This is the thirty-third part of a fiction serial, in 801 words.
Livvy got home from night school complaining of a blinding headache. She told me she had vomited in the street, during the short walk home.
“It was so embarrassing, Danny. People walking by were looking at me. I bet they thought I was drunk or something. I’m going to take some painkillers and go straight to bed”.
After watching a film later, I went to bed just before midnight. Livvy was snoring loudly, something she had never done before. I slipped in quietly next to her, making sure not to get too close, and wake her up.
The groaning woke me up at two in the morning. She was rolling from side to side, and making a noise like some old man or something. I switched on the bedside lamp, and immediately saw and smelled vomit on the top of the duvet, and the pillow on her side. The noise changed to a bubbling sound, and I shook her, trying to wake her up. But she didn’t wake up, just kept bubbling and groaning, her eyes screwed up tight.
I rang 999 and asked for an ambulance. They asked lots of questions, but when I repeated that she could not be roused, they sent an ambulance immediately. I pulled on some jogging bottoms and a sweatshirt, then went down to wait for them outside, to let them in.
The faces on the two women who arrived told me things were not good. One even looked at the other and gave a slight shake of her head. Not even bothering to ask me much, they told me to get my keys and wallet, then took her down to the ambulance on a folding stretcher thing. Once Livvy was wired up to their machines and an oxygen mask was on her face, the woman driving took off at great speed for the General Hospital.
Not able to go inside with her, I was directed to reception to book her in with the receptionist. I sat waiting for over thirty minutes before a young doctor with a beard came and asked for me. He took me into a room along a corridor. “We are going to transfer your partner to Nottingham, to the University Hospital. They have the latest scanners there, and Olivia needs a scan as a matter of urgency. As she may also need surgery, we think it best she go there. You can go with her in the ambulance, ten minutes or so, okay?”
The long journey to Nottingham took half as long as if I had been in my car. The ambulance used the blue lights all the way, and I was thrown around in the back, despite my seat belt.
In that huge hospital, I ended up in a room much the same as the one I had left earlier, being told to wait for news. I thought I had better ring her parents, and her mum answered eventually. I told her what was going on, but to be honest, she didn’t seem that bothered.
“Well her dad is away at a conference, and I’m not going to drive all the way to Nottingham at this hour, Danny. Ring me at a decent time in the morning, and let me know how she is”. With that, she hung up.
After the scans, and an examination by the surgeons, a thin Indian doctor came in to talk to me. She looked very tired, and her green scrubs were loose on her tiny frame.
“Not good news, I’m sorry to say. They have diagnosed a sub-arachnoid heamorrhage, caused by a burst blood vessel in an important part of Olivia’s brain. Given her age, and that she is a non-smoker, I suspect this might be herditary, and it is very grave. She is going to need surgery now, and we are just waiting for a specialist to arrive. You might want to get a drink and something to eat. There are vending machines in the main building. You could be here for a long time”.
It was daylight when the thin woman came back. I must have been asleep for some time, stretched across three small and uncomforatble chairs in that airless room. Her face was a picture of practiced sadness. She even reached down and held my hand.
“They did their best. The specialist went in, and tried to clip the blood vessel. But she had already lost too much blood. She died a few minutes ago. You can come and see her in about twenty minutes, once we have cleaned her up”.
Work had been forgotten, so I quickly rang the boss, to give him the reason why both of us hadn’t shown up.
He actually cried. And then I realised I was crying too.
For the first time I could ever remember.