Robert’s long legs ate up the distance as he carried Beth to the ICU. He paused and Beth had to look up to see why; they were in a lift. A wave of exhaustion and grief suddenly came over her and she had to put her head back on his chest.
After what felt like a lifetime, the doors opened and Robert walked out. After talking to another receptionist, they were directed to a family waiting room and within a minute, they were greeted with, “Oh, Beth.”
Beth looked up, trying to discern who was talking to her. Robert set her down gently and slowly. Jack rushed up to her and enveloped her in a hug. Her father said nothing, did nothing, just carried on staring out of the window with tears drying on his face while new ones fell.
“Thank you for coming,” Jack said.
Beth was about to reply when she realised he’d been talking to Robert, who nodded. She sensed the suppressed surprise and shock in him.
“Sit down before you collapse,” Robert said to her quietly.
She nodded slowly and did as he said, taking a seat between him and Jack, holding onto both of their hands.
“What do you know?” Robert asked Jack.
“Not much,” he replied. “They took her in for surgery about an hour ago and we’ve not heard anything since.”
Beth felt numb, zoning out of the rest of their conversation. She tried desperately to think of anything but where she was and who she was waiting for news of. She failed miserably, horrible thoughts running through her head of what could happen to her mother.
Robert squeezed her hand, making her look up at him.
“It’ll be okay,” he promised quietly.
“How do you know?”
“Because Onyx says so.” He said the words with such conviction and belief that all she could do was nod.
After a few minutes of silence, Jack spoke. “Beth, does this—”
“I’m still not coming home, Jack,” she said, staring at an imperfection on the wall. “I’m happy where I am.”
He nodded slowly, seeming to understand as he glanced between her and Robert.
Robert ran his thumb over the back of her hand, comforting her. She released her breath in a long sigh and closed her eyes. When she opened them again, she looked up at him, realising his hair was still all over the place. She smiled as she wondered what Jack thought about that.
Robert tipped his head to the side slightly, a small smile playing on his lips. She shook her head, dismissing his silent inquiry.
The door to the waiting room opened and a doctor walked in, his solemn expression looked as though it was permanently etched onto his face. All eyes in the room turned to him expectantly, waiting for news.
“Stuart family?” he asked.
“Yes,” Jack said, their father still remaining silent.
The doctor shut the door behind him and walked further into the room, a clipboard in hand.