I have been asked by a couple of people to post a chapter from one of my books. This is the section of my fourth novel that really makes me cry. Just remember that this is the original, non-edited version so forgive the typos and grammatical errors. Also keep in mind that this is only my fourth attempt at writing a novel.
Enjoy the read.
Running through the emergency doors that gaped wide open for her, she found the receptionist desk. By now her tears had streaked her face, her hair was tousled and her clothes looked like she had just awakened in them. “Where’s my husband?” She shouted, her face red with grief.
A sweet faced desk clerk smiled up at her running through her mind how many distraught women had come screaming in the hospital, full of anxiety and dread and demanding the same information. She put on a peaceful, empathetic smile and spoke slowly. “Calm down, ma’am. Just tell me who your husband is and we'll find out which room he's in.”
But Claire was not in a mood for pleasantries.
“Just tell me where Ty…Tyson Monroe was taken.”
The women checked her computer screen. “Right down the hall in intensive care unit. I believe the doctor is waiting to see you.”
“Thank you.” Claire muttered.
Walking through the inner swinging doors she saw a long faced man with grey sad eyes dressed in a doctor's white coat. He smiled tentatively as he watched her approach.
“Yes.” Claire stammered. “Where’s my husband?”
“He’s resting right now.”
“What’s happened, doctor? What happened to my husband?”
“Let’s walk this way.” The doctor turned and bade her follow him. “I’m afraid, Mrs. Monroe that your husband has suffered a massive heart attack and the prognosis is not good.”
“No. No. No.” She shook her head. “This is not supposed to happen. He’s just so young. I’m the one who should be having the heart attack.” She turned to the doctor and gripped his arm. “Please tell me this is a mistake, a joke?”
He stopped at the door of a dimly lit room that smelled of antiseptic. “I’m afraid not, Mrs. Monroe. Your husband is very ill.” He pointed inside a room. "Please."
Walking into the gloom she struggled to acclimate her eyes. Then she saw Ty. He was lying propped against soft pillows, with tubes, monitors and wires covering his body. He was hooked up to a machine that had a little green line that pumped up and down with each labored beat of his heart. He looked pale and drawn and so lifeless that her heart dropped to her feet. She moved to his side and started to stroke his arm that was covered with wires. The doctor brought a chair to the side of the bed and placed his hands on her shoulders urging her to sit down. She obliged, never taking her hand from her husband’s.
“Can he hear me?” She whispered.
“I believe so.” The Doctor replied.
“Will he regain consciousness?”
“I don’t know.”
Looking up at the doctor again she sighed. “Can anything be done?”
“His heart has suffered tremendous damage. I don’t believe that he could survive an operation. It’s just a matter of wait and see. He needs time and he needs to know you’re here for him.” He turned from her. “I’ll be back in a minute. Is there anyone else you’d like us to call for you?”
“Yes, my son. I need to get in contact with my son. I didn't have time to do it before I left home.” She gave Nick's cell number to the doctor.
“I’ll have my nurse call him immediately. Is there anybody else?”
“Yes, our bishop…our congregation leader, Bishop Matt Hemsley. He’s in the book. I don’t know his phone number.”
“I’ll see to it right away.”
Claire continued to stroke Ty’s arm. He made no movement. He looked as though his spirit had already left him and that only the shell of the man was left. “No you don’t, Ty Monroe. You’re not going to leave me here. I can’t make it on my own. I need you. You come back here. Don’t leave me.” She started to weep as she laid her forehead against his arm drenching him with salted tears.
Hour after painful hour she waited by Ty's bedside. Her son Nick came and didn’t know what to do or say. She knew in his own way, Nick was suffering as well. Though Nick was not particularly close to his father as she would have liked, she realized it was because they were much too similar in character and temperament to be close. They seemed to challenge each other like two great stags with large antlers locked together in an eternal struggle for domination. She knew in her heart that Nick loved his father, even though he never said so. And that hurt. Somehow her son would have to deal with this tragedy on his own terms and in his own way, just as she was going to have to deal with it. But not yet!
The Bishop came with his first counselor and administered to Ty. But there was no promise of a recovery, no relief from Claire’s pain only a promise of peace. Claire’s harried mind couldn’t grasp the concept of peace. Was it for Ty? Was it for her? Would she have peace if Ty left her alone? Her mind raced over all the memories they shared together. The early years of their struggle and the labor of love it was to raise Nick, to this new passion that stirred both of their desires to write. She had to admit that through all the hard work, stress and strain, they had formed an attachment that was undeniably strong. That made it all the more hard to think about letting him go.
“Mom.” Nick stood beside her in the open doorway. “You need to get some fresh air. I’ll sit here with dad. Come on, you need to walk around.” He tried to help her up from the chair, but she was reluctant to move.
“What if he wakes up while I’m gone? I’d never be able to forgive myself if I didn’t get to talk to him one…last time.” A silent tear trailed down her cheek which she swiped at absently with the back of her hand.
“I’m come and find you immediately. The hospital’s not that big. They have a snack bar around the corner. I think it’s still open. Here.” He handed her some money. “Go buy yourself a candy bar and a soda.”
“You know I don’t eat that stuff.”
“You need your strength. The dining hall is closed.”
He tugged again on her arm raising her to her feet. Her knees didn’t want to straighten. “Oh,” she complained. “My knees are stiff.”
“All the more reason to walk around. Just walk up and down past the door way. I’ll come to the door if he wakes up.”
Moving gingerly to the door, she paused for a moment and watched Ty’s face. Nothing changed. Still the grey look of death hung on his face. “Where is he?” She sighed and walked from the room.
As she plodded heavily down the corridor of the intensive care unit, she thought of all the stories Ty loved to read about near death experiences. Was he having one of those experiences now? Where did his spirit go while his body lay in that awful gloomy room? Was he visiting with his mother who passed away two years ago? Was he meeting his maternal grandfather for the first time? Aunts, uncles, grandparents, all those people to meet and give his love to? His mother had been a family history fanatic. Was Ty with these people greeting them, being thanked by them for doing their temple ordinances? “Please send him back to me.” She cried. “I need him more than you do.”
Stopping at the vending machines, she chose orange juice and a granola bar. “Well at least these things are fairly healthy.”
“I don’t think anything you eat in this place is healthy.”
Claire jerked around at the sound of a familiar voice to see Brian Workman standing behind her. “Brian!” She stammered, feeling uneasy and just a bit angry that he wasn’t there sooner for Ty.
“I’m sorry Claire. They won’t let me come into the ICU, so I’ve been sitting out here waiting.”
“I’m glad you came.” She made her self say though there was no feeling in her voice.
“Would you like to sit for a minute?” Brian pointed to a couch in the waiting room and moved to sit down indicating the spot next to him.
She cook a chair opposite to him. “I don’t want to be too far from Ty’s room. He might wake up at any moment.”
“I understand.” He smiled faintly. “We’ll just talk right here for a few minutes.” He stood and walked to the vending machine, pushed the button and drew out a candy bar. Unwrapping the bar, he smiled up at Claire with a cautiously and returned to the couch. “I’m really sorry for what happened to Ty. It was all so sudden and unexpected. Had he complained of feeling poorly?”
“No. He seemed to be in perfect health.” Her mind ran over the last time he saw the doctor. “Well, he had a bout with high blood pressure, but he was on medication. We thought everything was alright.”
“You just don’t know how well the body is doing unless something major happens to cause you to stop and rethink the life you’re living. High blood pressure can be very tricky and very hard to detect and treat. I know I suffer from it myself. Having two small children at my age doesn’t help it either.”
Claire smiled but even his attempt at humor didn’t faze her. “How are your children?” She asked, absentmindedly look back down the hallway to the ICU doors. No movement, she sighed.
“They’re getting bigger and causing their father grey hairs.”
“That’s nice.” Claire nibbled on her granola bar. “And your wife?”
“She’s good. She works in the Primary as a den leader. My son is part of the den and just loves having his mother as the leader. She tries hard to make their activities fun and educational. She has a way of making the boys believe their having fun while still learning and accomplishing good things.”
“That’s nice.” Disinterested. She took another bite and shrugged her shoulders. "They wanted me to be the den mother when Nick was that age but I refused. I’m sorry now, though. He had a horrible scouting experience and I regret my decision terribly.”
“It’s hard work.” Brian laughed. “I usually come home to a major mess after each meeting.”
“Yes, boys are messy.” Looking again down the hall, Claire started to get an unsettling feeling and rose from her chair. “Brian if you don’t mind, I’m going to go back to Ty’s room.”
“Of course. How is he doing?” Brian asked timidly.
“No change. The doctor is not hopeful.” Despair seized her heart as the tears sprang to her eyes. “What will I do if he dies?”
Not knowing exactly what to do, Brian moved off his couch and reached out to put his arm around her shoulder. She turned to him and let the tears fall on his shirt. He just held her and let her cry. After a couple of minutes passed, she gained a measure of composure and struggled to move away from him. “I’m sorry. I…I just…I better go. Thank you for your support.” Smiling weakly at Brian, she turned and walked back through the ICU double doors.
The ICU was quiet for the most part. The doors to the individual rooms stood half open allowing only the tiniest glimpse in the rooms. Just like Ty, other patients were hooked to monitors and tubes, all looking the same way. Colorless, lifeless, tired. Most were very old and looked frail as well. Claire remembered the last time they went to see Ty’s mother before they took her off life support. She had much the same look as her son. Tired, worn out and already gone. It had been a blessing to let her go. She would never have wanted to remain on earth in a state of diminished capacity. She was too full of life and nervous energy to sit idly by. So Ty and his father gave her a blessing and released her from his mortal life. She slipped peacefully away and left them here without her.
Claire stopped at the door of the room. There was little change on Ty’s face. He looked like a statue of some fallen war hero, just as hallow and just as empty as a statue. Nick saw her come back in the room and stood up quickly. Had he been holding Ty’s hand? Claire was sure of it. Somehow that simple act of a son holding the hand of his father gave her a moment’s comfort that nothing else could. She walked to Nick and took his hand in hers and pressed it against her cheek. “He loves you, you know. More than he would ever admit. He’s always loved you. He just didn’t know how to show that love. I’m sorry if you felt he wasn’t the kind of father you needed.”
Nick stared at her with those deep grayish blue eyes. Calm like the ocean just before a storm. “Mom, I never said dad wasn’t the kind of father I needed. We just never agreed on anything and I know I made him mad. My life hasn’t always been exemplary and my actions drove him up a wall. I hope he can forgive me for my sins. I don’t think he liked me very much. ”
“That’s not true, son. He loved you so much it just hurt him so bad to watch you make mistakes. He wanted to give you his testimony of the gospel, but he didn’t know how. He loved you in his way, just the way his own father had loved him. Love was implied, not so much spoken. Don’t ever think he didn’t love you with all his heart.”
“I won’t think that, mom. I do love him.” He turned to his father. “What are we going to do without him?” The sincerity in his voice made her touch his cheek.
“He’s not gone yet, dear. We need to have faith that he’ll get better.”
“Mom.” He wanted to disagree with her. To tell her she was delusional. That her religion was a load of BS, but he wouldn’t spoil her moment with his father. It may their last.
So he merely shrugged and agreed on principle. “Right.” Then he turned for the door. “I’m going to get something to eat.”
“Okay. I’ll stay with dad.” Claire sat down by the bed again and took Ty’s hand in hers. “I’m back darling. You can wake up and talk to me now.”
When Nick returned to the room, he sat in a lounge chair opposite to Claire and ate a candy bar, chips and drank a Coke. They both waited and worried and she prayed. Claire laid her head down on the bed next to Ty’s hand and sleep over came her. She was disturbed with dreams of being alone and unable to climb out of a deep canyon. She’d scratch at the slick muddy walls and fought for a foot or hand hold to be able to pull her self out of the blackness of the hole. The sky was clear above her. The sun was shining brightly sending down a shaft of light just out of reach of her hand. The pit was dark and ominously gloomy. Through her despair, she attempted to call out for Ty to come and save her, but no one came to the mouth of the large hole. Alone, frightened and cold, she shook. Suddenly someone stroked her hair and told her it would be okay. She felt a surge of peace even though she was still in the dark hole. Some one was there to bring her peace.
Slowly her eyes fluttered open and she looked up into Ty’s ghastly pale face. His meadow green eyes were open, but held no light; his hand was in her hair. Reality hit her hard as she tried to clear away the muddy gloom and look at her husband.
“Ty.” She smiled and whispered squeezing his hand.
His free hand came up and fought with the tube in his nose. Nick heard the noise and woke up. He stood up and helplessly watched his parents.
“No Ty, you must leave it in. It’s to help give you oxygen.” She rose from the chair and grabbed for his hand that was fighting with the tube. “Please Ty. Calm down.”
He was struggling to find his voice. “Claire,” it came out in a gargle of sound.
“Yes, darling. I’m right here.”
“Claire.” Now more clearly.
She fought desperately to hold the tears at bay. He was awake and alive and calling for her.
“I’m here Ty. Everything’s going to be okay.” She bent forward to kiss his ghastly pale cheek.
His other hand gripped her hair. “Claire.” His voice was almost normal. “I love you, Claire.” She watched his face as a single tear escaped his eye and ran slowly down his cheek. She wiped it away with her thumb.
“I love you too, Ty. Don’t talk now it’s going to be okay.”
“I have to talk now, sweetheart.” He chocked on his words. Coughing lightly the monitor began to beep wildly.
“Calm down.” She soothed. “It’s going to be okay. You’re going to be okay.”
The night nurse came running into the room and adjusted the light. She ran and checked the machines. “How are we feeling, Mr. Monroe?” She asked with a kind voice.
“He doesn’t like the oxygen in his nose.”
“No, but it makes it easier for him to breath.” She turned to Ty. “You must leave your tubes in your nose so you can breath. Do you understand me, Mr. Monroe?”
Ty nodded his head slowly. “Claire.”
“Yes darling. Don’t try to speak.”
“I have to speak. Where’s Nick?”
“I’m here dad.” Nick rose from the chair took his father’s other hand in his.
“Nick.” He coughed slightly making the monitor buzz. “I love you son.”
“I know dad.” Nick tried to act dispassionately and tried to fight back his own tears. “I love you too.”
Claire stared at her son. She couldn’t remember the last time Nick told his father that he loved him. It was breaking her heart to watch them. Years and years they spent disagreeing with each other, arguing for dominance. But in the hours of dying, Nick learned something so basic and so beautiful. Maybe his heart would be changed by this experience.
“Take care of your mother, son. She’s going to need your strength now more than ever.”
“Don’t talk like that dad. You’re not going anywhere.”
“Nick. Promise me you’ll look after your mother.” His voice was earnest, deathly calm.
“I will dad.” Tears raced down Nick’s face. “I’m going to miss you.” Nick bent over and placed his head on his father’s shoulder and wept uncontrollably.
“Claire.” He slowly turned to his wife. “I love you, Claire. You need to let me go now.”
“No Ty. No. I’ll never let you go. I need you. Don’t you leave me. I’ll never forgive you if you leave me.”
“They need me, Claire.”
“I need you, Ty.”
“Mother’s come to get me, Claire. You must let me go.” Ty looked beyond his wife at a blank wall as if someone stood there, waiting. Claire felt the need to curse.
“No I’ll never let you go. Please, please don’t leave me. Why can’t your mother wait for you?”
“She needs me Claire. My family needs me. You must continue to do family history and help my family.” Tears fell from his eyes onto his ashen cheeks. “I’m sorry I can’t stay with you any longer. I need to go Claire. Don’t ever stop writing. It will save you…” Coughing lightly, he eyes flickered. “Claire, I love you.”
“Oh, Ty. I love you so much. Please don’t leave me.”
“Claire. I can’t stay, I have to go. Tell my family I love them and tell them mother sends her love, and your mom says not to worry.” He smiled and coughed. “I…I love you Claire.” With her name on his lips, he closed his eyes and the machines started beeping wildly while the green line on the monitor went flat.
This essay is an excerpt from a novel by Carol A. Malone of Camarillo, California and it copyrighted. Do not publish this piece or copy it for personal gain.
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