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"What if I said yes?

What if I'd gone out that night?"

 

   She was tired, stressed. She had just wanted a night to stay in. Just a quiet night. Derek was ready to celebrate the coming of the weekend; he wanted to celebrate life. He was always full of life.

   Casey had said, "Go ahead," and "Have fun." She knew him better than anyone. She should have known he'd already started to pre-game.

 

"What if you'd turned left,

Everything would have turned out alright.

What if I'd spoke up?

What if I'd took the keys?

What if I'd tried a little harder, instead of always trying to please."

 

   Casey sat in the waiting room, alone. It would take time for her parents to make the drive to the Hospital in Queens. They'd barely left having to figure out arrangements for the kids.

   She could have gone with him, when he'd asked her to go. She could have gone just to be his driver. She could have asked him to stay... and he would have, of course he would have. But she had wanted him to enjoy his night. They were looking for different things that evening, and that was fine with them both. Maybe, though, if she'd asked she wouldn't be sitting here. Maybe if she'd been a little more selfish... Maybe if he'd taken a different route home he wouldn't have had to come to the stop sign. Maybe... What if... she couldn't stop thinking. What if one little thing had changed would the chain of events been any different?

 

"I'm so sorry,

Ooh, can you hear me?"

 

   "Venturi?" The nurse called and Casey jumped up. "Me, I'm with Venturi. That's me. Is he okay?" The nurse appraised her and offered her a sad smile.

   "I can only give details to family members." She sounded almost reluctant, and who wouldn't want to update the worried girlfriend?

   Casey sighed. She'd never been so grateful for their awkward connection, "I'm his stepsister. Our parents are driving in, but it will take them some time... Please?" She tried not to let her voice crack, but it did having been on the verge of tears all evening. The nurse deliberated only a second longer.

   "Mr. Venturi is still in surgery. So far, there's no complications. Dr. Matthews feels confident." The nurse offered a comforting smile but Casey didn't let herself breath a sigh of relief. Not until he was out of surgery and in her sights. "That's all the updates I have so far, but we'll try to keep you posted every two hours."

 

"What if I'd said no?

What if we never fell in love?

What if we'd gone slow,

or a little bit faster and broken up?"

 

   The brunette paced the waiting room. She thought about when they first got together...

  "Please, Casey." He'd begged. Derek Venturi begging... it had been hard not to think he was pranking her. "I know you feel it, too." He'd continued, and Casey felt the ghost of a smile as she remembered that night. "Just give me a chance." He'd been vulnerable and she'd been scared. "Give us a chance." They'd been good together, better than good really. But what if she'd blown him off? Ignored her feelings and told him no. Would she still be pacing this small, white, sterile smelling room? Would he be lying in that room surrounded by a medical team trying to save his life?

   He'd called, of course, to let her know he was coming home. He'd rather be at home with her then at some party anyway. He was just a little buzzed, of course, but he said he was good to drive. She'd offered to come get him but he was already on his way. But just because he was alright to drive... doesn't mean everyone else on the road was.

   She could still hear the sound of metal on metal.

   Casey wrapped her arms around herself and squeezed, hoping that with enough pressure she could hold herself together.

 

"Would I know this hurt?

Would I feel this pain?

Do you know that with all I have left in my very last breath I will call your name."

 

   "Casey, sweetheart." There was a hand on her shoulder and the young adult turned to find her mother there and George standing nearby. She glanced at her watch, surprised she hadn't heard them coming in. But she'd been staring at the wall as if it might hold all the answers to her what ifs and maybes. Without warning she threw herself into her mother's arms, not caring if Nora thought she was taking this harder than a stepsister ought to. Still, though, she didn't cry. George joined the hug and she squeezed them both. Maybe they could hold each other together.

 

"Were you sad,

Were you scared?

Did you whisper a prayer to be free?"

 

   The same nurse was back, calling his name again. The three of them looked at her expectantly.

 

"Was it quiet and cold?"

 

   Nora and George introduced themselves to her and vaguely in the back of her mind Casey saw the relief in her eyes. She had been glad that Casey hadn't lied. Then again, she hadn't told the whole truth. "The doctor will be out in a moment," she explained gesturing for them to follow her into a smaller room connected to the one they'd been in. "If you'll just come with me."

 

"Was it light or too dark to see?"

 

   This room had a small loveseat which George and Nora sat upon, grasping hands with one another. Casey envied them. She chose to sit on the arm of the couch.

   The doctor was not long coming, and his face looked serious as he closed the door behind him. Suddenly, Casey realized what this room was.

   This room was for privacy.

   This room was for grieving.

   She felt her chest constrict, the walls feeling like they were closing in. No, it had been fine not long ago. What had changed? There was some mistake...

 

"And did you reach for me..."

 

   "We did everything we could." She heard him saying from somewhere far away. It felt like such a cliché thing to say. Had they really done everything they could?

She suddenly couldn't breathe. The room was too confining but she couldn't bring herself to move. Her whole world... the person her world revolved around...

 

"I'm so... sorry."

 

Fin.