“Oh father…” Laura whispered as tears fell from her eyes, falling on the overall nylon apron she had on. She stood before the bed looking at the semblance of a man lying on the bed. Mark Johnson was wrapped all through in towels from head to toe. Only his eyes, nose and mouth were exposed with oxygen attached to the nostrils. Laura’s hand stuck out brushing against the towel cautiously. She wanted to hold his hand, even if it was wrapped with towel. But she was not sure, she was not sure if it would cause him pain and if anything, she didn’t want anything that would give him more pain than he was feeling now. “Oh father…” she whispered again amidst tears. She was lost on what to say. “I am sorry… I am so sorry… I never meant it” she swallowed. “Everything I said to you, I was just upset, and I never meant them, never! I love you father… I love you very much… and I don’t want to lose you” she raised her hand to wipe off her tears. The nylon covering her hand brushed at her cheek.
“I can’t lose you, father. You have always been my father even when I didn’t know it. I forgive you for everything you did to my mum, I forgive you for everything just please… don’t leave me.” She swallowed. “I need you to weave my hair, to apply my make-up, to listen to me when I talk, to hold me when I laugh… I need you… I need you now more than ever dad… please… please live; for me, for Tito, for everyone.” Her lips trembled and she moved restlessly. “The doctors are saying there is no hope but I know there is because you are going to fight this” her voice shook. “You are a fighter, you thought me how to fight and that’s how I know you are going to fight this”
Laura lifted her hand to touch Mark’s head and nearly jumped when she heard a voice. “Time up” a nurse called from the door.
“One more minute, please” Laura pleaded.
Unrelenting, the nurse opened the door wider. “You were given two minutes, you’ve spent three. You need to leave, it is for his good”
Laura took a deep breath, looking back at Mark. “I’d be back, father. I love you”
Tito pushed into the room with her heart racing in her chest. The overall nylon apron she wore made her steps a little weird but she knew it was not just the overall. Seeing her father for the first time ever since she heard of the accident was making her panicky. Her eyes went to the bed as she moved closer, her heart increasing in pace. The heady stench of blood was heightened, nervous veins stretched out her arms but she would not let her phobia deter her this time. Despite the fact that she had done everything to keep him away, Chris had stayed back. He only stayed because of Laura, she had told herself. No idiot could miss the concerned love-struck look he always gave Laura. But a small voice had told her that he was worried about her, the voice which had echoed in her head when he had tried to follow her, saying she shouldn’t be left alone. His concern touched her but she wasn’t about to do away with her time alone with her father.
She stared at the form on the bed, rolling her eyes from the wrapped head to the equally wrapped feet. “You sure look dressed up” she croaked out through patched voice. Her voice was thick with emotions. She wasn’t a cry baby, Laura was, but tears had been the highlight of her day. Tito found a small space on the bed and sat to keep her legs from shaking. She ran her hand lightly over the towels that housed her dad and blinked at her tears. “It is surely different from your usual clothes but… at least, you are covered, right?” her voice shook. She was rambling. She raised her hand to her lips to stop their trembling. “Oh dad…” she teared up, unable to stop herself. “I hate seeing you like this. You’re not talking, you are not moving, you are not even looking at me” she pushed to her feet, she was becoming restless and she had to mentally caution herself to calm down. Her restlessness was not going to help her dad any more than it could help her.
“You know I picked out some clothes for you, so like it or not, you are going to have to change out of these towels.” She nodded at the body with a familiar glint in her eyes. “And that means you are going to have to wake up. You are going to wake up right?” she bit her shivering lips. “I know you are probably tired of me and my problems and are enjoying this break but… I need you” tears dropped from her eyes. “I need you so much, dad. And I am sorry for the times you have needed me and I have not been there. I am sorry for the years that I wasn’t patient enough to listen to you. I wish I had known… dad, I wish you had told me about her… about… Gloria. I wish I could have been there for you, dad” she touched the padded hand. “I don’t care about whatever you have done. All I know is that I love you and I am not leaving you.”
She sat back on the edge of the bed. Talking was making it easy for her. “So yes, you are stuck with me. I am not going to let you take the easy way out like Daniel and Ken did, I won’t” she shook her head against the memories. “I might just lose my mind. So… like always, I need you dad… I need you to stay alive and keep me sane. I can’t lose you too dad… I just…”
The door flung open and Tito’s head snapped backwards.
“Time up” the nurse said from the door, looking indifferent.
Tito looked back to her dad raising her nylon covered hand to wipe the residues of tears on her face. “I’m not done yet”
“You’ve overstayed already. You have to leave now”
“You would not be the one to dictate to me how long I stay with my father, do you understand?” Tito glared at the nurse over her shoulder.
The nurse took some steps in. “I understand how you feel but it is best for your father to be left alone now to speed up his recovery”
“What do you mean? My father just went through a horrid experience, you people have him here wrapped in crap with only weird machines to keep him company and you think he wants to be left alone?” Tito glared at the nurse while trying to moderate her voice, keep it as low as possible.
The nurse looked impatient. “It is not about what he wants; it is what’s good for…”
“Okay listen” Tito cut in as she pushed to her feet and served the nurse an eyeful of her fury. She glanced at the top of the woman’s chest. “Felicia. It is Felicia, right?”
The nurse nodded.
“Alright, it seems we would be spending some time together, so we might as well get off on the right foot. Here is the deal; I stand by whoever I love through thick and thin and if you tamper with someone I love, you can have the worst kind of enemy in me. So, if you people think you’d subject my dad to solitude till you slowly drag him to his predicted demise, you’d better think again.”
“Yes, your wide-eyed doctor was only short of telling us to commence burial plans. So, here is how it goes. I am not about to leave this room, so you can either leave this room now and let me have more time with my dad or you win for yourself a formidable enemy. It’s up to you”
The nurse shifted. The glint in Tito’s eyes must have told her that she was not bluffing as she weighed the options. “I’d give you five more minutes” she finally said as she turned.
“I’d take ten” Tito answered, turning to her unconscious father.
***** Gloria stepped into the room amidst tears and all but rushed towards the bed. Her tears ran down her face as she stared at the slightly bruised face of her husband. Frank was not padded all through like she heard Mark was. Frank’s legs were padded; there was a small plaster on his head and on some other places. “Oh Frank… what have I done?” she cried. “I should not have called you… if I did not call you, maybe…” she shook her head. “None of this would have happened”
There was enough room on the bed, so she sat down. “But you would get better, right?” she caressed Frank’s pale cheek. “You have to. There is so much I need to tell you, darling… I have been lying to you, Frank… there is so much you need to know” her eyes watered and tears slipped down her face as her lips shook. “I found my daughter, Frank…” she whispered amidst tears. “I found our daughter… our baby…” she smiled. “Our Tinuke…”
“He suffered severe injuries during the accident, hit his head pretty hard, his legs were severely wounded, even had some fractures here and there, not to mention the shreds of glasses that pierced through so many parts of his body. He is strong; I’d give him that because I am really surprised that he is still alive now”
Deolu and Gloria stared at the doctor who sat at the other end of the table, looking about as emotional as a dry log of wood. The doctor removed the recommended glass over his eyes and dropped it with a clink on the table. He gave them a nonchalant stare. “That’s very reassuring” Gloria muttered drily.
“I am just saying it as it is” the doctor responded.
Deolu tapped his feet in impatience. The doctor was tugging at the reigns of his patience. “And how is it? You are trying to say there is no hope for them?”
“No. I have stayed long enough in this profession to know there is no hopeless case where miracles exist, but that would not stop me from preparing you for eventualities. I don’t want to get your hopes up.” He paused, picking up his glass again as he looked into a document on the table. “But the other one seems to have more chances though.”
“Frank?” Gloria shifted.
The doctor glanced at her over the rim of her glass. “Who’s that? Oh yes…” a small smile appeared on his face, transforming him a little. Deolu thought he was better off with the permanent scowl. “… They both look the same. Frank is the one on the passenger’s seat, right?”
“Yes, what about him”
“His wounds are not so fatal. He is actually in a medically induced coma to suppress the pain until it is a lot bearable for him. He should be fine in a couple of weeks”
“Weeks” Deolu repeated.
The doctor removed his glass with a little frown. “Yes. Weeks”
It was already dark and almost everyone had made rounds, visiting Mark and Frank. Though neither was conscious enough to hear whatever they had to say, they still spoke to them anyways, hoping that somehow, they could hear. After they refused to leave, Deolu and Chris had gone to get the ladies something to eat.
Laura walked over to where Jane sat. She sat by her side and put her arms around her, giving her a small squeeze. “You should see him” Laura whispered.
“I have seen uncle. He still looks sexy”
Laura smiled a little. “And dad?”
Jane sighed, looking at her lap. She looked so young, Laura wished she wasn’t so big, she wanted to hold her in her arms and rock her on her lap like she always did when she was a lot smaller. “I don’t think he wants to see me”
“Sure he does.”
Jane shrugged. “And what do I say to him? I barely know the man even though I have known him all my life. Many times, I think he even forgets I am his daughter”
“You don’t mean that”
“He has never remembered my birthday. Ever!” She shook her head. “If I go in there, I surely would not have anything to say to him. He blames me for mother’s death” she said bitterly and Laura shook her head. “She died shortly after giving birth to me, right. Maybe it’s my fault. I killed her”
Laura swallowed. She pulled her sister closer to the circle of her arms and kissed her head. It wasn’t the right time to tell her about all she had found out. But Laura could not lie either. She remembered vividly that Frank had almost never checked on the child and she had almost singlehandedly raised Jane. But there was that time, that night she had seen Frank staring at Jane in her cradle as she slept late in the night. “Don’t say that. He loves you. He might not show it but I know he does” she pulled back and smiled at Jane. “And I know you love him too”
Jane looked away. “I am incapable of hate”
Laura smiled and sighed. “We’d all be alright”
“Las las” Jane grinned and Laura chuckled. Jane had a way of making her better. She was like the child she never had.
“That reminds me. You said you had something to tell me when you called. What is it?”
Jane blushed and shifted. “Not now. This is not the right setting for good news.”
Laura groaned. “You enjoy tormenting me, right?”
Jane grinned. “That’s the idea”
Laura looked up as she heard raised voices. Frowning, she stood and walked towards the two women who faced each other.
Tito’s eyes blazed as she faced Teju. “What is going on?” Laura asked.
Tito nodded at Teju, looking at Laura. “She wants to see dad”
Laura turned her eyes to Teju. Teju had been there for a long time, hovering in the background and amidst the worries, Laura never gave her presence much thought. It seemed a little odd that Teju would want to see the person she claimed raped her. A lot odd, actually. She had a bad feeling about this. “For what?”
Teju shifted. “Please, I just need to see him. I just need five minutes”
“The hospital gives two” Tito said haughtily.
Teju nodded. “I’d take it”
“You are taking nothing. I am ‘not’ letting you see my father” Tito emphasized.
Laura stared at Teju for a prolonged moment before she returned her gaze to Tito. Tito read the look in Laura’s eyes. “Oh no, Laura, don’t think you can convince me” she was already resolute.
Laura rolled her eyes, facing Tito squarely. “Tits, c’mon”
And that was enough to convey the message. Tito saw the look in Laura’s eyes. Tito glared at Teju and moved out of her way. “Try anything funny, you have me to answer to”
Teju could not begin to think about the wordless exchange between Tito and Laura, she had been given the chance to see Mark alone and that’s all that mattered. “Thank you” she muttered and quickly rushed towards a nurse.
Tito watched Teju follow the nurse and glanced at Laura. “So what now?”
Laura smiled. “We follow”
Tito’s eyes lit up. “I see why we are sisters”
Sorry I didnt post yesterday. I apologise. The next episode would be on Saturday. See you then. Love.