Hello again! This story picks up a couple of months after the end of "Storm."
June 1, 1995, 6:37 AM—Roger and Holly's House
Holly began the day as she had the past six days: being awakened by intense nausea.
Unlike the past six days, however, today it wasn't just nausea. Her stomach was rolling like a Tilt-a-Whirl. She threw off the covers, stumbled out of bed, and staggered to the bathroom, making it just in time.
Roger jolted awake when he heard the sound of retching. He hurried into the bathroom and dropped down beside Holly, gently holding her hair back as she finished getting sick. She groaned as she put a hand to her head. "At least it's finally arrived," she muttered. "I've been trying to get this stomach flu for almost a week."
Roger gently squeezed her shoulder, then got her a cup of water from the sink. She flushed the toilet before taking the cup of water from him gratefully. He helped her to her feet and she trudged to the sink, swished and spit.
Roger followed Holly back to bed with a frown. When they were back in bed, he felt her forehead, and then the back of her neck. "You don't feel warm," he said.
"I don't have to throw up anymore either, thank God," she said as she turned her pillow over to the cool side.
"You've been nauseous for the past week—" he began.
"Six days, counting today," she corrected.
"You're having these really strange appetite swings where you go from eating everything in sight to choking down half a salad and announcing that you're full, and now you're actually throwing up," he continued. "There's something going on with your stomach."
"Yeah, the flu," Holly said, closing her eyes and trying to get comfortable.
"You don't have a fever," Roger pointed out. "You should really see a doctor, Holly. If you called Ed, I'm sure he could fit you in sometime today."
Holly turned her head and opened her eyes. "Eve's funeral is today," she reminded him. Eve Guthrie, the fiancée of Ed's son Rick, had been stricken by a rare, aggressive form of leukemia and had died a few days ago. Ed would be with Rick on this difficult, heartbreaking day, not at the hospital, and this certainly wasn't any kind of an emergency.
"Oh," Roger said, remembering. "Well, it doesn't have to be Ed." He reached out and ever so gently touched her face. "You've been just a little bit…off these past few weeks. I'm worried about you."
"I'm sure it's nothing serious. If it were, I'd be feeling much worse," she said. Seeing how worried he looked, she said, "How about a compromise? It's about time for my annual checkup with Dr. Sedwick."
"The gynecologist?" he asked. He paused for a moment, then decided to take the risk anyway. "I thought…um…"
"What?" Holly asked.
"Well, ah, the, um…the—the change of life, that's not supposed to happen for a few more years yet, closer to fifty…isn't it?" he asked.
He looked so uncomfortable even mentioning the possibility, but she wasn't offended. "Yeah, I don't think that's what this is," she said. "I don't think you feel sick and throw up, or have such swings in appetite, with that. But Dr. Sedwick will know for sure. She'll probably just tell me that I need to see Ed for a general checkup, but I can get this out of the way before I see him."
"So you'll call her office and get an appointment?" he asked.
"Yes," Holly replied. "although I'm sure she'll be going to Eve's funeral, so if I can even get an appointment today, it'll be late this afternoon."
"Can I go with you?" Roger asked.
"You want to go with me to the gynecologist?" she asked, surprised. "They won't let you in the exam room with me, you know."
"So I'll sit in the waiting room. They have a waiting room, don't they?" he countered.
"Yes," she said dubiously. "If you really want to come along, you can, but you're going to be bored."
But Holly was wrong. Dr. Sedwick would not be telling her to see Ed Bauer, and by the time Holly and Roger left Dr. Sedwick's office, they would both be feeling many things, but bored would not be among them.
June 1, 1995, 3:57 PM—Cedars Hospital, Dr. Margaret Sedwick's Office
"It says you're in for a checkup, Holly," Dr. Sedwick greeted Holly with a warm smile after consulting her chart.
"I was surprised you were able to see me today, with Eve's funeral," Holly said, "but I'm glad. Roger's worried."
"And you're not?" Dr. Sedwick asked.
"I think it's just the stomach flu. I've been trying to get it for almost a week. Every morning, I've been so nauseous when I wake up," Holly said.
Being an obstetrician and gynecologist, those words automatically got Margaret Sedwick thinking in a very definite direction in terms of her diagnosis. "Any vomiting?" she asked.
"This morning, finally, but only once," Holly replied.
"How's your appetite?" Dr. Sedwick asked.
"A little off," Holly admitted. "Sometimes I eat everything in sight, as Roger put it this morning, and other times I'm hardly hungry at all."
"Because of the nausea?" Dr. Sedwick asked.
Holly thought about it, considering. "Well, there were a couple of evenings where I felt a bit nauseous, yes, but for some reason it wasn't as bad as it was in the morning. Of course, I had a cup of ginger tea when I'd feel nauseous at night, and that would settle my stomach."
"Mmm hmm," Dr. Sedwick said. She really has no idea, Dr. Sedwick thought, and if Roger did, he undoubtedly would have said something. "What else has been going on? Any cramping, dizziness, spotting or unusual bleeding, more fatigue than normal?"
"I had a very short period a few weeks ago," Holly said. "It wasn't really a period, actually. It was just some very light spotting, but I really didn't think anything of it. Some months are shorter and lighter in terms of bleeding and cramps than others. This was just a couple of days, though, and just some spotting and light cramps, as I said."
Holly noticed the shift in Dr. Sedwick's expression then, though the doctor did her best to keep her expression even. "I haven't been dizzy, and I haven't felt any more tired than usual, but then, I'm not a night owl. Roger actually suggested it might be…well, 'the change of life,' as he called it. I think he was afraid I'd think he was making a statement about my age. I'll be 45 in December. That's a little early for menopause, and I remember my mother was 53 when she went through it, so I told him I didn't think that's what's happening here."
"You're right," Dr. Sedwick agreed. She closed Holly's chart. "I want to do a blood test and get a urine sample."
"Do you have any idea what it could be?" Holly asked.
"I'm fairly certain, yes, and the blood test and the urine sample will confirm it, along with one other thing," Dr. Sedwick replied.
While Holly was in with Dr. Sedwick, Roger was sitting in the waiting room, surrounded by four women of various ages, two who were noticeably pregnant (one of whom was making him nervous because she looked like she was about to give birth at any second), one girl who looked to be college age, and a woman who looked to be in about her mid-fifties.
They really didn't have a very good selection of magazines. Roger had searched for something that didn't have to do with parenting, pregnancy, Hollywood gossip, or women's interests and he came up with nothing. Needing a distraction, he approached the receptionist's desk.
The receptionist was a perky blonde of about 25. "Can I help you?" she asked.
"Do you have any magazines for men?" he asked. "You know, Car and Driver, Newsweek, U.S. News and World Report, anything?"
"You're not the first man to comment on that. We're getting more dads-to-be in here lately," the receptionist said sympathetically.
"Oh, I am a dad, but my daughter's grown and married," Roger said. "I'm just waiting on my wife."
"I'll talk to Dr. Sedwick about starting subscriptions to some of those magazines," she said, pulling a notepad over to write them down. "Let's see, you said Car and Driver, Newsweek, and U.S. News and World Report, right?"
"Yes," Roger replied.
"In the meantime, I do have a complimentary copy of Highlights for Children," she said as she handed him a brightly colored magazine.
It was better than Cosmopolitan, Elle, and Hybrid Mom, Roger thought, gratefully accepting the magazine from her.
He had just resumed his seat and opened the magazine when a nurse came out to the waiting room and said, "Mr. Thorpe?"
Roger jumped to his feet. "Here," he said. "What is it?"
"Would you come with me, please?" the nurse asked.
Now Roger was scared. Holly had said he wouldn't be allowed back in the exam room with her, but now the nurse was asking him to come with her. All he could think was that they must have found something very wrong. Otherwise, why would the nurse be coming to get him?
He followed the nurse, trying to brace himself for whatever situation he might be walking into.
Holly saw the naked fear on Roger's face the second he stepped into the room. She wanted to reassure him, but she was desperately trying not to panic herself since she didn't know what Dr. Sedwick was looking for with this ultrasound she insisted on doing now, and the only thing Holly could think of was that Dr. Sedwick might be trying to locate a tumor.
Roger hurried to Holly's side and grabbed her hand. "Are—" His voice cracked, and he cleared his throat before speaking again. "Are you okay? What's going on?" he asked. Holly was lying back on the exam table and Dr. Sedwick was doing an ultrasound on her, running the wand back and forth over her abdomen. Cancer, he thought, his insides turning to ice.
Dr. Sedwick looked up from the screen she was studying then. "Ah, just in time, Mr. Thorpe," she said, looking at him.
"Dr. Sedwick, what is going on?" Holly asked. "What are you looking for?"
Dr. Sedwick looked back at the screen. "There it is," she said. She turned the screen toward Roger and Holly. They both looked at the screen, neither sure what they were looking for, but knowing they were supposed to be seeing something.
Holly spotted it first, a small, whitish blob off to one side of the sea of gray representing her insides. Roger was frantically scanning the screen, trying to recognize possible tumors, and then he too saw the same blob that Holly saw, noticing the perfectly round shape at the top, below which was a small, oblong mass with what looked like a kidney bean rapidly flickering in the center of it.
"What's that?" Holly asked, her voice trembling as she gestured toward the blob on the screen. Roger's grip on her hand tightened reflexively, and she squeezed his hand back just as hard.
Dr. Sedwick beamed at Holly and Roger. "That's your baby," she replied.
Neither Holly nor Roger moved or breathed for a long moment. "Say that again?" Holly finally requested.
"That's your baby, Holly," Dr. Sedwick repeated. "Congratulations. You're pregnant."
For everyone who, like me, deeply hated that Fletcher, not Roger, was Meg's father on the actual show (seriously, whose bright idea was that train wreck of a story?), I offer "With Arms Wide Open." However, there will be some major differences between this story and what happened on the actual show; Roger being the father of Holly's second child is only the beginning. Hopefully you'll enjoy what I have planned for the Thorpes and Marlers in this tale.