Nathan slowly opened his eyes and stared at his own living room ceiling in his small one bedroom flat. As he collected his bearings a bit he realized that he was on his couch. He slowly sat up and pushed the blanket off him and looked out the window near his small dinner table. It was now dark outside.
He looked over at Lisa who was coming out of the kitchen. His thoughts were a scrambled mess between the events of the day and the medication from the IVs.
“Did you go to work?” Nathan asked as he dropped his feet to the floor but maintained in a sitting position.
“I took a personal day. I told them what happened and they were good with it being last minute and all,” Lisa responded with a soft smile. She set a cup of hot chocolate down on the coffee table and took a hairband off her wrist. She pulled back her medium length hair and tied it into a pony tail.
“You didn’t need to do that. I would have been fine. Thank you,” Nathan replied as he sank backwards into the couch cushions. He tugged a little at the copper bracelet on his right wrist.
““Need to” is a relative term. The hospital wanted you checked in on for the next day or so. Beyond that, I wanted to,” she said as she smiled softly and sat in the adjacent easy chair. “Besides, I can’t go off disobeying an officer of the law.”
Nathan looked up genuinely puzzled.
“Officer O’Malley said” she replied with a quickly deepening tone, “Take care of him Miss Cooper, he’s all yours now.” She smirked a little and then returned to her own voice. “There only so many laws I am willing to bend or otherwise break. When it comes to you I figured that was a good one to obey.”
Nathan smiled warmly at the words “take care of”. It had been a while since anyone had done that for him. He took care of his father while he was sick along with tending to his own needs. And then there was the slight act of kindness that he would do daily for Cici. That effort was now no longer needed. The thought of that sadden him some as he played more with the bracelet.
Lisa sat quietly after her playful but leading comments. It was times like this she resented saying them. She was always reaching and extending, trying to see if he had any interest beyond “just friends” but he was always indifferent and non-committal. It would bother her sometimes more than others. Like on the evenings when they would spend time on the couch watching a movie and he’d nod off. She would move sometimes to get more comfortable or reach for a remote to turn the TV off and that would wake him up. She would tell him to just stay on the couch and she would try to sit there with him and hold him slightly and playfully but he would invariably leave politely. There were many nights where she would get up near the point when he would first start nodding off to get a bathroom visit out of the way so as to not have to hold it all night because she wanted him to stay. She was reaching the point where the one way effort wasn’t enough anymore. She hated feeling that way. She wanted more.
“That bracelet won’t come off, you know?” Lisa said, pulling herself out of her thoughts. Nathan looked up as Lisa continued. “The nurse couldn’t get it off your wrist. It wouldn’t even turn. I tried myself while you were sleeping.”
Nathan tugged at it lightly and it slipped right off into his left hand effortlessly. He examined it with both hands and then extended it towards Lisa. She reached out to take it but before she could fully grasp it she shouted in pain and released it.
“OW! It’s red hot,” she exclaimed, putting her fingertips into her mouth and then blowing on them, dropping the bracelet to the floor.
Nathan jerked in a reflex action and picked it up immediately and Lisa stood up and walked into the kitchen to turn on the cold water tap. He put it back on his right wrist and got up. “Are you OK?” he asked as his head was a little fuzzy.
“I’m fine,” Lisa responded running her fingers under the cold water.
“I don’t understand that reaction. Are you sure it was heat and not something in the metal that your skin responded to?”
Lisa pulled her fingers out from under the tap water and held them up. The heat blisters were clearly visible. Nathan looked at his own wrist which was otherwise unaffected.
“I’m sorry,” he replied as he made his way over to the kitchen moving his hand from table to chair as he moved, steadying himself as he walked along.
“It’s okay, it’s not like you knew it would burn me. Still, why isn’t it burning you?” Lisa asked looking down on it with her greenish blue eyes.
“I don’t know,” Nathan said as he touched it with his left hand. “This is going to sound crazy but sometimes it feels cool to the touch on my wrist but warm to the touch with my left hand.”
Inquisitively, Lisa slowly reached over with her other hand while her other one remained under the tap. Nathan pulled his arm away in almost a protective move but it was more to keep Lisa from getting burned again than to keep from being touched.
“It’s okay,” she replied gesturing forward. “I’ll go lightly with a slight touch.”
Nathan extended his arm and she slowly moved to touch it with the lightest contact she could manage. This time the metal only felt warm so she laid her fingertips with more pressure.
“It’s only warm,” she responded. “The nurse and I were not burned before when touching it.”
“But you were just before, once I basically broke contact with it.”
Lisa nodded her head.
Both of them looked at one another puzzled.
Nathan took the bracelet off and set it on the counter while Lisa dried off her hands. He reached down with just his pointer finger extended and touched it. It was cool to the touch. Lisa wrapped the wet paper towel around her fingers and touched it and immediately jerked her hand back.
“Are you OK?” Nathan asked.
“I’m fine. The wet paper towel and the light touch kept me safe but it was clearly hot.”
Nathan scooped up the bracelet and looked at the counter. No sign of heat wear on the surface of the counter top.
He walked over to the area near the stove in the kitchen and set the bracelet down and started to head over to the freezer when Lisa called out. “Nathan, stop!” she responded excitedly while pointing to the bracelet.
Nathan stopped in his tracks and turned.
“It moved slightly,” Lisa said in an astonished tone. “I swear. Step away slowly but face it so you can see.”
Nathan took two small steps backwards and away from the bracelet and it did move forward slightly.
The story continues…