“Herne, where’s Daddy?” Gemmy gasped as she ran into the hospital waiting room.
It had been a long and terrifyingly slow drive from her office to the local hospital and she’d made a mad dash in the pouring rain from the back of the parking lot to the emergency room entrance. Herne glanced up from the heavy botany book on his lap. “He’s back there, talking to a doctor,” he pointed, showing that, distracted as he might appear, Herne knew, as always, exactly what was going on.
Gemmy stopped and put her hand on her son’s shoulder. The world might be turning completely upside-down, but Herne would always be calmly in control of the situation.
Paris turned away from the very young, very serious intern and slumped with relief to see Gemmy.
“Gem. She’s fine. She’s going to be OK. Gem, I’m so sorry. I didn’t want to call you away from work; she just kept crying for you. We went down to the creek to take some samples. I didn’t know how bad the flood would be. She fell down and . . . Gemmy. Oh, Goddess, Gemmy, I’m so glad you’re here.”
Gemmy’s gaze followed Herne’s outstretched arm to a tiny room at the end of the hall. It wasn’t even really a room, just an area walled off by curtains. She tore to the bed inside and grabbed Chessy’s hand. Her daughter was still chilled, grey, barely breathing.
“This is my fault,” Gemmy told herself and the universe. “My daughter’s on death’s door and it’s all because I work too much.” Nothing that Paris or the doctor could say would change her mind.
Slowly, Chessy opened her eyes and connected with Gemmy. “Sweetie,” Gemmy said. “It’s Mommy. I’m here. We’re all here — me, and Daddy, and Herne. You’re going to wake up now, right? You’re back with us?” Chessy smiled and took a deep breath. Her cheeks turned pink and her breath came more regularly. She held onto Gemmy’s hand so tightly that Gemmy’s fingers turned white.
“Daddy cut my sandwich wrong,” she whispered.
Paris wrote down the intern’s information, checked on Herne, and walked slowly back to where Gemmy sat, clutching Chessy’s hand.
“Babe. Babe, look at me. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have called you. We were just too cooped up inside and so I took the kids to the creek. Chessy fell and breathed in too much water. It was all my fault. You could have stayed at work; you didn’t need to come. It was all my fault.”
“It sure as fucking was your fault,” Gemmy snarled, pounding on Paris’ chest. “You nearly killed my little girl and you’ve traumatized my son! What the fuck is wrong with you? Why can’t I leave the children with you for even half a day, Paris? Why are you incapable of being a parent?”
Picture found here.