I sped into the plastic contaminated room, a look of terror across my face, with my eyes darting around the crowded room for someone to help.
“Help!” I called, “I need help!” Ben and I had driven to the hospital with James as his car was the fastest out of the three. Mum and the McFarlows were on their way.
“We need help here!” Ben joined in, his voice matching the panic in mine. A woman in a nurse’s outfit, with blonde hair, walked towards us.
“Can I help you?” she asked calmly… why was she calm? Couldn’t she see that the little boy in my arms was in no way okay?
“Yes, I think he’s having an allergic reaction to the nuts in a cake.” I told her, running my fingers through James’ sweating, dark curls. His bellows were deafening and his coughing had gotten worse in the car. The nurse took note of the condition he was physically in and flew to the reception desk, asking for the lady sat behind in to page one of the doctors.
“He’s going to be okay, isn’t he?” I asked, as she came back with a clipboard, with an attached form and pen, in her hand.
“We won’t know until we can get him checked out. May I ask your name and your relationship to him?” she replied, handing the clipboard to Ben. My heart began to beat hard. I’d never told anyone the truth about James, outside of Mum and the McFarlows. Should I tell the truth? Or lie? Ben was here after all… what was I supposed to do? What was I supposed to say?
The nurse raised an eyebrow, urging me to hurry up. I took a deep breath and opened my mouth: “Casey Stewart… and he’s my son.” I caught a glance, out of the corner of my eye, at the flicker in Ben’s eyes as I’d said it, though neither of us reacted to it verbally. The nurse nodded, relieved for my much awaited for answer.
“You’ll need to fill in a few details for us,” she told me, reaching out and taking James out of my arms. He was red in the face and his cheeks, lips and throat were swollen, “please take a seat and someone will call you in momentarily.” She smiled weakly before rushing off through a set of double doors, James’ cries becoming distant each step away he went.
I could feel the tears trickling down my cheeks, but banished them away with a swoop of the palm of my hand. I turned to face Ben’s expressionless face.
“I’d better fill in those details then.” I murmured, retrieving the clipboard from his tight grip. I steered myself over to one of the plastic chairs in the corner of the closely packed waiting area.
Had I really just done that? Had I really? Maybe this was all just a nightmare and I was really still at home, fast asleep on the sofa, or something, with Ben bouncing James on his knee beside me, happy and healthy.
The seats were really uncomfortable here. I shifted my weight, in an attempt to find a better position, and knocked my knee against somebody else’s beside me. I looked up to apologise and jumped when I met Ben’s mossy, deep green eyes. He’d crept up and I hadn’t even noticed him sitting next to me. His face was stone frozen. He almost scared me looking like this. I’d never seen him look so… empty.
“I’m sorry…” I whispered, tucking a loose strand of hair behind my ear and looking down onto my lap, causing the strand to fall out of place again.
“What are you apologising for?” he asked softly, yet sternly. I looked up again; his expression hadn’t changed.
“I don’t know,” I admitted, “it just felt like the right thing to say.” I looked back down to the clipboard and began to tap the, nearly empty, blue biro against the cold, metal sheet. It rang slightly, dissolving into the gradual noise surrounding us. I stopped.
“Why did you say that Jamie was your son?” Ben blurted out, in an ‘out of the blue’ type manner. I knew that he was actually confused about what I’d said, and possibly even worrying. Had he added up the months in his head and was now suspecting something? Had he twigged on that he was actually James’ father? Had all my lying finally backfired?
“I had to.” I told him flatly, contemplating what I was going to tell him… the truth? Or more lies?
“You had to?” he asked, questionably. He furrowed his stony brow and pursed his lips slightly in concentration… or frustration… I couldn’t tell which… I mixture of both, perhaps? What was going around in his head? What was he thinking?
“Yeah. I had to tell them he was my son, otherwise they wouldn’t have been able to see him.” I told him, looking straight into his questionable eyes, willing him to believe me, “they wouldn’t have seen him if he wasn’t with a blood relative… not at his age.” Lies… I’d chosen to lie. I didn’t even know if what I was saying was true, but it seemed to work. Ben’s expression softened, but his eyes lost their sparkle. Disappointment? Could he tell I was lying to him? Had he been able to tell this whole time, but never mentioned it? I didn’t know…
“So he’s not your son?” he asked.
“No.” I lied.
“Okay…” Silence. Neither of us spoke to each other. I filled in the form I’d been given, whilst Ben played with a pack of playing cards he’d found amongst the out of date magazines, in the rack, by his chair. He had the queen of hearts and the kind of spades facing up and all the others in a huge mess, facing downwards on the coffee table, beneath the two upturned cards in front of him.
I couldn’t help but look at the display on the table and wonder what the motive was behind his choice of placement. Coincidence? A particular reason, perhaps?
“Casey Stewart?” called a male voice above the sea of heads. I looked up and saw a young male doctor in a white coat and stethoscope around his neck. I stood up.
“That’s me!” I called back. He noticed me and shuffled around the assortment of bodies blocking his route. He smiled when he came to stand in front of Ben and I, who had also stood up and was close beside me, “how is he? Is it a nut allergy?”
“My associates and I can confirm that your son has a severe nut allergy. We’ve given him a mild dose of an adrenaline injection, which has decreased the affects. He was lucky… a couple of minutes later and he could have suffered far worse than he has.” He informed us. I gave a sigh of relief and placed one hand against my racing heart. Ben took hold of my other hand and squeezed it tightly.
“Can we see him?” he asked, his tone of voice shocking me. Although he was relieved and thankful that James was recovering, desperation was strung around each syllable. He wanted to see James as much as I did.
“Yes, but we can only allow blood relations to come through.” Dr. Webber, as it said on his ID card around his neck, informed us.
“No problem, I’m his father.” He replied with a smile. Dr. Webber nodded and prompted us to follow him. I looked up at Ben, when Dr. Webber’s back was turned to us, and he winked, pulling me after him and Dr. Webber.
He’d lied to the doctor, like I’d done to the nurse. Well, he thought we’d been lying…