My mom is sitting on a chair beside my bed looking worried. She’s tapping her feet lightly on the ground, her fingers locked in each other and her face all wet in tears. She watches me lying in bed on oxygen and drip. My dad stands by the wall, in deep thoughts.
I’ve been unconscious and I’ve been like that since last evening when they rushed me in. Brad enters the room and my mom hurries to him.
‘Brad what’s happening, she’s not moving, she’s not waking, my baby is not waking. This has never happened before,’ she cries.
My dad snaps out of his thoughts.
‘Thelma, calm down; common you shouldn’t be doing this. She will be fine, I promise you, and yes this has never happened before but we all know what’s in store,’ Brad says. ‘What we don’t know is how it’s gonna come down.’
‘Please Brad please do something I can’t lose my daughter,’ my mom cries.
‘I promise you Thelma, I will try my best,’ he assures her. ‘Tell me, is Sheila stressing herself? I mean is she engaging in any stress activity lately?’
‘No why?’ mom queries.
‘Her health’s deteriorating rate increased.’
‘What?’ mom says softly.
‘It’s like she’s stressing herself.’
‘No she doesn’t stress herself, only goes to school and come back, I don’t let her do anything stress. She doesn’t stress herself I’m sure of that.’
‘She helped you in the kitchen yesterday.’ dad reminds.
‘Thelma, Sheila cannot do anything; not at this stage, she can’t. I’ve told you, get a house help. That house is too big for you to handle alone. Please, don’t involve Sheila; we don’t want to lose her now,’ Brad pleads.
‘Okay, okay I will get one but please Brad, help her, help my baby, please,’ she cries.
My dad pulls her to himself and pats her. He walks her back to her seat.
‘Ted,’ Brad gestures to him and he walks to Brad. ‘She needs to eat and sleep. She’s not had any since last night and you look like you need one too.’
‘Okay,’ my dad nods, trying hard not to give in to tears.
‘I’m here; you need not worry. You guys go home and take care of yourself.’
‘I’ll see you guys later,’ he leaves.
Dad looks at mom sobbing and watching me, then he turns and walks out.
Dad walks back in with a packaged food, mom sees him but ignores. He set down the food.
‘You need to have something then go home and rest. I will stay here with her.’
‘I’m not hungry and I’m not moving from here.’
‘Thelma,’ dad sighs and stands, he paces the room in worry. Mom picks her rosary on the table, folds it in her palms and starts to muster prayers in tears, with her eyes closed.
The door opens. The HS and four other teachers enter with bouquet in their hands. Mom and dad look up and dad goes to welcome them.
‘Dr Ted,’ the HS greets.
‘Mr Ben welcome, thank you for coming,’ dad shakes him. ‘Hello,’ he greets the other teachers.
‘Hello doctor,’ the teachers greet dad.
‘Thanks for coming, please come in,’ dad offers.
They all walk to my bed.
‘Dr Thelma,’ The HS and the teachers curtsey.
‘You‘re welcome,’ mom says weakly.
The teachers put their beautiful flowers with the rest of the flowers already in the room brought by other well-wishers.
Mom watches them.
‘Thank you,’ she appreciates.
They smile at her and nod.
‘How’s she?’ the HS inquires.
‘She hasn’t opened her eyes since yesterday,’ dad says sadly.
‘What do you think is happening to her, anything from the doctors?’ Ranch, one of the teachers asks.
‘Well, doctors are trying their best and they assure us she’ll be fine,’ dad says.
‘So nothing? They couldn’t figure out what’s wrong with her, even with the frequent headaches?’
Dad is silent and mom looks at him.
‘I think we should fly her out of the country,’ the HS suggests. ‘If they can’t treat her here, there are best doctors there, I assure you.’
‘Yes we know; but there are good doctors here too. The country has advanced in ages that we don’t need travelling out of it to get best treatment. We have best doctors and equipment here now,’ dad argues.
‘But you just said they don’t know what’s wrong with her.’
‘They are trying their best; we are still expecting some test results.’
‘Maybe we should change the hospital then.’
‘This is one of the best hospitals,’ mom cuts in, getting tired of their blabs.
‘She’s right, this is one of the best hospitals in the country, I’m sure they can handle her,’ Dean, another teacher interrupts.
‘Sheila is a very bright girl we are not ready to lose and we are ready to do anything to help. Please just let us know if there’s any way we can help,’ HS says passionately.
Dad smiles, ‘I know and we thank you for your concerns. We really appreciate and as you’ve offered, we will let you know,’ he looks at the sofas in the room, ‘please sit.’
They all sit.
‘So how’s school going and everyone?’ mom asks with a dull smile. She’s weak and so worried but tries to make the conversation lively even though her face does not agree with her.
The teachers smile, ‘it’s fine, but we miss her.’
Mom looks at me on oxygen with a sad eyes then smiles at the teachers and HS.
‘She will be fine and when she wakes up, I don’t think she will love to see that face on you,’ Ranch tells mom with smiles, ‘so cheer up please.’
‘You should get some rest, you look like you need one,’ HS says in concern.
Mom looks at him and looks down.
HS continues, ‘Sheila is a strong child, she’s a fighter and she will fight this, I assure you,’ he smiles at mom and mom smiles back with her dull eyes and nods.
They all look at me in bed.
I open my eyes the next day to see mom at my bedside praying with her rosary.
‘Mom,’ I say weakly.
Mom jumps at my voice, ‘baby, my baby,’ she cries.
‘My love, are you okay?’ dad asks.
‘What happened,’ I ask.
‘I’ll get Brad,’ Dad hurries away.
‘Honey, I was so scared, I was so…’ mom burst into tears, hugging and kissing my hand.
I look at her in confusion and try to remember what could have happened. Last thing I remember, I was writing then it was late and I decided to go to bed. I stood, kept my book then stretched my back then…I try to remember but can’t.
‘Last night, I was about to go to bed and decided to say goodnight to you first. When I entered your room I found you lifeless on the floor.’ She cries, ‘oh baby I was so scared.’ I want to sit up and she help raise my pillow a bit.
I furrow at that, lifeless, how’s that possible, I was so alright.
‘But I’m glad you are alright; your dad was so worried. What happened darling, what happened to you last night? We heard no scream, there was no scream.’
I frown in confusion, ‘I don’t know.’
Uncle Brad and dad entered.
‘Beauty, how are you feeling?’ he smiles at me as he walks towards me, ‘you scared us all.’
Dad sits by my head and fondles my hair, grinning happily.
‘I’m fine, I’m sorry I scared you guys,’ I say to them.
‘Apology accepted but don’t do that again,’ Brad warns sweetly.
‘Okay. Dad? I’m sorry.’
‘It’s okay my love; I’m happy you are alright.’
‘Beauty, do you remember what happened last night?’
‘No. Mom said she found me unconscious.’
‘Yes, and you don’t remember what happened before that?’
‘No; all I remember was me wanting to change into my night wear.’
Brad furrows, ‘tell me, did you do anything stress before that?’
I was thoughtful, ‘no, no I didn’t.’
‘And you have not been engaging yourself in any strenuous activity; when I say strenuous now, I mean to your brain?’
I frown in thought and guilt but then managed to answer, ‘no, I haven’t.’ I lied.
Thank goodness they didn’t notice.
‘Okay,’ he turns to my parents. ‘It’s okay but please, take good care of her and watch out for her please. Thank God you wanted to say goodnight, if not, we don’t know what would have happened.’
They nod, still looking worried.
‘Mom, dad, I’m fine now. Could you please change that look on your faces?’
They all smile at me.
‘Don’t blame them; you scared all of us,’ Brad smiles. ‘You can’t go home now, I’m placing you on close observation for a few days because what happened this time is strange, it never occurred before, you know without the alert scream. We still don’t know what happened.’
‘But I have to go to school.’
‘Leave us to worry about that,’ Dad says.
‘Mom, please say something.’
‘He said “us” you know, that includes me,’ mom raises her brows at me.
I sigh and rest back in bed.
‘Don’t worry, you will be out of here before you know it beauty,’ Brad says. ‘Give me some minutes please.’
Brad walks out of the room.
I open my eyes again to see Clyde and his mom at my bedside, I turn my head and see Anoma, Jade and Boyle; all beaming at me.
‘How are you beauty?’ Clyde calls me that too, maybe because he grew up to know Uncle Brad calling me that or just his wish to. And he would say “why would I call you something else when that actually explains all you are?” Yes he’s right but not entirely right, who would call my brain that’s about to fry a beauty or should I say that’s frying already? I’m sure if he knew that, he would see it from another point of view, my own point of view right now and call me “weird”. I smile at him.
‘How are you darling?’ Grace smiles.
‘I’m good ma’am.’
‘Hey, we miss you in school, so we decided if GRE will not come to us, we will go to her,’ Anoma shoots smiling.
I smile at them. I’m so happy to have my other family here. It’s been so boring in here.
‘Hey I have a surprise for you,’ Jade jumps.
I look at her waiting for the surprise. Suddenly she flashes it to my face; it’s Alan Turing’s book “THE ENIGMA”.