“Sunset Valley Emergency Services, which service do you require? Fire, police, or ambulance?”
“Uh…A… Ambulance… I need an ambulance now! Fast please… He’s… He’s not…”
“Please calm down ma’am, where do we need to direct the paramedics?”
“My house… Please hurry!”
“We will ma’am, but I need your address first.”
“It’s uh… Ohnoohnoohno… Sorry, my address why can’t I remember my address? It’s Rose Clarke.”
“OK Miss Clarke, are you at the legacy lot or are you the sister?”
“What? Yes. I mean, legacy lot I guess?”
“Thank you Miss Clarke, what is the nature of your emergency?”
“My… Stephen, he’s… He’s not… We were… and now he’s not… I mean, we’re going to have a baby and now he’s not moving and oh please get here soon!”
“What happened before he stopped moving, Miss Clarke?”
“I told him and he… his chest and then he… and his head on the floor and now he’s not… Why won’t you hurry?!”
“The ambulance is on it’s way Miss Clarke, please try and calm down and tell me….”
I can’t remember arriving at the hospital, in fact, I can’t remember calling for the ambulance but it arrived so I’m sure I must have. I guess they let me ride with Stephen but all I can remember is watching him fall to the ground and the way his head cracked off my marble floors and then he stopped moving. Next I remember is the hustle and bustle of the waiting room in the ER, Stephen’s not with me, he must be with a doctor. I have a clipboard full of forms in front of me and they’re all filled out but even with the pen drooping in my hand, I can’t recognize the writing on the forms. It’s later than it should be, wasn’t it just morning? Haven’t I just been planning breakfast? How is it noon already? How long have I been here? How long has Stephen been behind those cold looking steel doors? I’m starting to panic and then… “Excuse me, Miss Clarke?”
A nurse shows me to Stephen’s room in the ICU. A private room, she tells me, since between the two of us (Stephen and I) at least one of us holds some sort of celebrity status in the town. I hardly hear that, all I can see is garish green and Stephen’s pale face above the blankets. Before I can move over to him, a doctor walks in, I wish I could tell you her name but it seems unimportant compared to the fact that Stephen’s still not moving.
“Mrs. Boylan, your husba-”
“He’s not my…”
“Sorry ma’am, Mr. Boylan has suffered a mild myocardial infraction, which he seems to be on the road to recover from. He’s in very good shape for a man his age and all vitals seem to be improving.”
“A heart attack, ma’am, but like I said, we expect him to make a full recovery from that however when he hit his head there seems to have been major brain trauma. Until he wakes up, there’s no telling how he’ll recover.”
“But… But… He will wake up?”
“I hope so, ma’am, but I’m afraid we won’t know until he does.”
I sit on the uncomfortable chair in the room and stare at Stephen. I’m willing him to wake up. Open his eyes and complain non-stop about how much his head hurts. I never thought I’d be longing to hear his dramatics, but here I am. The door opens and just the sound of the doorknob has me out of my chair in shock, I guess I didn’t realize how quiet it was in here with all my thoughts. Millie. Bless her. She told me she was leaving to pick up the kids from school and here they are, just like she promised. How long ago was that? Kaitlin’s close to tears as I wrap my arms around the twins at the same time and my heart breaks when she sniffles in my ear “is Daddy napping?” I guess it’s up to me to tell them what’s happened, even if I can’t quite bring myself to accept it yet. Surely he’ll wake up soon…
We’ve fallen into a bit of a rhythm, now that I’m pretty much living at the hospital during the days. I, live at the hospital during the day. Once the kids are on the bus I drive myself over to where Stephen lays and I sit and wait for him to wake up. I talk with him, I sit in silence, I read, I plead, but he doesn’t twitch. Not a finger. 3:00pm and the twins walk to the hospital, come up to the room and sit and do their homework. They fetch us some dinner from the cafeteria and we eat in the room with their comatose father, an awkward silence as we pick at bland food from plastic trays laying across our laps. And then? Then visitor’s hours are over and we go home. It’s bed time for the family because tomorrow, I start my vigil again.
I see my niece more often now than when we lived in the same house. She’s loving working at the hospital but it’s not her nursing that I’m grateful for – mostly. Millie has rearranged her schedule so that she can take care of Adam and Kaitlin for me. After a month of sitting at their father’s bedside, often on linoleum flooring, I can’t blame them for not wanting to sit in this terrible green room any longer. She’s at the house when they finish class and she stays until I get home, she even looks after them on the weekends and when she can’t, her boyfriend (d’you remember Marcus? From my high school days? His son!) watches out for them. I have no idea how to thank her, I’ve tried and we just stood there, looking at each other while I tried to remember how to form words.
Who knew that sitting and do nothing all day could be so exhausting? I sleep like a rock these days, though it might just be carrying around the baby that wears me out so fast… Either way, even our burglar alarm can’t rouse me and I’m terrified by that! The alarm is there to wake me, that’s it’s whole point. I’m supposed to leap to my feet to defend my household. I’m supposed to grab the baseball bat I’ve stashed in the corner (ever since Stephen’s… accident?) in case someone breaks in and I’m supposed to yell and threaten their life until I know everyone here is safe. But I don’t, because I don’t wake up. I lie asleep as sirens ring through the house and someone rifles through our things.Even worse, the children are up like it’s bright and early in the morning. It’s with excitement that they wake me to speak with the police officer, babbling about how Officer Whateverhisnamewas came in and “totes like, killed the guy right on the floor!!” The officer commends me on how brave my twins are and all I can do is nod dumbly. I feel like I’ve failed my family. If I can’t protect myself, Adam and Kaitlin, how am I supposed to protect the child growing inside me?! Even though no one was hurt and nothing was even stolen, I’m terrified that I can’t do this alone. Any of it! Certainly not raise the children I have, nevermind their unborn sibling… I need Stephen to wake up!As time goes on, I’m less and less convinced that Stephen will wake up. I still sit in his hospital room, waiting and hoping but even the doctors have started giving me the kind of looks that make it plain to me that they have less hope than I do. I’m brushing up on everything I can think of that will make me a good single mother, reading cookbooks and trying to learn to fix things around the house. There’s not really any money coming into the house right now, Stephen’s obviously not working and I haven’t picked up a paintbrush or chisel since… At least we had some funds tucked away, but I don’t think it’s enough for us to continue to live in the manner in which we’re accustomed. I’m going to have to get a job, once I can actually get hired. I’m feeling as big as a boat and I’m not nearly close to my due date. The doctors have offered ultrasounds but at this stage, if I’m having more than one baby (again!) I don’t want to know about it. I think the stress would kill me outright.
Every night as I leave I peer down at Stephen’s face. He’s starting to look older, like everything is just as stressful for him as it is for me. I tell myself that he’s struggling to come back to his family, that the lines in his face are being exaggerated by how thin he’s getting but I know I’m full of it. His birthday’s coming up and he’s going to be an elder soon. All those years of telling me how old he was and only now, when he’s only kinda sorta around can I finally see it. I know that the longer he’s in this state, the less chance there is of him coming out of it and I know that the older he gets as he lies here and the more frail his previously strong and muscular, sculpted physique withers… Oh how I miss that physique, and his warm embrace… I was saying though?
Some nights I get home without the energy to lug my hulking body up to bed. The closer my due date becomes, the more often I find myself asleep on the couch, waking up in the same clothes I wore yesterday when Kaitlin and Adam scramble down the stairs for a breakfast I haven’t had the chance to make yet. I haven’t gotten as sick as I did with the twins, in fact, I’ve hardly been sick at all but right now I am sick and tired of being pregnant. I can’t wait to get this little one out of me and into a crib! I suppose, once the baby is born then life will have to go back to some sort of normal? No more days in the hospital or nights on the couch. I’m taking a deep breath and getting ready to be Super Rose. Single mother extraordinaire.
“Uh oh…” I guess there’s no better place to go into labour than in the hospital.
“One, two, three, PUSH. That’s good Rosie, now breathe in and out, just like in the classes OK? Ready? One, two, three, PUSH. You’re doing great Rose, really wonderful. Again. One, two, three, PUSH. Harder, c’mon, PUSH.”
Hours of pushing later. I’m deliriously tired and while I know it’s the epidural speaking, I can’t remember all that much pain. All I can remember is… Oh it’s more frightening than anything I’ve imagined in the last couple of months.
“Congratulations Rose! It’s a boy!” followed by “a girl!” and “a boy!” and then “you’re the mother of three, beautiful babies. Triplets! And they’re all looking healthy and strong.”
Triplets. The boys are Troy and Conrad, my little girl is Lee. Without Stephen to help me at home, the hospital is allowing me to stay at a little longer than they offer most mothers so I can get some help while the three babies are so tiny. At night I have my own room and in the mornings we push the cribs into Stephen’s room and try to keep on top of the crying. They’re mostly pretty quiet, which is nice, but they’re also about as messy as I’ve ever seen a baby. The situation, as far as I see it, is dire. I’m desperate because I can’t, I just can’t raise twins and triplets on my own. I’m not cut out for this and I… I can’t do it. Every time I think of my situation tears begin to fill my eyes. I really have no idea what I’m going to do. Triplets.
Millie truly is a saint. Now that I’m actually living at the hospital rather than just mostly living there, she’s moved back into the house to take care of the twins. I owe her the world, I know I do. She cooks and cleans and bustles my children off to school. She prepares after school snacks and helps them with their homework and at this stage I’m sure she knows them better than I do. Other than their report cards and the short conversations we have when they come to visit their mother, father and siblings the only feedback I get is when the principal calls me to tell me that Adam’s acting up again. He’s picking on the girls and fighting with some of the boys. He’s pulling pranks on substitute teachers but still pulling straight As. Both he and Kaitlin are on the honour roll this year and I can’t honestly say their mother has been an important figure in their lives for the last number of months.
For nearly a month Stephen has ‘slept’ through his new-born babies’ screams and cries. He’s even continued to ‘sleep’ through his girlfriend’s (that’s me) cries and sometimes screams and pleads and then out of the blue, Troy starts to cry and Stephen’s up like a shot, muttering to himself. “Hold your horses Ad, I’m coming I’m coming…” All the while I’m standing there in shock. I watch as he swings his legs out of bed and tries to stand and can’t and then I move to his side, helping him to his feet as he wills his wobbly, atrophied muscles back into service. By now, Conrad and Lee are crying too (and I just had them settled as well!) and Stephen looks around with a start, eyes wide. “Rosie? What…?”
His knees start to wobble again, but this time I’m there for him. I wrap my arms around a body that feels unfamiliar to me and hold my man close. I’ve never been happier or more relieved to see anyone in my life. He’s OK! Stephen’s OK! I’m OK, everything is going to be OK, I just know it! We stand in our embrace as I explain what’s been happening, to him, to me, to the kids – even the ones he has yet to meet. He wants to hold them, wants to look into their eyes and say hello – I can see it in his beautiful, golden eyes but even if I couldn’t it’s just his nature. Before I can introduce him to Troy and Lee and Conrad there’s something I have to do.
I drop down to one knee as I pull out a big, velvety box. Stephen looks confused, bewildered and excited and I have a fleeting memory of what happened last time I surprised him but that doesn’t stop me. I open the box to show him the silver band that lies inside, pillowed in satin and look up into his shocked face. No preamble this time either, no warning (though I suppose my position kneeling on the floor gives me away) and I asked him a question I never thought I would be asking of anyone. “Stephen Boylan, will you marry me? Will you be my Mr. Clarke?” He’s speechless for a moment, I suppose my timing could have been a little better seeing as how he’s only woken from his months long coma less than an hour ago but he doesn’t clutch at his chest this time. He doesn’t fall, he just grins at me and holds out his arms. “Yes!”
Can Chellekaz handle triplets?
If she can’t, will you forgive her if one goes ‘missing’?
Will you believe her reassurances that there were only two?
Why do you have to be so stubborn?! Fine all three of them can stay
Has Rosie finally found her happily ever after?
I haven’t played too much of Chapter 10 – Pitter Patter