The monotone beep was consistent as I lay still, attempting to summon some movement. Nothing in my body was working. I kept telling my eyes to open but no matter what, my instincts wouldn’t comply. I could smell, hear and feel but I couldn’t see. Funny that. I wondered if this was what it was like for Spencer on a daily basis.
“Her vitals are steady but there’s no telling about damage to the brain until she wakes up. She’s taken quite the hit, Mr. Turner.”
Oh God! One of the nurses was addressing Dad and by the sounds of it, he wasn’t taking it well.
“But she’ll be okay, won’t she? She can recover from this?”
He sounded desperate in his plea, practically begging the nurse to deliver something at least semi-positive.
“I can’t say for sure but let’s remain optimistic, okay?”
The sound of the door opening and closing, followed by silence left me with the knowledge that Dad and I were now alone. For the longest moment, he did nothing. I heard his heavy breaths and the odd shuffle but for the most part, he kept still. I desperately wanted to reach out to him. To hold his hand in mine and tell him I was okay. But I couldn’t. My stupid body wouldn’t allow it.
“Oh, God. Linda, don’t let them take my little girl. Please don’t.”
Shit! He was talking to Mum. Begging them (whoever they were) not to take me. Dad never was religious but I knew he believed in something. It seemed now, in his hour of need, he was tuning into that belief and asking for help.
Dad, I’m okay! I’m right here!
Of course, I couldn’t will my mouth to move.
“I’ve brought you a coffee.”
“Thank, Son,” he sniffed, fighting the urge to sob.
I hated not being able to communicate with them.
“She’ll be fine,” he stressed, landing a cup of some sort on the nightstand next to my bed. “She’s a fighter, is our Jessie. You’ll see.”
“I know,” replied Dad, taking on some of that optimism the nurse from earlier had mentioned.
I felt a light caress against my left hand, indicating Sam’s whereabouts. He squeezed ever so slightly and left what felt like a kiss on my knuckles.
“Is Spencer still here?” asked Dad, piquing my interest.
The heart monitor to my left picked up.
“He’s flat out in the waiting room. The man won’t leave. I’ve tried telling him.”
My heart broke at the thought of Spencer hunched up in one of those plastic chairs, back ache be damned. His stubborn ways were probably what was stopping him from leaving and as much as I loved that, I needed to know he was looking after himself. Fuck! Where was Leila? And Isy. What the hell happened to Isy after I was hit by that car? Is my baby still alive?
“He won’t leave her side until he knows she’s okay,” expressed Dad, sipping his machine brewed coffee. “He’s beside himself. His Mum said he’s not eating.”
“I’ll have a word with him,” offered Sam, forever my hero. “He has to keep his health up. He’s got Leila to think about.”
Hearing Leila’s name was like music to my ears. Knowing she was safe made everything somehow better.
“You’re right. He’s just not thinking straight at the moment. We’re all not,” responded Dad, voice growing wary.
A knock sounded at the door, plunging my two family members into silence.
“Mind if I join you?”
Spencer’s voice flowed over me in tantalising caresses, easing some much needed comfort in me. Again, I tried to respond but couldn’t. I attempted to squeeze down on Sam’s hand, yet was met with nothing but failure.
“Of course. Have a seat over here,” suggested Sam, letting go of my hand and offering his chair to Spencer.
“Has there been any changes?” he asked, voice cracking.
From my right, Dad sighed.
“The nurse said her vitals are good and we’ll know more when she wakes up.”
God bless him for protecting them from the harsh truths.
“Did they say when that’ll be?” he pressed, needing more than just the basics.
“Soon, I’m sure,” interrupted Sam, ever so optimistic.
The room fell silent with only my steady heartrate keeping us company. It acted as a reminder that I was still alive and for the most part, that soothed me.
“Have you eaten?” asked Sam, no doubt directing his enquiry at Spencer.
Nothing was said in response and I took that to mean Spencer replied with a shake of the head.
“You need something, Spencer. Even if you force it down,” he insisted. “You’ve got Leila to think about.”
“I know,” he sighed, feeling for my hand above the thick blankets.
“How about I grab you a sandwich from the canteen?” he offered, certainly not letting the matter drop.
From Dad, I heard a light sniff.
“That would be great, thanks.”
“Any preferences?” asked Sam, shuffling towards the door.
“Something that’s easy to digest.” Was his retort.
Movement caught my attention from the right, signalling Dad’s sudden departure from his chair. “I’ll come with you, Sam. Let’s give Spencer a few minutes alone with Jessica.”
“Thanks, Andrew,” he stated, squeezing down on my fingers.
The door closed and before I could focus my attention on any surrounding sounds, the feel of Spencer’s body climbing into bed with me caught me off guard.
“Hey you,” he teased, lightly bopping my nose. “I know you’re in there and I know you must be scared but you’re going to be okay.”
His reassurance was everything I didn’t know I needed.
“I’ve not told the others yet but our little bambino is fine. You’re keeping him safe.”
I internally wept, relieved our unborn child was still fighting.
“Of course, it’s too early to tell but I’ve a feeling it’s a boy,” he said, lightly pecking my lips. “Take your time coming back to me. I know you need your rest.”
He buried his head in my hair and sniffed, letting loose a few tears as he went about doing so. He was optimistic but scared and I understood that. I had yet to show any life and that couldn’t have been easy for him. Not only was my life at risk here, our baby’s was too. I imagined what it would feel like to run my fingers through his thick hair and allowed my mind to shut off, enjoying the feel of his body pressed into mine. He clung to my waist with one hand and rested the other on my stomach, murmuring something Italian in my ear.
“Mio per sempre.”
The next time I came forth, I felt disorientated and made the assumption I had some high strength drugs currently pumping around in my system due to the fucked up things I was imagining. I briefly worried about the baby and whether this amount of painkillers was healthy but soon put that thought out of my head. Surely the professionals knew what was best and if they prescribed me enough medicine to rival the high of a 1960s hippie, who was I to judge?
The sound of my name being called pulled me from one fucked up hallucination to another.
There was no mistaking it. It was definitely her.
“Sweetheart, you look exhausted,” she scorned, though did so in that motherly way I missed so much.
Her vision came to me from behind closed lids, though that didn’t take away from the actuality of the moment. High or not, this felt real.
“I’ve been hit by a car, Mum. Cut me some slack, yeah?”
Her light chuckle bounced around in my head, offering me a sense of safety.
“You’re sassier now,” she accused, lovingly. “I like that.”
“Are you really here?” I asked, desperate to touch her.
Too bad I still couldn’t move. It had been days now. How many exactly, I wasn’t sure. But the more time that past, the more worried everyone became. Rosalie and Scott had visited, along with Calvin and Lucy. Bethany and Alex came every day for an hour with Karen and I’d even had the pleasure of being visited by Catherine, James and Mary. Still, no one mentioned Isy and I grew increasingly worried for her safety.
“Of course it’s me, sweetheart.” She smiled. “You’ve got everyone in a right state.”
“I know but I can’t move, Mum. I keep trying. What if I’m stuck like this? What if I die?”
My thoughts grew depressing, setting me off in a panic. I didn’t want to die. I wanted to go back to my friends and family and give my baby the fighting chance it deserved.
“You’re not going to die, my sweet girl,” she insisted, shaking her head disapprovingly.
I was glad to see her long locks were back to their usual colour; red, like my own. Long gone was that withered woman she had become over the years and I was pleased to see her old personality back in place.
“I’ve missed you so much,” I admitted, choking down the emotional lump in my throat.
“I know, Jess. I’ve missed you too. All of you. But you know I’m always here. I’m always watching over you.”
She nodded. “Always.”
I allowed the relaxing silence to wash over me, comforted by her presence.
“It’s time to wake up, Jessica Turner. You’ve kept them worried long enough,” she encouraged, turning at the sound of a baby’s cry.
I followed the sound over to a cot, covered in pink sheets and cuddly teddy bears. Inside sat a baby no more than a year old, staring up at me with teary eyes.
I couldn’t finish my question but didn’t need to. Mum knew what I was asking and nodded her response.
“I love looking after her.”
I swallowed against the knot forming in my throat and looked down at my hands as they vibrated with pins and needles.
“What is that? What’s happening?” I begged, freaking out a little.
“You’re waking up, sweetheart,” she informed, offering me a blinding smile.
She reached into the cot and wiped the wetness from Charlotte’s eyes, keen to appease her distressed granddaughter. It worked and within seconds, my baby was smiling back at me.
“It’s time to go now, Jess. Go live the life you’re supposed to.”
“I love you, Mum. You too, Charlotte,” I expressed, pushing past the overwhelming urge to cry.
Mum waved and proceeded to make Charlotte do so too by lifting her chubby hand. “We love you too. Give Sammy a kiss from me and for God sake, tell your father to throw out those awful jeans of his!”
I laughed, unable to hold it back.
“I’m happy for him, Jessie. You tell him that from me.”
“Okay,” I replied, slipping further away from their standing figures.
The calmness of my dream stretched for eternity and lead me towards a blinding light. At first, I panicked thinking this was some sort of stairway to heaven but relaxed as I came to realise it was only the overhead lighting in my hospital room. The smell of cleaning products was next to waft up my nose, confirming I was indeed back in the safety of my bed. Not that I felt very safe. For days, I’d been trapped in my own body, helpless to the pain going on around me. That ended now.
The same pins and needles feeling I had before came hurdling back, forcing my attention towards my hands. It was subtle enough that I barely noticed it, yet felt significant in a strange way. My eyes did a brief sweep of my fingers and I gasped as realisation hit me. I just moved my head! I wiggled my fingers for good measure and allowed a small cry of relief to sound from my throat, happy when the smallest of whispers bounced from wall to wall.
“Bye, Mum,” I spoke, softly enough as to not disturb the sleeping person next to me.
Spencer was hunched over in a chair with his head resting on my knees. Each of his hands were clasped together, acting as a makeshift pillow against his cheek. He seemed peaceful, yet painfully tortured, no doubt plagued by his dreams. His lips pursed as a worrying frown covered his features, finalising my decision to wake him up.
“Baby,” I soothed, running my fingers through his matted hair.
It was clear he hadn’t seen a shower in days.
“Spencer,” I probed, louder this time.
He slowly succumbed to consciousness and enjoyed the sensation of having his hair played with, not fully aware of his reality yet.