Kassandra returned to her job at the coffee shop toward the end of the summer. Her noggin, as the kind stranger who’d knocked her over called it, had been hurt more than she’d initially thought. She recalled the first scary day in the hospital, as people in various kinds of scrubs and jackets hovered over her, machines made pinging and wheezing noises, and she could not seem to understand any of the information hurled at her, from human or machine.
Concussion was the word that first sunk into her awareness, in a way that she could connect it to what had happened. Concussion and colors. White coats meant doctors. Pink scrubs meant nurses. Green scrubs meant physicians assistants, or orderlies. Scrubs with bright patterns could mean anything, and the person who wore them was likely to be either very cheerful or very grumpy. These were a few of the things Kassandra could focus on that first day.
She needed to tell the kind stranger who’d brought her here. Tell him she’d hurt her noggin after all, but she was going to be okay.
Leo, his name was. He’d knocked her down, helped her on the street, taken her to the hospital in a cab, and disappeared for a while. When he came back to her room, he looked paler than the white coats some of the people who’d been hovering over her had worn.
“What’s wrong?” she’d asked, meaning what was wrong with him to make him so ashen.
“Didn’t they tell you? Concussion,” he’d said. “You’ve got a concussion.”
Concussion meant her head, and connecting it to her head gave Kassandra some peace. It meant the white coat people knew what was wrong with her, and could make it all right. She’d said as much.
“I’m sorry,” she said, intending to comfort Leo. “I hurt my noggin after all. But it’s fine. You can go.”
“Yes, of course. You’ll be fine.” But his color didn’t change at all. Kassandra realized why. She’d seen the art professor wheeled in next door. Fuzzy dots connected in her head. Didn’t she recognize this kind person’s face from the wedding?
“She’s next door. Marilyn.I saw you at her wedding. I figure you’re a friend. She’s in the room next door. Go.”
Something was making Kassandra feel very sleepy. It was probably being dispensed by the tube that dripped into a needle in a vein in her hand. “Go,” she said again, or maybe she didn’t, because it seemed she blinked and Leo was gone, the sun was coming in from a different direction, and the people bustling around her were all wearing pink.