a girl is hit by a car and her mother is distraught while waiting for her to recover.
The walls seem to close in around me; their presence overbearing, threatening every breath I draw. The windows, covered blinds are bright and unforgiving, the unrelenting light from the never-ending tainted corridors, is cast onto the floor and across my face in bars of steel. I am imprisoned by my fears. The stink of disinfectant makes my eyes water and throat sting uncontrollably. The hard chair on which I sit is grey, impersonal and false, a structure, there to support me in my time of need, and yet so delicate. I wriggle, change positions constantly, trying to numb the pain that is welling up deep within my soul. My glass of water that sits to my left is full of the tears that have not fallen. The door is heavy and solid, painted white to match the stark walls, while the floor twinkles up at me, mocking my very existence. It has mocked me through this night, the longest of my entire life.
The door opens quietly, the handle clicking, almost inaudibly as the nurse slips in. “Ms Thomas?” she calls timidly. My bleary eyes turn to her, glancing up and down. Her hair is pulled back into a neat regulation bun, the vulnerable nape of her neck exposed, her face, clean and fresh. Her eyes show wisdom beyond her twenty or so years, she has seen things that perhaps, she shouldn’t have. The sorrowful shadows across her face, tell me of her stressful and difficult night. Her petite body appears drowned by the blue sterile uniform; her feet sit in simple black shoes. “Ms Thomas?” she repeated, “I just need to check her blood pressure, is that ok?” I nod. My eyes follow her as she crosses the room and moves her hands skilfully over the murmuring machines. The small, distorted body that lies in a large iron bed is my daughter, Scarlett. She is only seventeen and had been at a party. She promised me she wouldn’t drink; she has always been such a sensible girl. But nevertheless, neither I nor my advice could protect her from what would happen next.
She was driving home, only a few hours ago, peering through the windscreen that was pounded by rain, her headlights scanning the road ahead. She slowed down as she approached a corner, but suddenly, a man came crashing round the bend. His eyes were fiery from the night’s revelations. The recent shots had poisoned his young mind, burning his throat and powering his need for speed. He collided with my baby, her car crumpled into a pile of scrap metal. Scarlett sat inside, her seatbelt hugging her body tightly, the airbag cushioning her fragile head.
They called me at two in the morning; my hand fumbled reluctantly for the telephone. I sat up, startled and horrified as they related the story to me. I pulled on my boots and running jumper and races to the car. I was almost in tears for the entire journey. The simple fifteen minute drive became a labyrinth of endless streets and flickering lights. I swallowed back my tears, barely able to contain my fears. All they had said she was that she was alive. Nothing more. I clung to the thread of hope they slung to me, a bare ring to keep my head above water. She was still alive.
As I pulled into the hospital, I could see flashing lights and insistent ringing of sirens that buzzed in my ears. I dashed from the car towards the commotion. I waited as they lifted a body down from the back. It lay still and showed no signs of life. My daughter’s pale face was silent and edged with crimson. I cried out for my baby but was immediately pushed away. The paramedics began to perform CPR, right there in the entrance of the hospital. After a few endless minutes, the machine at Scarlett’s feet began to beep and her chest rose. I held her hand in mine, almost expecting her to wake up and tell me all about her exciting but remained closed. I reassured her, told her I was there, insisted I wouldn’t leave her and still there was no answer.
They wheeled her bed up to the intensive care ward. Scarlett became surrounded by machines, tubes, trolleys and people. They ignored me and set about doing tests and arranging the equipment. I was asked to wait outside, like a naughty child waits outside the headmaster’s office. About an hour later, they finally let me see her properly. She looked pale and peaceful, beautiful and blissful. I stroked her matted chestnut hair and kissed her forehead. I held her hand in mine. I whispered soothingly, explaining what had happened but still she would not answer me. So here I am. Sitting in this sterile, emotionless box. My fear increases by the second as I await the doctor’s visit. He will not come for hours but still I wait. I am powerless. For first time in her life, Scarlett is totally alone. I gaze protectively over her, a guardian angel resting on her shoulder. My mind whirrs; the same thoughts spin around and around, poisoning me. Will she recover? When will she wake up? Will she ever wake up?
My eyes are beginning to droop, a yawn spreads across my face and I curl up, hugging myself close. I shut my eyes, trying to block out the horrors of this night. The beeping of the machines slows; it is a constant shriek. My eyes snap open.