t h i r t y - o n e

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The next day, I got a text message from Daniel. It was short and simple, and usually, looking at it would make my heart flutter with excitement. Now, I started at the three words with so much pain aching at my heart and I felt like crying.

'Good morning, beautiful,' he wrote.

I didn't reply. I only stared at the text message until he sent another one shortly after.

'So, I'm being discharged today. Apparently the doctors and nurses don't want me here anymore. I must be distracting them too much from the other patients.'

I didn't even know what to reply. I just felt guilty the whole entire time. I leaned up in bed and stared at my phone quietly. Should I reply? Or should I pretend I didn't see it and reply later. It was only nine in the morning and Daniel knew I liked sleeping in. But truth was, I couldn't sleep at all last night. I stayed awake all night, staring at the dark ceiling, reliving what Beth said. I tried to remember what happened at school after mum passed away. But I couldn't remember anything. Those days were like a blur.

My phone buzzed and it was another message from Daniel. He must be so bored at the hospital. I shouldn't have left. But I was so miserable, I couldn't let him see me like that. He'd only worry and do something stupid.

'Come take me home?' he wrote.

I inhaled deeply before writing a response. 'Where did your parents go?' I asked.

'I rather you take me,' was all he wrote.

I picked my nail, staring at his message with unsure contemplation. One part of me said ignore it and answer later where it would be too late. But another side told me not to abandon him when he needed me.

I quickly replied to him before I changed my mind, turned off the screen and placed it under my pillow. That was it. I couldn't change my mind anymore. I got up and changed into jeans and a jumper before heading to the hospital.

Daniel was waiting for me at the discharge centre at the back. He was sitting in a wheelchair with crutches sitting at an angle on his lap. When he saw me, his face brightened, yet all I was looking at was the cast on his right leg and then the bandage wrapped around his forehead.

"Hello, beautiful," he greeted with a bright smile.

I forced a smile in return even though inside, I felt anything but happy. Was he really going to give up on his dream for me?

"How are you feeling?" I asked.

"Better now that you're here," he replied.

The nurse that stood behind him was suppressing a smile and I felt my cheeks burned. The nurse pushed Daniel's wheelchair out to the carpark where I saw Mr Ross waiting for us. His dad was here and yet he asked me to come? I was about to say something to Daniel for tricking me, but I stopped myself. I should just be happy that he was okay.

I helped Daniel get up and he leaned against me as he staggered towards Mr Ross' car. I tried supporting him, but Daniel was a lot heavier than what I was used, and it probably looked like I was the one with the injured leg.

Daniel made me sit in the backseat with him. The drive back home wasn't that long. But five minutes in, Daniel placed a hand over my mine, smiling. I forced a smile back and he leaned in close to my ear.

"I really miss kissing you," he whispered softly. I cleared my throat, shifting in my seat and I tried to keep a straight face, but I was sure my face was red.

"You can wait until we get home," I whispered in return.

He pouted. However, he doesn't protest. Instead, he leaned his head against my shoulder and entwined his hand with mine. I wrapped my finger around his hand. He felt so warm.

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