The machines were all beeping and showing red squiggly lines as the lady sat in the chair beside the bed. She was holding tightly onto the hand of her daughter, who was hooked up to the machines. There were tears running down her cheeks, but she made no effort to stop them, other than a swipe with the back of her hand every once in a while.
“Oh, Mallie,” She cried. “Why did this have to happen to you?” She gazed at her beautiful daughter, whose face was bruised from the accident. Malinda had been riding her scooter home from class at the college, when a car came around a corner and hit her. The young boy, who had been driving the car, failed to see the scooter until it was too late. The boy was not hurt, but Malinda was in a coma. The doctors were doing a series of tests to see how badly she was hurt. So far there was nothing conclusive.
The nurse came into the room to check on the machines. She looked at Dana Wilson sitting by her daughter’s side, holding her hand, and silently crying. She shook her head. She felt very sorry for Mallie’s mother. It is always harder on the parents, especially when an accident takes them by surprise. She quietly put a hand on the mother’s shoulder.
“Mrs. Wilson, why don’t you take a short break? You can walk around, maybe go down to the cafeteria and get something to eat.” The nurse encouraged.
“No, I am fine.” Dana sat up straighter to prove she was alright. She was feeling every one of her forty-six years at that moment.
The nurse sighed, but didn’t press her.
“If you need anything let me know,” she replied.
“Thank you, I will.” Dana replied.
After the nurse left, Dana started thinking about the life she and Mallie had lived. It was just the two of them and it had been that way for the last ten years, since the death of her husband, Mallie’s father. He had the bad luck to fall off a pile of lumber at the lumber yard where he was working. He fell in front of an advancing forklift and was run over. He died later at the hospital of internal injuries. Even with the insurance money, it had been a struggle to make it sometimes. Dana was an office manager at a local real estate office. Bob Jenkins, the owner of the real estate firm, understood about Dana taking time off to be with Mallie. He always gave her time off when she asked for it. Mallie had helped out. She worked part time babysitting after school. Money had been tight at times, but they always made it, and Mallie was in her last year of nursing training. At twenty-two she was ready to start her life. She had to pull through. Dana could not stand the idea of going on without her daughter.
“Mallie, you have to hear me. I am not going to let you go. Hang on and come back to me.” Dana gave Mallie’s hand a squeeze and kept talking to her softly.
The door to Mallie’s room eased open. Bob Jenkins peeped into the room. Dana looked up, startled.
“Bob,” she exclaimed. “What are you doing here?”
Bob flushed slightly. He came forward and handed a large bouquet of flowers to Dana.
“I wanted to check and see how Mallie was doing,” he responded.
“There has been no change,” Dana sighed and looked at her boss. “It was very nice of you to come by. How are things going at the office?”
“Well,” Bob looked down at Dana. He tried to hide the feelings he had for her, but he was sure they showed on his face. He had been trying to work up the courage to ask her out for a while. Bob was a rather shy person and he was afraid she would turn him down. Her whole world was tied up in her daughter, a daughter, who was now lying in a hospital bed on life support. They had no idea when or if she would wake up. “We are doing the best we can, but we miss you like crazy.” He saw the look in her eyes at this statement and hurried to reassure her. “Don’t worry, we will be fine. You take as much time as you need until Mallie gets better.”
Dana smiled at him gratefully. “Thank you, Bob.” She got up from the bedside and gave him a quick hug. She flushed slightly and hurried back to Mallie’s bedside.
“Well,” Bob stammered as he also flushed. “I’ll see you later. Let me know how Mallie is doing.”
“I will,” agreed Dana. “Thank you for coming by and for the flowers.”
“You’re welcome. Take care.” Bob turned and left the room.
Dana gazed after him thoughtfully. She had been attracted to him for a while, but she had no idea how he felt about her. She turned back to Mallie. She had no business thinking about Bob now. Mallie had to be her top priority.
* * *
Two doors down the hall was a young man, also in a coma. A twenty-six-year-old lawyer, only recently hired at a law firm, he had suffered an aneurysm and had collapsed three days earlier. His parents were taking turns staying at his bedside. Today was his mother's turn. She was talking softly to him,trying to get a response.
“Daniel Grey, you listen to me. It is not like you to just lie there. You are a fighter. Find your way back to us. I know you can do it. Don’t give up. Come back to us, Son.” Mary bowed her head as she prayed for her son’s recovery.
* * *
The young man was walking down the beach. There was sand and water as far as the eye could see. He continued on, strolling slowly, enjoying the feel of sunshine on his face. In the distance he could see a girl sitting staring out across the water. She was just sitting there looking out at the water and didn’t seem to be aware of his approach. He didn’t want to startle her so he spoke while still some distance away from her.
“Hi,” he called.
The girl looked his way, but she didn’t look startled. She just stared at him and watched him approach.
“My name is Daniel Grey. I haven’t seen you here before. I have been here for the last few days and the place has been deserted.”
“I’m Mallie Wilson. This is the first time I have been here. It is a beautiful place, so quiet and peaceful.” Mallie sighed and looked back out over the water.
“Do you want me to go?” Daniel asked, “I don’t want to disturb you.”.
“No, I am glad to have someone to talk to. It can get lonely sometimes.” Mallie smiled at Daniel. He smiled back and took a seat beside her to gaze out over the water as they talked.
“Do you live around here?” asked Daniel.
“Yes,” replied Mallie. “I live here in Denton. I am taking a nurses training course at the local college. I was on my way home from class when I was hit by a car. I am in a coma at the local hospital. I can hear my mother talking to me and it just breaks my heart when I can’t respond to her. She sounds so sad.” Mallie laid her head on her drawn up legs and fought to control her tears.
Daniel put an arm around Mallie’s shoulder to comfort her.
“I know what you mean, I am in the hospital, too. I had an aneurysm while at work and I am in a coma, too. I have been in a coma for three days. I can hardly stand hearing my mom and dad begging me to wake up.” Daniel sighed, heavily.
“Do they have you hooked up to a bunch of machines?” Mallie asked.
“Yeah, it almost drives me crazy listening to all those machines. The only thing worse would be if they turned them off. That is scary. I don’t know what would happen then.” Daniel shuddered as he imagined being without the help of the machines.
“Yeah, I know what you mean.” Mallie rose to her feet. “I guess I need to get back and check on Mom. Do you want to walk back with me?” she asked.
“Sure,” replied Daniel, rising to his feet. He took Mallie’s hand and they continued to talk as they walked slowly back up the beach. Mallie told him about her father’s accident and subsequent death.
“It must have been tough,” Daniel replied. “I can’t imagine being without either of my parents. They sometimes drive me crazy, but it is good to know they are there when I need them. They must be going through torture now. Mom called my sister. She and her husband will be coming. She tried to reach my brother but he is in the Marines. All she could do was leave a message for him. I am glad my sister is going to be here for my mom. Dad tries, but he is just not an outgoing person. I know he feels things deeply, but he just doesn’t seem able to express himself. I know my parents love each other. This is so hard on them.”
“I don’t have any brothers or sisters. It is just me and my Mom. My mom has been through a lot. It has been just the two of us for the last ten years since my dad died. She has always been there for me. I know my accident has to be awful for her.” Mallie sighed heavily as she turned to Daniel. “Thanks for walking back with me. I had better go in now. Will I see you tomorrow?”
Daniel gazed into her face with a smile. “Yeah, I’ll be here. It will be good to see a friendly face.” He gave her hand a quick squeeze before releasing it. “Bye.”
“Bye,” Mallie replied as she disappeared.
Daniel disappeared also, returning to his body and the sound of the machines and his mother’s prayers.
Mallie listened as her mother prayed for her recovery. She struggled to let her mother know she could hear her. She wanted to reassure her, but she could not make herself understood, she could not get through. It broke her heart that her mother had to suffer so.