Page 63

Author: Kirsty Moseley

He smiled his heartbreaking smile that I had missed so much for the last day, “I love you more, Riley bear,” he croaked, his voice sounding raspy and sore. My stomach seemed to flutter that the first words out of his mouth were the sweetest words in the history of the world. I would never take a single one of his words for granted again; this situation had just made every single one more precious to me.

The doctor cleared his throat, “Clay, we need to talk to you about what happened,” he said confidently.

Clay tore his eyes from me to look at the doctor and I couldn’t listen, I couldn’t hear it again. I kept my eyes on his face, watching as emotions crossed his face so quickly I could barely even register them. Confusion, horror, fear, desperation.

He turned his head and looked at me, his eyes pleading with me to tell him he was fine, that this was a lie or a joke. He had never looked so vulnerable and scared and I hated his parents more than ever for it. I nodded in confirmation watching his face fall as he slowly started to accept it, his was hand squeezing mine so hard it felt like he was going to break my fingers but I just didn’t care.

The doctor still wasn’t done, he was still telling him about the operation and how it was risky and running through the chances of success. When it got to the point about the next of kin, Clay’s eyes snapped to me.

“Tell me you signed the forms Riley. Tell me they did the operation. Please…….please tell me,” he begged, looking at me desperately.

I shook my head slowly, swallowing my horror at how scared and hurt he looked. “I couldn’t, they wouldn’t let me. I’m not your next of kin,” I whispered, each word seemed to burn its way out of my throat.

He looked at me confused, “Not my next of kin? Of course you are, you’re my wife,” he rasped, looking at me confused.

I reached out and hand and stroked the side of his face. “Our marriage isn’t legal, Clay. They wouldn’t let me sign it. I’m so sorry baby, I tried, I wanted to.” I flicked my gaze to Linda, trying to kill her with my eyes because the look on Clay’s face right now was pure agony and heartbreak and it was all her fault.

“So, the operation didn’t happen?” Clay asked, still looking at me, ignoring everyone else in the room. “I can’t walk now? That’s it?”

I didn’t know what to say, I leant forward and kissed his forehead softly, making his hand tighten on mine. “You didn’t have the operation Clay, but if you want to have it now then there’s still a chance it’ll work.” I turned to the doctor, looking at him for confirmation, “Right? He can still have it, can’t he?”

He nodded and stepped forward, cocking his head to the side, looking at Clay intently. He cleared his throat, obviously trying to get his attention again, but Clay’s eyes were fixed firmly on me, the heartbroken look on his face caused me more pain than I had ever experienced in my life.

“I’ll get Dr. Kirk to come in and talk to you, if that’s what you want, Clay. He’s the surgeon who would perform the operation. He’ll be able to run through things better than me,” the doctor said, touching Clay’s arm lightly.

Clay didn’t say anything, just nodded and gulped noisily. I pressed my forehead to his and looked into his eyes, I could see my exact feeling mirrored there, he was terrified, his eyes glassy, like he was trying not to cry.

“I love you,” I whispered, kissing his lips lightly.

He closed his eyes and nodded slightly, “You too, Riley.”

“Everything’s going to be fine,” I said, willing my voice to sound more confident than I felt. The doctors had said that the surgery needed to happen as soon as possible, was 27 hours too late? He smiled weakly and nodded, wincing as he moved. I hissed through my teeth at the pain on his face, “Don’t move, just keep still and they’ll probably give you something for the pain.”

He ignored my advice and tugged on my hand, making me step impossibly closer. “Our marriage isn’t legal?” he asked, his voice barely above a whisper.

I flicked my eyes to Linda. She was just watching us with her mouth open, silent tears falling down her face as she gripped at her shirt, just above her heart. All I could think was: selfish bitch. I gulped and looked back to Clay, forcing a smile. “No baby, it’s not. But on the upside, now we get to have another wedding night,” I teased quietly, trying to bring a bit of normality to this whole horrifying ordeal.

He laughed a little before wincing again, squeezing his eyes shut, his jaw tight. “Pervert,” he whispered through clenched teeth.

“Yeah, you know me.” I nodded, fighting the tears that were making my eyes prickle.

When his jaw unclenched he looked around the room for the first time, they stopped at his parents and he forced a tight smile. Linda stepped up to the bed next to me, I went to step back so she could have more room to see him, but Clay’s hand tightened on mine not letting me move away from him.

“I’m so glad you’re awake, Clay. I’ve been so worried, we’ve all been so worried,” she said, her voice hitching where she was crying so hard.

He nodded, “Yeah, sorry.” He smiled at Richard, “Hey dad.”

I felt slightly awkward where I was pressed half against Linda, I couldn’t even look at her, I was trapped between her and the wall and I just wanted to shove her far away from me. I could barely breathe with her so close to me, like I had suddenly developed claustrophobia or something.

“How are you feeling, ok?” Linda asked, brushing her hand up and down Clay’s arm lightly.

He laughed humourlessly, “I just found out that there’s a good chance I might not be able to walk again, how do you think I’m feeling?” he asked, closing his eyes and shaking his head as if that was a stupid question. I could feel his hand shaking in mine, the sweat on his palm was making his hand slightly slick against my skin. His fingers found my wedding ring and he twirled it around my finger, absentmindedly.

Linda sucked in a deep breath and looked at him, her heartbreak clear across her face, “I’m so sorry Clay, we thought it was what’s best for you. There was a chance you could die, we didn’t want to send you in there with the odd’s, that wasn’t our decision to make, we don’t get to play god with your life, that was your decision. I couldn’t let Riley sign the form,” Linda said quietly, continuing her relentless stroking of his arm.

I swallowed the hatred I could feel trying to come out of me, I tried to keep in mind that she was just scared, that she hadn’t purposefully tried to hurt Clay, she thought she was doing what was best for him. She just didn’t realize that she couldn’t see past her own feelings, her own pain, she didn’t make that choice for him at all, she made it for herself.

He looked at her, confusion coloring his voice as he spoke. “What does that mean? Couldn’t let Riley sign the form, you… stopped her from sending me in for the operation?”

She glanced at Richard, her eyes filling with tears again as she nodded. “We thought it was best to get you well. It wasn’t for us to make that decision with your life, Clay,” she said again.

He groaned and shook his head, “Why? Why would you do that? You think I want this? You think I want to live like this?” he asked angrily, the steady beeps of the heart monitor speeding up slightly.

Clay’s parents and I, all looked at the little green line that was spiking faster and faster as his breathing started to get shallower again. “Calm down, Clay,” I said fiercely as I bumped Linda slightly, telling her to move as I leant over the bed more, stroking the side of his face trying to get him to calm down.

His eyes met mine, “You wanted to send me in for it and my parents didn’t let you?” he whispered, raising his hand weakly, the IV line obviously making it harder for him to move it. He gripped it loosely round the back of my head and pulled slightly so I moved my face up level to his. “They didn’t send me in there, and now there’s a chance that I’m stuck like this?” he asked. I nodded, knowing I wouldn’t be able to speak. I had no words for this, all I wanted to do was turn around and scratch Linda’s eyes out. He drew in a jagged breath, his eyes locked on mine. “Tell them to leave, Riley,” he ordered, his hand tightening in the back of my hair.

I gulped and turned my head to the side looking at Linda and Richard, they were hugging, both of them crying, Linda was literally trembling from head to toe. “Why don’t you go wait outside or something,” I suggested quietly, I knew they wouldn’t want to leave and at least Clay and I could talk privately about it.

“Not outside, go home,” Clay growled, his eyes still firmly fixed on me as if he couldn’t even bring himself to look at them or something.

Richard cleared his throat awkwardly. “Clay, we thought it was the best thing for you, we had no right to risk you like that,” he said, looking between me and Clay, a pleading expression on his face.

Clay finally looked away from me; his gaze fell on his parents, his face hard and angry. “You think that wasting time waiting for me to wake up was what’s best for me?” he asked, looking at them in disbelief. “You should have let her sign the forms, you should have let her….” He trailed off, his voice breaking slightly.

“I’m so sorry,” Richard whispered.

“Just get out. If I can still go in for the surgery then I’m going in for it. How could you not know that’s what I would want?” Clay asked weakly. Richard opened his mouth to answer but Clay cut him off, “Just get the hell out!” he yelled, his heart rate spiking again.

I gasped and pulled away from Clay slightly, I needed to get them to leave before he ended up even more sick from the stress of it all. “Just go, please?” I begged, flicking my eyes to the heart monitor, drawing their attention to the little number in the corner that was creeping higher and higher by the second.

Richard winced as he looked at it and then grabbed Linda’s hand and practically dragged her from the room. I flinched as I could hear her wailing from outside the door. I turned back to look at Clay, he was just laying there staring at the ceiling, his jaw tight, his eyes just focused on one spot as if it was telling him the secrets of life.