“What do you mean, doctor?
“Well, the impact of the crash ushered in some complications…”
“Please don’t tell me her head is damaged!” Susan interrupted.
“Well, she might suffer some memory loss…”
“Oh no….” Jason muttered. Betty broke down into sobs, leaning on George’s chest for support.
“And she might not have her legs functioning fully.”
“What? Are you telling me she just doesn’t have her mind being wiped clean, she also can’t walk?” Susan cried out.
“Listen, it’s not that bad ma’am; I’m not saying she is paralyzed, I’m only saying that she needs therapy to regain full functioning of her legs.”
“Fine; when can she start?”
“When she gets better. For now, we have to keep a close eye to her recovery process which would be quite painful and slow,” the doctor cautioned.
“You two are so going to pay for this,” Susan threatened, in a trembling voice as she pointed at Betty and George. Betty shrunk back in fear.
“This is not the time for that, mum,” Jason said as he wrapped his arm around Susan.
“Then when is? Because of them, my daughter might never recover from this,” Susan said, breaking down into tears. Jason hugged her.
“Well, her recovery progress depends on you all; how supportive you would be to her.”
“Can we see her?”
“She’s still unconscious but I believe she’ll wake up soon. So you can all wait.”
“Anytime,” He said and walked away.
“What have we done, George?” Betty whispered to his ear as she hugged him.
“Stacie is going to be fine; I know it.”
“I hope so or I’ll never forgive myself for it.”
“She’ll be fine, Betty; we just have to be strong for her.” They all sat down.
“Please don’t let anything happen to my daughter….she’s all I have left….” Susan prayed in tears.
“Nothing’s going to happen, mum….”
“Didn’t you hear the doctor, huh? I know you’re trying to stay positive, but you also have to be realistic, Jason. What if she never regains her memory?”
“She will, mum….she will.”
“Well, I’d love her not to remember what happens last two weeks….if only that part could be wiped out…”
“What? I was just thinking out loud! All this wouldn’t have happened if I my tongue hadn’t slipped that night.”
“No matter how long it takes and how well we think we’ve hidden it, the truth would definitely come out one day,” Jason said. Susan looked at him with swollen eyes.
“Is that supposed to make me feel better?”
“Then it’s not supposed to make you feel better. It’s just the truth.”
Betty and George walked to them.
“We were going to get some water. Would you like some?” Betty asked.
Jason glanced at his mum who only stared at them.
“Yes, a bottle each for us,” Jason answered.
“Okay…” They walked away.
“I blame you too for this, Jason,” Susan said.
“You encouraged her to leave the house. You took her car to her. If you had refused, we wouldn’t be here right now.”
“I know, mum….and I’m sorry but we both know Stacie is a strong young woman. She will pull out of this victorious, okay?” Susan nodded. The doctor walked to them. They both stood.
“She’s awake now but she’s still in a critical state so please don’t excite her in any way. Make her calm, okay?” The doctor said.
“Yes doctor; thank you.” He led them to her ward. Stacie turned her head when she heard them enter.
“Baby…are you all right?” Susan said sweetly as she got nearer to her. Stacie shook her head violently.
“No….no….no…leave me alone! Leave me alone!”
“What? Darling, it’s me…your mother.”
“Leave me alone! Please tell her to leave!” Stacie screamed hysterically. Susan looked at the doctor, alarmed.
“I think your presence is making her uncomfortable,” the doctor observed.
“What? But I’m her mother. I need to be by her side.”
“Not if your presence would worsen her condition.”
“Sweetie, please…..it is me,” Susan said softly, holding Stacie’s hand. Stacie withdrew her hand.
“Leave me alone! Please leave me alone!”
“Ma’am, I think you should leave….and come back when she’s calmer,” the doctor advised. Susan looked at Jason who only nodded. She glanced at Stacie who was breathing heavily and left the room. Jason cautiously walked to her bedside.
“Stacie?” Tears run down the sides of her face. Jason held her hand. Stacie squeezed it tightly. Jason glanced at the doctor. The doctor nodded and left the room.
“Stacie…” Stacie tried to talk but he stopped her.
“Don’t try to, sis; you’re going to be fine, okay?” She nodded. He touched her bandaged head and kissed her forehead. He squeezed her hand.
“Just hang on, okay? You’ll soon get out of this,” Jason assured his sister. Stacie sighed. The monitor started beeping. Jason glanced at it. He looked back at his sister. She was convulsing violently.
“Stacie? Stacie? Doctor! Doctor!” Jason rushed outside.
“Doctor! Nurse! I think my sister is convulsing or something.” The doctor or nurse rushed inside. Jason followed them.
“Her system is crashing. Call code blue!”
“What’s happening, doctor?” Jason asked, scared. Susan rushed inside, Betty and George behind her.
“What’s happening to my daughter?”
“Someone please let them out.” A nurse urged them outside. Susan and Jason peered through the window. They watched in anxiety as they tried to stabilize her.
“Stacie please, don’t leave me,” Susan cried as she placed her hand on the window.
Jason watched with tears in his eyes as the doctor tried to use machines to start her heart. After a few moments, he saw the doctor sigh in relief and put the machines down.
“What’s happening? She isn’t…” Susan asked, shivering.
“No mum; she’s fine now…” Jason assured his mum. The doctor turned to look at them and nodded. Jason nodded back. He put his arm around Susan and walked her away from the scene. Betty and George rushed to the window.
“What do you think happened?” Betty asked, her voice shaking.
“She started seizing and the doctor was able to stabilize her.”
“So she’s going to be fine?”
“Yes she is….Stacie will be fine.”
“Please come back, Stacie… please….” Betty muttered.
The doctor summoned them to his office.
“It seems there is some swelling in Ms. Archer’s brain which could be dangerous if it causes any rupture. We have sedated her so there wouldn’t be a risk of her getting excited again. She would be sleeping for some hours and we would be watching her closely so I suggest you go home and take a rest and come back tomorrow.”
“No; I’m not leaving my daughter’s side. I’ll stay with her,” Susan said.
“Fine; you can stay by her side whiles she rests. I will do my best to inform you of any new developments as and when they happen, all right?”
“Yes doctor.” They stepped out of his office.
“Are you sure you want to be all night? You can come home and freshen up, get something to eat and then come back,” Jason suggested to Susan.
“No; I’d rather stay here. I need to stay here,” Susan said, tears in her eyes.
“Okay, mum.” He hugged her.
“If you need anything at all, please don’t hesitate to call me, okay?” Susan nodded, trying to fight off the tears threatening to fall.
“Take care of yourself, mum.”
“You too, son; be careful on the road. I can’t have both of you admitted here.”
“You won’t, mum.”
“We’ll be heading home now, mum. We promise to come tomorrow,” Betty said.
“Okay, Betty; you two take care.”
“Yes ma’am,” George replied. They walked off. Susan covered her mouth as she lost the battle against her tears. She started sobbing. She entered Stacie’s room where she was sleeping soundly. She held her hand.
“I’m sorry dear, for putting you in this painful situation. I love you and I’ll always be here for you; no matter how long it takes.” She leaned forward and kissed her daughter’s forehead. “Please come back to mummy, sweetie.”
George stole another nervous glance at Betty whiles he was driving.
“Whatever you have to say, let it out, George and stop stealing glances at me!”
“Okay…I wanted to ask you something…”
“Hey, I know you’re not in a good mood, but you don’t have to snap at me. I’m pretty shaken too.”
“I do not hear a question, George.” George swallowed.
“Do you think if….if I had done it, none of this would have happened?” Betty looked at him. “Done what?”
“You know….done what she asked?” Betty looked at him, puzzled.
“If I had kissed her, do you think it would have averted this calamity?”
“Be serious, George,” Betty said and looked away.
“I am being serious here, Bet. What if kissing her would have avoided all this?”
“Well you didn’t and we’re in this situation right now. We don’t have the luxury of time to wonder what ifs right now,” Betty replied.
“I feel guilty,” George admitted.
“So do I. She was brought to me and I was asked in person to take care of her and I failed. Everyone feels guilty, George because everyone played a role in this event: Jason for bringing the car and their mother for making Stacie leave the house in the first place. Everyone feels guilty.” George nodded.
“What, another accident? I can’t imagine what Susan’s going through right now,” Jessie said as she tried to calm her agitated baby.
“Yes, she’s feeling terrible and she feels guilty. We all feel guilty. It was terrifying seeing Stacie seize like that and the doctors trying to get a pulse; just like the movies. But it was scary….it was scary that the doctors would give up and tell us she’s gone. It feels like a dream. I just saw her yesterday when I took her car to her and she was fine and now, her face is all bandaged up and swollen,” Jason recounted.
“I’m so sorry, Jay; I know how much Stacie means to you…”
“She is my sister, Jessie! How could she not mean the world to me?” Jason cried out, tears running down his face.
“You need to be strong for her, Jason; especially you. You are not just her brother but you’re also like a father figure to her. She needs your strength to pull through this.”
“I know but it’s hard to stay strong in a situation like this. I know I’m not allowed to break down, certainly not me because mum has already broken down and is counting on me to hold on tight. If only I had brought her home instead of leaving the car with her…”
“You couldn’t have known this would happen today, Jason. Don’t be too hard on yourself.” Jessica placed the now calm baby on the couch and walked to Jason. She sat on the arm of the seat and put Jason’s head on her chest.
“It is okay to cry, Jason. You can cry all you want here so you don’t have to do it in front of your mother and sister. Let it out, Jason; let it all out,” Jessie said soothingly as she ran her fingers through his hair.
Stacie was lying on the couch, glancing through her childhood photo album when she heard the door open.
“Who’s there?” She asked. She heard footsteps approaching.
“Jason, is that you?” The person’s face came into view.
“Dad!” She said excitedly as she got up and ran to his arms. Gordon embraced her warmly as he laughed.
“And how’s my favorite angel in the world doing?”
“I am fine, dad; I thought angels do not live on earth.”
“Well you do.” They sat and Stacie leaned on her father’s chest.
“I really missed you, dad; you were gone for a long time.”
“I know; I missed you too. I just want to tell you one thing.”
“What is it, dad?”
“I want you to forgive your mother.” Stacie was quiet.
“Did you hear me, dear?”
“She lied to me, dad.”
“She lied to all of us, Stacie but you have to let go. You can’t be mad at her forever.”
“I’m not just angry because she hid my identity but also because it caused your…” She gasped as she sat up and looked at him.
“Yes I am,” Gordon said coolly.
“So why am I talking to you? Am I dead too?”
“No, you’re not, my dear. I need you to forgive her on my behalf as well.”
“And why would you do that? She has been lying to you ever since you met her.”
“But she gave me you and took care of Jason like she was her very own. How much more could I ask for from her?”
“Listen Stacie; I need you to forgive her because she needs it. She wouldn’t be able to live with the fact that you hate her for what she did to you. She does need it, Stacie because she will need you…”
“Need me for what?”
“I cannot tell you but promise me you will.”
“I want to hear you say it.”
“I promise I’ll forgive mum.”
“Good….tell Jason I’m proud of him and that he should take care of his family the way I took care of us.” He kissed her forehead. He got up.
“But where are you going?”
“I have to go, dear.”
“Where? This is your house, your home. You don’t have to go.”
“I’m already gone, darling. It is you who doesn’t have to. Stay strong for your family and friends.”
“Dad… No….no…..don’t go….dad…..no…no….”
“Sweetheart, I’m here….it’s okay….,” Susan said softly as Stacie struggled in her sleep. Her eyes opened.
“Yes dear, it’s me,” Susan said with a smile, tears forming in her eyes.
“Yes darling, you’re going to be fine, all right?”
“I forgive you.” Susan forced a smile.
“Thank you, my dear.”