“Yeah,” Thalia said quickly. “The nurse still won’t let us in the ward. She’s in intensive care. She said for me to get off her back, that I had been begging her to let us in every five minutes!”
“Did you happen to mention that our friend is dying in there?” Tasmin said. Her voice sounded a lot more irritated than she expected.
There was a deathly silence.
“Thalia, I’m sorry - you know what I meant. Nat is going to get through this, I promise,” Tasmin said. Thalia wiped a tear off her cheek.
“I know,” she said, breathing deeply. “She’s so strong. She’ll make it. I told her that Natalie was in there, in a coma. And she told me...she told me that there were so many people out there, who were losing someone, and every single one of them had to be patient, and that if I thought I was any different I would be selfish.”
“And what did you say back?”
“I said that if hospital workers had any respect for anyone, we wouldn’t have to wait to see our loved ones who we might not have the chance to see ever again.” Thalia said, bursting into tears. Tasmin embraced her.
“So...is it still family only?” Tasmin asked.
“Yeah. Yeah, it is.”
“Thalia?” A male voice asked. Tasmin spun around, only to face Ashton.
“Ashton! What are you doing here?” Thalia squealed in surprise.
“I heard about Natalie,” he said. “I just...I just feel so bad.”
“Yeah, well it was your party,” Tasmin just couldn’t help but say it.
“Tasmin, shut up,” Thalia nudged her. “It wasn’t your fault, Ashton, but it’s great that you could come.”
“Do you know if anyone else was hurt?” Ashton asked.
“Well...I don’t know very much. Nobody does. All I know was that this guy was giving Nat a lift home - I think his name was Conor or something - but he had been drinking a little. Nat didn’t realise. When they came to an intersection, Conor went straight through a red light. A car rammed into the side Natalie was on, so she got the most of it. She’s in a coma,” Thalia’s voice trembled. “I don’t think Conor was injured badly. Well, compared to Nat. He might had hurt the ligaments in his arm, but he’s okay.”
“Has anyone been in to see Natalie?”
“They have only just allowed Nat’s relatives into the ward. We’ve tried to persuade them to let us in, but no luck. Yet.” Thalia told him.
Thalia and Ashton kept talking, but their voices were like the sound of the wind. There, but the whispers unable to be deciphered.
Tasmin looked around. There were a lot of people from the party there, talking in hushed tones. She saw Natalie’s older sister, Karyn, sitting with an elderly lady who Tasmin guessed to be the grandmother of the two girls. Natalie’s parents were over talking with a nurse near the reception desk. Probably about Natalie’s condition and...wait.
Tasmin whispered, “I’ll be right back,” to Thalia, who nodded and continued talking, and Tasmin walked over to the reception. There was a water dispenser near where Natalie’s parents were, and she pretended she was getting a drink.
“I’ve just been assigned your case,” the nurse was telling Natalie’s parents. “I take it that you are Natalie’s parents?”
“Yes,” that was her mum, Michelle. “We are. Please, can you let us in to see our daughter?”
“She will be able to see family very soon,” the nurse informed them. “We just need to examine her condition. She might be drastically unstable. We need to hook her up to the right machines, if you get what I mean.”
“Can you tell us what you know?” That was Oliver, her dad.
“Of course,” the nurse looked at her clipboard, and flipped over some pages. “Natalie...she was in a bad car accident, as I’m sure you know. The young man who was driving the car gave us a little information. He said that he was giving her a lift home, but we could tell that he was slightly intoxicated.” The nurse gave them the outline of what had happened.
Michelle was in tears by the time she had finished.
“In what ways is our daughter injured?” Oliver demanded.
“I don’t know how to put this, sir. I know how hard it is as a parent to have this sort of thing happen. Trust me, I do. You see...Natalie has seriously damaged a lot of her brain cells. She was hit on the side of her head, so vital places like the front of her brain and rear were spared. However, such a violent hit to that part of the brain could be fatal. However Natalie is young and strong and it is likely that she will survive,”
Tasmin let out a deep breath. Natalie was going to be okay. Everything was going to be okay.
“Mr and Mrs Coleman - you must understand that if Natalie does wake up...her brain will remain damaged.” The nurse said hesitantly.
“What - what do you mean?” Michelle asked quietly.
“I mean that if Natalie is to wake up, she will have this damage for the rest of her life,” the nurse said gently. “There is no easy way to put this. Natalie will most likely be deaf...and she will have trouble using many parts of her body. She will probably have to remain in a wheelchair for the entirety of her life.”
“You mean that our Natalie is going to have brain damage because some...some kid drove her home while drunk?” Oliver sounded furious. But Tasmin wasn’t listening. The only thing she could her was the deafening rattle of her heartbeat against her ribcage, and the sobs coming from deep inside of her.