A mistake has been made
I woke up.
The smell of hospital pierced my nose, and made me twitch. The harsh lights stung my eyes, as I awoke from the darkened blur. “Doctor come quick, I need a nurse,” the voice was unfamiliar, as a matter a fact everything was. There was no memory, it was like a blank space, like the thoughts of a new born baby. I could see faces, and hear voices, but that was it. Confusion filled the air, I heard the cries of a weeping man standing at the foot of my bed. “She’s awake,” he cried “baby, my babies okay.” I furrowed my eyebrows “baby?” I questioned “what do you mean, who are you, where am I?” I tried to sit up but realized all the air, and medicine tubes attached to me. A man in a white coat with a stethoscope around his neck came to my bedside. On the other side of my bed, was the man that was crying at the end of my bed before. “Hey Delilah,” “whose Delilah?” I said, half out of it “you are,” he said with shaky concern. The doctor touched my arm, pulling my attention from the man. “It’s okay honey, calm down,” then he looked up at the crying man. “Come with me,” he motioned towards the door. Out the door I saw their tense faces, and fast moving lips, but their conversation was unknown to me.
“You have to give her a bit, okay? It looks like she has amnesia, hello?” The doctor waved his hand in Dave’s face, pulling his attention from the floor, he was staring at longingly. “I know” Dave said, acting concerned, “I just miss my girl.” The doctor stroked his arm, “then you need to give her the time, and space she needs to remember, or get comfortable with making new memories with you Locklyn.” Dave gave a whimpering sniffle, and made his way back to the room where I was patiently awaiting.
Three months earlier...
Dave drove at full speed with Amelia in the back seat, laid carefully on the floor with her cracked open skull. He covered the bleeding with a rag until he reached the hospital not far away. “Help, help, I need help, my daughter I found her on the street.” He barged through the emergency room doors at full speed, nurses piled in with a Gurnee, and took Amelia out of Dave’s arms, laying her gently on the Gurnee. Dave welled up some tears for affect, and put his face in his hands. “Help her,” he cried, one of the nurses showed Dave to the doctors office, so he could fill out the paperwork. Win that room, Dave felt the sweat run down his forehead, his palms fiddled in his lap, and the lip he was biting so hard on cracked.
As nurses crowded around the scene, rolling with them a Gurnee, they placed Amelia from Dave’s arms, carefully onto it, and rolled her away. One nurse stayed back with Dave, restraining him from following like most concerned, and afraid parents would do, but not Dave, he just stood, watching his latest victim be rolled gracefully away. Doctors yelling numbers, and orders, as they faded into the commotion that was the everyday bustle of a hospital. When Amelia was out of sight, the nurse showed Dave to a private room, and asked him to wait. She calmly clicked the door shut, a few rings on the phone from the front desk sounded before the nurse left. When the door shut all that Dave could hear was the nerve racking ticks of the silent wall clock. With every beat another grey hair formed on Dave’s head. His hands pressed together, and his eyes watched nervously at the door. As the minutes ticked by, Dave sat, going over his story in his head. He pulled both Amelia’s fake health card, and her fake birth certificate out of his pocket, double checking for the fifth time that they were still there. Then he opened his other pocket, reaching for his fake ID, he ran his thumb against the imprint “Locklyn .J. Capannoli.” His new permanent name.
When he heard the doorknob turn, Dave shoved the ID into his pocket, and looked out the window, as if he was spaced out the whole time. When the man entered with a stethoscope, and a white jacket, Dave knew he was a doctor, and by the look on his face Dave figured the news wasn’t pretty. A sick grin came over his face as he imagined the either dead, or mentally unstable girl he had brought here. When the doctor sat down an act of pretend concern filled Dave’s expression. Inside Dave knew that she would either be dead, not remember, or no one would believe her because of the recent blow to Amelia’s skull. When the doctor began to speak, his body language added to the happiness Dave felt. The bad news face, and the concerned hand fold went perfectly with the occasional throat clearing “hem’s.” The doctor was telling Dave exactly what he wanted to hear, “your daughter has an indented skull, and there is permanent damage to the brain, she has been admitted to the operating room, and is in surgery. Any allergies we should be aware of? “Umm,” Dave scratched his head “sorry it’s been a while since the wife died, she usually took care of that sort of thing.” The doctor laughed a little trying to be understanding, “okay well she has been put under.” The doctor handed Dave a list of medications, “these are the necessary meds that we will need to use for her conditions. If necessary we will need to put your daughter under a medically induced coma.” “What is that?” “It is something we do for patients who have experienced a major head trauma, to shut down the brain, allowing it to heal on its own.” Dave forced a few tears to roll down his cheeks, which he instantly wiped away, and added a lip quiver as he nodded his head. “Assuming she does well in the surgery, your daughter should be just fine now,” he handed Dave a pen, “if you will just sign here” he pointed to the dotted line on the list of medications, “indicating that we have full permission to do whatever necessary to help your daughter recover. Oh and we will also need you to fill out this report saying exactly what happened to her in your own words, also we will need your identification, and your daughters certificate of birth, as well as her newest health card.” Dave unzipped his pockets before the doctor could finish his sentence, out he pulled all the necessary documents. When he handed them to the doctor, he got the weirdest look. “You carry your daughters birth certificate with you?” Dave’s eyes widened a little, the unanticipated question caused him to clear his throat. “Yeah,” he put off the question “you never know what’s going to happen, I keep all my documents locked in the car, he laughed. “Maybe I shouldn’t have said that.” The doctor laughed with him, “yes well, you need not worry,” the doctor took the now signed and filled out reports from Dave’s shaky hands. He looked at Amelia’s fake health card once more, “Delilah, is that how you say it?” Dave nodded, “well Mr. Capannoli Delilah is in good hands.” He stood and with him Dave did as well, reaching out to shake his hand, the doctor felt Dave’s sweaty palms. With the other hand, the doctor held Dave’s shoulder, with a reassuring voice he said, “try not to lose sleep over this, just know that Delilah is in good hands.” He patted Dave’s shoulder, and left the room.
Dave wiped the frown off his face, and dried his eyes. With a smile he shivered, he was so excited he would finally win after years of being deprived of so much. His children, his freedom, even his parents, there was no way he was going to feel guilty, they deserved everything, and more. Without warning the doctor burst in the room again, Dave nearly had a heart attack he turned to look at the doctor who was carrying a contract as big as a chapter book. “Sorry, just one more thing to sign before you can leave the private room. You can either leave the hospital after that, or wait for further results in the waiting room.” Irritated, Dave acted intrigued, okay and what would I be signing.” Dave asked, taking the contract from the doctor’s arms, the weight made Dave tilt forward. “These are just the financial agreements, and obligations you will have to cover, or get insurance to pay for.” Dave’s jaw nearly dropped to the floor, “these are bills?” “Yes” the doctor said fixing his glasses, “we had to perform a very advanced surgery, and we had to go to extremes to keep the girl from fading.” “This will also cover therapy, both trauma and physical, and the medically induced coma that we just received information that it is now necessary. “She will be going into a coma?” “I’m sorry Mr. Capannoli” Dave rubbed his forehead breathing deeply, he twitched “anything for my,” he gritted his teeth “loving daughter, where do I sign?” The doctor grinned, and pointed to the dotted line. As Dave signed his money over to Amelia a deep loath came over him. He was still paying, he had his ticket to freedom, he had his revenge, and he had his child, but once again he was giving something away. He was always giving something away, as his thoughts ate him alive he didn’t hear the doctor the first time he spoke, or the second time. Repeatedly the doctor tried to get Dave’s attention, “hello, sir? Mr. Capannoli,” finally Dave snapped out of it, “what,” he said irritated. The doctor stood back and brushed the bottom of his jacket with his hands, acting so offended. “Well,” he said dramatically handing Dave another sheet to fill out, “I forgot to give you this.” “And what exactly is this?” Dave held his breath, “it’s a health report, you know previous injuries and or conditions we should know about. So I’ll let you alone to fill that out.” The doctor made a scene as he left and slammed the door behind him, when he was gone Dave rolled his eyes. “Freaking sensitive drama queen” he muttered to himself. When he was done the paperwork, he through the pen into the wall, and laid his head on the desk going over the mistake in his head. “I could have simply killed her, than she would be gone and I would be relieved of the chains holding me down. But noo, I just had to have the kid.” The thoughts burned his mind like a blaze, and then the pain moved to his stomach. The pain, oh the pain it came on so sudden, like someone was stabbing him in the gut. The pain stabbed in and out, causing Dave to clench his side. It was so brutal that the he couldn’t even scream for help, feeling the rigid pain brought Dave to the ground desperately, he tried to yell, but it only came out as a sad mumble. Pulling chairs down with him, he tried to make as much noise as possible, banging with his weak fists on the ground. “Help!” He croaked, “help,” his breaths came out as limited gasps like a person lost at sea gasping for air in the eye of a storm, with waves washing over smothering him with the combination of fear and panic. When the second chair he knocked over came down, the crash alerted almost every doctor within a mile radius. The door burst open, and men and women in white and blue sterile suits swarmed him. Dave sucked in a breath trying against his will to keep awake, but the sleep was so tempting now, he lay on a Gurnee, and his heart raced more than ever. His eyes blinked, every time they did the struggle to open them again got more and more impossible. His chest ached so much that he found himself screaming under his breath, at the nurses of course. It wasn’t much help, as he could barely talk let alone scream and yell. The gruesome feeling made him want to puke, it was horrendous, “what now?” Dave thought desperately, what left did he have to pay for, all he could do was feel sorry for himself. The pain shot even more, “okay, maybe it’s because I’m thinking to much.” He closed his eyes, and did what he had wanted to do since he first got on the Gurnee Dave fell asleep.
Beep, beep, beep
the calm but annoying sound of his heart rate monitored by machine sounded in his ear. Still dreary from his nap, Dave awoke smacking his lips together with a big yawn. When he opened his eyes, he was greeted by the same snoody doctor who had gave him the bill the size of a phonebook. “What do you want now?” Dave shooed him away with his hand, “I’m sorry for before sir,” he put a vase of flowers on Dave’s bedside table. “I didn’t mean to stress you out, please take this bouquet as a symbol of my condolences.” He pulled out a note from his pocket and read it aloud, clearing his throat he read...
“On behalf of the hospital, I would humbly like to present you with this check for fifty thousand dollars, it will cover yours and your daughters medical bills, so long as you sign this agreement."
The doctor handed Dave a contract, “it guarantees that you won’t sue, or file any complaints against the hospital.” Dave’s eyes widened, and a smile broke his face in two, “why would I sue the hospital?” Dave asked gently, taking the check out of the doctors hands. The doctor looked to the floor playing with the loose strings on his coat like a child made to apologize. “Well you had a stress induced ulcer, which right before it happened I may have stressed you out, so here.” He handed Dave a pen, and showed him the dotted line. Dave knew that the guy was afraid of losing his job, and revenge was so sweet to Dave, he couldn’t help but play the game with him. “Well I’ll need to read it over, would you be a doll and get me a water, I’m rather parched.” “Yes sir,” the doctor scurried out of the room and around the corner, nearly bumping into every corner he came across. Not once in his life did a problem fix itself for him so quick it was like a dream. “The whole miracles happen saying may not be as much bull as I thought.” Maybe this was it, his final break, maybe he could just live his life with Amel.. Dave smiled “Delilah” in peace and nothing would ever be wrong again. “If only,” he closed his eyes, and let his tense brain relax, “If only.” Dave let out a sigh, half asleep he heard the stumbling feet at his hospital room door. He instantly opened his eyes, and sat up, just outside the door standing shy was the doctor with a cup of water in hand. Dave rolled his eyes “well come in then, let’s not waste time.” The doctor mustered half a smile, and put the cup on Dave’s bedside table, “speaking of wasting time, are you done reading the contract yet?” He asked “don’t rush me,” Dave smirked, “you don’t want me stressed out again, do you now?” The doctor gulped, and nodded as he started for the door. Dave cleared his throat in expectancy, the doctor turned and stopped moving, “yeah, what is it?” Dave raised his eyebrows, “so you don’t want me to sign the contract?” The doctor breathed in “I’m sorry sir, I’m just a bit irritated.” He saw the offence in Dave’s eyes, and shook his head, “but it doesn’t have anything to do with you sir.” Dave shook his head slightly “plump my pillow,” he snapped “now chop, chop.” The doctor smiled, and walked over to the bed, “can you please lift your head, so I can...” he choked on the words “plump your pillow.” The words made him feel powerless, the feeling only grew with every plump “there you are sir.” He walked out the door, and down the hall, when Dave was alone again he felt overcome. The happiness he had inside fled through his blood, something he hadn’t felt since Amelia was born. He thought of the little baby in his arms, squirming and crying as she lay tiny and helpless in his grasp. Dave felt the tears drip one by one down his cheeks, he sniffled as he picked up the contract beside him, and wiped a tear from the crease in his nose. He took the doctor’s pen, and signed on the dotted line. When he finished, he put the contract on his table smiling, he called for a nurse. A small dark haired woman with a blue suit burst in, “what is it sir?” “Can you get the doctor, umm” Dave realized he didn’t know the doctors name, “umm the doctor that was just in here.” “Oh did you sign the contract?” She replied “you know about the contract?” Dave questioned “yes well, the whole staff knows, did you sign it?” She kept persistent on the question, seeming as though she was just as desperate for the signature as the other doctor. “Uh yeah, I signed it” the nurse smiled, “I’ll take it.” She reached out her hand for the document, unsure Dave grabbed the contract close to his chest. “It’s okay,” the nurse said taking her hand away “I’m gonna give it to him, I don’t want to be fired just as much as doctor freeman.” Dave tilted his head, confused then put it together. “Doctor freeman was the doctor, and if he sued the hospital, then the hospital would all be screwed.” The ripple effect, Dave handed the contract to the nurse, then hung his head. “Can I see Amel.. Dave shook his head Delilah now?” “Well we just performed surgery on you, but you seem to be okay now, just let me go get the doctor to be sure. The nurse left the room, and almost seconds after she did, a women in a white doctor’s jacket came in. She put her stethoscope in her ears and listened close to Dave’s chest. Heart rate seems normal, next she walked over to the machine that was still beeping, and pressed a few buttons. All you organs are healthy, then she checked the IV bag hanging next to him. “Well,” she said checking off a few boxes on the clipboard in her hands. “You are clear to go, Delilah is in recovery if you wanted to see her.” Dave got out of bed, and the doctor handed him a pile of folded clothes. “Unless you want to walk around a public hospital with a whole in the butt of your gown, you can change in there.” She pointed to the bathroom of the room, Dave rolled his eyes and walked into the washroom, closing the door behind him.
In Amelia’s room, a big machine attached to her throat breathed for her, and the hair on her head was completely gone. Only patches remained and the stitches showed themselves all across the top of her head. Her face was pale and lifeless with no color to fill her once bright red lips or rosey cheeks. What was the difference between this, and death. As he watched her grey expression, he imagined the tiny pink squirming baby she once was. He walked over to her bedside like a zombie, as he did tears streaked his face. When Dave reached her side, he collapsed holding her hand close to his chest.
“What have I done? I’m so sorry baby, oh” his lip quivered, “my girl, what have I done?” He was so warped by reality that he didn’t even notice the doctor at the door until he said hello. When Dave heard the voice, he quickly wiped his tears away, and stood. “Umm I was just, umm” completely embarrassed Dave started to blush, the doctor realized this and started to talk, pretending that he didn’t notice the sobs. “Are you Locklyn .J. Capannoli” Dave nodded, “yeah, I’m Delilah’s father” he said sniffling. The doctor smiled, “well your daughter is doing okay so far, we put her under a medically induced coma, doctor freeman told you about that didn’t he?” Once again Dave nodded, “how long do you think she will be under?” Dave asked “well, with this sort of thing it usually tends to be a month or so, but we can’t ever be certain. She’ll just wake up when she feels ready. Until then she has round the clock supervision, and visiting hours. We will take good care of her while you wait, you have my word.” It was all Dave had to muster a smile, holding his breath he awaited for the doctor to leave so he could sob once more. Blinking his tears away, Dave kissed Amelia on the forehead, “it’s okay, I’ll take care of you, this is the last time you will ever be afraid of me, I promise.“
For the next three months Dave worked on getting a job at the small cafe near the hospital. Every day after work he would walk to the hospital, and sleep in the chair next to Amelia’s bed. With almost no money, and a job that barely payed for a crumby sandwich every day. Dave was broke, he was saving for a house, for when Amelia was better, and so far he had a thousand dollars. As tempting as it was to spend the money, he dare not touch it, he didn’t want to disappoint Amelia anymore. This promise he was going to keep.
Two weeks in and there was no change in her progress, Amelia was almost completely still. Except of course for her breathing machine, pumping her stomach up and down like a hot air balloon, attached to her mouth that fed down her throat. Dave cried every time he saw her, keeping track of the days since he first hit her, June 10th was the day that he regretted most. He knew he should have regretted killing two people most, but Amelia was all he cared about. The hospital was first on speed dial, and every time he got a call from work, or a friend. Frantically he would dig through his pockets, hoping that it was the hospital with good news, but every time he was wrong.
One day at the hospital, when Dave got up for work out of his cushioned yet hard chair, he heard a commotion at the end of the hall. When he peeked around the corner to see what was going on, the crowd of doctors, nurses, and janitors fled on there way to Amelia’s room. It seemed as though every staff on that floor was headed for Dave, he stuck his head back in the room wide eyed, he knew this could only mean one thing. They found out he was a fraud. Dave gulped searching for a window, there was only one in the room, but it was so sealed that not even the strongest human could bust through. Something about keeping all the contaminants of the world out, so there was less risk of disease for the patients. One of the doctors had talked Dave’s ear off about it in one of the ten days he was there. Now the room was flooded with staff members who all starred at Dave. Once again he gulped, but before he could plead for mercy, they all started to sing happy birthday. Dave was in absolute shock, “what just happened?” He thought, the singing taunted him, when it was over the look of confusion stuck to Dave’s face, like a tongue to a frozen pole. With no movement but a simple blink, Dave thought carefully of what just happened. It wasn’t his birthday, and even if it was how would they know. Seeing Dave’s confusion one of the doctors came to him, “it’s our tradition to sing happy birthday to patients like Delilah.” It sank into Dave finally, the fake birth certificate. Dave smiled, it was June 20th. “What do you mean patients like Delilah” Dave questioned. “Oh I just mean patients in comas, we believe it is helpful to talk to coma patients. Some people say they can hear you,” the doctor patted Dave’s shoulder, as he walked by, and just like that, the staff fled out behind him. Dave turned to his still daughter, and knelt down to her side, “hi,” he said awkwardly, then looked at the door making sure no one saw his humility. “I guess it’s your new birthday today, so I’ll bring you a cupcake home from work.” He kissed her on the forehead, and left with a last look, he grinned. “Happy birthday my sweet, then clomped down the hallway, on his way to work.
That night walking home with Amelia’s red velvet cupcake in hand, Dave shuffled down the sidewalk to the hospital, whistling to accompany himself. When he got to the room, he opened the door, and closed it behind him, setting the cupcake down on her bedside table. Dave bent down, and sang the words in Amelia’s ear...
“Happy birthday to you,
happy birthday to you,
happy birthday dear..."
he looked around, and sang the word even quieter, “Amelia
happy birthday to you."
Dave stood, and through his old worn, and teared up bag in the corner of the room. And he sat down to rest on his floral, grey, sanitizing, smelly, hospital chair.