This is the thirty-fourth part of a fiction serial, in 752 words.
The phone call from Nottingham came late at night, but neither Annie nor Tony were asleep anyway. It was Scott on the phone, not Melanie. “Angela has been scanned, x-rayed, and examined from head to toe. They even had an eye doctor come and check on her. At least they managed to bring her round, after giving her something to calm the seizures. Mel is asleep with her now. They said we can stay in the room tonight, but I have to tell you Tony, the news is not good”.
Tony felt Annie’s eyes boring into the back of his head, and started to wonder how he would tell her bad news as Scott continued.
“One of the top doctors came to speak to us about fifteen minutes ago. She said they can see something on the scan, a small growth close to the optic nerve. She says it’s in a bad place for surgery. They want to transfer her to Great Ormond Street Hospital in London tomorrow, to see a specialist. I’m going to have to ask you to bring us those things down to London tomorrow, Tony. I will ring you when we know the ward name. Got to go now mate, I’m whacked out”.
Still holding the phone, the buzzing noise after Scott had hung up hadn’t even registered.
Eventually, Annie’s voice made him replace the receiver. “What is it Tony? Tell me! What is it?” When he slowly turned to her and she saw the tears in his eyes, her legs buckled at the knees, and he rushed forward and grabbed her.
The next morning, Tony rang his boss early to tell him he wouldn’t be in. Not that day, and maybe not for a while. When he had explained why, the man didn’t hesitate. “Kev can cover your work, Tony. Take as long as you need, and let me know if there’s anything I can do. I don’t know what else to say mate, but I am hoping for the best for your family”.
Although he had been to London a few times when he was younger, and driven around it to get to car shows more recently, the solid traffic in the centre was something he wasn’t used to. When he eventually found the hospital in a side street opposite Russell Square, there was nowhere to park the Mark 5. He asked a man wearing a porter’s uniform who was outside smoking a cigarette, and he directed him to a car park at nearby Brunswick Square. The man stubbed the cigarette out onto the pavement as he was talking. “Pricey, mind. Gonna cost you a fair bit to leave it in there”.
Leaving Annie waiting in the main reception with the things they had brought, Tony parked the car, put the ticket in his wallet, and ran back as fast as he could. When they got up to the ward, they had to wait in a family room until Melanie came in to see them. Annie hugged her daughter, and they both burst into tears. Once they had calmed down, Mel took them through to the room.
Scott looked shattered, unshaven, and dark circles around his eyes. His own parents hadn’t made the trip. His dad was a retired police inspector, and they had retired to a bungalow in Skegness when he had suffered a mild stroke. He could no longer drive, and Scott had insisted that he not try to make the complicated train journey to London.
Little Angela was sleeping, and a tube ran from a bandage around her arm up to a drip bottle on a stand. Annie stroked the toddler’s head, fighting back more tears. Mel drunk half a bottle of coca-cola before telling them the news.
“Ten minutes before you got here, the consultant came in and told us that it’s too dangerous to do any operation with Angela being so young. He thinks there could be brain damage if he does, and that she could be blind for life too. He wants to wait until she is older, and check on her again in six months. Meanwhile, she will have medicine to control the fits, and regular checks on her eyesight in Lincoln or Nottingham. They said we can go home tomorrow, so if you can get a room near here, you could take us home about eleven in the morning”.
Standing up, Tony was calm and reassuring. “Leave it to me, Mel love. I will find a hotel room somewhere”.