Chapter 12: Hold Me Now


Taylor

I idly flipped through the pages of the Odyssey while I waited on Alley to return. I was still embarrassed about the shower comment. I really hadn’t meant it the way it sounded, and I doubted if she believed my feeble explanation. She probably thought I was a jackass.

I grew tired of reading and stood up again. Surveying the room once again, I marveled at her paintings. How could she be so casual about them? They were amazing. I walked over to one of the shelves and replaced the book. I gently ran my finger down the length of the books on the shelf, reading each title. There were a lot of Stephen King and Dean Koontz books, and a lot of others with bizarre titles. Tales of a Female Nomad? And, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Art of Seduction? Damn, there really was an “idiot’s guide” for everything. There were also many, many books on mythology. Interesting. I wondered if she’d read them all, then decided that she probably had.

I checked the clock on the wall. She’d been gone for more than 20 minutes. I sighed impatiently, but kept in mind that she was a girl. She probably had to priss and primp for awhile before she returned.

My eyes fell on the spine of a thick black binder in the corner of a bottom shelf. Curiously, I slid it out and opened it up. It was a picture album. I sat down, cross-legged, in the floor next to the shelf and flipped through the pages. It was in chronological order. The pictures in the front were of Alley’s father and a woman who bore an uncanny resemblance to Alley herself. Must be her mother, I figured. Finally I came to pictures showing a bright-eyed baby. Alley Kat at 3 months, one of the captions read. I continued to flip. From then on, the pictures only contained Alley or her father. I gradually put the pieces together- her mother must have died when she was very, very young, maybe even during childbirth.

Footsteps approaching the room interrupted my reverie. I hastily replaced the photo album and quickly grabbed a book at random from the shelf. I flew back to the chair, throwing myself down and opening my book up in the middle so it looked like I’d been reading. I didn’t want her to think that I was being too nosy.

She casually walked into the room and came to a dead halt in front of me. I glanced up with a smile. Her face was open and sober.

“How old are you?” she demanded. I gave a little grunt of surprise before I answered. Now where the hell did that come from?

“Um.... I’m 18..... why?”

Relief shined plainly on her face. She laughed to herself a little. “Ah, just curious. Whatcha reading?”

“Well,” I started, flipping the book to the cover so I could actually see what I had picked up. I stopped cold. Great. Of all the damn books in this whole room, I had to pick this one. I’d been better off letting her see how nosy I was.

She regarded my sudden silence with curiosity, leaning over to read the title of the book-- For Yourself: The Fulfillment of Female Sexuality. She roared with laughter, slapping her knees and everything.

“Oh, Taylor, I must admit, I had my doubts about you before, but now I’ve got the PROOF!” she giggled crazily. “So tell me-- have you learned to fulfill your feminine sexual needs?”

I scowled at her and tried valiantly to cover for myself.

“Well, women are always complaining that men don’t understand them, I just thought maybe this could give a little insight,” I said lamely. She didn’t buy it for a second.

“Whatever, Taylor. You can’t fool me,” she tsk-tsked. “What would your girlfriend say if she knew you were reading smut like that?”

I thought of my girlfriend then, for the first time since I’d arrived. Actually, the first time in weeks. Hmmm. I guess that shows you how close we were.

“Ah, I don’t know what she’d say,” I replied. “I’d probably get a lecture.”

Was it my imagination, or did her face fall for a second, just then?

“Yeah.... um, ok.... well, the computer’s ready, let’s go,” she said in a quieter voice.

I pulled my chair closer to the computer so that I could see the screen. She spun around in the leather chair to face me, and I noticed the hideous outfit she was wearing. Really, she looked like she’d picked up the first thing she could find and put it on. She hadn’t even bothered to dry her hair. Scratch that primp comment, I thought to myself.

“Why did it take you 45 minutes to dress like that?!”

She smirked. “You’re jealous, aren’t you? Sorry dear, but you can’t have the shirt.”

I snickered. God, she was weird.

“Alrighty then. Enough of this nonsense, let’s get down to business,” she announced, turning back towards the computer. Humming to herself, she clicked here and there on the screen until she arrived at MTV.com.

“Mmmkay...” she murmured softly. “Let’s just see what we can find here...”

She rubbed her eyes and yawned. Good grief. Fourteen hours of sleep wasn’t enough?

“How can you be tired? Maybe you should go to bed now so that by tomorrow morning you will be completely rested,” I teased her. She merely waved me off.

“Shoosh. I’m concentrating.”

“Hey, where are your glasses?”

“Didn’t I just tell you to shoosh?”

“Yeah, but where are they?”

“Dammit, Taylor... you are the nosiest little thing. I’m wearing contacts.”

“Oh, cool,” I said. I picked up two pencils from the desk and began drumming my legs with them. Then I drummed on the desk. She turned and gave me the evil eye, but remained silent.

“OK, headlines... news gallery.... type in band name. H-A-N-S-O-N...ok, la di da......OK, here we go, archives,” she spoke to herself, almost forgetting that I was there. She read quietly for a moment, then let out a loud snort.

“WHAT?  Ozzy's Daughter Pays $16,000 For Hanson Passes?? Are you serious?!” she shouted. “That’s insanity!”

I groaned and put my head in my hands. “Don’t remind me, please, don’t remind me.”

“Oh, is she your girlfriend? Hee hee hee... that’d be one hell of a set of in-laws, though...”

She hummed merrily and she continued to scroll through the news archives. I kept my head in my hands. Suddenly she stopped humming and from the corner of my eye I saw her scoot her chair closer to the computer.

“What is it?” I asked warily.

“Taylor.... I don’t really know how else to say this... well, what year is it?”

“What YEAR is it? I thought you were supposed to be the smart one around here.”

“Just answer the question.”

“Today is June 25, 2001. That’s what you said earlier.”

“That is not what I said earlier.... I said it was June 25....”

I sat upright in my chair and gripped the arms. “What are you talking about?”

She scooted her chair over. “I think you need to read this for yourself.”

I stood up and walked over behind her, leaning my tall frame over her shoulder to read the screen.

           June 10, 2002

               Teen superstar Taylor Hanson remains in the hospital one year after a near-fatal rock-climbing accident left him in a         coma.
              Hanson, now 19, was out rock-climbing with friends at Skyline Peak last June when his harness broke and he plunged        nearly 25 feet to the ground. Kyle Sparks, a friend of Hanson’s, recalls the awful incident.
              “I could see that his harness was coming unfastened,” Sparks said. “We tried to tell him to stay still, so that one of us could get up there and save him before it broke, but he was up so high he couldn’t understand what we were saying. Then it just broke and he fell.”
               Hanson’s fall resulted in five broken ribs, a broken ulna, several severe cuts and scrapes, brain swelling, and loss of          consciousness. Since the June 2001 accident, Hanson has recovered from all the injuries but has yet to regain consciousness.              Christopher Sabec, Hanson’s manager, says that they have not yet given up hope.
               “We are still hoping, still praying for Taylor,” Sabec said in an interview with MTV last week. “However, there are no       plans as of right now to begin working on another album without him. It just wouldn’t be right.”
               The Hanson family declined to comment on his condition or the future of the band. Hanson’s latest album,
This Time          Around, was released in May 2000.


“What?” I whispered. “I’ve been in a coma? for a year? How the-- why--” I broke off, nearing tears.

Allison squeezed my arm gently, but remained silent. I felt her message clearly though; actions speak louder than words.

“Oh shit,” I breathed, falling to my knees beside her chair. Before, when I had wondered if I was dead, I thought things couldn’t get any worse. This, this was worse.

“At least you’re still alive,” she murmured softly. She stroked my hair and I let my head fall into her lap. Her touch was soft.

“Yeah... still alive. I might as well not be. All I’m doing is causing more pain to my family and friends by being alive. At least if I had died, then they could get on with their lives.”

She grabbed my head and forced me to look into her eyes. They were fiery. I recalled the way they had looked five years ago on that cold November night. It was like deja vu, seeing them that way again.

“Don’t you dare say that,” she said slowly; coldly; evenly. “They still have hope, and believe me, that counts for something.”

Our gazes remained locked for several minutes after that. Finally her face softened and she raised me up off her lap.

“Come on,” she said gently. “Let’s go back downstairs.”

I nodded, accepting her offer to help me up. I followed her back down the stairs, my head hung low and tears dripping down my face, still clutching her hand.