A Life for a Life.....Short Story
A short story ...A mother faces a choice of moral judgement bigger then she can imagine ....
this piece of creative writing is a lot longer then others that I have posted, but i am considering entering it into a writing competition so please don't hesitate to comment,
Bursting through the hospital doors, I raced alongside of the gurney that wheeled her fragile blood covered body into an emergency bay. Her small fingers slipping from my grip as a nurse held me back. The white curtain closing me off from the sight of her but not from the horrifying sounds as the trauma team moved around the steel bed. Stifling my sob behind my fist, I shuddered, brushing the nurse away as she tried to tend to the cut on my forehead. Leaving me to pace restlessly, after I snapped at her , the pain in my head and back was nothing compared to the severe head and chest wounds my daughter had received when the four-wheeled drive had ploughed over my small hatchback.
Trying my husband’s number for what felt was the hundredth time, I could have burst into tears when it clicked straight over to voice mail. The doctors fevered orders as he rallied the nurses to action, the terse, stressed words, telling me more than the orders themselves. My little girl was dying, and I couldn't even hold her hand. Where was he?
Swinging around, I moved out of the way as the doors burst open again as another trauma team raced in, Working quickly as they moved the man into the emergency bay, next to my daughter.
Staring at the ambulance men relaying information to the doctor working on him, I didn't need to see anything of him, to know who their patient was. It was his reckless driving that was the reason my baby girl may never smile at me again. Sucking in a harsh breath, my whole body started shaking. My daughter may never do anything again. The pain growing tighter around my heart, at the very thought, with every second that passed agonizing as I waited.
Glaring at the sheet covered toes; I never hated anything so much in my life until this moment. The emotion so strong it took me a moment to identify what I was feeling. Pure hate, I didn't need to know anything about the man that slammed into us to hate him with every part of me.
I didn't care if he had a family, wife or child. He was only a monster to me.
The curtain around his bed was drawn tightly as a male nurse gave me an odd look. Whatever pain he was feeling he deserved and more. Maybe I would feel guilty about such unchristian thoughts later, but at this moment I couldn't imagine it.
The frantic sounds of action behind her curtain, chasing the hate away, replacing it with crushing fear,
“Let surgery know she can’t wait any longer, I’m sending her now!”
Surgery? My angel was only seven years old, the whole thought of it making my stomach lurch, as the doctor approached me. The consent forms in hand, his face serious as he went over what they had to do. She had internal bleeding, and pressure on the brain. They didn't have the time to wait.
Her head was no bigger than the hand I used to shakily sign my name, and they where going to drill into it. with a reassuring smile, that did nothing to stop the sense of growing dread as I watched as the doctor hurried away.
“Ma’am?,” Turning around I stared at the young officer who looked no older then my seventeen year old brother, His face full of sympathy as he approached.
“We need to talk to you about the accident, there are some things...”
“Oh please god not now” blinking back the tears, I shook my head. It was too much. “She is about to go into surgery, can't this please wait” my whole world seemed to hang on the small suddenly fragile thread that was my daughter’s life, thinking past that was impossible.
The sound of the doctor’s frantically working on the monster filled my ears, the machine powering up as they shocked his heart. Following the gurney, my eyes glued to her face, so pale, the blood around her creating a stark horrifying image that would stay with me forever. I couldn't help but wish that God would punish this man for what he had done to my daughter. Even though I knew it didn't work that way. Today I was a bad enough person to wish it did.
Left alone in a sterile room surrounded by pictures of cute kittens and babies wearing pumpkin hats I prayed. Sitting with my head in my hands, my phone on my lap, feeling so helpless I prayed.
More begging and bargaining then praying. Promising him everything from selling my worldly belongs for the poor to taking me instead, oh why couldn't it have been me instead? But it wasn't me and all I had left to do was make deals. With a god I hadn't spoken to since I left my parents home.
“He can’t help you”
Startling at the deep masculine voice, I jerked my head up. Sitting beside me was the most non-descript person imaginable, nothing about him stood him out, yet everything about him screamed different. Looking at the closed door, I frowned I hadn't heard him come in, and I was sure the room had been empty. Meeting his eyes I was frozen to my chair.
Ordinary eyes that seemed to hold all the answers, but when his hand rested on mine I shivered at the contact, moving away.
“Your God is a believer in choice; he won’t interfere in the outcome of someone else’s choice”
“You don’t know that”
“She will die”
A shiver of premonition ran down my spine at the finality of his words, as if he had just sealed my daughter’s fate.
“The doctors...” I started
“Are only human” his voice carrying easily over mine, “Pray to your god and she will die”
Moving away from him, I stood to my feet not wanting to hear any more of his words, the agony of his truth threatening to cripple me.
“Yet the man, who did this, will survive. He recovers now as we speak while her life slips away, when you have her funeral he will be surrounded by his family”
Gritting my teeth I stared at the posters of the kitten hanging from the tree branch. We all know that seconds after the picture was taken, kitty fell.
He let the silence between us stretch for a few moments.
“Doesn’t have to be that way”
Whoever this man was he was crazy, not all there, he was unnerving me enough that if I was to see a police man or hell even a nurse I would report him.
“I feel sorry for you and your daughter, such a beautiful talent to lose so early”
Staring at the door that the doctor would come through I couldn't help the tear that slipped down my face, as I tried to ignore his velvet voice, biting my lip I closed my eyes. Dear god what if she didn’t make it, the very thought of laying her small body in a coffin was enough to make me gasp as the terrifying imagine filled my imagination.
“No parent should bury their child”
“Shut up!” if only he would be quiet then maybe I could think, checking my phone to see if Jonathan had gotten any of my frantic messages, I groaned at the empty screen. The battery had finally gone dead.
“What if he died so she lived?”
Turning around slowly to look at him, not sure that I had heard him correctly.
His face serious as he looked at me, his intense eyes meeting mine as he spoke,
“A life for a life”
“She has her whole life to live, an innocent that you can still protect.”
Shaking his head he got up, adjusting the dull brown jacket he was wearing. “It’s not fair” stopping in front of me he smiled, “But you can change it”
Crossing my arms, and stepping back a little, my heart beating faster in my chest. I don't know why I believed what he was saying, but something deep inside of me knew with absolute certainty that my little Emily was dying and there was nothing I could do about it.
“No-one has the power to do what you promise”
“Unlike others, I don't ask you to believe, before you ask. The truth as they say is in the pudding”
My whole body tingling with goose bumps, as I stared at him.
“You don't have much time,” picking up a magazine from the small coffee table behind me he settled back into his chair. Flicking it opened he stretched his legs out comfortably in front of him
“Your daughter dies he lives. He dies and Emily lives. Think fast mommy dearest”
Moments before the car had hit us, Emily had been babbling away about her day in school, and I hadn't heard a word, too busy being angry over the fact that her father wasn't going to make it to her recital. Again.
Too upset for her, to pay attention to her.
My last words to her, telling her to be quiet, as my phone had rung. Ignoring my husband’s call, Heknew I was driving, taking my hand of the wheel to turn the phone off, not even willing to hear the excuse filled message that I was sure he would leave.
It was then the four wheel drive had hit us. I hadn't even seen it cross over the lane of traffic to slam into the side of us before I had a chance to look up. The metal of my car crumbling like a tin can under the weight of the much heavier vehicle. My daughters scream still echoing in my ears as I nodded, before I was really aware of having agreed to his deal.
“A life for a life” I whispered my lips trembling. “Save my daughter”
Sitting up he smiled at me gently. “Don't worry anymore, he will die and she will live”
Not sure what to think I watched him walk calmly out, sinking into a chair my whole body shaking, nothing about the last 15 minutes seemed real, like a nightmare within a nightmare.
The waiting room seemed to grow hot then cold as I waited till finally the surgeon opened the door. His face strange, as he made his way to me,
“Your daughter is quite the fighter” his opening statement sending me into his arms as I laughed and cried. Hugging the older man, who eventually patted me awkwardly on my back before stepping away.
Using the words miracle, and amazing to describe the surgery. Reassuring me again and again that she was alive and in recovery waiting for me.
“I’m sorry” wiping my eyes with the cuff of my torn jacket I smiled at him “And you’re sure there will be no permanent damage?”
He hesitated before falling back on what they taught all doctors to say. “Nothing is certain, Mrs Lambart, but there is good reason to hope”
Nodding to myself I followed him out, my fear sliding out of me as he led me to her room.
She lay on the bed her face as white as chalk; taking her hand I kissed her fingertips lightly as I sat beside her. Her soft red hair missing on one side of her head, the bandages that swaddled her, making her seem even smaller in the large steel bed.
But to me she never looked better, Watching the rise and fall of her chest as she took each wonderful breath, I finally relaxed. Together we had gotten through it, she had survived, and she was going to be ok. Kissing her cheek gently I promised to be right back. Leaving her sleeping I slipped out of the room.
I had to find a phone to call her father, even if he had gotten my messages; I never said what hospital we were we at, only to call me back.
Sighing as I stepped out of her room to see the young police officer rise from the chair he had been waiting on, his hat held nervously in front of me as I frowned, maybe he had a phone?
“Can I use your phone?” I interrupted him as he opened his mouth to speak,
I knew I would have to make a statement but if I didn't get through to John soon, I was going to scream.
“I have to call my husband” gesturing to my daughter’s room behind me, I sighed “He doesn’t know yet” the idea of telling him, a lot easier now that I knew she was going to be alright.
Biting my lip as again the phone reverted me his message bank, John never let his phone run out of battery needing it for work, he was properly sulking at a bar knowing I would be angry about the recital when he got home. Of all the times for temper tantrum...
Letting out a tired breath I handed the phone back to the police man. “You want my statement?” Nodding he pocketed his phone and pulled out a pen and paper. Moving back to the chairs I finally felt every bruise and ache from the accident as I settle back into the thin padding.
“Did the other driver make it?” feeling less spiteful now, that I knew Emily was going to be alright.
Looking down at his notes the officer shook his head, “some sort of heart attack” a chill ran up my spine a little, but I brushed it aside, refusing to feel guilty for any part I may have had in his death, he had almost killed my baby. What John would have done to him had it been the other way around was nothing compared to what I may have just done.
“I need to confirm you name?”
“Victoria” he nodded as I watched a nurse enter my daughter’s room. “Lambart” I finished distractedly
“Lambart?” he confirmed his hand holding the pen pausing over the notebook as he looked up at me.
Nodding I looked back, my forehead creasing as I looked as his shocked face. The band of fear returning to my heart as he checked his notes again.
“Jonathon Lambart? Is he a relation of yours?”
The pain tight in my chest as my eyes grew hot with tears “My husband” I whispered.
“Ma’am,” sitting up straighter the younger officer meet my eyes, his expression regretful. “I am sorry to inform you of your husband’s death tonight”
“No” the word barely a whisper as my whole world spun away, “you’re wrong”
“I’m very sorry Ma’am” he couldn't meet my horrified eyes any longer. My hands trembled slightly as he handed me my husband’s wallet. Opening it out of habit, my breath catching at the now bloodstained photo of the three of us, this couldn’t be happening.
The familiar brown leather, slipping from my numb fingers, to the floor, as I stood to my feet. Everything seemed to drop into a fog of white as I ran through the hospital halls, ignoring the startled looks of staff and patients my heart pounding painfully in my chest.
Bursting through the emergency room doors, my eyes frantically searching ahead of me,
Where was he? Pushing aside the curtain that had sectioned off his bay, I stared dumbly at the elderly woman, her white hair messy as she turned to look at me, an oxygen mask held tightly to her face.
“S..s..sorry” I stammered backing out, blood pounding through my ears as I looked for him,
“Miss, are you alright?” staring at the doctor I stepped forward my hands gripping his jacket.
“Where is he?” my voice a whisper, in an effort to stop full blown panic from overwhelming me.
At a nod from the policeman behind the doctor lead me to the morgue himself, my feet growing heavier with every step closer we took. It didn’t make sense that Jonathon was here, he was supposed to stuck in the city with no car. Having missed the train back we had bickered when he had called to let me know he wouldn’t make it in time for Emily’s recital.
Stepping into the morgue I shivered, my arms wrapping around myself tightly as I stared at the sheet covered body.
“From what we have worked out, Mrs Lambart, Your husband borrowed a friend’s car, leaving the city in a rush.”
The policeman’s words faded into the background as the morgue attendant lifted the sheet.
Staring down at the beloved, familiar face, that which I had so unknowingly wished dead. The horror of the deal I had made sending to my knees.
I had killed my husband.
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