This is one of my favorite scenes from “If Only”
What are some of yours?
It was hard to breathe through the thick air and Tommy had been walking for over an hour. He was wet and tired and exhausted and lost. He had tried his cell phone a few times but received no signal. The winds were picking up and he felt the rain droplets smack against his face. The smell of rain permeated his nostrils and he wasn’t sure if he was walking in circles or in a line. The cold air went to his bones and he looked for shelter, not knowing what else to do. He saw an area of the trees where it was open and he went and saw a cave. It wasn’t really a cave, but more like a large piece of rock that had been hollowed out. He could walk easily into the area about 10 feet and at least be protected from the rain. He thought about starting a fire, but realized he needed some wood. He left his bag there and headed out to gather some materials.
“Nothing like remembering how to be a boy scout while you are out searching for your girlfriend who isn’t really your girlfriend,” he said out loud. He shook his head and pushed his aching legs forward. The rain pelted him harder and he was about to turn back when he saw an area of water that had some nice rotted branches on the ground. He knew that would make for a nice fire. He turned to go over to the area when he lost his footing. “Shit,” he swore as he fell on his knees in the mud. His weight pressed his knees deep into the mud and almost thought about just sitting there for a minute, but something made him look up and he saw a sight that stopped his heart. There was a figure on the ground near the trees, half in the water. He grabbed his flashlight and aimed it on the figure, getting up; he sprinted through the mud.
Oh God, he thought as he saw it was Brittany. His heart was in his throat as he gently lifted her lifeless body and turned her over. There was mud on her face and his hands were shaking as he felt for a pulse. Her skin was like ice and the pelting rain that was now steady prevented him from getting a read. He gathered her clumsily in his arms and made his way back towards the cave and into the shelter, gently placing her down. He couldn’t tell if his face was covered with rain or his own tears. He leaned down and listened for breathing, but he felt nothing. He grabbed his bag and pulled out his stethoscope. He listened and heard a faint heartbeat. His heart leaped at the sound. Holding her face in his hands he spoke to her. “Brittany, please look at me, can you hear me?” There was no reply. He needed to do something. He saw she was injured and had areas that needed attention, but worse was the cold. She was hypothermic and he needed to warm her. He needed to start a fire. He left her to run out and grab some wood.
Tommy could barely control himself. His hands seemed to stop working correctly and he fumbled the wood all over the ground. “Fuck,” he swore. He grabbed what he could and made his way back, dropping the wood a safe distance from her and fumbling in his backpack for a lighter. He lit the wood and carefully arranged it to gather a good flame. Pulling off his coat, he moved back to her. His hands hung above her body, waiting for his mind to work, but he didn’t know where to start. “You’re okay now; I’m so sorry I let this happen,” he spoke to her without thinking, as he evaluated what he could. He cursed his cell phone again as he looked at it and found no signal. He had to get her to a hospital, but he knew there would be no moving her tonight. He felt the warmth from the fire and took out his blanket from his bag, happy at least for his survival kit. He moved to her and brushed the wet clumps of her hair, which covered her cheeks. He had to get her dry and warm.
Looking at the torn up gown she wore, he felt sick at the thought of why she had it on. He also saw the gash near her abdomen and the bloodstain. He pulled out his knife and cut the fabric away, removing the gown and leaving her scrubs underneath. Putting on his gloves, he carefully cut away at the fabric covering the wound. She had sustained a deep tear, but the bleeding seemed to have eased, probably because her body temperature had dipped so low. He took out some gauze and covered the wound, taping it as best as he could. He looked her over some more and saw her foot that was uncovered. She had numerous cuts to her foot and he could only imagine how she had run away like that. He didn’t care that tears were running down his face as he covered her foot with more gauze. He saw her arms were scratched from the trees and although it would be painful, there were no open wounds on her arms. He moved to her face and saw the bruise on her cheek and eye where she had been struck. Again, nothing he could do for that at the moment. He sat back and put his head in his hands, unsure of what to do next.
“I need some help,” he screamed into the air. “I don’t know what to do,” he sat there, breathing heavily. “Okay, you’re a fucking doctor, you know what to do,” he said to himself. She needed to get warm. He needed to bring her body temperature back up. He turned to her. “Okay, I know you won’t like this, but you have to get warm and the only way I know to do that is to get rid of the wet clothes. I promise I won’t hurt you. I am a doctor and I am always professional. I won’t look at anything and I won’t disrespect you. You can trust me,” he spoke gently to her as he cut away her clothes. “You’re a doctor, you will understand,” he removed the scrub top and sat her up in his arms to pull off the back. He gently moved her to the blanket and cut off her pants. He was careful not to move the bandage he had placed on her abdomen. He fought the urge to vomit as he saw the bruises she had sustained on her back, probably from being tied to a chair. He moved her body close to the fire and covered her as best he could with the blanket. Suddenly she began to cry, although still unresponsive.
“Hey, it’s alright, you’re safe now,” Tommy said to her. He figured it was involuntary on her part, but it made him feel worse, if that was possible. He touched her skin and realized she was still freezing. He was worried she wouldn’t make it through the night. He took a deep breath. The best source of heat was from the fire and from him. He knew what he had to do. He pulled off his clothes and moved onto the blanket. He pulled her to him and wrapped his body around hers, trying to keep her warm. He held her there while the storm raged outside and his heart broke. He rubbed her arms and back and tried to keep her warm. He used his body to protect her and shield her as he had wished he could have before. He also spoke to her.
“You know when you met me, it was not at one of my finest moments, but then again, you were using my room. I guess technically it wasn’t ‘my’ room, but still, I was mad, like really mad, but not at you. I hate dealing with brain tumors and children. I mean, I hate them at any age, but with kids, it’s just extra horrible, you know? How do you explain to a parent that their child is not going to live to see adulthood? Moreover, how do you explain to a child that there are some things that you can’t make better? I hate that part of my job,” he moved a little to cover more of her. He wrapped her arms around his torso and tried to maneuver her so she was getting enough heat. He felt her skin again with his fingertips, but there was no change yet, still ice cold. He wondered how long she had been in the water. His panic began to settle in again and he fought the urge to give in to his fears. “We will get out of here in the morning. I will get you out of here, okay?” he told her, hoping she could hear him. He tried to fight it, but eventually he fell asleep, keeping her close.
Everything seemed so far away. She was running, trying to get away, but he was so close, right on her heels. She tried to run faster but her arms and legs were so heavy, nothing worked the right way. She knew he was gaining ground on her but she couldn’t move. Something was holding her down. She opened her eyes and whimpered. “Please don’t hurt me again.”
Tommy wasn’t sure he heard her correctly, or if he was dreaming. He woke up fully and looked down at her. Her eyes were wide open and she was silently sobbing. He quickly moved off of her, covering her with the blanket. “Shh, it’s okay, you’re safe, it’s me, Tommy,” he said softly to her. He took her hand. “It’s me, you’re okay. You were suffering from hypothermia and I didn’t know how else to help you. I didn’t hurt you, I promise,” he held her hand while she processed what he was saying. He didn’t know what she would say or do or think next. He looked at his watch, it was 3am. He must have fallen asleep for an hour.
“I need to go home,” she said. She went to move but cried out in pain. Tommy held her face between his hands.
“Red, you need to listen to me. You have been through a horrific ordeal and you are hurt. We are in the middle of a forest and it is 3 am. There is a storm outside and until it clears and is light out, we need to stay here. I know you’re scared, but you have to trust me. I won’t let anything happen to you,” he felt his own tears fall again as he spoke to her. He needed her to believe him.
She was panting, most likely from the pain. She closed her eyes and tried to take a deep breath. “I’m so cold,” she said through blue lips. “I am just so cold.”
Tommy nodded. “I know. I can help you, but I need to hold you to me if that’s okay. My body heat can help warm you. Is that okay? I won’t hurt you, I promise,” he said. He looked down at himself and realized she was probably a little taken back by the fact that he was in his underwear. He locked his eyes on her. “I won’t hurt you, okay?” he said. She nodded through her tears and he lay down next to her again, but this time she wrapped her arms around him and seemed to hold on for dear life.