Sunday, July 23, 2017. Daily Brit Wit.
A room in a hospital in which surgical operations are performed.
*Hi there! Welcome to the fifth part of the Fortnight Series (linked to find all the previous ones). I’m afraid if you haven’t read Childminder this won’t make any sense as it picks up immediately following it. Cheers!
“He stares at the front door, gobsmacked and furious, fixed in place. Anthony wills Nathalie back inside. It’s not like this is their first row, not by any means. They’ve gotten better at communication since the beginning. In terms of screaming and cursing, this one lands on the lower end of the totem pole.
He’s flabbergasted his wife dropped the news of her pregnancy on him and left without a backwards glance. Hence the reason he’s frozen in place.
‘Nathalie,’ falls from his lips and snaps Anthony into action.
He storms to the front door and he’s outside in the next second, striding down the walkway toward the drive but he stops short. She’s already left. He took too long dawdling over her hasty exit.
Something unpleasant descends inside his stomach, gripping and clawing and marking ownership. Anthony shivers.
As he heads back inside, he contemplates whether it’s appropriate to call his wife. The guilt sluicing through his veins encourages it, but he’s rational enough to acknowledge both need their time to cool off. His twiddling fingers decide for him and Anthony raises the mobile to his ear, waiting.
The shrill sound of his wife’s familiar ringtone cuts into the silence of their home and the guilt blooms into full-blown dread.
So Anthony waits.
He’s given her an hour tops. The timeframe is much too generous, Anthony accedes, yet he’s allowed some additional factors to contribute to his conclusion. Nathalie will most likely take the longest route to the childminder’s in order to calm down before picking up Zo. She’ll probably even allow Zoey to pick the pizza takeaway that’s closer to the opposite end of town than somewhere closer to home.
Begrudgingly, Anthony returns to his office to finish his project. He is nearly done with it. He could have stayed in the office all day to complete it; but Anthony is rundown by work’s monotony and he does have some perks being a manager. He’s submitting final copies to the appropriate channels when his phone buzzes.
Confused and alarmed, Anthony answers immediately upon seeing the childminder’s name on the screen.
‘Hello Catherine, is everything all right?’ He asks, stamping down on his rising hysteria.
‘Hi, Anthony. I’m terribly sorry to be ringing you, but are you or Nathalie coming to pick up little Zoey?’ The minder is polite in her inquiry.
The lead ball of paint and dread unfurls, taking up permanent residence in Anthony’s stomach.
‘Nathalie left here,’ he glances at his watch, ‘about thirty-five minutes ago. She should have made it to yours at least within the last ten minutes.’
Catherine makes a noise on her end, but doesn’t say anything further. Anthony isn’t sure if he’s imagining the worry and pity the older woman is shoving down the receiving end.
‘Umm,’ he exhales, shaking and closing his eyes. ‘Listen, my mother’s less than ten minutes from you. Would you mind if I rang her to pick up Zo? I’m so sorry, Catherine,’ he babbles.
‘There’s nothing to it, dear. We’ll be waiting on your mother.’
‘Thanks, Catherine.’ He ends the call and immediately phones his parents’. ‘Dad? Is Mum around? Or both of you? Listen, Nathalie left her phone at home and I just got a call from Catherine saying Thalia hasn’t gotten Zo even though she left here nearly forty minutes ago.’
His father had put him on speakerphone so he doesn’t have to repeat himself. Anthony’s mother calms and assures him they’ll pick up their granddaughter.
Anthony’s opening his mouth to affirm when the house phone goes off. That phone never rings.
‘Ta much, Mum, but I’ve gotta go.’ He hangs up and jogs into the foyer.
He answers the phone.
He’s sprinting through A&E’s doors, frantic and stupid with fright, eyes scanning for something familiar for Anthony to latch on. Even among the sea of coworkers his wife works with, Anthony spies unfamiliar faces blurring together. His frustration wars against the building panic.
He approaches the next open, available front desk in a calmer fashion than he thinks possible under the circumstances. He gives his name and license over while asking about his wife’s whereabouts. It seems as soon as Nathalie’s name is dropped, the hospital staff flocks toward him. The clerk’s expression is open in her devastation and Anthony’s too raw to process another person’s emotions on top his own.
‘My wife?’ He croaks.
Before the clerk can relay further information, Anthony’s name is called and his head snaps in the direction behind the sign-in station. He notes one of many nurses his wife works with and befriended and relief whooshes through him.
‘Jenna,’ he breathes her name and wants to step toward her.
She holds up her index finger in the universal sign of waiting a mo. She disappears behind a door before the brunette reappears in front of the PERSONNEL ONLY doors, waving and bidding Anthony over to her.
He bounds toward her. Jenna ushers him through the door. And they take off down the hallway at a clipped trot.
‘She’s in operating theatre as we speak,’ she clarifies, peering over at him briefly. ‘We recognised her as soon as paramedics wheeled her in. I chose to stay behind to get in touch with you.’
‘Do you know how she is? What happened, Jenna?’
His wife’s friend grabs Anthony’s arm and they stop walking, standing in the middle of the corridor. Her mien is masked, but her brown eyes are sharp, determined.
‘She was hit by a drunk driver who ran through a red light.’ She answers.
Anthony gasps for breath.
‘She was unconscious when paramedics arrived, but was otherwise stable.’ Jenna continues.
‘She’s pregnant,’ he sobs, eyes snapping open to focus on the nurse in front of him.
Jenna flinches. ‘I know. She’s suspected for a while.’
Anthony bites down on his tongue.
‘Come on,’ prompts Jenna soon after and nudges Anthony further down the hallway.
He follows her silently, dazed.
Jenna deposits him within a waiting room, promises she and the rest of the staff will cater to Nathalie, and scurries off.
And Anthony’s alone once again.
Surprisingly, the waiting area is largely deserted aside from another gentleman situated in the furthest corner from Anthony. He’s not certain if this is a hospital perk or a weird happenstance. He quickly dismisses it as irrelevant.
So he waits. And prays and pleads and bargains and begs for his wife.
He is uncertain how much time lapses. It certainly feels as if days have passed either since Anthony and Nathalie were arguing or since the phone call, yet he’s positive that isn’t the case. When his father sidles up and plops down in the pleather seat next to him, Anthony’s sense of time readjusts. At the very least, it’s been a few hours. He can’t imagine his dad leaving home while Zoey is still awake.
Father and son do not speak, but Anthony takes his dad’s proffered hand. He clutches it. Neither lets go.
Anthony is beginning to exit the stage “no news is good news” and enter “it’s taken entirely too long, something’s happened,” when Jenna emerges with a surgeon beside her.
His heart constricts, torn between plummeting into the depths of his queasy stomach or lodging inside his esophagus.
Jenna’s and the surgeon’s expressions along with their body language are closed off, but Anthony just knows; feels the certainty swimming through his being and draping round him like a shock blanket.
It wasn’t supposed to end like this, he moans internally, never like this. Oh Thalia.
‘No,’ he cries out, barely more than a rasp due to disuse.”
We have 5️⃣ more days until we reach 100!! I’ve gotten a handful of feedback, but I’m always interested in knowing if there’s any other interest in a much longer, combined story? It’ll have all hundred words. Please let me know? ☺️ Stay awesome!