“Gerberas, my love,” Eddie replied, deflated. “It’s all the shop had left.”
“I suppose it would make a change,” she conceded.
Eddie looked at the vases of daffodils filling the hospital bedside table and nodded. “How is she?”
My love, Thelma, burst into tears.
“She’ll be fine, my love,” Eddie said reaching out for his wife’s hand, which remained in her lap.
“She won’t! And stop calling me ‘my love’!”
“I’m sorry, my… People come out of comas all the time. I could bring the CD player and her favourite Andre Rieu… might cheer them up too.” Eddie looked at the only other bed in the room; at the other crying relatives, the other silent patient.
“It’s your fault she’s here!” Thelma snapped, bringing his attention back to her.
“If you hadn’t… oh, there’s the doctor.” Thelma leapt to her feet. “Dr Chapada…”
“Chapadandraha, Mrs Boyle.”
“Yes, quite.” Thelma looked at Eddie, who was still seated, and glared at him.
He duly stood and waited for Thelma to continue, not an expert on hospitals but an expert on Thelma.
“Any news, Doctor?”
“The tests have come back negative…”
Thelma yelped and grabbed Eddie’s hand who yelped as she crushed it.
“I’m sorry…” the doctor started.
“No, I mean…”
“Will she be OK?” Eddie chipped in.
“Should be fine, Mr Boyle.”
“Should be?” Thelma eased up on her grip of Eddie’s hand.
“She’s under an induced coma, Mrs Boyle, but her brain activity is normal so in usual circumstances, patients even with her level of crush injuries do go on to make a recovery.”
“Full recovery?” Thelma pressed.
“We’ll know more when she wakes.”
“Thank you,” Thelma said, a little more cheerful.
The doctor nodded and went to the other bed, where an elderly man had had complications after heart surgery.
Thelma returned to her chair and sank slowly, staring at her mother as she lay unconscious, every now and then eyelids twitching.
Eddie watched his wife sit down then joined her. He replayed the events of the previous day in his head; of Thelma driving him back from the supermarket, of her mother coming out of the house to greet them, of the cat dashing across the driveway from under a bush, of Thelma’s confusion between foot pedals and the screaming.
“Thelma,” Eddie started gently. “Thelma,” he repeated, knowing she’d heard but not responded. “What did you mean when you said it was my fault?”
Thelma turned to him, the glare returned. “He’s your cat!”
There was one thing Eddie knew; he was only ever right when Thelma was wrong and he wasn’t going to hold his breath on that one.
Picture above courtesy of morguefile.com.
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