Motherhood Isn't for Sissies
Constance Isles was just returning from setting up another installation of her artwork, this time in San Diego. The Gallery was a lovely one in La Jolla, and she was staying at a nearby resort. She wanted to check for email and telephone messages, since she hadn't heard from Maura in more than 2 weeks, and they had solemnly sworn to keep in touch.
As she opened the door, she could hear her agent, Humphrey, on the telephone.
"Yes, I'll take that message for you. 'Call Louise Danks, (617)555-0873. An emergency..'"He wasn't writing anything.
Constance grabbed the telephone from his hand, not quite remembering how she had gotten from the door to his desk. "Louise. What's wrong?"
"Thank God, I called yesterday, and no one could reach you, Maura's been shot." Constance's heart almost stopped. Her knees grew weak, but she was a strong woman–had to be. "She's in the Hospital, Sacred Heart, It's at 2205 Adams avenue. She's in intensive care."
Constance had taken Humphrey's pad and pen and was writing it all down. The back of her mind was going over what she needed to do to get there. Fear was trying to take over, but fear would debilitate her. Instead, she chose anger. She thanked Louise, hung up and turned on her agent
"Was there a message from Louise yesterday?" The anger was more visceral than any she had ever felt. Any more, and she would be delayed for murdering him.
"Yes, but you were so busy. It's my job to keep distractions from you so you can work."
"My daughter has been shot. She is in intensive care, and I am leaving to go to her. She is not a distraction."
"You signed a contract. You cannot leave. They'll sue." He stood in front of the door.
"I don't care. Either help me pack or get out of my way." She reached behind him and opened the door, effectively shoving him out of her way. She was down the hall and in her room, with the suitcase open and packing as she dialed her cell phone.
Ten minutes later, she was waiting for a cab to Lindberg Field, had called her husband, and was trying to calm herself. Maura couldn't die. They hadn't had enough time together. Her own words ran thought her head, over and over, "Life is what happens while you are doing other things." Her nerves were jangling, her mind went every which way–but the one memory she couldn't shake was the phone call that had changed her life forever.
She had been not quite twenty when the call came. It had been raining, a hard soaker, with lots of runoff. Her parents had driven over to the cheap market, only a few miles from their apartment.. They had been rather late returning, and Constance was getting worried. Sophie was being a pain-her hobby as a newly minted teenager, and cranking her music to an unbearable volume. Constance made dinner, wondering where her parents could be. She yelled at Sophie to come and eat, and as the teen dragged herself to the table, the telephone rang. Constance could remember picking it up, she recalled the calm hospital personnel asking for her. Then that her parents had been in a accident. She turned to Sophie, and the memory replayed itself, over and over until she had gotten to the hospital with her sister, only to be told that both Maman and Papa had died.
It was probably the last time Sophie had allowed Constance to hold her.
Now all she wanted to do was get to Maura. The cab finally arrived, and she ran to it. The driver, seeing her state, helped her load up, and drove as fast as possible to the airport. He took her bags to the redcap station for her airplane, and she just grabbed money and handed it to him without counting. He noticed a hundred dollar bill, and tried to return it, she shook her head and got to her gate was fast as possible, even running along the conveyor belt path. As soon as she checked in, she started to pace. Her nerves were fraying. A white haired grandmother caught her eye. She smiled in an inviting way, and patted the seat next to her.
"Worried about one of your children?"
"Yes. She's in intensive care. She's my only child." She could barely control her voice.
The lady said nothing, just taking her by the hand and nodding in understanding. Constance felt herself almost relax. But she could feel her heart thumping as if trying to get out of her chest. Everything seemed jumbled.
"Would like to tell me about her? Sometimes it helps."
Constance considered her question. It was better than sitting there worrying. "My daughter was shot."
"Oh dear, the times we live in."
"I should have expected...she's a medical examiner...people have tried to kill her before. Things were just settling down. Isn't that always when these things happen?"
"How old is she?"
"Just 36 years old, and she is the Chief Medical Examiner for the Boston Police Department. She's brilliant. So young to hold that position, but such a responsible young woman."
"Do you have a picture?"
Constance gladly pulled out the picture Jane had snapped the last time she had seen Maura. They were laughing. Maura's arm was around her waist. She could almost feel the warmth there now. She closed her eyes, then opened them, and handed the lady the picture.
"You both look so happy. She has a wonderful smile."
"She does. I have missed so much with her.( Oh God, Maura). I wish there was a way to keep them safe." She felt the grip on her emotions slipping. She couldn't allow herself to go down that rat hole–not again. For the first time in more years than she could count, she mentally said a Hail Mary. They called her flight. The lady handed the picture back and Constance thanked her before boarding.
Somehow the flight happened. She managed to get herself off the plane, pick up her luggage and get a cab home. She had him wait as she dropped all but a single change of clothing and her purse.
They went straight to Sacred Heart, where she ran to the information desk.
The receptionist behind the desk turned to Constance, waiting for her to speak. "My daughter is in Intensive Care. Maura Isles." The woman searched her computer, then nodded. "Yes, go to the elevators down the hall, on your right, and go to the 3rd floor, then follow the yellow line, and it will take you right there."
Constance thanked her and hurried down the hall, tapped her foot waiting for the elevator, and once on the 3rd floor, Picking out the yellow line from among the red, yellow and green lines on the floor, following the yellow. She opened the doors, and a nurse looked up at her. "I'm Maura Isles' mother."
The nurse came around the desk and beckoned to her. They went on down the hall to room 308. The nurse opened the door, and Constance went in. Angela was standing next to Maura's bed. The second she saw Constance, she moved out of the way. Constance took her place, holding Maura's limp hand in her own. She glanced at the machines, familiar from her own hospital stay. Everything seemed to be moving, beeping or blipping as they should. Maura was intibated, the machine breathing for her. Suddenly, Maura's hand squeezed hers. Constance started, hoping for more movement, but that was all. She turned to Angela.
"She squeezed my hand. Has she been doing that?"
Angela looked as if she would cry. "No. She must know it's you. That's good, isn't it?"
"Oh, I do hope so. I'll do anything to help..." And Maura squeezed her hand again. Constance kissed the hand she held, whispering, "Je t'aime, ma belle petite fille." She continued murmuring endearments in French and English, knowing from her own experience that some part of Maura would know she was there, and wanted to be with her daughter as long as she was needed or wanted.
Sometime later she noticed Angela had gone. Constance wondered when "Benny" would get there. Traveling from New Zealand took a lot longer than from San Diego, so she expected he wouldn't arrive until the next day. She'd be spending the night at the hospital. It was worth it.
Constance realized she would be there long enough that she might was well sit down.
Hours later, she had run through every nursery rhyme, story, poem, song (and she was no singer), in both languages. She was getting hungry. Maybe a Rizzoli would show up just long enough for her to catch a quick meal. Just then, the door opened, and Jane strode in. She looked up at Constance, frowned and put her hands on her hips. She eyes flashed, and speaking very quietly, but clipping each word to make her anger clear, Jane started in.
"It's about time you showed up. I called, Ma called, and Louise called. Where the hell were you?"
"You all called? Was that yesterday? "
"It sure as hell was. What the hell were you doing that you couldn't take a minute and call one of us back?"
"I never got one of those messages. What time did you start calling?"
"3PM. Where were you?"
Suddenly, Constance put it all together. And she hated it. "Jane, Did you speak to my agent, Humphrey?"
"Yes. He took a message. Same with Ma and Louise." Jane started to continue, but Constance put up her hand to stop the flow of words.
"He never gave me any messages. Apparently, he has made a habit of it over the years. The only reason I found out what happened is because it walked in on Louise's call today. Do you recall the night you and Maura went to my opening in Boston, and I said I had forgotten to put Maura on the list? I hadn't. Humphrey never put her on. Over time, I had wondered why I hadn't heard much from Maura. I just thought she was busy. He has been keeping us apart. I don't understand why."
The look on Jane's face was as if the sun coming from behind a cloud. "Oh my God, he's like an abusive husband. Keeping you away from family and friends. You need to get away from him. There's something wrong with this guy. I thought there was something off, if you were willing to die to save Maura, why would you stop talking to her?"
Constance closed her eyes, then opened them. "Thank you, Jane. I appreciate this discussion. I, um, I need to ask you for another favor. Are you willing to stay with Maura while I get something to eat? I won't be long."
Jane smiled at her then. "I'm happy to do that. Take as much time as you need. I owe her for staying with me when I was shot." Jane looked down at Maura's face, lovingly, " I owe her a lot."
"Thank you Jane."
The cafeteria was filled with a mix of medical personnel and patient's families. Constance just picked something fast, but paid no real attention to what she had ordered. She sat down, and ate and drank, not tasting anything much. She stopped by the restroom on her way back, and then opened the door to Maura's room. Jane was leaning down, kissing Maura's forehead. This was no surprise to Constance. She had known for quite a while that they loved each other, even though they didn't seem to understand their relationship themselves. It would be better, she thought, to let Jane stay with Maura for a while. Constance had a theory, and decided to check it out.
"Jane, has Maura squeezed your hand or otherwise recognized you?"
Jane looked at her oddly. "Yes, she fluttered her lashes and squeezed my hand. I nearly jumped out of my skin."
"She doing better. When I got here, she started squeezing my hand. She fluttered her lashes for you. When her father gets here..."
"She'll get up and dance for him.", Jane smiled. "We all know how she feels about him."
End Chapter 1