Chapter Twenty-Two: Fate and Reason
Sometimes fate is stronger than reason. Now, before you say - what exactly do I mean? Just take a brief moment to think about it...
Why is it that some random people just happen to seize the right opportunity, at the right moment, at the right time? In the same way that some people get lumbered with the reverse?
There just comes a time when one has to admit - albeit quietly to oneself - that there are just some momentous acts in life that don’t quite come together by accident - wouldn’t you agree?
Take for instance baby Tobey. Despite the overwhelming odds stacked against him, Tobey is still alive. Admittedly, he is not very well, but he is able to communicate with anyone who can hear him. Meanwhile, Christine Sherry-Ann Shore, was born with a very special gift; a gift which allows her to hear what babies are saying. As a result, she is able to listen to Tobey and gain a fascinating insight into a life far beyond this world, as well as begin the real process of healing, following the devastating loss of her baby. And then there’s Lydia Cartwright-Snowden: high-flying, girl-about-town, public relations, director-extraordinaire. Who, is, on the whole, generally hardworking and minding her own business – actually, maybe not doing the latter so well. Which, henceforth, was the catalyst that propelled her directly into the lives of; Christine Shore, Tobey Daley, and very soon, a certain character who goes by the name of Dr. Richard Lawson...
Christine Shore and baby Tobey was the reason why Lydia was at that moment roaming the high-ceiling hallways of one of the oldest hospitals in the country. Meanwhile fate, however, is what happened next...
After making some enquiries, Lydia was advised to seek out Mrs. Graham. She was the Matron on the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
After exhausting walks along various landings she finally came to a door with a sign at the top, which read: ‘Patient Services Department’
She knocked but didn’t wait for an answer before venturing in.
“Hello there, I’m looking for Mrs. Graham. I was told she’s the Matron on the neonatal ward.”
“Yes. That’s right,” the Bangladeshi woman replied. She eased herself further into her chair. She was sat behind a glass-shielded counter and her head was covered with a white scarf.
“But I’m afraid you’ve just missed her. I think she’s been called back to the ward.”
Lydia almost swore out loud. “So you’re telling me, I have to make my way back to the end of the corridor, find the lifts, head back up five levels and cross over the bridge again?”
It wasn’t a question, which was probably why the woman only smiled back in response.
Five minutes later Lydia was still wandering around on the same floor.
Do I make a left turn here? Or take the next right?
The area was swarming with people and workers alike. She was hoping her eyes would connect with somebody, at least, so she could ask for assistance. But nobody was looking directly at her.
The right words came...at the right moment... at the right time.
“Excuse me. Can I help you?”
She turned gratefully towards the direction of the voice. She was going to launch straight into her query but it didn’t quite happen. Her words had stalled like the rest of her.
To everyone around it was a simple assembly of words: ‘Excuse me. Can I help you?’
But for the two people facing each other they had suddenly been submerged into a private space, as though finding themselves several feet below water. However whilst everything else was blotted out, just like the initial consciousness of Adam and Eve, they could see and hear each other clearly.
‘It really is just the two of us here, isn’t it...What do we do now…?’
They were in a place where all potential lovers find themselves; lost within the folds of this outer-worldly connection.
It was a deep breath in a short time.
Then they were back.
“I-I’m looking for Matron Graham.” Lydia stammered. She quickly revised her query. “I-I mean...please do you know where I can find the lifts?”
Dr. Lawson leaned in, with every intention of answering her question but first said. “Have I seen you before?” he uttered, briefly recalling seeing her in the public canteen not too long ago.
“No,” Lydia answered, “I don’t think we’ve met.” She was looking directly into his eyes and he let her, totally welcoming the intimate intrusion. She was beyond embarrassed but she couldn’t help herself.
She was relieved when he finally told her where she could find the lifts.
“Thank you,” she said. The words were all too quiet to her ears. Maybe she didn’t say them at all. Did it matter to him? She wasn’t to know he had gone just as quickly as he had appeared.
“The Matron will be along shortly. Why don’t you take a seat?” the warden said pointing to the designated seating area in the neonatal ward.
Lydia thanked the warden. Her eyes were transfixed on the posters of smiling babies and brightly-coloured messages of advice for new mothers.
She shuddered. She was glad she was not a mother, and had no desire to be one anytime soon.
She thought of Christine who was currently in the room with baby Tobey.
Lydia marvelled at the fact that Christine had, in her opinion, settled down so young in her life. In her view, when you landed your dream job; got married, bought a house, pushed out a few kids, there really wasn’t much else to look forward to in life, was there? I mean how could there be? When you’ve won the race, it means the race is over – no?
And what becomes of your drive then? She mused. What becomes of that ‘thing’ that spirited ‘thing’ which, for the best part of your single life has been more constant than a partner to you? Getting you up in the mornings and helping to map out your days? What happens to that thing? Lydia questioned. But she believed she already knew the answer to that. That ‘thing’ got buried under crying babies, demanding spouses, school-runs, home improvements, arranging parties and trips (not necessarily your own) and endless shopping lists. Oh! The never-ending shopping lists!
Lydia smiled dryly. Yes! She had been paying close attention to her married friends.
Just like all the other unwanted items in a busy household, that ‘thing’ got stowed away in the back of the storage cupboard never to be seen again.
She breathed. There was no nice way of putting it: Marriage, to her, was most certainly the beginning of the end of dreams…for the dreamers...
Of course, it wasn’t a fair or realistic assessment she had to admit. But it was probably this way of thinking which let her know she was nowhere near ready to be in a committed relationship of any kind.
‘That doctor…’ Why did her mind go there?
Before she could analyse her thoughts a tallish looking woman with glasses appeared at the helpdesk.
Lydia knew right away that this was the Matron she’d been looking for. She got up and went over to introduce herself.
“Hello, are you Matron Graham?”
“Yes. That’s right. I hear you want to talk to me,” the Matron said casting a brief nod to the nurse on reception.
The Matron was polite, curt and authoritative, Lydia noted, all the connotations of how one would expect a Matron to be. Lydia replied her. “Yes. I do. I’m Lydia Cartwright Snowden - Lydia,” she offered. “I’m sure you’re aware of the story on baby Tobey?”
The Matron regarded her suspiciously. “Yes, we are aware of the reports,” her eyes narrowed. “I’m sorry, how does this concern you?”
“Well, actually. I’m here about a different matter...It’s about another story that’s appeared in the media.” Lydia slowed down. “…Ermm, I’m not sure if you’ve heard about Christine Shore - the baby whisperer?” Lydia wasn’t expecting the Matron to acknowledge the fact, so she was quite surprised when the Matron said. “Ah - yes, that. As a matter of fact I have read something about her in the papers. Again, how does this concern us?”
“I’m not sure you’re aware but baby Tobey’s parents have allowed Christine to talk with their son.” Lydia registered the disapproval on the Matron’s face but kept on going. “It appears baby Tobey has told Christine some rather interesting things...But...” Lydia paused. She had to be careful about what she was going to say next. “…There’s something that has been worrying the baby. He said there’s some kind of malpractice taking place in the hospital.”
“Malpractice!” The Matron spat out the word as though poison would have fared better. “I beg your pardon?”
“Well, actually it’s graver then that. I think it would be a good idea if you met with Christine, she’s with baby Tobey now.”
“What? She’s in the room with him right now?”
The Matron looked incredulous.
“Yes. I believe she’s been talking to him as we speak...Really. Matron Graham…”
“You can call me Susan.”
“Thank you Susan,” Lydia continued, “I believe Christine would be best able to explain what is exactly going on. Do you think you could spare a few minutes to talk with her? Or at least listen to what she has to say?”
At first it looked like the Matron was going to do more than refuse, but she then said. “And the parents?” she quizzed. “They’re happy to have this Christine woman around their son?”
Matron Susan Graham had little tolerance for nonsense. But on the same note she took great pride in getting to the bottom of things, even, if that thing turned out to be a thing of nonsense. ‘Yes’ she thought wryly. She was going to do some investigating of her own, just to find out what the blazes was going on under her own roof? But just like the way she played her favourite game of bridge, she wasn’t about to call anyone out, not until she was absolutely certain they held the dummy card...
The Matron looked over at the nurse and said briskly. “Some supplies should be arriving shortly, please see to it that the boxes are handed over to the ward supervisor - he’ll know what to do with them. If anyone needs me I’ll be in room 412,” she added dryly, “although, I shan’t be long.”
She took off her glasses, gave them a slow wipe then looked Lydia’s way. “Right then, Lydia. You have my full attention. Let’s go see baby Tobey.”
“Lydia!” Christine called as the Matron and Lydia stepped into the room. The stone cold expression across her face brought them to an immediate stand still.
“He hasn’t stopped crying! He’s scared and he’s frantic. Something’s happened!” Christine said vigorously shaking her head, yet she didn’t break from stroking Tobey’s listless body.
“What is it?” Lydia rushed towards the bed.
“It’s Dr. Lawson. He’s doing it again. Right now. As we speak - he’s doing it again!” Christine answered her, unaware she was mirroring the baby’s apparent hysteria.
Lydia looked up at the Matron whose sharp brown eyes darted from baby Tobey back to Christine. “Dr. Lawson?” Susan frowned. “What about Dr. Lawson?”
“We don’t know him!” Lydia emphasised, “We we’re hoping you’d be able to tell us something.”
Christine spoke up again. “Baby Tobey said something about a glow not being there - they’ve gone to The Fears?” She looked from Lydia and then to the Matron, “…And now…that baby’s…gone...”
For some unknown reason a silence fell over the room. It was Christine who first spoke and she only said. “We have to help him.” Her eyes glossed over with unshed tears. She looked up at Lydia. “We’ve got to do something.”
The Matron turned to Christine and stared directly at her. “I-I really don’t know what on earth is going on here.” She remarked, her facial expression true to the words she’d just uttered. “But...I think there’s something you both need to know, as I’m sure you’re bound to find out soon, no doubt. Both Mr. and Mrs. Daley have been called into a meeting. You see…there is no helping baby Tobey…Not now...” She said, turning her attention to the tiny crimson-clad bundle in Christine’s arms. “Not unless, he makes a miraculous turnaround in the next seven days.”
The blanket of silence which fell over the room even thwarted baby Tobey’s muted cries. He understood explicitly what had just been said.
If he thought the electrifying pain shooting up and down the back of his head and arms was bad enough, it was nothing compared to the sudden jolt of anguish he felt. Maddening thoughts of not being able to take part in the life journey, or never being close to his parents again suddenly flashed before him.
‘What kind of cruel place have I been born into?’ Tobey cried out in bewilderment. From the moment he was born, pain had hijacked his body, now - it ravished his heart. In this realm, there appeared to be no relenting, no escaping and no reprieve from pain. It seemed to be all around him, and lay dormant in all things.
‘I hate this world!’ He growled with an anger he didn’t know he possessed. And yet, the thought of leaving it filled him with even greater dread.
The audacity that someone would dare to extinguish his life - HIS LIGHT! As though it didn’t matter, as though the dark world had no need for candles.
‘Damned if you do! And damned if you don’t!’ Tobey felt defeated. ‘Why me? I don’t understand. I never lived, now I’m going to die...’
No one could hear Tobey’s outcry, in the same way that no one can hear the torment of a flower being torn from its roots, or the earth’s fierce protest as it absorbs the blood. No one could hear him. But Tobey wept bitter tears as he pondered his undue fate.