The first thing Carmilla saw when she opened her eyes was the grey ceiling tiles. Next to her was a machine – some sort of monitor – beeping. Next to it was a drip stand, which had two bags connected to her hand. She reached up and felt a bandage wrapped around her head.
Her eyes slowly swept the room. She was in the hospital.
Carmilla tried to sit up but found it too difficult. She felt like she was being weighed down, every bone and muscle in her body was in between numbness and throbbing pain. She just wanted to fall back asleep; she let herself sink back to into sleep when a voice woke her.
“Oh good, Miss Karnstein, you’re awake. I am Dr. Lola Perry and you’re at Styria General Hospital.”
Carmilla flinched. She slowly opened her eyes again and saw the mass of curly red hair belonging to the doctor standing over her. This person was keeping her from sleeping and she hated her immediately.
“Stop…talking…” Carmilla groaned. Carmilla didn’t recognize her own voice. It was scratchy and dry. Her mouth felt like it was filled with cotton.
“Miss Karnstein, it is important for you to stay lucid for a little longer, so I can-“
“No.” Carmilla’s eyelids felt heavy, wanting desperately to fall back asleep.
The doctor looked exasperated and was (probably) about to scold her when a knock at the door interrupted them.
“Oh! Dr. Hollis! This is Dr. Laura Hollis, she helped perform your surgery with me earlier today.”
Carmilla looked towards the door and saw her. Maybe it was the painkillers she was on, doping her up, but for a half-second, the way her vision was still a little blurry and the way everything felt like it was in slow motion, Carmilla swore she was an angel.
“Hi, sorry! I was just walking past and saw you were in here with the new patient. Dr. Perry is being modest – I was merely observing. You’re super lucky to have had Dr. Perry as your surgeon, she’s incredible.”
She was so chipper and upbeat; not at all like the women Carmilla ever found attractive. The medication was obviously doing a number on her judgment. Her skull feel like it was throbbing.
Dr. Perry beamed. “Why thank you, doctor. Dr. Hollis is currently covering a vacation leave for one of my colleagues. She’s usually at Silas Orthopedic Clinic, but currently splitting her time between here and there. She will be part of your recovery process.”
Carmilla wondered what she could do to make the red head – Dr. Perry – stop talking or go away. Fortunately, her pocket buzzed and she looked down at her pager. “Oh dear, I’ve been called down to Emergency.”
Carmilla smiled, barely turning her lips up, but the effort to do so took a lot out of her.
“Miss Karnstein, I will be back as soon as possible to update you on your procedure and recovery, but an intern may come in my place.”
“If you need to go, I can take over; just let me read over her file,” Dr. Hollis offered. Carmilla liked her. She was easy to look at.
“Thanks Dr. Hollis – here is her file. Just a warning, she’s a little grumpy,” Dr. Perry said, the last part of the sentence using a stage whisper. That bitch.
The doctor handed the file over to Dr. Hollis and left the room. Carmilla slowly rolled her eyes – yeah, the redhead was annoying – but then turned her attention to Dr. Hollis.
“You’re…pretty…” she said weakly.
Dr. Hollis tilted her head to the side, clearly amused. She went to the foot of the bed and skimmed through her file.
“Alright Miss Karnstein, like I said, Dr. Perry performed your emergency operation to repair the displaced fracture on your tibia. The surgery was successful, of course, but your leg will be in a cast for the next month or so. After that, it will need to be in a cast boot for at least four months, while it heals. Despite your injury, we fully expect your leg will be back to normal in six months or so. And you’ll have a neat scar to show for it!”
Carmilla noticed the cast around her leg, below her knee, elevated over the bed. She barely paid any note though, still foggy on the medication.
“Miss Karnstein?” The doctor quirked an eyebrow up. Seriously, the doctor was beautiful. “Do you understand what I am saying?”
Carmilla slowly nodded her head, trying to shake the thick fog that filled it. “Tibia…cast...time.” She grimaced; the pain made speaking difficult.
“Miss Karnstein, if you need anything for the pain at this moment, let me know,” Dr. Hollis responded softly. “Anyway, as I was saying-”
“-You’re really pretty.”
Dr. Hollis laughed – oh god it was beautiful too – then continued, “Okay, Miss Karnstein-“
“It’s…Carmilla.” She took a deep breath through the pain.
“Okay, Carmilla, we’re going to keep you here for a few days to monitor…”
Beautiful. Like a cute cupcake thing.
“…there was a fair amount of swelling…”
And adorable. Listen to her talk. She seems smart. And pretty.
“…and while the operation was successful, this is standard protocol for breaks of this nature.”
The doctor shook her head; obviously she was unimpressed, but smiled nonetheless.
“Okay, sweet talker, I’m going to get Dr. Perry to come back when you’re more coherent. Your vitals all look okay, you just need to sleep off some of the residual anesthetics. Do you need anything for the pain?”
Your phone number.
“Miss Karnstein, I’m very flattered, but please just let me do my job here,” she said, still smiling.
Holy shit, I said that out loud.
“Yes, you did. Now, instead, I’m going to get Dr. Kirsch, one of the interns, to check on you. I don’t think you’ll find him as pretty as you find me, so maybe you’ll be able to talk to him. Get some rest, Miss Karn- Carmilla.”
“Wait.” Carmilla took a deep breath, finding the strength to speak.
“Can you be my doctor instead?”
Dr. Hollis rolled her eyes and patted Carmilla’s arm. “Get some rest, Carmilla.”
She watched the doctor leave the room and allowed her eyes to droop as they were prior to her arriving. Despite the multiple injuries and her current lack of lucidity, she knew it important to listen to her (beautiful) doctor. She quickly fell back asleep.
The next time Carmilla woke up, she still had to reorient herself again to remember where she was. She still felt weak, a constant throb of pain on various parts of her body. Her eyes went into focus much more quickly than before. Her brother, Will, sat in a chair next to her bed, flipping through a magazine.
His head snapped up, relief flooding his face.
“Oh, thank god, you’re awake.” He pressed a button next to her bed and she felt herself sit-up slightly.
“What’s going on?” Carmilla could feel the bruising on her ribs with every breath she took, but it wasn’t as exhausting to speak as it was before.
“You fell off your roof last night. Remember? We were hanging out, you could never hold your whisky, Carm, I don’t know why you even try. You wanted to go outside to look at the stars, so we did. Then we noticed your Christmas lights were still up, so we decided to take them down for some stupid fucking reason. We got your ladder from your shed then you went up on the roof then you fell off…”
“Holy shit, that was stupid,” Carmilla agreed, flashes of last night coming back to her slowly. She remembered Will coming over – he was in town for a couple days. She remembered them commiserating over their shitty mom. She remembered them taking shots, Will giving her shit for still having her Christmas lights still up…the searing pain, then nothing at all.
“Yeah, no kidding. You broke your leg – it’s fine, you had to have surgery, but you’ll be okay. You’ll still walk eventually. You also got a concussion and bruised a few ribs. You’re an idiot. I used to think I was the stupid one, but clearly you are.”
She looked down, remembering that her leg was in a cast. She realized that a majority of the pain came from her leg.
“Shit,” she said. “Right…I think…someone told me? Did someone come in here?”
“Oh, Dr. Perry and Dr. Hollis came by. Nice people. Dr. Hollis that she wasn’t sure if you’d remember talking to her. Said you were still groggy.”
“Oh, fuck,” she replied. “I think I hit on her.”
“Yeah, she said you were a little flirtatious.” Will cringed. “She thought it was probably the anesthetic from the surgery making you behave strangely, but I told her that was one-hundred percent you.”
“Of course you did.”
She looked over at her brother, getting a good look at his face. His was wearing the outfit he wore the night before, his hair was disheveled (something he never let happen), and eyes were red and glassy.
“Wait…have you been…crying?” Carmilla snickered, then winced. “Remind me to tease you about this when I’m not in a ridiculous amount of pain.”
“Carmilla, seriously, only you would hit on your doctor ten seconds after waking up from surgery, after you could’ve died. You’re going to start picking on me for caring if you were alive?”
“You’re a fucking baby,” she breathed out. She was still so tired.
“Shut up. You scared the shit out of me, Carmilla.”
She gave Will a half-smile – but it looked like a sneer because of the pain. She was touched, but she was not in the position to focus on much other than her aching body.
“I’m sorry, Will. I…didn’t mean to scare you.”
“Whatever. Are you okay otherwise? Dr. Perry said the concussion wasn’t bad, but you’d be a little loopy from the medication.”
“I feel like everything’s underwater and my brain is cotton.”
“That makes no sense. I think that means you’re loopy?”
Carmilla felt herself nod off. “I’m going to go back to sleep, okay?”
“Yeah, that’s probably a good idea. I guess I’ll go call mom, tell her that you’re okay...”
She closed her eyes and fell into another deep sleep.
Well, Dr. Hollis was right. Dr. Kirsch was not as pretty as she was, so it was a lot easier to focus on what he said. He came by later that day and filled in the blanks that Carmilla missed: She was to stay at the hospital for a couple days so they could monitor her post-surgery recovery. Then she would be referred to Silas Orthopedic Clinic. They were expecting her to come in once a week for the next month, then once every three to four weeks for a few months to monitor the healing process. She would also be referred to physio at the clinic.
She could deal with all that; fair punishment for her drunken idea. It could’ve been far worse.
(“Dude, it was a pretty bad break. You’re lucky Dr. Perry was there to fix you up. She’s an incredible doctor, the best orthopedic surgeon in the city. And Dr. Hollis? She’s like, super new, but also ridiculously talented. They’re my surgical heroes.”)
Dr. Kirsch said that he or one of the other interns would likely take her on as their patient while she was at the hospital. No more Dr. Perry or Dr. Hollis, as they concerned themselves with emergencies and more serious cases. (She was disappointed; she was hoping to see Dr. Hollis again.)
Will left a couple hours ago, shortly after Dr. Kirsch updated them, to meet up with some of his other friends. He’d been sitting with her for hours and Carmilla felt bad, so she told him to leave and salvage whatever he could out of the last few days of his vacation.She didn’t mind – she was feeling much better now, sitting up and able to flip through the trashy tabloid Will left for her. She was working on the crossword puzzle – she had no idea who the fuck most of people were (what the fuck is a ‘Harry Styles’?!) and was doing a terrible job.
Whatever post-op drugs that were messing with her head wore off. She was feeling more like herself. In a great deal of pain and wanting to scratch the itchy parts of her leg that were under her cast, but more like herself.
“Miss Karnstein, how are you feeling now?”
Carmilla looked up from the page. Dr. Hollis stood under the doorframe, looking a little tired, but smiling brightly. She must’ve been there all day, as it was just after dinner.
“Oh. Hi, Dr. Hollis,” Carmilla said stiffly. Yeah, she was a bit mortified by her behavior earlier.
“I see that you’re much more aware – no more cutesy nicknames. Did you want me to repeat my update from earlier or was Dr. Kirsch able to explain it to you?”
“Dr. Kirsch told me.”
“Great. Well, I just wanted to say hello, see how you’re doing.”
“Oh, I thought you weren’t my doctor anymore. Dr. Kirsch told me-”
“-Dr. Kirsch was mistaken,” Dr. Hollis said, frowning a little – not at Carmilla, but generally, like she had been caught in something. She turned a little red, but continued, “I’m an orthopedic resident, albeit temporarily; but he’s just an intern. I helped perform your surgery. He was wrong.”
“Oh. Okay then…”
“And I just got my caseload updated for the clinic – it looks like your wish has come true. I’ll be your doctor there, too, Carmilla.” Dr. Hollis winked at her then busied herself with Carmilla’s chart. Carmilla felt her cheeks warm up. Ugh, she was hoping she remembered incorrectly, that she didn’t actually say that, but no, of course she did.
Carmilla found herself staring. Despite the state she was in, her first impression was right: Dr. Hollis really was beautiful.
“Awfully quiet now, aren’t we?” The doctor smirked at Carmilla from the file she was flipping through.
Carmilla’s face flushed. “Well, doc, last time we spoke, I used all my moves. I guess I don’t have much else to say.”
The doctor looked up. She reached forward, quickly squeezing Carmilla’s good leg with her hand before returning her attention to the file and flipping the page. Carmilla felt something stir in her, but pushed down the thought. Probably just the residual effects of the anesthetic.
“Well, if those were your moves, you’re lucky your face wasn’t hurt in the fall too. Your moves are weak.”
Carmilla cringed. “Ouch, aren’t you supposed to ‘do no harm’?” It took a beat for her to realize it – “Wait, did you just call me pretty? Because if you did, I’m going to say my moves worked, cupcake.”
“Miss Karnstein,” Dr. Hollis began, her turn to blush. “Well, it looks like Dr. Kirsch did a good job with your paperwork. How is the leg feeling?”
The doctor rolled her eyes then clarified. “On a scale from 1 to 10, 10 being unbearable, how is the pain?”
“Oh. Sometimes a 7. Sometimes a 10. If I lie perfectly still, it’s still pretty constant, but like, a 6. Currently? Probably a 5 – must be the excellent company." The doctor laughed and Carmilla tried to shift forward, closer to her. She felt a shot of pain at her movement. “Okay, I’m lying, your company isn’t helping. 7, 8!”
The doctor rushed forward, placing her hand on Carmilla’s shoulder. “Carmilla, it’s a good idea for you to keep your leg as immobile as possible while you’re in bed.”
“Right. Sorry,” Carmilla said, sheepishly. This was the closest the doctor had ever been to her. Their eyes connected, and for a second, Carmilla thought she saw something in the doctor’s eyes that matched how she was feeling – Interest, maybe? Curiosity, at least? – but it went as quickly as it came.
Dr. Hollis gave her arm a squeeze before turning to leave the room. She stopped at the doorway and turned around, leaning against the frame. “I think I’m going to enjoy having you as my patient.”
Carmilla, feeling emboldened, responded: “Well, cutie, I think I’m going to enjoy having you as my doctor.”