Just an idea I’m playing with.
She lost everything so quickly, she thought she was on track and then it happened. A miscarriage. Poor weight being the main thought of many doctors but of course it was never that black and white with such things.
She struggles thinking there was something she could do. Blames herself. Perhaps even her significant other.
They need to overcome it but she seems to have hit the self-destruction button. The couple spirals downwards together, argues every day, everything seems to go wrong so quickly. Then.... she falls pregnant again.
This time will be different.
This time she’ll do everything, to the point of obsession almost.
Meanwhile, he feels like a sideline in his own life. He can only watch for fear of shattering already brittle glass.
All the while he wonders if perhaps he could have helped, he could have made her better the first time.
9 months stands between them and a family.
Old injuries resurface.
Ariana dined with them, felt comforted by their words and Gary’s parents were exactly as parents should be. They coaxed a smile from her and Hannah’s expertise at distracting Ariana meant she ate more as a result of not being so focused on what was on her plate. Her mind was taken off Gary in the hospital if only briefly and she fully expected to be going home but it seemed Graham and Hannah were more than clued onto things. Ariana nodded to them a little as she listens to the wet splotches against the window as she was left in the bedroom and she looked around. At least it didn’t feel like she was actually missing anything because this wasn’t their room. Her eyes flickered around and she took a moment as she sank into the bed, discarding her jeans and tucking her legs up.
In the quiet it was easy to think, and it was easy to worry. Ariana shifted to her side and closed her eyes, wanting to rest properly but it was difficult. Her husband was laid up in hospital, infection running through him and she was pregnant with a child that may or may not come to be. Her hand slipped to her stomach as if she could simply will this child to grow within her healthily. It was then she realised something; she didn’t care what happened to her. And not in the self pitying sort of way. She was a wife and a mother to an unborn infant, and Gary needed her to be strong as did the growing foetus within her. She shifted a little and settled under the blankets, fingers toying with the empty space beside her for a while before sleep claimed her far quicker than she expected. But it was not dreamless. Baby cries filtered through and Ariana stood on the tiled floor, white. A hospital? She looked down at herself and she wasn’t pregnant. Around the corner came Gary, mangled leg dragging behind him with a blanketed bundle cradled in his arms. Ariana stares at him in silence. She could smell the alcohol from him. He looked angry, frustrated even and his eyes were cold.
Ariana sat up and blinked around the unfamiliar room as she got up, freshening herself up and changing back into her clothes. She fixed her hair up and stepped out the room, heart still a little worked up after the nightmare but within minutes she had forgotten the exact details. She swallowed a little and joined Hannah and Graham for breakfast, this time her appetite truly did wane but she forced herself to eat. Gary was easily argued, his parents not so much. Of course she was full of thanks to his parents, and she felt they had done more for her than just shelter her for the night. She was nervous to see Gary because what if it was worse? She was quiet for most of the morning, thoughts plagued her more than she wanted to admit but a lazy smile in place to safe guard against any tough questions. The hospital was as welcome a sight as a joke in the head as she wandered the corridors.
Ariana eyed the ward and checked the time to make sure she wouldn’t get kicked out for being too early. She slipped by Gary’s bedside and sank into a chair, eyeing the ward before deciding to draw the curtains a little more. She stayed quiet because sleep was probably Gary’s number one priority right then and she could be here for him but she wouldn’t disturb him. Tendrils of blond hair framed her face in a halo as she looked over her husbands sleeping face. When had she last simply taken in his image? He looked fragile, young almost. Still attractive, it had always been those soul piercing steel eyes that captured her and had been a dead giveaway to whatever Gary felt most of the time. But they coaxed her to get lost so often and she obliged every time.
"Oh, that's precious," Hannah said softly as she looked at the small black and grey photo. On it, she could see the clear outlines of a young baby.
"Just look at this, Graham," she motioned for her husband to take a look.
The older man took the photo, put on his reading glasses and squinted.
"Hmm," he managed, not impressed by this particular technology. It was all just blotches and shapes to him.
"At least he was there then," Graham said approvingly, and returned the picture.
Hannah took the picture back and looked at it with a smile. Even this small, she was already looking forward to meeting her grand-child.
"Well, water melon isn't exactly going to put on the pounds, is it now?" she said approvingly, then looked at Ariana. Actually, the young woman could use a little meat on her bones, if anything. She was sure that even if Ariana's cravings would involve cream, it would still be alright in the end.
"Oh, nonsense," the older woman said, returning the picture.
"If feet need to be rubbed, they will be rubbed," Hannah said weightily, as if possessing all the knowledge in the world. "There's nothing wrong with his hands, is there now," she joked, though minutes ago she'd been just as worried as Ariana for Gary's well-being.
Dinner was elaborate and in ample quantity. Hannah made sure to distract the both of them with talk of Gary's past, how she'd experienced being a mother herself and all the fears and joys that entailed. Gary's accident had brought close their mortality, though he wasn't to blame.
"Graham can drive you to the hospital in the morning, sweet-heart," Hannah offered up their guest bedroom. "I'm sure Gary will want to see you," she said. The weather outside was poor, raining lashing against the window. Or perhaps it was wet snow, it was hard to tell in the utter darkness. Hannah didn't like her husband driving this late, nor Ariana. Surely the morning would bring greater clarity.
Gary opened his eyes slowly, trying to make sense of what he saw and heard. The shuffle of feet on linoleum flooring could be heard, chatter on the other side of the room. Unlike yesterday, the curtains had been drawn. Some of the other patients were watching television. Breakfast was being served, evidently.
"Good morning, mister Jenkins," the nurse greeted him.
He was having trouble keeping his eyes open. It'd been a ridiculously long night, filled with feverish and drug-induced dreams, blanket-fights he lost on several occasions and caring, warm hands trying to sort him out. In the end those hands had been successful, because Gary felt better, though drained.
He was surprised when the scent of hot tea and toast ignited a spark of interest in his gut.
"'morning," Gary managed, fumbling about for the controls. The nurse was quicker and helped him elevate the head of the bed. He smiled at her, grateful for the assistance where he might otherwise be frustrated. They'd taken the lines away last night somewhere, apparently. Did that mean he was done with the first round of antibiotics?
Eating was a sluggish ordeal and Gary surrendered halfway in favour of closing his eyes. Sleep happened without meaning to; a restful sleep this time around. When the bed was lowered, Gary shifted to rest on his side, back to the ward, and slept hard. This time, all that greeted him was the darkness of a healing sleep.
Ariana was grateful that Gary’s parents were so talkative. She watched them and nodded along. The warmth of their home was a welcome one as she stepped inside and surrendered herself to sitting and she looked to Hannah.
“I have the photograph, actually. Somewhere.” Nimble fingers dug around in the bag she had as she pulled out the grey image and handed it to Hannah.
“Everything’s fine. Well, for now.” She said because she didn’t want to tempt fate and say everything was fine and would be plain sailing. Life proved otherwise. She ran her fingers over the wedding ring on her finger and briefly thought back to Gary, in the hospital bed by himself. She swallowed and looked to Hannah, a small smile on her features as she drowned out any lingering emotions as best she could.
“And Gary was there. I think it was all a bit... it was a lot. We expected the worst I think, after last time.” Perhaps she had been too wrapped up in herself and worrying about the baby and the pregnancy to think of Gary and his injuries. Ariana knew full well that she often regarded Gary as indestructible when he was just a man of flesh and blood like any other.
“I’m just taking it day by day. I think we both are.” Ariana explained away and she realised she was probably rambling. Symptoms? She pondered for a while as her mind caught up.
“Watermelon. I’ve been awful with it, eating it whenever I can. No sickness yet and I don’t think Gary is in any state to rub my feet.” She added with a small laugh. He was the one in need of looking after, was he not?
Ariana helped out Gary’s parents where she could. She was grateful to keep busy rather than rattling around in her and Gary’s home by herself. Even going to bed without him, despite him often being gone with nights out as of late, it was haunting when he was in hospital. Ariana went along with whatever was needed of her, making sure to thank them for their sweet hospitality and the efforts they were going to. It was rare times like this that she thought about contacting her own parents, perhaps letting them know everything was going okay but she knew better at this stage. It would only serve for hurt feelings and disappointment.
Perhaps she would ask for her father to meet her somewhere, a little cloak and dagger but he had a right to know. And she wanted him to know that regardless of her mother’s sharp tongue, things her going alright with the pregnancy. Of course she would explain about Gary, and even though he was incapacitated, he was doing his best.
A kiss was pressed against his forehead, but this time it was more sensual than a mother's comfort.
"Me too," Gary sighed and tried to give Ariana an encouraging smile. His parents would make sure Ariana ate something and rested, rather than worry too much. Or at least she could share her worries with his mother.
He watched the soft expression on Ariana's face, as if trying to commit her to memory for the long night to come, taking care to indulge in her gentle affection. A thumb brushed by his cheek and then nurses came in to shoo everyone that wasn't staying the night out of the ward. Gary watched her go, then looked out the window. All he could see was the deepening of night and the distant horizon.
Food was brought around, but Gary didn't feel particularly hungry yet, despite feeling better. He tried his best, but didn't even make it halfway through the meal before his stomach threatened to revolt. Gary decided it was best to try and keep down what little he had eaten rather than risk being sick.
He must've fallen asleep after that, because next he knew, a nurse was helping him unconstrict from blankets, wires and other assorted items. His bleary gaze was met with a sorted smile.
"You've really gone and tangled yourself up, Mister Jenkins," she said softly, with respect for the other people on the ward.
His skin felt sticky now, but he felt less heated. A shiver shimmied through his limbs and the nurse was joined by another one, who effeciently locked off the first round of antibiotics and freed him from at least that one wire.
The first pried some of the soaked sheets from his form and they both worked to get him a little more comfortable again. And dry.
Gary wasn't even sure why the warm cloth across his chest wasn't reason for some embarrassment, but rather something he could only lean into and sigh out at. He was drained. Nothing untoward could possibly happen the way he felt now and the nurses used his utter listlessness to work quick and efficiently.
It would prove to be the start of a long night.
"Three months?" Graham asked, half a mind on the road and the other on the conversation inside the car.
Hannah slapped her husband.
"The baby, you idiot," she grumbled with a giggle. "Oh, Ariana, that's wonderful news," the older woman started with a smile.
"Please tell me Gary was there when you got the news," Hannah threatened to hurt her only son if he hadn't. She knew the relationship between the two had been tenuous after losing their first and Hannah had hoped they were strong enough to see their vows through.
"Did you have one of those scan-things?" Graham piped up from the front of the car. "They can see what's inside of you with those," he explained to his wife.
Hannah rolled her eyes when Graham wasn't looking.
"Did you?" she asked gently. "Oh gosh, three months. And you two haven't started on a babyroom at all yet, have you? Are you excited, dear?"
"Of course she is," Graham teased. "Boy or a girl?"
"Oh, they don't know that yet at three months, Graham," Hannah corrected her husband.
"Oh," he said demurely, and steered the car into their street.
"Have you been having any of the pregnancy symptoms yet, sweet-heart?" Hannah asked.
"She made me massage her feet every day for months," the elder Jenkins nodded and huffed. He parked the car and got out the keys, then opened the door for Ariana.
"Pregnant women first," he said with a broad smile.
"Oh, don't you mind him, dear," Hannah said as she walked towards the house and opened the door. "Come inside and we can sit and you can tell me all about it."
Ariana couldn’t protest, she didn’t get a chance and honestly the company wouldn’t go amiss for tonight. She looked to Hannah and Graham and finally nodded, smiling to them gratefully. They were a great comfort to her. She loved her sister, that was for sure but Lisa wasn’t exactly the comforting type. She always got awkward and wanted to joke around more than was appropriate. Sometimes it worked but most of the time it didn’t. She watched his parents leave to get the car and she exhaled. She didn’t want to be a complete burden on everyone and Ariana knew eventually she would need to be able to stand on her own two feet, even if Gary wasn’t there. She felt his lips press to her hand and smiled at him softly .
“I don’t think I am either.” She agreed and looked him over, properly for the first time since getting there. He did look better. There was more colour in his cheeks, he looked exhausted though but he did look better.
“I know. And I don’t have to worry about me, I think your parents will do enough of that for us.” She said with a small laugh.
“I love you too.” She said to him and leant down to press a kiss to his forehead.
“I’ll come back tomorrow, okay? I’m sorry you’re stuck here.” She said as she moved some of his hair from where it settled. She brushed her thumb over his cheek and if she could have stayed, then she would have. But it wasn’t an option.
Eventually though, and in no time at all, Ariana was being shooed off by some bustling nurses on the round and she looked to Gary, evidently that was her cue to leave. She gave his hand a gentle, reassuring squeeze before parting from him and heading down through the halls. She stepped outside and pulled her jacket around herself a little more as she looked to see Gary’s parents car parked out front. She hurried over and into the car.
“Sorry. I got chased off by the nurses.” She apologised with a grumble. It still didn’t make sense to her that she was chased off her own husband by nurses that didn’t know him. She was probably just upset that Gary was stuck in the hospital and she couldn’t help him, jealous of the nurses who could offer help and proper attention to his ailments where she couldn’t.
“We uh, we had the scan last week. It turns out I’m three months along.” Ariana spoke to fill quiet and keep things as normal as possible for everything that was going on right then. It was really difficult to think of anything as normal right then, everything just seemed flipped upside down. She had the scan photo, in her bag somewhere to remind her that this was all real. She knew Gary wasn’t going to die, she knew it wasn’t serious yet and the doctor had been very positive but that was his job, wasn’t it? Ariana turned her gaze out the window from where she sat, grateful for the cars warmth.
Ariana entered and Hannah's face softened as she saw the woman bring in Gary's things.
"Welcome back, dear," Hannah said and embraced the younger woman briefly, pouring as much motherly love in the physical contact as she could. Gary just smiled softly, watching from the outside in, it felt like.
"Slow down, Ri," Gary challenged her rushed summary of items.
Graham merely laughed and shook his head. "Think of the baby," Gary's father said in jest.
Gary gave his father a look and he might've tossed something at the older man's head, were it not everything was safely bolted down to prevent exactly that.
"Gary here was just telling us they put a permanent tap in his leg," Graham gestured at the sheets, making things sound more fun or grim than they actually were. Whichever was left up for the audience to decide.
"Graham," Hannah chastised the older man. He could get like this whenever he was worried. Unable to properly show the way that he cared and was concerned.
"Now don't listen to him, dear," she told Ariana.
Gary shrugged, "she was there when they put it in, dad," he said.
"Well, you two don't need us to hover," Graham decided at long last. "Let us know when you're discharged, son."
"Actually," Hannah stopped the progression. "Would you like to have supper over at ours, Ri?" Now that Gary was cooped up here again, she might enjoy some company. Lord knew that worry could make solitude into loneliness. "You can return first thing in the morning."
Graham chuckled, "knowing that kid of mine, he'll be lazing around anyway."
Gary shrugged and waved away any of Ariana's concerns.
"You should go," he said.
Visiting hours would be coming to an end soon and Gary did feel what his dad was saying; he'd be asleep for most of it, if they kept up this level of pain-medicine.
"We'll bring the car around front, dear," Hannah said and wouldn't allow for Ariana to protest otherwise.
Gary merely chuckled at the sight and beckoned Ariana closer. "Hey, I'm already feeling better. It's fine," he reassured. "Just focus on yourself for now." And the child. The words were left unspoken. Gary took Ariana's hand and placed a kiss on the back of it.
"I don't think you're getting out of that one," he indicated his mother's 'henning'. Things had moved so fast. Just that morning he'd been at home, 'celebrating the second day of the new year and now he was back in the hospital. Boredom already threatened with every second he was starting to feel better. Sure, he was tired, because battling the infection took it out of him, but other than that, he was fine. Surely, it was the painkillers talking. Something about pride and a fall.
"I love you, Ri," Gary said and gave her hand a squeeze.
Ariana gathered the bag and headed back down to the hospital. It was a slow drive for the most part and uneventful as she parked up and eyed the facility. Her mind was still buzzing a million miles per hour and she knew she would have to ground herself because the last thing she wanted was Gary worrying for her while he should be resting. She should have known something was wrong. She sighed out a little as she exited the car and grabbed the bag, heading inside. Trekking the halls from memory proved to be an expedition as she eventually found his ward. She wasn’t much of a fan of a shared ward but at least his curtain were drawn so it was some privacy. Better than nothing she supposed. She could hear voices and she recognised Graham and Hannah’s tones immediately. She almost didn’t want to interrupt.
She slipped between the curtains quietly and set his bag down by his bag, giving a small smile in greeting. Her eyes swept to Gary and she eyed the wires and tubes going into him and cringed. She didn’t get the same comfort of it not being as serious just because others were around. It still didn’t feel quite so real yet.
“Hey.” She said, quietly. She sank into a spare chair, her back having a dull ache most likely from the up and downs of the day and her pregnancy. She figured her body was starting to shift to adjust to bringing new life into the world in six months. Gary looked relaxed and that was a relief, he looked calmer than he had the last twenty four hours and at least he was getting the treatment he needed.
“I just got some spare clothes, toothbrush, the usual.” Hopefully he wouldn’t be in for a long stay but if this was the best place to get him help then she would be patient with it all. Ariana hated to see him in hospital, it wasn’t natural and it unnerved her more than she wanted to admit. She looked to Hannah and Graham, offering up a smile to them in place of worries and concerns that they no doubt all shared. He was getting help, she had to remind herself. This was the best place for him to be no matter how much she disliked it. She would have to suck it up. If this kept him from going under the knife again, then she would absolutely prefer this.
Hannah carefully put down the phone and looked up at Graham. A questioning look masked his face.
"Gary has been admitted to hospital with an infection," she summarized Ariana's worries.
"A complication?" Graham asked, concerned now. Complications had a nasty habit of getting out of control quick.
"They caught it early, she said," Hannah explained
Hannah nodded. Graham cringed and sighed out. He got up to give his wife a hug and nodded at the door.
"We should be in time for visiting hours."
After a moment's thought, the older woman nodded. Loathe she admit, she was worried for her son and the only way to ease that discomfort was to see him. Graham knew her all to well sometimes.
People were buzzing about in the hospital. Hannah watched as her husband inquired after their son and what room he was located in. After a few minutes, he waved her towards one of the hallways and she followed, clutching her purse close. She disliked the hospital greatly. Too many people that were dear to her had lost their lives in this place.
Unlike before, Gary was on a shared ward this time around. The curtains were pulled up to offer him a sense of privacy and Gary seemed to be asleep. Hannah relaxed at the sight momentarily, because sure, there were wires running into his body, but he seemed to be comfortably resting and not in as much distress the way he'd been after the accident.
"Hey boy," Graham announced them and Hannah hushed him. Gary blinked his eyes open nonetheless and Graham offered the younger man a smile.
"Dad? Mom?" he breathed, smiled and lazily stretched out. "Did Ari call you?"
"She did," his mom confirmed and she took his hand, then pressed a kiss to his forehead. He felt warmer than he should be, if the blush high on his cheeks hadn't given it away already.
"You can't do anything the easy way, can you?" his father chastised him and Gary rolled his eyes. He meant it in jest, so Gary just let it. The older man took up perch in one of the plastic chairs and surveyed the room.
Just the presence of other patients made it feel like this time was less serious somehow.
"How are you feeling, sweetie?" Hannah asked softly and leaned against the side of the bed.
"It's not too bad," Gary replied honestly. After they'd put him on some stronger painkillers and the antibiotics, he wasn't feeling that bad. Even his stomach had calmed down considerably, though not to the point where he felt like eating yet.
"Where's Ri?" Gary asked after a moment's thought.
"She's getting you some things," his mother soothed Gary's concern.
"What do the doctors say?" Graham started.
"I don't know. Antibiotics are supposed to make it better. I've one of those ports in my leg," he motioned limply at the sheets. "I feel a little better," he said, something of hope in his voice. Then again, he'd been asleep for the majority of the day.
Ariana watched Gary, wordlessly because she still felt like somehow this whole mess was her fault. She ran her fingers over his head gently and she sighed out softly. The arrival of nurses and doctors took over whatever small comfort she could give him. Pain relief and then a doctor speaking with her.
“Another operation?” She looked a little stunned that something like that might be needed and she chewed her lip. Of course she was hearing the serious implications rather than focusing on the fact the pain relief and direct line of antibiotics would help him and hopefully avoid such a serious path. Bed bound. Ariana looked to Gary, he just looked vulnerable again and there was nothing she could do to help.
“Yeah, of course.” She answered robotically, as if trying to come to terms with everything that was going on.
She had to call his parents. Sort him a bag. Did she bring it back tonight or would she wait until tomorrow? Gary was resting, she figured she should sort as much as she could right then.
“I’ll come back with some of his things. I need to call his parents.” She said, not that the doctor cared about trivial things but it really helped her to say things out loud and clarify what was going on. She looked to Gary before thanking the doctor and heading out. The drive home was lonely, the house was lonely and Ariana felt empty. She didn’t know what Gary would need but she figured it was best to have it and not need it, right? Fresh clothes, loose enough to be comfortable in and his toothbrush were tossed into a duffel bag. Ariana caught a glimpse of her phone and she sighed.
Here goes nothing.
Ariana dialled up his parents and took a deep breath.
“Hey- Happy new year. Everything’s okay, sort of. Gary has an infection in his leg and the doctor said they caught it early. He’s back in hospital.” The words left her mouth in a torrent and she realised it probably sounded insensitive.
“Sorry. It just happened a bit fast. I’m heading back to drop some things off for him.” She apologised and finally hung up. This was honestly exhausting to her and she didn’t know where to start with everything. She sort of just looked around the kitchen and got herself a glass of water to quench whatever nerves were eating away at her. She glanced to the countertop and eyed the grey image of their growing infant and it was like a ticking time bomb. Six months if all went well and it seemed like such a short time away. She grabbed the duffel bag and rummaged through, making sure there was enough in case Gary did need to stay longer.
Ri was there at last. Gary looked at her, at the fragile smile she'd managed to put on for his sake and almost cringed. He wanted to tell Ariana that he'd be alright, that this was only a temporary setback, that they'd be fine and he'd be there for her and the baby both, but he couldn't. Ri knew, because she tried to reassure him that Sterling would be back soon with some results and most likely another dozen tests to take.
"Stop blaming yourself, Ri," Gary managed softly, and toyed listlessly with the plastic wire running into his arm. The fluids were cool inside his arm, evidently a slight touch colder than he was. "I should've just told you I wasn't feeling well," he sighed out and tried to sit up a little and gave up the next second.
"Worse than hungover anyway," Gary mumbled, more to himself than anyone in particular.
The fever was doing his head in. Thinking had been a little terse and troublesome before the whole infection happened, but now it felt like the fever was truly setting in and obscuring what little clarity he'd regained since that first hospital visit. No, no that wasn't entirely correct. There'd been several days right after the accident he actually didn't remember at all, so it was still better than all that.
The pain was insistent now, and Gary tried to shift in hopes of getting more comfortable and failed. If it really was his leg, which it showed all likelihood of being, he wouldn't be able to escape the pain by something as simple as taking on a different posture. Gary sighed and pushed his head back into the pillow, both hot and cold at the same time as well. Hospital beds really didn't match up to their marital nest back at home.
"How long do you think it's for?" Gary offered up.
"Should call people again..." he said and closed his eyes. If he'd had trouble replying to messages then, he was sure to have them now. None of that was going to happen, was it? Gary thought he'd slept for a little while then, or maybe dozed off, because next thing he knew, a nurse was there to hang up another bag. She started to lay out some supplies. Gary pulled a face.
"What's that for?" he asked sourly.
Doctor Sterling was there too, overseeing the whole affair apparently.
"Antibiotics," he replied simply. "The x-ray shows several small shadows, indicative of a budding infection, Mister Jenkins," the doctor explained as the nurse put on gloves and prepared several things. The sheets were removed to expose his upper leg. The nurse offered him some pills.
"For the pain," she said. Gary didn't hesitate to take those. The pain had become grating.
"We're going to administer the drug as close to the affected area as we can to improve its effectiveness. Since this batch will be the first in a score, we will install a central line in your leg to simplify your treatment," the doctor started and together with the nurse, set to work to do just that. Gary was drained after the whole procedure and so the doctor turned to Ariana.
"We should see an improvement after the first round of treatment and hopefully that will prevent the need for operatively dealing with the infection," he advised her. "We will know more tomorrow. For now, your husband is to remain bed-bound."
Ariana nodded to the doctor, feeling like everything was going a bit too fast and she desperately wanting to slam on the brakes to this coaster for a second so she could catch up and try to work out what questions she wanted to ask. An infection, results and the thought of Gary being alone in a hospital once again turned her stomach, clenching down like a knot.
“Thank you.” Was all she could manage even though she was sure she should have been asking more questions. She watched Gary with the nurse, feeling like she was on the outside looking in at a fish bowl of events. Ariana looked as lost as she felt in the moment, bundled into a coat and evidently stricken by the thought of Gary being cooped up once more. She glanced to Sterling when he gestured she could go with Gary and she followed along the halls and to the shared room. No privacy, Gary was sure to love that. She waited outside the curtains for the nurses to be done. The nurses and doctors were all so calm, so collected and sincere in their approach. It was easy to fall under the guise that everything really was fine, when in actual fact it was not.
In the moment of separation, she managed to straighten some thoughts. He would need stuff for overnight, or maybe longer than overnight but prayed to every God she knew that it was just one night. His parents would need to be informed as soon as she actually knew what was going on. When Ariana was allowed to invade the little curtained cave, she settled her soft smile in place. It wasn’t genuine, but she was trying to mask worry and concern. Her eyes flickered to the thin line that dripped fluids into him and then to his form in the bed. It was eerie how similar it looked. Ariana sank into the chair beside the bed, plastic and uncomfortable but she didn’t care to complain. How could she? At least she was with him, for how much longer she wasn’t sure.
“Sterling said your results won’t be long.” She said to him, breaking the small silence as she rubbed her temples.
“Sorry- I should’ve figured something wasn’t right.” She said to him quietly, feeling truly guilty and useless but her concern for her husband overpowered all of that. She was afraid, above everything else, she was really scared that the good news they had celebrated in their own way, would be the last good news they received. She wished he had a room to himself instead of flimsy curtain barriers, where the hum of life outside could still be heard. She felt foolish, and like a child stripped from their favourite thing. And as much as she wanted to be strong and she would truly try to be for him, she was vulnerable. She was pregnant and Gary had a broken leg along with a lingering concussion and now to top it all off, an infection festered somewhere within him.
"We won't know until we get the results and run some further tests," the doctor replied patiently. Said further tests were going to be run quicker than Gary would like to have them, undoubtedly and Sterling didn't envy Gary's affliction. For a moment Mrs Jenkins was distracted by Gary, who had by now opened his eyes and was slowly coming to grips with the waking world. An overnight bag, yes, most likely. The doctor nodded with a smile and waited for the younger woman to bring order to the storm of thoughts preoccupying her mind right then.
"That seems consistent to the diagnosis. We'll take good care of your husband, Mrs Jenkins," the doctor reassured Ariana. A nurse came in, and she leaned over Gary, who was by then already somewhat awake.
"Has the doctor told you we're keeping you here for a while?" she asked gently.
Gary tried to find Ri's gaze, but it was obscured by the nurse and Gary took a deep breath. "I'm not surprised," he said at long last. The nurse was already coaxing him to sit up, hinting at the wheelchair that was readied up for him. Unlike before, when he'd come in through the trauma-bay, there was a strange calm about the medical team helping him this time.
Gary sat up and hopped from the bed to the chair with the nurse's aid.
Doctor Sterling put a heavy hand to his shoulder.
"I will come by as soon as the results are in," he promised. Gary nodded and blinked, caught by the speed with which the appointment had taken this unexpected turn.
"Ri?" Gary started, and the nurse paused for a moment. He didn't need whatever she was thinking of doing. Right now, he just wanted her to be there. Gary felt lost in a way his recovering brain couldn't quite deal with yet.
"Come along, I'll show you where the room is," the nurse said with a smile. Alice, her name turned out to be, when Gary did finally manage to focus on the name-tag for long enough. Her brown hair was trapped in a ponytail and her smile was sincere.
The doctor nodded that it was okay for Ariana to join her husband.
"We'll have the results in shortly, Mrs Jenkins," he told her and smiled reassuringly. Hopefully antibiotics would suffice in doing in the infection, if that was what it was. After suffering the open bone fracture in his leg however, there was hardly any doubt where Gary's infection was coming from.
Unlike before, the room was shared with several others. Gary was wheeled up to a bed and the nurse helped him remove his shoe, before she closed the curtains and brought out some scrubs. They wouldn't do anything to hide his modesty, but they'd make examining their patient a lot easier.
Another nurse stepped in to the privacy of the shielded off bed as Gary was settling in and took his temperature. Gary was just glad to be lying down, frankly, and let them fuss. Soon there was a male nurse, explaining slowly that he was going to hook him up to some liquids in preparation of the antibiotics he was supposed to be taking soon. It'd help bring his fever down as well, hopefully.
Ariana watched as Gary was poked and prodded, feeling as helpless as ever as she fidgeted slightly. Of course she wasn’t allowed to follow to the X-ray and so she waited, what else could she do? Hospitals had become the bearer of bad news lately, save for fluttering and strong heart of the infant she carried and she chewed at her bottom lip. Nerves were not something she dealt readily with, as time had proven over the past year. Sterling was calm and collected though, she could admit that much and it was reassuring to her to know at least someone was calm within the turmoil.
She looked to Gary when he returned and then to Doctor Sterling as he spoke. Infection? From where? She looked over to Gary, a glimmer of worry rife in her eyes as she swallowed thickly. And they didn’t know what sort of infection either, so was it serious or not?
“Is it serious?” She managed to ask, although the words fell from her lips and it was like she couldn’t hear herself saying them. Her eyes went back to Sterling. An infection would explain Gary’s discomfort and his snappy attitude and she almost felt bad for getting irritated with him. She knew how bad infections could get and it sent of alarm bells in her head like nothing else. She sank a little further in the chair and kept her attention as focused as she could. Questions flooded her mind and she wasn’t sure where to start without sounding like a bubbling mess. Was he going to be okay?
Eerily it felt like they were back to square one with Gary in hospital and she had awful déjà vu of him after the accident, stuck in a hospital bed and not knowing what would happen and he had been vulnerable. Perhaps he still was vulnerable and Ariana had overlooked all of that, passing it off as a hangover.
“I should get him an overnight bag.” She said, her thoughts transpiring to out loud words. And then his parents would need to know but somehow ‘Happy new year, your son is in hospital again’ didn’t seem right. She steadied the train that was her thoughts and let her eyes rest on Gary. Maybe going out at New Years was a bad decision. Then again she knew she couldn’t let this chew away at her like a disease.
“He hasn’t eaten.” She said to the doctor,
“Barely drank much for the past couple of days.” She added as an afterthought, realising she was perhaps rambling more than she intended to at that point.
It'd be alright. Gary wanted to believe that, but he didn't have the energy to care right then. The receptionist called out his name and gestured down the hallway for them to go to room three. Pride forsaken, Gary allowed Ri to help him up out of the seat, but he pushed on to get himself into the examination room as good and bad as he could. Inside, the doctor was already tapping away at something on his screen. Gary sank down with a grimace, which got him the man's attention.
"Mister Jenkins," he greeted and Gary freed a hand from his crutch to shake the man's hand.
"Sterling, right?" Gary ventured. The man who'd done the surgery on him.
Doctor Sterling smiled at Gary and nodded, "good of you to remember," he complimented. "You were done in pretty badly by your concussion when we met." The doctor gave Gary a keep look, suspicion rising.
Gary just smiled wanly.
"Why don't we start your checkup?" Sterling offered and gestured at the examination table. Gary rolled his eyes and clambered back to a stand to sit down on the table. The doctor took his crutches and motioned for Gary to sit up straight. Warm hands felt underneath his jaw, then shifted to take his pulse.
Gary nodded faintly, "my leg," he said softly.
A nod. A thermometer was pushed at his ear and beeped a second or two later. Sterling had a serious expression on his face.
"Any other symptoms? Headaches? Nausea?"
"Nausea," Gary had to admit.
Sterling nodded, a suspicion rising up. He sighed deeply and gestured at the bed. "Lay back down," Sterling offered, felt around his cast leg and returned to the computer to type some things in. Gary couldn't help it, but resting back on the bed was a cold relief after his leg was finally left alone
"I think it's time we get a picture taken of your leg," Sterling started, "I'll have a nurse bring around a wheelchair." He then started to get out some supplies, amongst which a needle. Gary glanced at the items with only mild curiosity.
"And I'll need to take a sample of your blood," the doctor explained. "Just to rule out some of what might make you feel under the weather." After a few minutes, Sterling walked away with a vial of his blood and Gary rested back holding a cotton ball against his exposed vein. A nurse came in to take the sample and had left behind a wheelchair. Gary felt like time was doing that thing again, whereby seconds became minutes and minutes turned to seconds. Tracking time was an arduous chore, so he gave up. Soon, he found himself in the wheelchair, being carted off to radiology.
Taking the pictures didn't take long. He was admonished to lay still, but Gary wouldn't think twice about moving if he didn't have to. After a few minutes, he was wheeled back to the examination room, which had since grown devoid of one doctor Sterling. The nurse helped him back on the examination table and made sure he was reasonably comfortable. The wait was on.
Gary was pretty sure he'd fallen asleep somewhere, because next he knew, doctor Sterling was there, talking to a nurse. Ri was there too. It'd gotten warmer since he'd arrived.
"We're going to keep your husband over night," doctor Sterling told Ariana. "Unfortunately my suspicions appear founded, which means to say Gary has an infection," he explained. "It seems we caught it relatively early. I will consult with the radiologist and as soon as the blood-cultures may tell us what type of infection we're dealing with, we will decide on what steps to take next."
Ariana followed Gary's path, offering small gestures of help where she could and where he accepted them but given his mood earlier, she didn't dare to push it. She glanced to him as he asked which doctor and she shrugged, not knowing in all honesty. Radiology, that was bones and things.
"I'm not sure." She said to him softly, not wanting to be too harsh or bold in her voice. She got the feeling she was just getting on his nerves today and it was only natural, she supposed. She settled beside him in the seat and eyed the immaculately clean floors and she could smell the disinfectant. At least Gary had thrown up the tea and she was grateful for that, and she was sure he was too. She was nervous and it was a dead giveaway as she fiddled aimlessly with the hem of her coat, not feeling the heat the same way as Gary, evidently.
Ariana shifted her gaze to her husband.
"It'll be alright." She said quietly, comforting him as best she could but she was still nervous, she was still walking on eggshells around him. She could deal with him being irritable at her and snapping at her, but it didn't mean it cut any less though. She finally let go of the hem, letting the fabric drop back into place as she eyed the nurses and doctors scurrying from this place to that, chatting and smiling. It was strange to her and if she had any say in the matter she would much prefer to have their child somewhere different. But that wasn't her call. That choice had been removed from her. She didn't get a say anymore and instead it would be doctors and nurses and clinical smells, but if it meant bringing living and breathing life into this world then so be it.
Ariana closed her eyes and just straightened her thoughts. However, her head snapped up and her eyes flashed open when a sweet little receptionist gestured.
"Jenkins. Room 3, down the hall on your right." She said it like it was the stairway to heaven and Ariana stood, helping Gary and looking down the corridor. It had to be positive news right? Ariana held the door for Gary before following him in and sitting down opposite the doctor who was tapping away at his screen.
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