More Than Words
(Written on 23rd July - Edited*)
The seasoned cop's heart races as he sprints across the parking lot towards the main entry of General hospital. In his urgency to find his daughter he pays no heed to the orderlies and nurses who give him looks of confusion or angry stares as he rushes past them, knocking into impeding shoulders and trolleys. In his mind all he can hear is the voice of young Officer Taylor informing him over the radio that a bus had over turned enroute to the bus station. He'd been on his way to meet his daughter there. When he heard the number of the bus, Lieutenant Mike Stone felt a cold numbness spreading quickly through his veins. He remembers reaching the scene only to find the mangled wreckage laying on its side across the intersection. Jeannie was nowhere to be seen. Panic took hold of his heart in its tight stranglehold when a paramedic told him his daughter was rushed in another ambulance to the emergency room of General Hospital. At that moment that no words could ever be enough to describe the unbearable tearing sensation at the thought of losing one's child
Now, the aging detective tears the remaining few feet to the front desk. A young woman looks up and asks how she may help him. Mike gives her his name and inquires if a young girl by the name of Jeannie Stone had arrived yet. Time slows to a complete stop as the receptionist peruses through her register before glancing back up at the man before her and replies, "She's still in the ER, sir. Would you like to take a seat in the waiting room? I'm sure Dr. Landers will have some news on her condition soon."
"How long is soon? Please, miss, can't you tell me…" the Lieutenant's gruff voice trails at the sound of his partner calling out his name.
"Mike!" Inspector Steve Keller huffs breathlessly as he skids to a halt beside the older man. "I came as soon as I heard. How is she?"
"I wish I knew," Mike croaks, tears welling in his eyes from the fear of not knowing.
Steve peers around Mike and addresses the young woman behind the desk, "Excuse me…" before he can ask his question, he feels a firm hand grasp his arm.
"Steve!" Mike gasps. His eyes are locked on a gurney wheeling down the corridor from the emergency room.
Both men turn away from the desk and race down the corridor to intercept the medical team and the gurney. They can see the patient is a woman with brown hair that cascades past her shoulders. An oxygen mask covers her face, obscuring her features. The group of medics does not stop as they rush their patient to the operating theatre at the end of the corridor. At a closer glance, the two detectives realize their folly. Though relief is imminent when they see the young woman is not Jeannie, the trepidation mounts as the waiting game continues. A sigh escapes Steve's lips and he reaches out to place a hand on Mike's shoulder but the Lieutenant walks away in a daze-like state. The walls begin to close in on Stone from both sides of the narrow corridor. He reaches his hand to steady himself using the wall for support.
"She's going to be okay," Steve whispers softly.
"How do you know? She's my daughter and I don't even know….." Mike snaps but his voice is a strangled cry of a father's anguish. The words become lodged in his throat and he swallows.
"Mike, listen to yourself! You sound like you've already lost her. Don't give up on her!" Keller counters in a loud and clear voice, seemingly devoid of the panic that is eating at the edges of his soul.
"You're right, buddy boy. You're right. I'm sorry," Mike apologizes huskily.
"Look, I'm just as anxious as you are. There's nothing we can do but wait for the doctors to tell us how badly she's been hurt."
"Alright, alright wise guy! I get the point. When did you get to be so wise, huh?" Mike shrugs away from Steve's guiding hand but turns to give him a weak grin.
Just as the young Inspector opens his mouth to respond, the double doors of the emergency room swings open once more and a doctor in his middle years makes a beeline for the duo.
"I'm Dr. Landers. Are you Lieutenant Mike Stone?" the man in white asks politely.
"Yes that's right, doctor. This is Inspector Keller. How's my daughter?" Mike presses the doctor for the information his heart urgently needs, yet also dreads.
"She's going to be just fine. She has a mild concussion and a gash just above her brow which required stitches but it should heal without any scarring. There were no broken bones or internal injuries," Dr. Landers smiled warmly as he delivers the prognosis.
"Is it alright if we see her?" Steve asks while he waits for his partner who is overcome by a surge of emotions, to find his voice.
"Of course. Right this way, gentlemen. There's some paperwork to fill in then you may also take the young lady home. Now, she'll need a few days rest and some good company…"
The rest of the doctor's words of comfort fade into the background noise as the heavy crushing weight is lifted from Mike's shoulders. He faces his partner whose boyish grin expresses more than words can ever tell. Everything is going to be alright. Jeannie is coming home.