“Still Waiting.” Rick remarked into his phone begrudgingly. He had just left another voicemail for Zoe. It was supposed to be their first date, and she was forty-five minutes late. He had now left two voicemails and didn’t want to leave another for fear of being too clingy so early on in the relationship. The fact that he was already thinking of it as a relationship though was proof that he was clingy. He had to hold back. He couldn’t ring her again. Rick reminded himself that she was almost an hour behind schedule, and the likelihood of her turning up now was slim. He liked her a lot, though, and he didn’t want to give up. Rick knew that she probably didn’t care strongly for him, not yet anyway, but he wanted her to learn to care for him. For that reason, when more time passed, and she was now one hour and fifteen minutes late, Rick was still waiting. Most men would have faced the facts and left or started drowning their sorrows, but not Rick. Zoe Walters never did turn up that night. Rick eventually did give up and go home. He accepted the fact that Zoe and he were not meant to be, he decided that she had probably found somebody much more attractive, an alpha Male, somebody far less clingy. Rick was wrong.
Zoe had been on her way to her date with Rick, and she was excited for it. She liked him a lot. Not as much as he liked her, and she was aware of that, his over zealousness didn’t scare her off. He knew what he wanted, and she liked that. She was glad to be his choice. He was a very attractive man. Funny too. If you can make a woman laugh, you’re on the right path. That’s what her mother always said, and Zoe couldn’t argue with that, not one bit. She hoped that their first date would go really well. Rick’s flaw was clinginess which we’ve covered, but nobody’s perfect and Zoe’s flaw was that she had no spacial awareness. Not a day passed when she hadn’t walked into a wall or tripped over a door frame, but unfortunately on that night her awareness was at an all-time low, so when she rushed out of her front door to meet Rick it didn’t occur to her to look where she was going, and she walked into the path of a Ford Focus which was travelling at thirty miles per hour.
Six weeks past. Rick had been at Zoe’s bedside every day. He would stay until they told him to go home. After work, before work, and when he wasn’t working at all, he’d be there as long as he could get away with. There were visiting times he should have abided to, but the staff there turned a blind eye. Rick was well known around there. His dad had passed away a couple of years prior and in a very unpleasant manner, so most of the staff had known him well during that time. Sylvia Dawson was a nurse there at the hospital that sympathised with Rick the most. She hated that this man had been through so much, and all before he was thirty. Sylvia had never had children, but she thought of herself as a mother figure. She protected Rick’s feelings in as much of a professional manner as she could, but she’d break the odd rule or two when it was possible.
“Hi Rick” Sylvia said one night as she walked in to check on Zoe. "Have you been here long?”
“Off the record?” Rick joked. He watched police dramas a lot.
“All day, huh?”
“Yeah, I just pop off to the vending machine when I hear Biffa coming?”
“Your boss, the old crone.”
“Oh you mean May, May Vernon.” Sylvia laughed. “Why Biffa?”
“Because she’s always full of s....” Rick paused. “Maybe I shouldn’t swear in the hospital." Sylvia laughed again, but ferociously so this time. It took her a good thirty seconds to get her composure back before she replied.
“It’s fine to swear in my presence, but I get the point.”
The conversation continued for a good twenty minutes. Small talk mostly. Sylvia had been a nurse for a long time, and she found the small talk helpful. It wasn’t just medicines that numbed pain on her watch. The conversation came to an abrupt end though when Rick noticed something that took him by surprise. Zoe's eyes were open. Sylvia followed Rick's eye line and noticed the very same thing. Sylvia was quick to move, and informed Rick that she needed to inform a Doctor right away. Zoe was looking directly at Rick. She couldn’t talk, her brain was still rebooting. Rick thought that she would need a few minutes, and then would be able to regain her speech, but it wasn't as simple as all that. He'd only seen coma patients wake up in movies. Real life just isn't that simple. Zoe didn't move or talk at all. She just maintained eye contact with Rick. That's when he realised that she wasn't about to start talking. Not anytime soon, at least. He reached for her arm to give her some comfort.
“Still Waiting” he said with a smile.
In the moments that had followed her waking from the coma, she had gone into the state of post-traumatic amnesia. This is normal for anyone waking from a coma, and it's different for every patient. It can last less than a day, but has also been known to last a week. For Zoe, it lasted three days. The doctors kept saying she was one of the lucky ones, but she felt anything but. She still had so much recovering to do. She needed to learn to walk and talk again. You'd expect talking to be as easy as it always had been, but her brain just wasn't ready for that. Her lips she could move, but no sound would form. After two weeks, she was talking again, but her voice was not exactly the same. She could now speak at a steady pace, but found raising her voice very difficult. Walking again had also not been a walk in the park, if you'll forgive the pun. It had been an ongoing process. Zoe had lost count of the amount of times she had fallen, but she continued getting up until she stopped falling. A few weeks passed. Zoe had recovered, she wasn't the woman she once was, but she was just glad to be alive. One thing hadn’t changed, though; she still cared for Rick. They finally went on that first date, which went off without a hitch. Then there was the second date, the third, and the fourth. In total, there were countless dates. They moved in together a few months later.
The weeks turned to months, the months turned to years, and Rick found himself to wake up one morning a nervous man, the most nervous he had ever felt. He had never been the world’s most confident man, but today was something really special. A day he often imagined, but never thought possible. He, Rick Brayton, was going to marry his best friend.
The church was packed, not a spare seat in sight. Everybody was chatting amongst themselves until they all came to a complete stop when the music started. The organist had played that particular piece hundreds of times, and yet only ever at one particular type of occasion; a wedding. The music played, and the doors swung open. In came the flower girl and the bridesmaids, who all looked lovely of course, but Rick only had eyes on one person that day; his bride. Zoe. He couldn’t believe it. For the longest time he had cared for this woman, she was beautiful; perfect in his eyes, and yet he was sure that she could do so much better than he. Yet here she was, and they were both truly happy in each other’s company. He was the luckiest man in the world. Nobody could convince him otherwise. As she began to make her way down the aisle he tried to savour every moment, he took note of her beautiful white dress, the floral patterns so cleverly interwoven into the material, the veil with covered her face. She looked amazing. She always did. Today was no different. You see, the secret is that beauty isn’t in the skin you wear, but in the soul you inhabit. Beauty is happiness, it’s love. It’s that laugh you share with the one you love. What you see when you look in the mirror will never be what they see. Look at yourself through your lover's eyes, because that is true beauty. And so when Zoe arrived by Rick’s side she was truly beautiful inside and out because her physical beauty was matched by her internal happiness, and so she felt what he saw, and he sensed what she felt. Everything that had happened since they had first met had all been leading up to this very moment. They held hands and got ready for the ceremony to begin.
“Still Waiting” Rick said. Zoe smiled.
“Worth the wait?” She enquired jestingly.
“Absolutely” Rick said, and he meant it sincerely.