The doctor looked over his glasses at Emma. She started to squirm beneath his laser like gaze. Chris reached over and grabbed her hand to give her something to steady herself.
“Well Ms. Carrington,” the doctor began slowly. “I am surprised at how you are able to stay upright. You are very malnourished. All your numbers are low. How did this happen?”
“Some months it’s hard to feed three mouths,” Emma began sheepishly. “I couldn’t let Christopher or Bruno suffer because I couldn’t take a second job.”
“This is more than some months Ms. Carrington,” the doctor retorted gently. “You have been starving yourself for at least a year, if not more.”
“Is that true Emma?” Chris asked his face full of worry. “Baby I’m so sorry you’ve been suffering like this for so long. Damn it I wish I had been there for you.”
“I was taking care of those in my charge,” she told him squeezing his hand. “There just isn’t enough money some months.”
“I think we need to admit you to the hospital,” the doctor interrupted.
“No!” Emma cried out looking back at the man. “I can’t leave my son alone.”
“Emma Christopher wouldn’t be alone,” Chris reminded her gently. She looked over at him embarrassed by her outburst. It had been just the two of them for so long, it was taking some getting used to now that Chris was here to help.
“I know,” she said softly. “I’m sorry. I meant I couldn’t leave him. We’ve never been apart for more than a few hours. Plus I don’t feel that bad.”
“Probably because you’re used to it,” Chris explained gently. “You could feel a lot better if you let the doctor help you.”
He looked so concerned, she thought. It had been too long since she had seen that look on a person’s face as related to her. She wanted so badly to let go and let him tell her what to do, but she couldn’t do that. Being a mother now she needed to be strong for her son and not feel like she could just pawn him off to Chris. Taking care of Christopher was her duty not his. Well maybe a little his given that he was the father.
“Emma you don’t look well,” Chris told her honestly.
“I don’t?” she squeaked. She thought she looked the best she had ever looked. She was slim. Her collarbones stuck out, as did her hipbones. She could wear small sizes now. Granted her hair seemed to be getting thinner and her skin was really dry, but she was skinny. That was all that matter.
“Ms. Carrington, you are severely underweight,” the doctor piped in. “You should be about thirty pounds heavier.”
“No!” Emma disagreed vehemently. “I’m finally the right size.”
“No princess,” Chris said authoritatively. “You are too skinny. You’re just skin and bones.”
“But that’s what I’m supposed to be,” she said, on the verge of tears. Why were they telling her now that she was too skinny? All her life she had been too fat. It seemed like she couldn’t win for trying.
“No Emma,” Chris repeated calmly. “It’s not healthy. Christopher needs you healthy not slowly dying.”
“I’m not dying –”
“You are Ms. Carrington,” the doctor interrupted her. “You are wasting away and if we don’t do something to stop it now, you are going to die, sooner rather than later.”
Emma stared in shock at the two men. Were they telling her the truth or trying to scare her into being hospitalized? What did they have to gain by hospitalizing her? Maybe they were trying to help her.
“How long would I have to stay in the hospital?” she asked, meekly.
“Two weeks at the most,” the doctor said confidently. “Enough time to get your numbers up to normal and maybe a couple of pounds on your frame.”
She looked over at Chris. “Ok,” she told him. “I’ll go but I need you to bring Christopher to visit me, a lot!”
He smiled at her tenderly. Leaning over he kissed her on the forehead. “Of course I will,” he said. “We’ll be there as long as they let us.”
“Great,” the doctor exclaimed. “Do you know where the Peterson clinic is?”