what if the words in a book could take you to another place - literally?
Chapter Eleven ~ Tasmin
It had been over an hour since the news had spread. Since Tasmin’s world had crumbled to tiny, insignificant pieces.
Thalia’s head was on Tasmin’s shoulder. Everyone was exhausted. There were so many people in the room, waiting for news of Natalie, waiting for a chance to see her, that there were no where near enough seats for everyone. It was about two o’clock in the morning. Tasmin turned her head, to see that Thalia was fast asleep. The tears on her cheeks had dried, as if they were a scar of the pain she had gone through.
Surely an hour was long enough for them to wait? Soon, surely, they would be allowed to see Natalie.
Tasmin let Thalia’s head fall onto the seat gently as she got up. She walked silently over to the reception desk.
The hospital was deathly quiet. All you could hear was the beep beep of the machines and the shuffling of feet on carpet. The hushed tones of nurses and doctors and the silent pain of friends and family.
There was a woman at the reception that Tasmin recognised as the nurse that had informed Michelle and Oliver of Natalie’s condition. She was scribbling some notes down on that clipboard of hers.
“Excuse me?” Tasmin said waving her hand slightly. “Nurse?”
She spun around, saw Tasmin, and smiled.
“Hi there,” the nurse said. “Can I help you?”
“Um, yeah. You can, actually,” Tasmin said, her voice wavering.
“What seems to be the problem?”
“My name’s Tasmin. I’m a good friend of Natalie Coleman. I believe she’s in a coma at the moment?”
“Yes,” the nurse looked at Tasmin with empathy. “I’m Irene. I am sure you have heard the news of Natalie’s condition?”
“Yes,” Tasmin’s voice cracked. “I have.”
“I’m so sorry,” the nurse said, shaking her head. “You have to understand that compared to previous cases, Natalie is very fortunate. There is a good chance that she will survive.”
“I know. I just...I would love to see her,” Tasmin said. “Or at least know a little more about how she’s doing.”
“Okay,” Irene said, smiling. “Just give me a sec. I need to ask some of the nurses who are supervising Natalie’s condition at the moment how stable she is, and whether she can have visitors. I’ll be back.”
Tasmin waited a couple of minutes until the nurse came back.
“Can I see her?” she asked nervously.
“At the moment Natalie’s family is in there,” Irene said. “It has been strictly family only for the past hour.”
“So I can’t go and see her?”
“Tasmin...look - I know where her ward is. I could take you there in a moment, but we won’t be able to go inside, otherwise that would be breaking the rules. However there is a glass door where you can look through. I can’t promise anything, but I think you will be able to go inside tomorrow.” The woman told Tasmin.
“Thank you,” Tasmin felt relief blossom inside of her. “How long do you think she will be in her coma for?”
“We’re not sure, Tasmin,” the nurse sighed. “But in about half an hour we will be doing some...tests on Natalie’s condition. These tests will determine everything.”
“What do you mean by everything?” Tasmin felt the nerves come back into her stomach. “Do you mean...it will determine whether she - she doesn’t make it, or she does and has...permanent damage to her brain?”
“Basically, yes,” Irene said. There was immense sadness in her voice. “If we decide that Natalie is weaker than we thought and will not make it through the coma, we will put her on life support until...we get permission to take her off it.”
Tasmin wiped a tear of her cheek. She had to stay strong, for Natalie.
“And if the tests are a positive result?”
“Then we wait. If she is strong enough, she has the ability to get through it. But ultimately, it’s up to her - whether she has the will to keep going, or not.” The nurse told Tasmin. “That will be the hardest time for everyone.”
“Can...you take me to see her now?” She said, ignoring the churning in her stomach. “Please, can you take me?”
“We have to wait until her family comes out,” Irene put a hand on Tasmin’s shoulder.
“But the tests are in a half-hour!”
“Then they have half an hour until they must exit the ward.” The nurse told her. “Why don’t you get some rest?”
“Please,” Tasmin found herself crying. “Please take me to see her! I need to see her!”
“Don’t raise your voice, Tasmin,” Irene warned. “I will take you, but only for a short time. Follow me, and stop crying. Weakness is spread easily in a hospital, like a deadly virus. Weakness brings pain and panic.”
They began walking down a corridor.
“How is crying weakness?” Tasmin asked, wiping her face.
“It shows that you are losing faith. You are giving in to the fact that the person is gone. Everyone here is losing someone. In each of these wards, there are people in critical conditions who may not survive the night. The loved ones of these people need hope to hold on to. If they let go of that hope, they have nothing.” Irene said softly to Tasmin. “Don’t lose faith, or others will.”
Karyn was over at the window. The sun cast a shadow onto her face that emphasised the pain that was painted on her face.
Michelle was holding Karyn’s hand. Her face was streaked with tears, but with them you could see the strength she was covering up her sadness with.
Oliver had his arm around Natalie’s grandmother, who was crying, her face in her hands. His face was expressionless. No. That wasn’t the word for it. You could see, so obviously, the ache in his heart. But everyone dealt with pain in a different way. Everyone showed it differently, too.
And then there was Natalie. She looked so pale and vulnerable - so unlike the Natalie that Tasmin knew. Maybe if her eyes had been open, if she had seen them glisten, she would have gotten a glimpse of the Natalie she was used to.
Karyn reached over and took Natalie’s small hand, and squeezed it gently. The movement was so small, so insignificant, yet it made Tasmin fall to her knees. She put her hand over her eyes and sobbed uncontrollably.
If only there was something she could do. Something that could change everything. Could put everything back into place. Something that could bring back Natalie and ease the ache that was not ceasing in Tasmin’s heart.
And then, all of a sudden, Tasmin knew what that something was.
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