It had been about two hours since Wirt woke up in the hospital. Wirt was surrounded by the kids from the graveyard. The group found him after he pulled his little brother out of the freezing lake they had falling into. It took all of Wirt’s strength to drag them both to the bank of the lake. Wirt had passed out as soon as he got to the river’s edge. Most of his strength had already been used up on getting back to life, back to reality.
His focus now wasn’t on what he had been through but instead what he was doing. He was surrounded by kids from school, some who he liked, some who he didn’t but in that moment none of it mattered. He was just a normal kid laughing and joking around as Greg ran around the room telling stories of what they did in the unknown, all of the group enjoyed themselves and cheered Greg on by asking him questions.
Sara sat with him on his bed, occasionally he would look up at her and quickly turn away if she looked back. He hadn’t even noticed how late it was getting until one of the nurses asked the kids if they needed to call their parents. One at a time they each went to tell their parents where they were, each time they laughed about how worried their dad or mom sounded when they heard their kid was hanging out in the hospital. Wirt quietly laughed along with Sara as each kid reenacted their phone call until finally it was Sara’s turn.
“You gonna be alright without me here?” Sara joked.
“I’ll be fine.” Wirt gently smiled at her, apparently he didn’t get the joke.
After Sara rushed out the room one of the kid’s started reenacting his mom yelling at him during his phone call over a misunderstanding. He started mocking his mom’s yelling by quietly yelling into an imaginary phone. Wirt chuckled along, he started coughing into his fist. After hearing all of the other teens talk about their parents, a thought suddenly came into his mind.
Just than his mother barged into his hospital room. She slammed the door open and held it open with her hand as she scanned the room. She was a nervous wreck, her hair was messed up and her eyes wide open. As soon as she spot Wirt she ran up to her son and tightly hugged him. Kissing him across his forehead several times as he tried to hide his face. Wirt was glad Sara had already left the room but still all the other kids were watching as his mother held on to him. He had thought the whole ordeal to be an embarrassment and that the others would be snickering to each other as Wirt’s mom smooched him. To his surprise all of them were looking on with warm smiles. None of them thought anything was out of the ordinary. Wirt’s mother wiped away some of her tears before firmly asking, “Where is Greg?”
“Hey mama!” Greg marched up to his mother to show her his new frog, “meet Jason Funderburker!”
The original Jason Funderberker still got confused when his name was brought up, “you mean me?”
“No not you!” Greg held up his frog to his mom, “He’s my new friend!”
“I kind of told Greg he could keep him. He’s been looking after him for-” Wirt thought before he finished his statement, they had been walking in the unknown for days but that knowledge would have to die with him, “He’s been looking after him for a few hours now.”
“Of course, of course.” On a normal day Hope would reprimand her son for allowing her youngest boy to take in a stray animal as a pet, but today she was just happy to see her two sons safe. Hope pulled in her youngest boy in for a hug and kissed him just as many times as she kissed Wirt.
“I thought I would be in trouble.” Wirt let out a nervous laugh under his breath.
“Oh you are.” She smiled back at Wirt, “you are grounded.”
Sara walked back into the room, “Hey guys I couldn’t get a hold of my-”
She noticed Wirt’s mom was sitting right where she was a few moments ago.
“Oh hi, Mrs. Volta.”
“Hello, are you one of Wirt’s friend’s from school.”
Wirt lifted a finger to speak, “uh-”
“Yeah mama,” Greg butt in before Wirt could get a word in. “This is Sara!”
“Ohhh!” Hope was still wiping away a few of her tears but she sounded cheerful and down right coy as she spoke, “so this is Sara.”
Quickly Wirt thought to change the topic, “Do you know where Shay is?”
“No, He wasn’t with you?” She sounded upset again, “I told him he was supposed to take Greg trick-or-treating tonight.”
“He asked me to do it.” Wirt looked slightly annoyed.
“Of course he did, well he better be home by now.”
Sara walked behind Hope’s field of vision and tried to give everyone a signal to not continue speaking but it was too late.
“He’s probably still on patrol.” A blonde girl wearing a bird costume shrugged.
Sara slapped herself in the face.
“Patrol?” Hope shot up, “Patrol for what?”
“Oh you know,” Sara thought quick tried to salvage the situation, “It means they were patrolling for candy. It’s slang.”
“Shay never goes trick-or-treating, he didn’t even have a costume.”
“Great.” Wirt whispered under his breath.
“Well, he can explain to me himself. Let’s just make sure you get some rest.” She tucked Wirt into his bed despite his protests. She picked up her other son and forced him to lay in his bed. She continued to speak after she finished tucking him Greg.
“As for the rest of you kids need a ride home? Your parents must be worried sick.”
“We got a chance to call them,” Sara said “they are on their way.”
“I thought you were just saying you couldn’t get a hold of them Sara?” After Jason Funderberker spoke Sara palmed her face again.
“Ooohhh hooo.” One of the other girls couldn’t contain her amusement and had to cover her mouth to keep from laughing.
“Well I can drive you home sweetie.”
Wirt slapped his face, his mom just offered the love of his life a ride home. Just this once he was hoping things could go his way but now his mom is going to be hounding Sara with questions about him and telling Sara all kinds of embarrassing stories, his chances with her are ruined. And she already agreed to listen to the tape at his house, what if she doesn’t like how over-protective his mother is and she won’t want to come over and-
“It's okay Mrs. Volta, I can walk.”
Maybe he was safe after all.
“At this hour?” Hope let out a laugh in shock, “Darling it’s too late for that. I want to make sure all you kids get home safe.”
“That’s really nice of you.” Sara took a look at Wirt and shrugged, “alright.”
Wirt tried to keep a straight face when Sara stared at him but something about her eyes told him that he looked desperate for her to say no.
Wirt’s mom waited with all of the kids until their parents came in to pick them up, they joked around Wirt’s hospital bed as his mom tried to keep Greg in his. She laid her hand on Greg until he fell asleep. He was still holding onto his new frog. Sara sat on Wirt’s bed again as one-by-one the rest of the gang went home. Jason waved Wirt off, Wirt actually waved back. Soon only Sara was left.
“Sara,” Hope quietly asked for her attention, still sitting next to Greg “I’ll take you home now.”
She got up and made her way over to Wirt.
“The doctor said they want to monitor you overnight, I can comeback if you-“
“No, I’ll watch Greg.” Wirt looked sincerely at his mom. “You go get some rest.”
“I wish I could but I don’t think I’ll be able to get any sleep tonight.” She kissed Wirt goodnight and took one last look at Greg.
She moved towards the door, “Sara honey, Come along.”
“Well, I guess it’s time to go.” She got up from Wirt’s hospital bed. “I’ll see you soon, we can listen to that tape on Saturday.”
“Su-sure.” Wirt felt more confident now that Sara expressed interest in his tape but inside he felt deeply ashamed.
Wirt searched his mind for something else to talk about,
"You know you didn't have to cover for Shay."
"Well I think what he does is nice," She got up from the hospital bed. "He always looks out for the younger kids during Halloween, protecting them from bullies."
"Yeah, you have a point."
"He's a good kid."
"That's a bit of a stretch."
Sara laughed, “Alright, I’m going to head out now.”
“Alright.” He smiled at her softly.
“Good night, Sara.”
She made a sort of frustrated face, like she just tasted something sour. Before Wirt could make out why she looked that way she quickly moved in next to him and she pulled him into a kiss before rushing out.
She ran out the door and Wirt’s face flushed from pink to red. He could not stop stuttering as he tried to calculate in his head what just happened. He was trying to find the right words to put into his mind how he felt, there must have been poetry he had heard before that described the emotion he was feeling at the moment. Maybe he even wrote it himself. Maybe he could find some beautiful phrases for in his head, but no. Nothing came to mind. The only word he could think of was “Sara.”