Diary of a Teen Prodigy: The College Life - Taming the Golden Boys: Volume 3 (Chapter 6, page 1 of 1)

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Chapter 6

John Hopkins Hospital Trauma Center Level 1
I hardly remembered what day it was; or the time. I stood on the outside of the looking glass window into Penelope’s room. Actually to be more exact it was more like a condo; it was a private VIP studio/ room that Luis had insisted on getting for her. It was complete with its own private medical staff available around the clock. There were extra rooms and baths for family to stay in and utilize and it even had a wait staff. It was like a personal 5-star hotel room. All I could think was; it’s good to be wealthy.
She had slipped into a coma during surgery and now she was on life support complete with ventilator and suctioning machine. My eyes were nearly swollen shut from crying endlessly. The only reason why they hadn’t closed completely was because I had run out of tears in the passing weeks since her tragic shooting.
I watched her mom, dad, and Luis in the room beside her; Aunt Connie and Uncle George on her left holding her hand and Luis on her right kneeling beside her desperately clasping her other hand to his heart with a bowed head. Except for the occasion of food, bathroom or checking on the baby; they never left her side. Truth was Luis had wanted to have the baby in a room next door; but because preemies required specialized care it couldn’t be done unless he would have built an addition to that room.
I wanted to go in and be with her but… The constant hissing sound of the ventilator, the slurping sounds of the tracheal suctioning machine and the beeping and blinking of various monitors and equipments were just too overwhelming for me. They were all constant reminders that my cousin was not in a good way. And the medicated antiseptic smell in the room coupled with the humidifier making everything feel so moist; I just couldn’t stand being inside that crowded little glass box of a room. I felt claustrophobic. Every time I ventured three feet into that room I would get lightheaded and dizzy as if I were about to pass out. I didn’t think it would be good for them to see me like that. They already had enough to worry about with Penelope and her baby girl who also was fighting for life as a preemie.
The doctors had told us that there was a less than 40% chance of her regaining consciousness. They said the real test would begin once they started weaning her first off of the ventilator. If she could somehow manage to breathe on her own, the second test would be removing life support. Each test involved greater risk. I could barely stand to think about it all. I couldn’t even concentrate enough to return to school. Luis and I both had taken an indefinite leave of absence.
Watching Luis was nearly as bad as watching Penelope. It was heartbreaking. If she was standing at death’s door then he was sitting in the yard. I wept for both of them and their baby.
“Hey how are you holding up?” I heard Rain’s voice from behind as she entered.
“I’m doing okay…” I answered a little deflated. Rain had flown into Maryland for the weekend and it was good having her by my side. She gave me a supportive hug and I held on to her a little longer. I needed a hug as I felt my eyes becoming misty again.
“Don’t you think this is a little eerie,” she asked after I had finally relinquished my hold on her. Her question got me curious.
“How so?” I asked.
She turned to me and then she sort of whispered, “Don’t you remember when we had gotten together at her house in Jersey?” She reminded me. I looked up thoughtfully as if something on the ceiling would give me a clue of what she was talking about.
“About what?” I prodded. We had talked about a million and one things on that trip.
Rain looked at me in disbelief as she took a deep breath and then she said, “You know… that premonition thing… Remember?”
My eyes got as big as paper plates as I recalled that conversation. Oh My God! How could I have forgotten? My hands flew over my mouth to keep from screaming out loud. Slowly I turned facing the window. Suddenly we were sitting in that quaint little restaurant in Newark New Jersey and Penelope’s premonition flashed before my eyes:
“For real, did you even have a vision about Luis?” I asked. Her expression then changed to a more serious one.
“Yea, I did. When I first met him at the cookout, remember?”
“Yea,” We both went as she had regained our interest.
“He was sitting by the fence, alone except for your neighbor’s two dogs.” She said as if she were back in that moment.
“He seemed a little sad like he had no friends or family.”
“Not true, he’s got Zai, Jeda and Moui.” Rain interjected.
“Yea his father and us too.” I said.
“Yea, that’s his present self. But when I saw him, I saw his future and past self. And in both states he had no one.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“In his past he lost a family and then his future repeated itself.”
My eyes became damp with tears again. “You don’t think…” I started but I couldn’t finish the thought.
“They say prayer changes things. Let’s hope for that.” Rain quietly said wrapping her arms around me again.
Second semester of college finally came to a cruel end. The entire semester I was a zombie having barely passed my classes. All my life I had my life mapped out for me: finish school, go to college then grad school, join my dad at his company learn the ropes and work my way up the Corporate ladder to the CEO position, take over company and then maybe fall in love and get married.
At nineteen I had learned that things don’t always go according to plans and the ground had a tendency of disappearing right from under your feet at any given moment without any advance notice. In a couple of words: I was a train wreck. I didn’t know who I was anymore or what I stood for. Everything that I thought I knew about myself, friends and family had changed over the course of two years after having met Nevada Tate. Now that she was gone from my life I had to somehow discover a new me and figure out who the hell I was.
The Golden Boys, what exactly did that mean? In grammar and high school we four ruled the world. Nothing took place or got done without first meeting our approval. We were Gods and our entire world was our servant and playground. In college we were all trying to come to term with a new life that evidently fate had unexpectedly planned for us. Luis had become a father; Jeda was in love dating pretty seriously, Moui... Moui damn how do I explain his situation? Moui had just started experimenting with ‘exclusively dating’ when a handpicked bride suddenly appeared in his life; complicating his relationship; and then there was me. I had met an enemy who became a friend, later my girlfriend and now we were strangers. What the hell happened to us and where the hell was all of this leading? How did life get so complicated so fast? Our lives were in dire need of self-reflection and direction.
“Hey,” Jeda said entering my condo back home now that we were officially on summer break. He fell onto the sofa as I lay on my back on the floor with feet propped up on the table playing a video game.
“Heard from Luis?” He asked as he reached for the bag of corn chips I had been munching on earlier.
“Nothing’s changed with Penelope; she’s still holding on after removal of the ventilator and life support… Naiara gained another pound.”
“Still hard to believe that Luis is a dad.” I said still not truly believing that it had actually happened.
“Yea that’s just crazy. Move over…” he said as he grabbed the other controller and plopped down next to me.
“You think she’s gonna pull out of that coma?” I asked what I knew we were all wondering but afraid to verbalize.
“Don’t know man… It’s been what… four mouths.” We sat there a moment of silence filled the air as we started playing Resurgence Map Pack together. Then Jeda finally asked:
“Is it really over with you and Nevada?”
“Got Damn it there goes my buzz.” I said getting up and slamming the controller down against the floor and heading for my room. I know it had been four months but I still couldn’t talk about it. I hadn’t accepted that we were through yet. I just figured Nevada needed more time and I was willing to wait for her.
“Dude I didn’t mean to hit a sore spot. Relax.” I heard Jeda saying as he followed behind me into my bedroom. I sulked as I laid face down on the bed. Jeda went over to the sofa in my room and crashed.
“Man you can’t live like this… I can’t stand to see my boys falling apart. Luis is having it hard… Moui got a wife-to-be in one hand and a chick-on-the side in the other one; and then there’s you…”
“What the fuck can I do?” I suddenly shouted at him for no apparent reason as I sat up. “I mean yea I get it… I fucked up and I’m really sorry about it. All I can think to do is give her time and hope that that will be enough.” I paused to give myself some time to get myself back together. I could feel myself becoming unglued and I knew that it wasn’t good. I took a few deep shaky breaths and then continued.
“You know how I was when Daisy broke us up before… You know I didn’t handle that too well.
“Then you shouldn’t have let that thing happened man…”
“I know… I get it now…”
“Yea well now might be too late.” He said soberly waking me up into a reality that I didn’t want to accept.
“Now that it looks like I might be losing her for good, what do you expect?” I was near tears and sad to say I was embarrassed for showing this weak side of myself. It’s been a long time since I’ve said, ‘I’m Zai Robinson I can get through anything.’ Maybe because this was the first time in my life I was beginning to learn that there were some things in life that you don’t get through; there were some things that were beyond my control and I had to be willing to accept them as consequences for my actions.
Finally after four months of isolation and gaining enough weight and building up her immune system, I was finally able to hold my daughter for the first time. I had to sit down; I shook so much. The nurse had to give me fifteen minutes to get my nerves together and to stop sweating so much. My breathing was labored. I felt giddy and discombobulated all at once. She was so tiny, so fragile so beautiful and she looked just like her mother. I was in love the first time I saw her. When I finally felt calm enough to hold her, the nurse passed her to me saying,
“Hold her head and take special care to support her neck like this” she explained as she demonstrated. I cupped out my hands and she fitted right into them all wrinkly and curled up slightly asleep sucking on a finger.
“You’re the first girl ever to make me shake all over like this… You should be proud of yourself” I whispered to my daughter as I watched her intently. Tears fell from my eyes staining her thinly layer of pink skin.
“My name is Luis Sergio Salim and I’m daddy… please to meet you Naiara Sergio Salim.” I offered her a weak smile as I brought her up closer to me and planted a soft kiss on her forehead. She was bald with soft wispy dark sprouts trying to grow and that made me cry even more. The feeling was something I could never explain or had ever felt before.
“Thank you for growing healthy and strong. Now you’ve got to promise me you’ll get better and come home soon, okay?” When she opened up her eyes; wow it was like looking into her mom's golden-emerald eyes. I was shaking like a leaf in my chair just holding her was dreamlike. It felt as if I were standing in the hands of God holding the world in my own hands- I was in love all over again. I had to find a way to make Penelope come back; she had to meet our beautiful creation.
After visiting with Naiara, I went to be with Penelope. Her parents had gone out to get something to eat. The nurse was finishing changing her catheter and adjusting her gastro-tubing. The middle-aged black nurse looked at me offering me a faint supportive smile.
"You're holding up well... It's been good for her. She knows that you are here." She commented. I didn't know how or what to really say, so I smiled, nodded politely and said,
"Thanks" as she left leaving the two of us alone. I sincerely hoped that the nurse was right; I hoped that Penelope could feel our presence and wanted to come back to be with us.
I picked up a pitcher of water pouring myself a drink of water into a paper cup.
"Want some?" I offered her as I gave a wry grin.
"Guess you prefer what's in your bag... what is this?" I asked as I looked at the empty cans in the trash.
"Hmm, Ensure plus... chocolate flavored... hope it's tasty... Guess you don't miss fried chicken and greasy French fries, eh? Trying to get rid of that baby fat, huh? Well this isn’t exactly the diet you wanna be on…" I joked with her as I sat down.
"You should see our baby girl. I named her Naiara Sergio Salim… Yea she has my middle name… Oh that’s right you already know I’m selfish like that.” I offered a small laugh and continued talking as if she would talk back any second now.
“I'm going to bring her to see you just as soon as the doctors say it's safe." I smiled thinking about our daughter's smile. "She looks just like you... darn, I should have taken pictures." I touched a warm hand to her forehead, pushing back her hair and gently stroking her face. I looked inside of her drawer in the nightstand and got her hairbrush. I gently lifted up her hair and started brushing it.
"She has your eyes and your smile. She's so pretty until it'll break your heart and make you cry." I felt myself choking with strong emotions. I paused laying the brush down on the stand. I reached for her hand interlocking her fingers with mines as I stroked the back of it with my free hand.
"I guess you’re still pretty mad at me, eh? So mad that you're not ready to talk to me huh? Well you picked a damn good way to get even. Yup, you made me real sorry. I'm real sorry now; but I think you've punished me enough okay. And if you're not satisfied, I promise when you wake up I'll let you beat me up every day if you want, K?" I leaned down and placed a kiss on her forehead and then touched my cheek to hers. A few teardrops slipped from my eyes onto her cheek.
"Just wake up okay? Promise me you'll just wake up and I'll promise you I'll never let you go again no matter what." I whispered into her ear hoping that she was listening.
I sat there talking to her for hours and holding her hand. I think this was the first real conversation that I may have ever had with her. It actually felt good just talking to her. I felt like we were becoming friends.

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