Chapter 4 – Tender Treatment

Settled behind his desk he invited Tess and Andrew to take a seat. Knowing he must get the legalities out of the way Doctor Oliver Goulding spoke first.

"I'm Doctor Goulding, Oliver Goulding and I've been treating Monica since she was first brought to us. Are you both family members?" Before Tess could answer she heard Andrew's Voice. "Doctor Goulding I'm Andrew and this is Tess. We are not blood related to Monica nor does she have any relatives to call her own. Were it not for each other all three of us would walk our paths alone. But we love her and in the truest sense we are family."

Touched by Andrew's words and moved by his sincerity and honesty Doctor Goulding continued. "I'm afraid Monica was subjected to a vicious physical assault earlier this evening. The right side of her jaw suffered impact damage to the bone; she has multiple contusions and abrasions to her face, torso and lower back. We are currently awaiting test results to determine the functionality of her Kidneys but this is at the moment purely precautionary. We are however concerned about the level of tenderness Monica is experiencing around the abdomen. Which is why I believe the best course of action would be exploratory surgery. We need to be absolutely certain she hasn't sustained any internal injury particularly to the Spleen." Now coming to the most delicate part of his speech Oliver Goulding faltered a little. These two people clearly cared dearly for his patient. He had already thrown a hell of a lot at them and had watched the pain and sorrow in their eyes increase as he had spoken. Now he had to administer the final and without doubt hardest blow and he couldn't help but wonder how much more they could take.

Sensing there was something else the doctor had to say Tess stepped in with a very gentle but firm nudge. "It's ok baby. Whatever it is, just tell us. We can't help her until we know what we're dealing with." Gathering strength from the remarkable woman in front of him he continued. "Normally in a situation like Monica's we would request permission for the surgery from the patient herself. However in this case I believe it is necessary to ask for one of you to sign the paperwork we need. You see, Monica was subjected to a horrendous ordeal tonight and her injuries go beyond the physical. Although it isn't my area of expertise and I will be asking another doctor qualified in the field to speak to Monica, I believe she has suffered deep emotional trauma and will most likely require some form of counselling in the very near future. Right now I don't think Monica is of sound enough mind to make this sort of decision so I am turning to you her family. Will one of you please give your permission for the surgery she needs?"

Both angels reeled in complete shock. How had an evening that had started out with so much promise come to this? It was Andrew that recovered himself enough to speak first. 'I'll sign your forms. I'll do it." Taking the clipboard and pen he was offered he signed his name where indicated. Before leaving to tend to his patient's surgery Oliver Goulding offered a few final words "Thank you. This really is the best thing for her. I'll bring her back to you as quickly as I can. " With that he was gone and two tired, confused angels were left in his wake and in his office. For a few moments neither could bring themselves to move. Both trying to take in everything they had just been told.

Andrew's mind swam. Right at that moment it felt like a million thoughts were competing for attention, attacking him from every direction. But bone weary he lacked the energy to focus; struggled to isolate just one problem to work on and in the end gave up trying. The one instinct Andrew was certain of just wouldn't leave him alone. The reason he had volunteered to put his name on the dotted line. It was an image that once it had wormed itself into his mind refused to leave and one he struggled to cope with. But the truth was he had signed the forms as much for Tess's sake as his angel girl's. Should Monica not pull through he didn't want Tess to have to live with the knowledge that she had consented to the surgery that ended her life? He was determined that should the worst happen it would be his burden to carry and his alone.

Tess remained still and motionless save for one tiny movement. She had entwined her fingers and placed her hands very carefully in her lap. Then almost without realising she was doing it her thumbs started to circle each other. The rhythmic, repetitive motion helping to focus her mind, focus her breathing, keeping her last thread of sanity intact.