stopped by the gift shop downstairs and got him a card. Amanda and Brian had both signed it, she had chipped in for some small flowers. Nick smiled at the gesture, ignoring a tray of food sitting in front of him.
“Did they say anything else?” Amanda asked. She saw Brian’s eyes traveling to the scars on Nick’s arm.
“Not really.” Nick shrugged.
“You should eat that. If you’re malnourished you need food.” she added. Nick closed his eyes, his body tensing up.
“Nick you can eat it, she isn’t here-” Brian started before they heard footsteps. Heels clicked on the tiled floor and Jane Carter entered the room, her eyes cold and angry.
“I specifically told you NOT to talk to the nurse at school. You deliberately disobeyed me.” she hissed without so much as a hello.
“I didn’t say you could speak.”
Amanda and Brian watched in shock as Nick was belittled in front of them by his own mother. His eyes were swimming when she finished.
“You might want to eat that, Nickolas. That’s the last meal you’ll ever have.”
Nick’s face was pure terror.
“Don’t talk to him like that!” Amanda shouted before she could stop herself. Jane turned to her, laughing. She shoved past, nearly knocking her to the floor.
“Hey! Don’t touch her!” Nick shouted. Jane’s face turned stony and she leaned an inch from his, he was shaking.
“So these are the friends filling your head with lies. I will make sure you never see any of them again, so help me god. You won’t see the light of day when I’m done with you.” she hissed. Nick actually whimpered and she finally left.
“What a bitch.” Brian said softly. Nick started crying after a few minutes and Amanda’s first instinct was to hold him. This time he didn’t retract.
“We need to do something to stop her.” Brian added after a few minutes.
“He’s safe here. As long as he is in this hospital he can’t be touched.” Amanda replied with a smile. Nick smiled weakly and nodded.
“For now.” he muttered. Nick knew he wouldn’t be there long….he just feared what would happen when his mother did get him home.