Face Down and Freefalling
The sweet, melodic sound of her voice rang in his ear. He opened his eyes but she wasn’t there. Closing them once more he saw her – her beautiful golden hair radiating in the sunlight.
“Aidan,” she sang out to him once more, her voice haunting.
Desperately, he reached out for her but she was too far away. “Sarah,” he wailed, frantically grasping through the air as he ran, “please don’t go. Don’t leave me. Not again.”
She smiled at him lovingly. “Aidan, I’m so sorry, my love,” she told him, her voice soft and full of compassion, “you know I have to.”
“Then take me with you,” he cried. “Please, I beg you.”
“I can’t, my love,” she told him, gently, as she faded into the distance.
“Why? Why can’t you?” he pleaded.
“There’s still too much for you to do. Your journey’s not over, it’s only just begun.”
“Sarah!” he cried out, “Sarah, wait!”
“Breathe, Aidan, just breathe,” she told him, fading away into the bright light.
“How did it happen?” Dr. Bloomfield asked, standing next to Emmy outside the operating room where the doctorsworked feverishly to keep Aidan alive.
“He used a plastic comb of all things,” she said, her voice raspy from crying. “Tore open his sutures and reopened his wounds. He would have bled out if I hadn’t managed to push open the door when I did.”
“A plastic comb?” her boss asked, his brow furrowed by the thought of how determined the young man must have been to do something so drastic.
Emmy turned to her boss, unable to stop the flow of tears that streamed down her cheeks. “This is all my fault,” she said, “I should have listened to you. Oh Harold, I pushed him too far too fast.
“Emily, it’s not your fault,” he tried to comfort her. “You were only trying to help.”
“I don’t think I am helping him,” she cried. “I don’t think he can be helped. Not anymore.”
“He can,” her boss assured her, putting his arm around her shoulders for comfort, “and you will. You always help, you always find a way.”
Emmy turned away, looked through the window of the operating room as the doctors worked on Aidan to keep him alive. She placed a hand on the glass and heaved a sigh.
“When I was eight, my great-grandma killed herself. Just out of the blue. Took everyone by surprise. She overdosed on a bottle of pills. Left a note and everything. Even hand-wrote a will. She left my mom a small sum of money and her fancy, mink-rimmed fur coat. To this day, I never understood why she did it, why she just gave up and took her own life like that. I guess that’s why I became a doctor, to help me understand and help those like my Gram, that for whatever reason, can’t save themselves.”
“Your patients are lucky to have you,” Dr. Bloomfield told her, compassion in his voice.
“Yeah, right,” Emmy snorted. “Tell that to the one laying there on the operating table.”
“Emily, you are a good doctor –remember that. You have what a lot of doctors don’t – compassion and understanding. Albeit, you’re not always conventional…” he smiled at her.
“In other words, I’m reckless,” she smirked.
“No, not reckless, just –you tend to go against the grain of what most of us believe is the right way to approach things. And, despite the fact that it often tends to land you in a bit of trouble with your boss,” he grinned, “it’s actually what makes you the better doctor. That young man in there is lucky to have you. He may not realize it now, but he will - in time.”
Emmy smiled and wiped at her tears. “Thanks,” she told him, quietly, then turned back towards the window again as Dr. Bloomfield stood quietly beside her for support. She let out a sigh. She wanted to believe what her boss told her, she really did. Deep down, though, she couldn’t help but to struggle with the feelings of guilt.
“Come on, Aidan,” Emmy whispered through the glass, “don’t leave me now.”
“Dr. Brooks?” the young surgeon asked as he stepped into the hallway.
“Yes, that’s me,” Emmy told him, anxiously. “How is he? Will he be okay?”
“He’s fine,” the surgeon assured her. “Was a bit touch and go for a while there, lost a lot of blood. Thought we’d lost him for a moment but he’s a fighter, that one.”
“Is he awake? Can I see him?”
“We’re moving him to recovery,” the surgeon replied. “He’ll be out for a few hours but after that, once he’s awake, you can visit him.”
“Thanks,” Emmy told him, wiping at her tears.
The surgeon nodded and headed off down the hall.
“Oh thank God,” Emmy said, breathing asigh of relief. She turned to her boss, smiling, “He’s still alive. Oh Harold, he’s still alive.”
Hours later, Aidan woke up, gasping for air and drenched in a cold sweat. “Sarah,” he moaned, tears rimming his eyes.
“Aidan, Aidan can you hear me?” Emmy called out as she stood over his hospital bed.
“Don’t go,” he moaned again, his voice nearly a whisper.
“I’m here, Aidan,” Emmy told him, “I’m not going anywhere.”
He squinted, the bright hospital lights stinging his eyes. “I’m sorry,” he whispered, his voice weak.
Emmy took his hand, held it in hers. “Shhh,” she said, “You’re still here, and that’s all that matters.”
“I didn’t keep my promise,” he told her, quietly. “I’m sorry.”
“Oh Aidan,” Emmy sobbed, “I’m the one that’s sorry. I shouldn’t have pushed you so soon.”
He closed his eyes, took a deep breath, still groggy from the surgery. “Sarah,” he moaned, “I should have been there.”
“Aidan, it’s not your fault,” Emmy told him, softly.
“It is,” he moaned, “I should have been there, I should have saved them.”
“Aidan, don’t,” Emmy told him, “you can’t keep beating yourself up for something you didn’t cause.”
“They were supposed to be with me,” Aidan told her, a twinge in his voice, “I shouldn’t have gone - when the baby got sick – I should have stayed, postponed the meeting. But I didn’t. I wanted to hurry and get it over with. Sarah told me to go, that they’d be alright. But I shouldn’t have – I should have been there. It was my job to look out for them, protect them, and I didn’t. I was too pig-headed.”
“Aidan, you don’t have to do this now,” Emmy said to him, gently, as she pushed his hair away from his forehead.
“I do,” he told her, choking back the pain. “That night, after I’d gone, Penny’s fever spiked to a hundred and four. Sarah was worried sick, didn’t know what to do so she put her in the car and rushed to get her to the hospital. It was pitch black and the rain was coming down hard all around them. She most likely never even saw the semi until… it was too late.”
“Aidan,” Emmy said, quietly, her heart breaking for him, “whether you were with them or not, it still could have happened, only…”
“Only I’d be dead, too,” he said, looking up and meeting her gaze.
“Yes, you would,” Emmy replied, “and do you think that’s what Sarah would want for you?”
Aidan stared at her, unblinking– tears filling his eyes. “I saw her,” he said quietly, “while I was unconscious. Maybe it was a dream, I don’t know, but she was here.”
“And what did she say?”
“Same as you,” he smiled gently, holding her hand in his.
“Smart woman,” Emmy grinned.
“Yeah,” Aidan smiled. “So, what now?” he asked, looking into her eyes.
“Keep breathing,” Emmy told him, “just keep breathing.”
“It’s so hard,” Aidan replied, quietly, remembering those same words that Sarah had said to him in his dream.
“And it will be, but you can do it. Like I told you the night we met –just take it a day at a time. I promise you that I’ll be here for you every step of the way if you keep your promise that you’ll keep living.” She took his hand and held it close to her chest, “Promise me, Aidan, promise me – one more day. That’s all I ask,” Emmy said, pulling up a chair next to his bed. “Besides, you owe me a do-over, you know, after what you put me through last night,” she told him, smiling gently.
“I do?” he grinned.
“Yes, you bastard,” she said, teasingly. “You scared me half to death! I thought for sure you’d died!”
“I thought you said nothing scares you,” Aidan smirked.
“Yes, well, I guess you managed to find something that does,” she told him, blushing.
“I am sorry,” Aidan told her, solemnly.
“I forgive you,” Emmy said quietly, “just please don’t do that again.”
He smiled, choking back the emotion, “One more day,” he whispered, “I promise.”
“Good,” she said, wiping at the tears that threatened to roll down her cheeks, “because,like it or not, I’ve gotten quite fond of you and I’d really miss you if you were…gone.”
Aidan smiled. “Even though I’ve been nothing but trouble for you since the day I arrived in your hospital?”
“Even though, yes,” she laughed through her tears.
Aidan thought about that for a moment and looked up at her again. “I’ve gotten quite fond of you, too,” he told her, softly.
“Enough to stick around for a while, then?” she asked.
“Yeah,” he said, “perhaps.” He smiled and closed his eyes. “Perhaps,” he whispered again as he drifted off to sleep.