Understatement of the Year
(a Sleeping Stone story)
by Alexa Snow
Jazz winced and sat back on the gurney as the ER doctor put the last stitch into his hairline. "I just grew my hair back," he lamented in Richard's direction, but Richard waved a hand at him impatiently, pressing the cell phone he'd recently bought to his ear.
"Chris? Hey, it's me," Richard said. "Everything's fine --"
This time Jazz's wince was for Chris, because Richard probably couldn't have chosen a worse phrase. That was exactly the kind of phrase that would take Chris from okay to freaked out in two seconds flat.
"Nothing's wrong," Richard said. "Jazz is fine. Well, he's a little banged up --"
Jazz could hear a faint echo of Chris' shriek even from where he was. Richard moved the phone away from his ear about a foot, waited, then tried again.
"No, you're okay." Richard sounded worried and soothing at the same time. "Sit down. Everything's fine. Okay, put your head down. Breathe. Jazz is fine, he's sitting right here and he's okay. We had a very small accident with the car, but -- well, yes, three stitches. On his head -- Chris, breathe. Listen to me."
"All set," the doctor mouthed to Jazz, having taped a gauze pad over the now-closed cut, and left the curtained off room.
"They're already done with him. We just have to wait for the paperwork and then we'll be out of here. Yes, he's okay. Yes, I'm fine, thanks for asking." Richard was starting to sound impatient, which wasn't going to help in the long run, so Jazz held his hand out for the phone and Richard gave it over gratefully.
"Hey, baby," Jazz said.
"Oh, thank God," Chris said. "Were you driving? Are you really okay? What --"
"Stop talking," Jazz said. "No, I mean it. Shh. I'll tell you if you'll be quiet and listen. Okay?"
"Okay," Chris said quietly.
Jazz looked up at the nurse who came in holding a clipboard and a pen. "I was driving. I swerved to avoid a dog that ran out into the road and when I braked a little too hard, I hit my head. I got a little cut, that's all. No concussion, not even a headache. Three stitches, good to go." He signed the papers and smiled at the nurse.
"Are you sure?" Chris asked, his voice still small.
"I'm sure. It's okay, baby." Jazz leaned against Richard, who had come over to sit next to him. "Everything's okay, I promise."
Chris cleared his throat. "I love you."
"I know. I love you, too. Think you can get out of work a little early? Richard said he'd get Chinese."
"Sure, of course. I'll be home before five."
"Great. See you then." Jazz hung up and handed the phone back to Richard. "He's pretty freaked out."
"I think the hyperventilating gave that away," Richard agreed. "Are you really okay?"
"Yes," Jazz said. "I mean, don't get me wrong -- I could have happily avoided the ER again my whole life, but I'm not having flashbacks or anything."
"You don't remember the ER the first time around," Richard told him.
"I know," Jazz said, taking Richard's hand and squeezing it. "Lucky me."