25: Franny

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25. Franny

He looks dead. That's perhaps the most terrifying thing. He looks like he's already gone and that all the machines around him are only there for decoration. I don't know what to do. I seem to get that feeling a lot lately—complete helplessness.

I hate it. I hate seeing my dad like this. And I especially don't like sitting here, on a chair beside his bed, pretending like everything is fine. Nothing is ever fine—not now. It wasn't fine when my mom died, it wasn't fine when a part of my dad died along with her. It wasn't fine when he was beaten nearly to death and now has too many broken bones to count.

My eyes go to his bandaged eye. They always do, and every time I try to tear myself away, I can't. It's the strangest thing. The broken bones I can deal with. The cracked rib I can get over. But his eye—I can't. That's a part of him—a whole tangible part of my father which is now gone. It's been destroyed and left to rot.

Then again, it could have been worse. His whole body could have been left to rot.

I hear someone walk in and I look up to see Tally coming over. The heels of her boots clack against the floor and she stops beside me. She places a plastic cup filled with water in front of me and I take it wordlessly. It sits cradled in my hands but I don't take a sip.

"Franny, come on," she says. "At least go for a walk or something. Just down the hallway. You haven't moved since we came in."

I shake my head. I can't move. The idea of leaving my dad's side makes me feel guilty. I don't want that guilt to get stronger. I don't want to feel the same guilt I was hit with when my mom died.

"I'm fine," I say.

"That's not a good enough response," Tally comments.

"Well it's gonna have to be good enough," I say. "I'm not moving, Tal. I'm staying till he wakes up."

She doesn't give me a reply but at that point she doesn't need to. I know exactly what she's thinking.

What if he doesn't wake up?

The doctor said he wasn't in a coma—just unconscious. But he's unstable, he lost a lot of blood and the amount of pain medication that is being pumped into him is enough to keep him out cold even longer.

But he's breathing and that's something.

"How did it happen?" Tally asks.

I shake my head again. "I don't know."

But I do. And that's what's killing me even more. There aren't many people that would want to beat my dad to a pulp. He's respected enough. Although one man would. Carl would hurt him. If my dad didn't pay up, then Carl would have been at his throat.

I think back to when I saw Carl in school, his pleasant smile trying to appear innocent. His smile turned dark when he saw me, though, as if he'd finally found what he was after. The principal had seemed so at ease talking to him, and letting a random man into the school.

I have a terrible thought. Maybe Carl isn't a random man. Maybe he has some sort of legitimate connection to the school. Maybe he could walk in whenever he wants.

The idea makes me feel sick again and the taste of bile is still very prominent at the back of the throat. I lift the cup of water up and take a long gulp. It doesn't help.

"Look," Tally sighs. "My mom's home, she got back yesterday. I can't stay."

"Your dad?" I frown.

Tally shrugs. "Still out there."

I nod. "It's okay, you can go."

"Franny." Tally winces. "I don't want to just leave you here. Not like this. You can come back with me. Stay at my place for a bit."

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