Liza pulled into a parking spot and rested her head on the steering wheel for a minute before getting out. Casey had been in the hospital for three days. The nausea she’s been dealing with had caused her weight to plummet and left her dehydrated. The doctors warned Liza that Casey was not doing well. Apparently, a bunch of her counts, levels, and other medical statistics that Liza didn’t understand were not where they should be. Laura was nowhere to be found. Liza had come home from work one night to find Casey lying in a pool of her own vomit. Her skin was grey and her eyes were puffy and red from crying. She told Liza that her mom had gone out to refill some of her prescriptions that morning and hadn’t come back. Three days later Laura was still M.I.A. Liza had called out of work and stayed with her niece around the clock at the hospital. She had finally agreed to take a break tonight. Casey was already asleep and her favorite nurse, Nurse Bill, was on duty. Liza decided to go to class then run home to try to get some sleep. Hopefully she would be back at the hospital in the morning before Casey woke up. She wouldn’t have come to class at all but she really wanted to give Bruce the picture. She’d also realized that she didn’t have any way to contact him and had felt bad standing him up.
He was waiting for her on the bench in the garden looking nervous. As Liza got closer, she could see that his lip was split and one side of his mouth was ringed in a bright bruise.
“Whoa! What happened to you, Professor? Rumble in the faculty dining room over who has the most letters after their name?” She slid her sunglasses down to get a better look and he raised his eyebrows at her.
“What happened to you? You look a little…tired,” he teased. A slow smile crept across his face and he winced in pain.
“Mmm, answering a question with a question. That must mean that this is part of your “long story that you don’t want to talk about”,” she said. He looked away. Liza sighed and sat down. “Whatever, I don’t want to talk about it either so we’re even. Here,” she said, thrusting the picture into his hand, “I know we weren’t supposed to exchange these until after class, but I can’t wait, and I’m not sure if I’ll still be conscious by then. If I pass out just toss me in my car and leave what you wrote on the dash.” Bruce started to smile again but caught himself. Liza leaned back and closed her eyes while he looked over the sketch.