Brody’s father and half sister had arrived sometime later, all sitting around the room for awhile, before Damian had insisted that they all eat. Audrey had attempted to resist, to stay with Brody, but at that point the Doctor’s had cleared the room in order to run more tests. And so she had been forced to follow the others to the cafeteria, and sit around a table awkwardly, not sure what the protocol was for situations like this. What sort of small talk did one make when their husband was upstairs in a hospital room, being tested to find out whether he had brain damage or not? What was the usual way to handle this?
“Not the anniversary dinner you were expecting I suppose,” Henrietta piped up finally, the 21 year old glancing up at Audrey.
Katherine’s fork dropped with a clatter. “Oh you poor thing. I forgot it was your anniversary. You must have had some special plans, and must have been so worried when he didn’t show up,” she said rapidly, moving as if to hug Audrey. Katherine had always been an overly affectionate woman.
“Give the girl some space Katherine,” Damian interrupted, his eyes on his ex-wife. “She doesn’t need a public display of affection right now.”
“She could do with a hug Damian. The poor girl must be going through so much right now. Sometimes all we need is someone to tell us it’ll be all right. Why the poor thing has been so quiet and still all evening,” Katherine answered, glaring at Damian.
“I’m fine Katherine, really. But right now I think I’m going to go see if the doctor’s are finished with Brody,” Audrey said, standing all of a sudden and pushing her chair back, before Katherine and Damian got into another argument over Katherine’s need to console the world.
The doctors had finished with Brody again by the time Audrey got back up to his room. She looked at her husband’s unconscious body, so peaceful looking despite the obvious injuries covering him, wishing she could curl up next to him and cry her eyes out. How could something like this happen to them, now? She wasn’t the strong one, how was she supposed to take on that role now.
The doctor who had spoken to her earlier poked his head into the room. “I thought I might find you in here Mrs Newman,” he said softly.
“Was there any change?” Audrey asked, hope in her eyes.
The doctor shook his head. “The swelling is still too strong to tell. It may be some days. He’ll be in good hands here though, you should go home and get some rest.”
Audrey glanced at the clock. It was 9.30pm. It was hard to believe that only 4 hours ago she was at home, waiting for Brody to come home. She was exhausted, and so much had happened since then. Yet despite that, home was the last place she wanted to be. She couldn’t imagine crawling into her big bed, all alone.
“If it’s alright, could I stay here tonight?” she asked, her eyes meeting the doctors.
“I’ll arrange for a cot to be brought up, but only for tonight. I know this isn’t easy, but camping out in the hospital is not the best solution,” the doctor stated.
“But what if he wakes?” asked Audrey. “What if I leave him, tomorrow night or during the day and he wakes and I’m not here?”
The doctor sighed, sensing this one would be a difficult one. A voice piped up from the door. “Don’t worry doctor, I’ll ensure she gets some rest at some point,” Damian offered, stepping into the room. Briefly Audrey wondered where Henrietta and Katherine were.
The doctor nodded in relief, glad the family would ensure that Audrey’s welfare was met. Too many times he had seen the partner’s of his patient’s worry themselves to the point where they became sick themself, or shells of their former selves. “I’ll arrange for that cot then.”
Audrey and Damian were silent, until the doctor had left. “Thanks for that Audrey said finally, glancing at her father in law.” She considered the empty hallway behind him. “Where are Henrietta and Katherine?”
“I sent Henrietta home, but Katherine is still around. She refuses to leave until she talks to the doctor another time, but I’ve insisted that she leave you alone. You look worn out,” Damian stated. “And I want you to know that I mean what I said to the doctor. Tomorrow morning I’ll take over the watch and you will go home for a time and have some proper sleep, sleep that won’t come easy to you here. You’ll need it.”
“But...” began Audrey, ready to protest.
“But nothing Audrey,” replied Damian. “You and I both know that Brody would not want you to worry yourself into exhaustion, or to let your career and health suffer for his sake. Right now I want you to take a few minutes to dash home, grab yourself and Brody some clothes, call your work and let them know you won’t be coming in, then come straight back. I’ll ring his work, and inform them of what happened.
“But...” began Audrey once more, wanting to argue against anything that sent her from Brody’s side.
“Or I could send Katherine to your house to gather the necessaries...” threatened Damian.
Knowing that she was beat, Audrey grabbed her handbag from beside her. “You ring me if anything happens, all right,” she demanded. “I will be no more than 20 minutes. But you promise you’ll ring me.”
“Go, and then you’ll be back with him the sooner,” Damian said, shooing Audrey from the room. He followed her with his eyes as he left, before turning to his eldest child, lying prone on the bed.
“That woman of yours need you Brody, she’s trying to be strong but I can see it in her eyes. She’s ready to fall apart any minute. I’ll do all I can for her, but you need to come out of this as soon as possible son,” he said softly, picking up his son’s hand and holding it in his, trying to remember the last time his son had allowed him to even hold his hand, and whispering a silent prayer that the boy would pull through this.