Point of Retreat
Sherry picks up on the second ring. "Hello?"
I can't speak. What am I supposed to say?
"Hello?" she says again.
"Sherry," I say. My voice cracks.
"Will?" she says. "Will? What's wrong?"
"Sherry," I say again. "We’re at the hospital…they…"
"Will! Is she okay? Is Kiersten okay?"
I can’t respond. I’m sick again. Gavin takes the phone from my hand and I run back to the bathroom.
There's a knock on the bathroom door a few minutes later. I'm sitting in the floor against the wall with my eyes closed. I don't respond to the knock. When the door opens, I look up. It's the paramedic.
"We've still got to get you stitched up," he says. "You've got a pretty bad cut." He reaches down and offers his hand. I take it and he pulls me up. I follow him down the hall and into an exam room where he instructs me to lie back on the table. "Your friend said you've had some nausea. You more than likely have a concussion. Stay here, the nurse will be here in a minute."
After I’m stitched up and given instructions on how to care for the apparent concussion I have, I'm told to go to the nurse’s station to fill out paperwork. When I get to the nurse's station, the nurse grabs a clipboard and hands it to me. "Which patient is your wife?" she asks. I just stare at her.
"My wife?" Then it dawns on me that Gavin told her we were related to them. I guess it's better if they think that. I'll get more information that way. "Layken Cohen…Cooper. Layken Cooper."
"Fill out these forms and bring them back to me. And if you don't mind, take these forms to the other gentleman with you. What about the little girl? Is she related to you?"
I shake my head. "She's my neighbor. Her mother’s on her way."
I grab the paperwork and head back to the waiting room.
"Any news?" I ask, handing Gavin his clipboard. Gavin just shakes his head.
“We’ve been here almost an hour! Where is everybody?” I throw my clipboard in the chair and sit down. Just as I land in the chair, a man in a white lab coat rounds the corner and walks toward us, followed by a frantic Sherry. I jump back up.
"Will!" she yells. She's crying. "Where is she? Where's Kiersten? Is she hurt?"
I walk to Sherry and put my arms around her, then look at the doctor for answers since I don't have any. He looks at Sherry. "Is the little girl who you're looking for?" he asks. Sherry nods. "She'll be okay. She's got a broken arm, but other than that she just got hit on the head pretty hard. We’re still waiting on a few test results but you're welcome to go see her. I've just put her in room 212. If you'll head to the nurses’ station she can direct you."
"Oh, thank god," I say. Sherry lets go of me and darts around the corner.
"Which one of you is with the other young lady?" he asks.
Gavin and I both look at each other. The doctor's singular reference makes my heart stop.
"There are two!" I yell, frantic. "There are two of them!"
He looks puzzled as to why I'm yelling at him. "I'm sorry," he says. "I was only brought the girl and a young lady. Sometimes when they go straight to surgery, they don't come to me first. I only have news on a young lady with the blond hair."
"Eddie! Is she okay?" Gavin asks.
"She's stable. They're still running some tests, so you can't go back yet."
"What about the baby? Is the baby okay?"
"That's why they're running tests, sir. I'll be back as soon as I know more."
He starts to walk away when I run after him and cut him off in the hallway. "Wait!" I say. "What about Lake? I haven't heard anything. Is she okay? Is she in surgery? Why is she in surgery?"
He looks at me with pity in his eyes. It makes me want to punch him.
"I'm sorry, sir. I only treated the other two. I'll do my best to find some answers and get back with you as soon as I can." He walks away in a hurry.
They’re not telling me anything! They aren’t telling me a damn thing! I lean against the wall of the hallway and slide down to the floor. I pull my knees up and rest my elbows on them and bury my face in my hands.
I look up and Kel is looking down at me.
“Why won’t they just tell us if she’s okay or not?”
I grab his hand and pull him to the floor with me. I put my arm around him and he hugs me back. I stroke his hair and kiss him on top of the head, because I know that’s what Lake would do. "I don't know, Kel. I don't know." I hold him while he cries. As much as I want to scream; as much as I want to cry; as much as my world is crashing down around me…I have to hold it all in for this little boy. I can't even begin to imagine what he's feeling. How scared he must be. Lake is the only thing he has in this world. I hold him and kiss his head until he cries himself to sleep.
I look up and Sherry is standing over me. I start to stand up but she shakes her head and points at Kel who has fallen asleep in my lap. She sits down in the floor next to me.
“How’s Kiersten?” I ask.
“She’ll be okay. She’s asleep. They may not even keep her overnight.” She reaches over and strokes Kel's hair. “Gavin said you guys haven’t heard anything about Layken yet?”
I shake my head. “It’s been over an hour, Sherry.” I turn my head and look at her. “Why aren’t they telling me anything? They won’t even tell me if she’s…” I can’t finish the sentence. I inhale a deep breath, trying my best to maintain my composure for Kel’s sake.
“Will…if that were the case they would have told you so by now. It means they’re doing everything they can.”
I know she’s just trying to help, but her statement hits me hard. I pick Kel up and carry him back to the waiting room and sit him in the chair next to Gavin.
"I'll be back," I say. I run down the hallway to the nurse’s station, but naturally there isn’t anyone there. The doors that lead to the emergency rooms stay locked, so they don’t budge when I try to open them. I look around for someone. There are a few people staring at me in the general waiting area, but no one offers to assist me. I walk to the area behind the nurses’ station and look around until I find the button that opens the doors. I press the button, then jump over the desk and run through the doors just as they open.
“Can I help you?” a nurse asks when I pass her in the hallway. I keep running. I round a corner and see a sign that says patient rooms to the right, surgery to the left. I turn left. As soon as I see the double doors that lead to the operating rooms, I hit the button on the wall to open them. Before they're even open far enough, I try to squeeze myself through them but a man pushes me back.
“You can’t be in here,” he says.
“No! I need in there!” I continue to try and shove past him.
He’s a lot stronger than me. He pushes me against the wall and lifts his leg, kicking the button with his foot. The doors close behind him. “You aren’t allowed in there,” he says calmly. “Now who are you looking for?” He releases his grip on my arms and stands back.
“My girlfriend,” I say. I’m out of breath. I lean forward and put my hands on my knees. “I need to know if she’s okay.”
“I’ve got a patient… a young lady who was just brought in about an hour ago. Is that who you’re referring to?”
I nod. “Is she okay?”
He walks past me and leans against the wall next to me. He slides his hands into the pockets of his white coat and pulls one of his knees up, settling his foot against the wall behind him. “She's hurt. She has an epidural hematoma that’s going to require immediate surgery.”
“What is that? What does that mean? Will she be okay?”
“She experienced severe head trauma that has caused bleeding in her brain. It’s too early to give you any more information at this point. Until we get her into surgery, we won’t know the extent of her injuries. I was just coming to speak to the family. Do you need me to go relay this information to her parents?”
I shake my head. “She doesn’t have any. She doesn’t have anyone. I'm all she's got.”
He straightens up and walks back to the doors and presses the button. He turns around just as they open. “What’s your name?” he asks.
He looks me in the eyes. “I’m Dr. Bradshaw,” he says. “I’ll do everything I can for her, Will. In the meantime, go back to the waiting room. I’ll find you as soon as I know something.” He turns and the doors close behind him.
I slide down to the floor. She’s alive.
When I get back to the waiting room, Kel and Caulder are the only ones there.
“Where’s Gavin?” I ask.
"Joel called. Gavin went outside to meet him," Caulder says.
“Did you hear anything?” Kel asks.
I nod. “She’s in surgery.”
“So she's alive? She's alive?” He jumps up and wraps his arms around me. I return his hug.
"She's alive," I whisper. I sit down and gently guide him back into his chair. “Kel, she's hurt pretty bad. It's too soon to know anything at this point…but they'll keep us updated, okay?” I reach over and grab a tissue from one of the many boxes of tissues scattered around the room and hand it to him. He wipes his nose.
We all sit there in silence. I close my eyes and think back to the conversation I just had with the doctor. Were there any hints in his expression? In his voice? I know he knows more than he’s telling me, which scares the hell out of me. What if something happens to her? I can’t think about it. I don’t think about. She’ll be okay. She has to be.
“Anything?” Gavin asks as he and Joel walk into the waiting room. “I had Joel grab you a shirt,” he says, handing it to me.
“Thanks.” I give Gavin his jacket and pull the shirt on. “Lake’s in surgery. She’s got a head injury. They don’t know anything yet. That’s all I know.”
“What about Eddie?” I ask. “Have you heard anything else? Is the baby okay?”
Gavin looks at me wide-eyed.
Joel jumps up. “Baby?” he yells. “What the hell is he talking about, Gavin?”
Gavin stands up. “We were going to tell you, Joel. It’s still so early…we…we haven’t had a chance.”
Joel storms out and Gavin follows after him.
I’m such an idiot.
“Can we go see Kiersten?” Kel asks.
I nod. “Don’t stay too long. She needs her rest.”
They both leave.
I’m alone. I close my eyes and lean my head against the wall. I take several deep breaths, but the pressure in my chest just keeps building and building and building. I try to keep holding it all in. I try to hold it in just like Lake does. I can't. I bring my hands to my face and break down. I don’t just cry. I sob. I wail. I scream.