When he wakes the first time there’s a girl in the bed next to him. She’s not paying attention to him as he moves his head slightly to look at her. She’s watching something on the tv, a vague smile on her face, but he doesn’t have the energy to look at the screen.
She’s pretty. As pretty as someone can be in a blue pinstripe hospital gown. Her skin is pale, but there’s a flush high on her cheeks and he wonders why she’s here. There’s no IV in her arms and no monitors. Whatever is wrong with her, it must not be serious.
He struggles to sit up, but gives up when his arms shake. She hears him, finally, and turns to look at him and it’s like the sun is ten times brighter. Her eyes are a bright blue and her smile makes his breath catch.
He tries to settle back into the pillow but he can’t help but stare at her, even after she’s said hello and introduced herself and turned back to the tv. He falls asleep with her face on the inside of his eyelids.
The second time he wakes up, it’s because he can’t breathe. He fumbles with the face mask the doctor had ordered him to keep on, but his hands are shaking. He presses the call button for the nurse and then looks over, intent on asking the woman for help. His breathlessness gets worse when he sees she’s sleeping, one hand resting on her stomach, her face turned away from him.
The nurse comes in then, inquiring about his health and he has to resist the urge to shush her so she won’t wake his roommate. She helps him affix the mask and he finally relaxes back into the pillow. He watches the woman sleep for a moment, jealous of the way her chest rises and falls with such ease before realizing that that is an utterly ridiculous thought. He falls asleep facing her, one hand across his chest, mirroring hers.