I am wakened by the chirping of my cell phone receiving a text message; some arsehole turned the alert volume up full, causing me to wake with a jolt. Fumbling in the half-darkness of the room I finally find it after knocking over a bottle of half-drunk beer and an alarm clock, to my surprise the message is from Dad instructing us to get to the hospital as quick as possible. Not a good sign he knows we’ll be hungover from our impromptu engagement party for Alice and Todd, whatever it is it must be urgent. I reply ‘be there soon’, rolling over I punch Joey in the ribs to wake him not surprisingly he hardly flinches hurt my fist more than it has him giving him another fruitless. Last resort time, mustering all the strength I can I roll him out of bed, falling on to the floor in a heap, legs and arms flying all over the place. “What the?” He mutters, probably thinks he rolled out of bed by accident himself. He nestles down to sleep again; he could sleep anywhere. Dropping one of his smelly socks on his face, for a second, there is no reaction until the stink registers with his brain, he gags, “What the hell?” He exclaims his face scrunched up, throwing the sock across the room he rubs his eyes. Looking up at me, he says, “That was cruel Livi.”
“I know, but it was the only way I could think of waking you up.”
“And why pray tell are you so hell-bent on waking me at such an ungodly hour.”
“9 a.m isn’t exactly an ungodly hour Joey. I got a text from dad to say we needed to get to the hospital ASAP.”
“Has something happened?”
“I have no idea that’s all the message said. Go make tea, and I’ll wake the others.” I say slapping him on the bum as he walks past me into the bathroom, he nods his head in reply, and I go and rouse everyone else, which is easier said than done. Downstairs I find Pearse laying in a heap on the sofa an empty bottle of whiskey in one hand a half-eaten sandwich clutched in the other snoring his head off. I can’t help but think how cute he looks in a goofy sort of way his mouth open like he’s catching flies; extracting my phone from my pocket I take a few pictures before tapping him on the shoulder, he wakes with a start dropping the bottle but still clutching the sandwich. “Oh, it’s you.” He says his eyes trying to focus on me, that’s a pleasant way to say good morning.
“Good morning to you too.”
“What’s so good about it?” He asks grumpily, not my fault he’s a lightweight and passed out on the sofa. “Why did you wake me? Was having a nice dream.”
“Got a text from dad to say we need to get to the hospital as soon as we can.”
“Oh.” He flops back onto the sofa; I drag him up out of the sofa and into the kitchen where Joey is busy making tea. Alice is making toast; we don’t have time for much else; Todd is helping her. He’s not what I expected after having met his mother, then again Pearse is nothing like Esther so it shouldn’t be that much of a surprise.
“I do believe we should do this again sometime.” Todd comments as he is buttering a slice of toast. Alice says nothing; she’s still a little sore that Todd isn’t as dull as she had thought. “It is a beautiful house.”
“Thank you; it’s a great place to spend the summer.” I reply, Joey hands me a steaming hot cup of tea, ah wonderful I think taking a mouthful Joey makes a damn fine cuppa. “Cheers red.”
“Olivia there better be a bloody good reason why you woke me up so early.” August complains as he joins us in the kitchen yawning and scratching his head simultaneously, his hair sticking up in all directions. “Ta, Joe.” He says as Joey hands him a cup of tea, he sits down at the table still yawning. Well, I wouldn’t be awake either only some arsehole thought it would be amusing to turn the volume on my phone up full otherwise dads message would have gone unnoticed until I naturally woke up and who knows when that would have been.
“Nah I just felt like being annoying and waking you up.” He sticks his tongue out at me; for a grown man, he can be such a brat.
“Seriously though what gives.” Explaining for the third time about dad’s text, they all sit with ‘oh’ expressions on their faces.
“Now you know as much as I do.”
“Which is pretty much nothing.” Simon comments, feeding a piece of toast to Rufus and Atticus.
“Pretty much, yes.”
Much to our surprise Anna’s mother; she’s dads first wife and her husband are here along with their son and daughter; I don’t think I’ve ever spoken to them, well maybe once at Anna’s wedding. We never see her very often she lives in Cornwall; her divorce to dad was not exactly amicable. I don’t think they have seen each other more than 3 or 4 times in the last thirty-odd years.
“What’s happened?” I ask, Anna’s mother looks up from the tissue she is methodically shredding in her lap towards dad and then back to me a sorrowful look on her face, she doesn’t have to say a single word to convey what has happened. I feel my knees go weak only that I am standing beside a wall do I not fall in a heap on the ground. “No.” I softly say in an almost inaudible voice everything sounds muffled I hear Simon ask what happened, car accident, motorway the odd word filters through to my brain. Somehow I make it to a chair I feel like everything is happening in a weird slow motion that I am in a fog.
I have no idea how long has passed or how we ended up in the hospital coffee shop.
“Dad thought it would be a good idea to get some strong coffee.” Pearse says I look at him blankly, coffee I don’t want coffee, I want Anna and the baby to be alive. I wish for none of this to be happening; I want us to be back at the beach house sleeping off our hangover, not bloody coffee.
“Livi.” Joey says, placing his hand on top of mine, it’s warm almost too warm against mine which is ice cold. I look at him but not; it’s as though my mind can’t focus on anything, forming words seems impossible, breathing is about all I can manage, and even that seems to be taking more effort than it should. He wraps my hands around the warm coffee mug, “Take a sip, please.” He says helping me lift the cup to my lips, I comply, the hot, bitter liquid flows down my throat I can feel warmth trickle through me then it vanishes, and the cold numbness takes hold.