Chapter 15 ~ Your body is exhausted, you feel like you've lost your mind
Title: This Too Will Pass, by Peter Himmelman
Notes: I know it's a slow chapter, it fought me every step of the way. I'm hoping the next one will be better.
Julie and Guy paced in the waiting room, anxiously waiting for news on Connie's condition. They had ridden in the ambulance with her, the other Ducks were all getting lifts from Mr and Mrs Banks and Coach Bombay.
"You were right. I should have noticed." She said, the guilt weighing heavily on her. "This is all my fault."
He looked startled as if he had forgotten she was there. "It's not your fault, Jules." He told her. "It's mine. I was so busy being hurt that I wasn't there for her."
"I live with her. I should have noticed that something was wrong. I should have paid more attention to her." She told him, her eyes streaming with tears.
"Felix? Any news?" Portman burst in, the rest of the team and various adults behind him.
She shook her head and let herself be wrapped up in his arms. He held her while she cried.
"Has anyone called her parents?" Coach Bombay asked.
Guy nodded. "I did. They're on their way. I didn't know what to tell them, so I said she passed out. Is that ok?"
Coach nodded and squeezed his shoulder. "So what happened?" he asked softly.
"She wasn't eating." Julie supplied, her tears running down her face. "I confronted her and then she started eating again – or so I thought. I saw her eat. I thought she was ok. She seemed much better. It's all my fault."
Portman stroked her hair and tried to calm her. "It's not your fault, Jules. We all thought she was better."
"Hold on one moment. You knew my daughter was starving herself and you didn't think to tell anyone."
Everyone turned to the source of the new voice. Mr and Mrs Moreau stood in the doorway. "You let this happen to my daughter?" Mrs Moreau continued.
Julie didn't know how to defend herself, and was surprised when Portman spoke up. "Julie didn't know Connie was starving herself. She saw that she had gotten thin over the summer, and that she didn't eat much. She threatened to tell our Coach about it and Connie admitted that she'd been dieting. Connie then started eating lunch with us. We all saw her eat and we both thought that it had been just a diet. I'm sorry we were wrong."
"Why didn't you pay more attention to her?" Mrs Moreau demanded.
"Ok everybody, calm down!" Bombay walked to the centre of the room. "We're all on edge, but this is nobody's fault. Let's all take a seat and calm down."
Everyone reluctantly took a seat, but very few calmed down.
The first thing Connie was aware of was a regular beep, it was low and almost soothing. The second thing was her perpetual tiredness. She slowly opened her eyes and looked around.
She was in hospital. The beeping sound was coming from a heart monitor that was attached to… her? There was a drip inserted into each arm.
"What's happening?" She asked, very much alarmed.
"Oh, you're awake." A kind voice replied. "Miss Moreau, I'm Dr Martin, no relation to the shoe maker. How are you feeling?"
"Tired." She answered. "And cold."
"I should imagine you are. You've got pneumonia, amongst other things. Malnutrition is another. You've got a lot of people worried."
She decided she liked him. His tone was kind and understanding, not irritated and judgemental, the way she had imagined it might be.
"Can I see my friends."
"Not all at once, there's almost twenty people out there." He told her with a twinkle in his eye. "And I believe your parents would like to see you first."
"Who called them?" She asked anxiously. "Are they mad? Are they fighting?" She felt tears start to run down her face. She couldn't face being the cause of another fight between them.
"Calm down. Both of your parents are here, and they're worried about you. I think they would like an explanation of why you're malnourished though."
"I'm fine." She said, it was an automatic response to any questions about her weight.
"Miss Moreau, you are not fine. If you were fine, you would not be here." He told her sternly.
She bit her lip.
"Have you heard of the term 'Anorexia' or 'Bulimia'?" He asked.
She nodded. "Yeah. It's what models get."
"Not just models, Connie. Anyone is at risk. Yourself included. Your friend, Julie, tells me that you haven't been eating properly."
Connie felt a rush of annoyance at Julie, but it was quickly replaced by another emotion. One she couldn't pinpoint immediately. Then she realised, it was relief.
She was relieved that she was in a position where she had to tell the truth about her eating.
"You don't have to explain now, I understand that you're tired." Dr Martin continued. "Your parents will be in shortly."
Connie stared at the ceiling after he left wondering how she was going to explain what was wrong, and exactly where she should start.
Her parents walked in and she took a deep breath. She wanted to ask them something before they started fussing.
"Hi." She said sheepishly, then dove straight in. "Can you call Aunt Lydia and ask Celine to come here to see me?"
"Honey, she's got school." Her Mom moved over to stroke her hair soothingly. "I know the two of you got close over the summer, but she can come over another time."
"No, Mom." Connie responded, with more conviction than she felt. "I need to see her now. I need her too see me in hospital."
"Connie," her father moved to take her hand. He was an unemotional man, and had nothing to follow her name with.
"Honey, you can't expect her –"
"Mom, if she doesn't see what I look like, I'm going to be visiting her in hospital!" Connie explained.
"What are you saying?" Mrs Moreau asked uncertainly.
"Celine's anorexic too. Or maybe bulimic, I'm not sure."