To Let Love In,
Ashleigh, Sam, Lizzy and Mary Rose are mine but as for the rest they belong to the wonderful Stephen King and the Kingdom Hospital team. Please don't sue me. I'm just a poor student playing in the Kingdom for a while J
Lona Massingale sat in the sleep lab lost deeply in her thoughts. It had been four weeks since she and the others had helped to save the hospital from its preordained fate, since they had saved little Mary from her tormented entrapment in an unquestionably hellish purgatory and since Peter Rickman had walked out of the hospital where the resident spirits had claimed a hold on him for the entire time he had lay badly injured and barely conscious in Intensive Care. It had been a time of celebration, also of disbelief at what all had experienced within those last few haunted days before the hospital had been given a new lease of life. It had been a time where people had become forever changed and their lives turned upside down. She now was one of those people.
Lona leaned back in her chair, looking up at the ceiling and blinking back the tears that were threatening to spill from her burning eyes. She had come here to think, to revel in the silence somewhere familiar to her and somewhat comforting. She had needed to get away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the hospital, many of whose residents were not even aware of the little girl that had been haunting its corridors for years, her torment causing the earthquakes that had nearly brought the hospital to its knees. Now being left only with her thoughts; part of her felt that it had been a bad decision to come here. At least the hustle and bustle was a distraction from the situation that was bringing tears to her eyes and an ache to her heart. Now it was all that she could think about and she was damned if she knew what to do for the best.
Finally succumbing to the tears that had been threatening to fall all morning Lona rested her head in her hands on the desk in front of her and let herself cry. Sobs overcame her as she thought of what was to come that afternoon; of the choice that she had made since she had held that piece of plastic in her hands seven days ago in the hospitals grimy toilets feeling more alone than she had ever felt in her life. It was for the best though wasn't it? The only decision that could be made. Neither of them were in any position to...She had no choice did she? And there was no point in telling him about something that she could never let be. She couldn't hurt him like that. Whether she wanted to admit it to herself or not she cared about him too much.
So caught up was she in her own thoughts that she didn't hear the door to the lab open. It was only when she felt a hand rest gently on her shoulder and give it a comforting squeeze that she realized someone had entered the room, and that someone had seen her at her most vulnerable.
Lona quickly wiped her eyes and brushed the tears away from her cheeks.
"Lona?" A voice said softly, rubbing her back in soothing circular motions which caused her to break down again due to the sheer amount of concern that she heard in it and the offer of comfort when she had allowed herself none since the day that changed not just Mary's life but hers also.
"I'm okay, I'm just tired." She lied looking up at the person standing at her side and noting it was Christine Draper, Hooks girlfriend and a talented Doctor who had aided Mrs Druse, Peter, Hook, Abel, Christa and Elmer in saving the ghost children from the deadly fire which had in a time before cost them all their young lives. The two had become firm friends since the day of the séance. Even then Lona had not been able to tell Christine what had been on her mind for the last week, nor the reason why she had become sick to her stomach in trauma and had to leave and go and lie down.
"You look more than tired. You're white as a sheet. You feeling okay?" Christine asked, pulling up a chair next to her friend and taking in her appearance with piercing and concerned but friendly eyes. She held up her hand to Lona's forehead feeling for a temperature. The older woman couldn't help but smile as she swatted her friends hand away.
"I'm fine. Honestly." Lona replied, noting the disbelief on Christine's face and knowing that if she had been in the other Doctors shoes she wouldn't have believed her either.
"An okay person wouldn't be sat here in the dark as pale as a ghost and crying. Spill it Massingale, and it better be good because you missed our coffee date and I don't take being stood up particularly well. Just ask Hook." Christine told her with a smile.
"Oh God. I completely forgot. I'm so sorry." Lona apologised and felt herself tear up again. Damn hormones she thought to herself as a fresh tear rolled down her cheek.
"Yeah you're really okay aren't you?" Chris muttered pulling a tissue loose from a box by the computer console in front of them and handing it to her friend.
Lona took it gratefully and gave her friend a small smile.
"Everything's such a mess." Lona whispered wiping her eyes and leaning back in the chair. "And it's all because of that man...not even man, child!" Lona added angrily, guilt eating away at her as soon as those words came out of her mouth.
"Are you talking about Elmer?" Christine asked.
Lona's expression softened and she nodded.
"What gave it away?" She asked and both women smiled.
"What's he done now? I thought he was avoiding you." Chris commented thinking back to the day a couple of weeks previously when Lona had told her over lunch that she and Elmer had, had a chat and she had given him no reason to doubt that she wanted him out of her life as much as he possibly could be for good because anything he thought there could be between them would be a mistake.
"He is..." She whispered. "I hurt him so badly that he can't even bear to look at me anymore."
"Isn't that what you wanted? You wanted him out of your life because he thought you had something worth pursuing and you weren't so sure. You just said that you think that he's a child..."
"Don't you?" Lona asked quietly, looking at her friend who was now studying a stain on the floor beneath her feet.
"When this hospital needed him, no matter how much he protested Elmer was there. He helped to save The Kingdom and Mary, not to mention all of the other poor children who had perished in that mill in the time before. He played a part in their salvation and I believe that it helped him grow up. Elmer's still Elmer. He's still...unique..." Christine told her friend with a smile. "But that experience and your words...he's more of a man than he was Lona."
"Is he okay?" Lona asked. She could feel the redness spreading across her cheeks. She knew that she was making her true feelings for the man who had once tormented her so much with his professions of love and his endless badgering her in regards to his feelings for her obvious, but she couldn't help but ask.
"He's been despondent but he's coping. He's discovered a newfound passion for his job and he's doing okay. His father can't believe the change in him. He's been spending a lot of time with Hook. He's a lot easier to be around. I guess the events of recent weeks have made him take life more seriously. I guess we've all seen firsthand how fragile it is."
Lona rested a hand on her stomach and looked down at it tearfully. They had all seen how fragile life was, and there she was planning on extinguishing the one which was growing inside of her that very afternoon.
"You care about him don't you?" Chris asked her, pulling her out of her reverie.
Lona looked at her friend. She opened her mouth to say no, no she did not but instead the opposite came out of her mouth and the feelings she had been trying to hide were suddenly out in the open.
"Yes. Yes I care about him and I hate that I do. He's so young Chris. I'm older than him and I have so much more to lose by caring the way that I do. ..The respect of his father for one thing. I'm so angry with him right now that I feel as though I can barely breathe without wanting to walk up to him and socking him in the face."
"Why? If he's staying away from you like you wanted..." Chris asked and she was stopped midsentence by the pale Lona grabbing the waste bin off the floor beside her and emptying the contents of her stomach into it as it heaved.
When she was sure that she had finished Lona placed the waste bin on the floor. She shakily took a fresh tissue from Chris and looked her friend in the eye as she wiped her mouth.
"After we all went for coffee that night...morning, whatever you want to call it...when we decided to go home, Elmer and I both went back to the hospital to get our things. He walked me to the sleep lab to pick up my belongings and I guess the emotions of the days prior to it got the better of us. One thing led to another and we..."
"You what?" Christine asked confused.
"Don't make me say it...we...you know..." Lona prompted and she watched her friends face as what she was being told clicked into place.
"You and Elmer...you slept together?" Chris asked her, her mouth in a large O shape as she looked at her friend disbelievingly, searching her face for any sign that it was a joke.
Lona nodded and Chris closed her mouth, sensing that her friend had more to say and letting her carry on.
"I thought that it would be meaningless. I thought I would be able to act like it hadn't happened afterwards. That it was just a way to release the tension...to feel close to someone after everything that had happened to us. He had feelings for me. I knew that and I'd started to soften towards him during the time we spent together in the sleep lab study and on the day when you all went to the Old Kingdom to help those children. I didn't realise I'd softened so much...I pushed him away because I was scared. I was afraid for my reputation. I was afraid of what Louis would say. God I was afraid of people not being able to take me seriously because if it happened again, even if we ever admitted to spending the night together, I was afraid that people might see me as a joke who made a terrific error of judgement. I figured if I pushed him away and said that was that I could get on with my life, pretend it had never happened and we could both have our careers and I could keep my reputation. I knew he'd be hurt but I knew he'd get over it eventually."
"You did that even though you care for him?" Chris asked.
Lona looked at the floor and nodded.
"But it didn't work that way. I can't act like it didn't happen even if he can. Even though I've made him do that. I'm angry because..." Lona started but then felt emotion overcome her again.
"Because..." Chris prompted, placing a hand over Lona's trembling one which rested on her stomach.
"Because right now...under our hands...I'm carrying Elmer's baby. We made life on the day that you all saved so many more. I'm angry because I've made the choice to terminate our child this afternoon...a child that I never wanted us to make...a choice I never wanted to have to make in my life and which up until now I've never had to. I'm pregnant Chris...and I'm terminating my baby today."
"Oh Lona..." Chris whispered, feeling her friends fingertips dig into her stomach protectively.
"It feels like it's some sort of sick joke. I thought I was well past motherhood. I thought one night would be of no consequence to either of us. I never really wanted it to mean anything. I was happy pretending to be oblivious to my feelings and to his. But I care about him and now there's a baby involved and I've pushed him away..."
"If Elmer knew there was a baby Lona he would forget all about that and he would take care of you both." Christine told her softly. "He'd do it in his own unique way, but he would never run away from the responsibility of being father to a child that you mothered. I take it you haven't told him?"
Lona shook her head.
"It would hurt him too much to be told that I'm carrying his child and that I'm going to terminate it on the very same day. I wouldn't want to tell him that he was going to be a father just to steal it away from him again so soon afterwards. I can see the look on his face now. It'd tear him apart."
"You're really going to abort his child without even telling him it exists?" Chris asked softly and she could feel tears building behind her own eyes. She truly felt for Lona, but she felt for the oblivious Elmer a little more.
"Don't judge me please. I know it sounds terrible...but if it hurts me this much to terminate our baby, imagine how it would hurt someone as sensitive as him."
"Lona if it's going to hurt you that much why are you even terminating? You said yourself that you thought you were past motherhood. What if this is your chance? Your one chance to be a mommy to a little boy...to a little girl like Mary?"
"Because it's his." Lona told her tearfully. "Because if I have this baby I'm going to be tied to Elmer forever and I just don't know if I can be." She admitted, breaking down in tears again.
Christine wheeled her chair closer to Lona and rubbed her friend's stomach gently.
"Baby Traff is in here Lona. That's something you can't escape from. She's making you tired. She's making you nauseous..."
"She's making my breasts so tender that I don't even know how to walk without them feeling like they're going to explode." Lona offered with a small smile as she let herself wonder if the child she was carrying inside of her was indeed a little girl or a boy.
"Sure you can terminate her, you can keep Elmer in the dark, you can push him away and you can live your life pretending that you were never carrying a baby and that you didn't have any feelings for its father. If that's what makes you happy then you need to do it and I will support you...but you could also embrace this pregnancy. You could be a mommy Lona. You could tell Elmer, ignore anybody who might have anything negative to say about it and you could have a go at being a family...because who cares what other people think when we've seen how quickly life can be taken away? There are more important things in life than worrying about the opinions of others who mean nothing to us. This is your child. If you care about her and her father, maybe trying to be a family is worth a shot."
Both women sat in silence mulling over what Christine had said. Lona couldn't help but wonder what it would be like to continue with the pregnancy, how she and Elmer would cope as the stomach which housed their child grew. How their relationship would change if she told him that he was going to be a daddy and that she was carrying his child within her womb. She couldn't help but wonder what it would be like to feel the baby kick and move inside of her or how it would be to feel her baby hiccupping as she lay in bed waiting to drift off to sleep. Would Elmer be a doting father to be? Would he talk to the child that she was carrying inside of her and hold his hands over her rounded stomach as the child wriggled and somersaulted? What would it be like to hold a baby in her arms after she had given birth knowing that it was not only a piece of her but a piece of Elmer too? Their child. Would he be there throughout the pregnancy? Would he love his child as much as she knew she could if she continued with it? She had so many questions. Still she was absolutely terrified of just how much this would change her life.
"You said she. Why do you think...?" Lona asked quietly as she looked down at her and Chris' hands, suddenly hit by the seriousness of the situation again.
"Because of Mary. It just feels...right saying that it's a girl, even more so because you conceived on the day we gave Mary peace. Don't you think?" Chris asked knowing that it sounded strange, but Lona nodded in agreement.
"I always wanted a little girl. It was just never the right time and there was never the right man. How can Elmer be the right man to bring a child into the world with Chris? Elmer who up until recently has been so messed up? Could he really be a father to our daughter? Could I let him into my life and have this baby?"
"I can't tell you what to do. I wish that I knew what was best but I don't. All I know is that you have to be sure. Baby Traff is in there. Terminating her won't take away the fact that she did exist if only for a little while. You've just got to weigh up whether terminating this baby and saying goodbye to Elmer means more to you than having a family with someone who you care about...who I think you could love." Chris replied, squeezing her friends hand reassuringly and getting up.
Lona felt the tears start to fall again as she considered the mess that her life had become. They had all felt so good about helping Mary; about helping all of those children. Who could have known that she and Elmer would have ended up in such a predicament due to their mutual relief and need for comfort.
"I have to go and meet Hook. If you want me to come with you...for the termination...I will. I think you should talk to Elmer though. He deserves to know Lona."
Lona shook her head and again tears began to roll down her cheeks.
"I can't tell him Chris...and I can't have her. I just want things back the way they were before I knew that she existed."
"But she does." Chris told Lona softly, noticing that her friends hand was still on her stomach and placing hers on top again, once again giving it a gentle squeeze. "And I'm not sure you can pretend when she's gone that she didn't exist...not to yourself or to Elmer..." She said quietly, squeezing Lona's hand once again before leaving the sullen and emotional Doctor alone in the dark with her thoughts.