Excerpt from the book, “Behind the Fake Smile” ~ Cut Chapters

“I’m so glad tomorrow is Friday. This week seemed like the longest week, and I want the weekend to be here already.” Chelsea thought as she looked up at the clock. The bell rang, and outside the door, she could see Brett’s surfer’s hair waiting for her to get out of class. A routine that they had at the end of her 7th?period. Brett would be outside waiting, hug and kiss her and then carry her books while they would go to their lockers. It was her favorite part of the day. She felt loved, protected, and a little bit like a princess.?

At their lockers, they were joking and holding hands when the sound of sirens seemed to overtake the school. They started walking faster to find out what was happening, and as they were walking out of the school, people were walking into the school in tears. The entire surrounding seemed to be in slow motion as they both hurried to see what was happening.

Outside they saw an ambulance and several fire trucks that seemed to be right next to Brett’s home. Immediate fear, hurt, and anxiety rushed through Chelsea’s body as she looked at Brett, who looked equally as concerned. He starts running, and she follows behind him to see a little body being ushered into the back of the ambulance and Brett’s Mom, holding on to the gurney visibly shaking and crying. “Oh my God, Cole?” Chelsea yells and starts sprinting. Brett hugs his Mom and jumps into the back of the ambulance with his Mom.

Chelsea just stood there, unable to move or process what she is seeing, and falls to her knees to pray. She feels a hand on her shoulder, and she looks up to see Roger with tears in his eyes. She looks at the road where a teenager is being questioned by a police officer, blood all over the way, one tiny shoe on the sidewalk, and a crowd of people staring at the ambulance in tears and disbelief.

Roger said, “I’ll call my Dad to take us to the hospital.”

Chelsea just shook her head, still in shock from what she just saw. On the way to the hospital, she felt like she was in a slow-motion tunnel. 

“Cole has to be ok,” she would say in her mind over and over. Then she would think of all that blood on the road and his tiny shoe on the sidewalk and start to cry. Roger’s Dad kept looking in the rearview mirror back at Chelsea in the backseat and give a fake type smile. 

They arrived to find Cole hooked up to machines and tubes, unconscious and unable to breathe on his own. He has massive injuries and is too unstable for surgery to repair broken bones. Brett didn’t even look at them in the Emergency Room. It was as if he was looking past them. Brett’s Dad walked out and said his son has a severe life-threatening traumatic brain injury, damage to his heart and lungs, multiple compound fractures to both of his legs, damage to his kidneys, a small laceration to his spleen, a broken shoulder blade, and a dislocated or broken collarbone. Chelsea just gasped and put her head into her hands to say a silent prayer on his behalf.

After an hour or so, Brett came up and hugged her and told her it was late and to go home and he would call her later. He seemed so cold, she thought, but nodded and hugged him and his family goodbye. That night she had to have said hundreds of prayers on Cole’s behalf, but she had such a horrible feeling, and she couldn’t shake it.

She asked her Mom if she could miss school and go to the hospital. Ava drove her on her way to work. Upon arriving at the hospital, she found Brett’s Dad in the waiting room drinking coffee. He hugged her and exclaimed that “Cole cannot breathe on his own and is now on a ventilator. He just started on round-the-clock kidney dialysis due to the damage to his kidneys and is in the Neurological Intensive Care Unit now”. Brett was shaking, and his eyes were bloodshot and swollen. It was visible that he has not slept and had shed tears all night like her. He put his arm around her as he ushered her with him to go and see the family. Walked into the room, Chelsea could feel a big black fog of sadness and shock. She had just seen him, and he was playful, funny, and full of life, and now as she looks at Cole, he seemed already gone.

Brett came up to her and hugged her, and they both sat there sobbing together. Brett’s Mom came over and hugged them both together and said, “Don’t worry, he will be just fine. He needs to rest.” Brett had a flash of anger come across his face, and he just walked out of the room. Chelsea steps behind him.

“Brett, wait!” She yelled. 

He turned around and said, “Chels, he isn’t going to make it.”

“What? How do you know?” She stood there in awe.

He came over and touched her shoulder and said, “He came to me last night in my dream and told me.” Then he turned and walked out the door.

She didn’t follow; she knew his look meant he needed to be alone. She kept replaying over and over, “he came to him in a dream?”

Chelsea went to the front reception area and called her Mom for a ride home. She couldn’t imagine going back to school and couldn’t imagine sitting at the hospital. She just wanted to be alone to process what she had seen and heard. Her intuition and gut feeling had also told her that Cole wasn’t going to make it.

Her Mom pulls up, and as she is sitting in the car, she sees Brett seated around the corner. She waves, and he gives a forced smile and a nod of the head.

Ava looks at Chelsea and says, “Do you want to go home or to school?”

“Home”, Chelsea mutters.

When they arrived home, she immediately went to her room to be alone in her thoughts, tears, and heartache.

She felt like she couldn’t cry one more tear and her head was throbbing, then she heard the phone ring. Her mom called to her, she lifted her head off the pillow and reached for the phone on her nightstand. “Hello?” she sighed. “Chels, he’s gone,” Brett said softly.

She could tell the pause in his speech and cracking that he was breaking through tears to say those three words. She tried to say something and couldn’t say anything through the tears.

“I love you. Bye.” He said.

“Here is a guy that just lost his baby brother, his only brother and he calls his girlfriend and she couldn’t mutter a single syllable of comfort, love, or anything. He even said that he loved her for the first time, and she couldn’t say a thing back.” She thought feeling weak and hopeless.

Chelsea was choked up and felt heartbroken and sick. “Rest in peace,” she thought silently staring at the ceiling of her bedroom. “Rest in peace.” Hoping Cole could feel her words and her love for him.

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