Soundtrack To My Youth (book 1)

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Here With Me

Sam 2020

“Sam you may want to get in here, the Prime Minister is on the television announcing new restrictions” I heard my Father’s voice bellow up the stairs to me. I looked at my phone, checking for the time and reading that it was 11am, I never sleep in that late anymore but then again, I hadn’t drank with Lucas Stephenson since we were 18.

Sitting upright I register the pounding in my head, it had been a good couple of years since I’d last had hangover too and unlike the friend that I had drank with the night before I wasn’t missing them from my life.

I didn’t remember much from the night before, just bits and pieces. I learnt that Veronica was best friends with his wife and was even bridesmaid at their wedding and that she would babysit their children. It’s like she had had this whole other life that I knew nothing about, that I’d missed out on.

Lucas had left in an Uber around 2am, after a few calls from his wife wondering why he hadn’t returned home.

I trudge down the stairs in a sluggish haze, wiping the sleep out of my eyes as I enter the living room. My Dad had the telly turned up so loud that I’m sure the neighbours could hear the broadcast clearly. It did no favours for my pounding head. I switched on the telly text and killed the volume as I tried to absorb the new restrictions that were going to be coming into force within the next 48 hours.

Top of the list was shutting down of all non essential businesses and all non essential travel. I wasn’t planning on leaving here anyway, this is where Veronica wanted to be now, after spending years travelling back and forth from the UK.

I tuned out as the Prime Minister moved through the list, until he mentioned hospital visitation now being limited to one visiter per patient.

“Where’s Bridget?” My body suddenly becoming very alert, triggered by the fact that I had only 48 hours to see my girl.

“Celeste took her to the hospital early this morning ” Dad said, looking just as worried as I was by the news.

“I have to go, I have to go see Veronica” Panic rising in my voice, 48 hours wasn’t enough time.

“You’re in no state to drive Sam” My Father warned me, “I’ll drive you”

~~~

Being a former employee of the hospital, Dad knew all the entrance points into the building, slipping us inside without any commotion and into a service elevator. I pulled my cap down low as we passed by the nurses station on the ward that Veronica was placed in.

As we got closer to Veronica’s room I could hear an argument going on between Bridget and a high pitched voice I hadn’t had to endure for many years, stepping inside the room my blood boiled at the mere sight of Susan Kreslin.

Veronica and Bridget hadn’t spoken to their Mother since they were in high school. Susan had made many attempts throughout the years, sending both girls letters to tell them how ‘hurt’ she was by them, never admitting her own faults or the part she played in the destruction of the relationship between herself and her daughters. After Ed had passed Veronica took on the role of protecting Bridget from their Mother’s harsh words and lies.

“What are you doing here Susan?” I coldly asked, there was no love losted between Susan and I, the woman was a homophobe and a bigot.

“Well unlike you, I’m actually family” She spat back at me, her face set hard with anger, “I had to find out through the local paper that my own daughter was in a coma. Do you have any idea how that felt for me?”

“Your daughter? Ha, that’s a joke if ever I heard one” Bridget fires back at her Mother, “You abandoned us when we put your son behind bars”

“I will be seeing her Bridget, you can’t stop me” Susan screeches at Bridget, it’s only then that I notice that Veronica isn’t in the bed.

“Bridge, where’s Roni?” I ask, ignoring Susan’s glare as I pull Bridget away from her Mother and out into the hallway where Dad is standing with Celeste.

“They took her back into surgery last night” Her voice is hushed, she doesn’t want to run the risk of Susan overhearing, “It’s a good thing, her brain didn’t swell so they were able to replace the piece of skull. She’s in recovery and will be back out this afternoon, the doctor even said she may wake up within a day or so too”

For the first time in a week Bridget was hopeful, she’d been handed positive news finally.

“Did you see the new restrictions coming in?”

“Yeah, Aunty Celeste and I saw them as we were getting coffee” She confirms, throwing her arms around me tightly, “It will be alright Sammy, I promise you”

Hot tears threaten to spill from my eyes as I bury my head in Bridget’s neck, holding onto her, I feel her own body convulse as she tries to conceal a sniffle. Neither of us know when Veronica will wake up and now I’m faced with not being able to be there to see her, to hold her hand and tell her that I love her.

“Let’s go get lunch downstairs in the cafe” Dad suggests, taking hold of Celeste’s hand, “Veronica will most likely be back within an hour or so”

We start moving towards the elevators, my arm wrapped around Bridget’s frail shoulders, leading her, we don’t make it too far until we are stopped by Dr Charlotte running after us, calling out Bridget’s name.

“I’m so glad I caught you” The young doctor says, smiling brightly at us, “I have a form for you to fill out, it just came through, being Veronica’s next of Kin the hospital needs you to put into writing who you nominate as her one visitor”

Dr Charlotte hands the form and a pen over to Bridget, looking between the both of us with sympathy in her eyes. It’s not her fault, it’s not anyone in the hospitals fault and I understand why the restriction has been put in place but it still pisses me off that I’m being cut out of seeing my girlfriend.

Bridget takes the form over to the nurses station and fills it out, handing it back to Dr Charlotte who looks it over and then back up at Bridget, giving her a nod before she walks away to submit the form.

~~~

The cafe is busy and we have to wait 10 minutes before a table become available.

“I guess everyone saw the Prime Minister announce the new restriction and came rushing in” The waitress explains as she places fresh cutlery and menus in front of us. I pick up a menu and browse through it, not really taking in the words on the page. My head is elsewhere, thinking about Veronica.

We’d had periods in our lives where we were not able to see each other, where she’d been living in one continent and I’d been in another but we always found a way to make it work, we always found our way back to each other. It was going to eat me up inside to know that she was in the same city as me and I couldn’t see her.

The waitress came back to take our order and I picked the first thing from the menu that I saw, knowing I wasn’t going to eat it anyway.

“You should call that real estate agent back and get the house before it’s too late” Dad says after he hands the menus off to the waitress who seems to linger a little bit too long. I know what he’s doing, he’s trying to take my mind off of everything that’s going on, he did the same thing when my Mum got sick, he would try to keep me busy so I wouldn’t think about how bad the situation was and I appreciate his efforts.

“I already did, I pushed through the sale yesterday morning” I wanted Veronica to have a home of our own when she gets out, not have her coming back to my Dad’s house or worse, that small apartment that you couldn’t swing a cat in. Veronica had fallen in love with the pictures we had seen online, it had a spacious back yard and a fire place and so much more room than that place we had lived in in London but the selling point was that it was back in her old neighbourhood, where she had grown up. Veronica was my home, no matter where we lived, as long as I came home to her I knew my world would be perfect.

“She’s going to love that house Sam” Celeste smiles warmly at me, taking hold of my arm and giving it a squeeze. You often hear horror stories of step parents who try to destroy the relationship between the parent and the child out of jealously or others of how they could be gold digging for money. That was never my experience with my step mother, she always seemed like the perfect fit for not only my Dad but for us as a family. Celeste never tried to replace my Mum, she kept the memory of her alive in the house by displaying pictures. She wasn’t able to have children of her own but she loved me like I was her son.

“I just need to move our furniture from the flat, I guess now that I won’t be coming here every day it will free up some time to get things sorted” I scoff, I’d much rather be here than anywhere else.

~~~

After lunch we made our way back up stairs. I was happy to see Veronica was back in her room and even happier to find the room was empty.

“She left about 10 minutes ago” Dr Charlotte confirmed when she entered the room, “Not before throwing around demands to be nominated as the visitor.” Bridget’s face looks stricken at just the thought of Susan gaining control of Veronica, “I told her that the decision had already been made by Veronica’s next of Kin and she didn’t take the news too well”

“She’s just a ray of sunshine isn’t she?” Celeste says, making as all laugh at how much further from the truth that could be. I dealt with Susan a few times throughout my life, each time she’s been trying to manipulate one of her daughters, sometimes even both and she stops at nothing to try and get her own way.

“So I guess we will be seeing more of each other now Mr Lions” Dr Charlotte says to me, catching me off guard.

“Umm, why?” I’m so confused, why would she be thinking that we’d be seeing each other outside of the hospital, she opens her mouth to answer but Bridget jumps in.

“I did a thing” She confesses, looking at me with those big, blue eyes that threaten tears to spill any minute and the penny drops.

“Oh Bridget, no, she’s your sister, you’ve been by her bedside every day since the accident, it will kill you not to be here, I won’t allow it” I protest, pulling her in for a tight hug. I’m no stranger to sacrifice when it comes to Veronica.

“I have someone to go home to every night, someone who can hold me when I sleep and who I can share every aspect of my day with but for you, that person is Veronica. You’re not complete unless you are with her and vice versa so I know that I made the right choice when I nominated you as her visitor and I know that if anything happens you will call me straight away” Tears fall freely from her beautiful face, my best friend always did have a soft spot for romance.

“Grand gesture” I smile widely at her.

“Grand gesture” She smiles back.

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