I got the call about 1:00 AM Sidney and Aunt MeMe were in a bad accident, I needed to get to the hospital right away.
We’d last spoke around 11:00 PM, and she confirmed she’d arrive home around 12:30 AM. I waited for her, wearing nothing but a red bow around my waist, and Ginuwine’s “So Anxious” on the stereo. My intentions were to seduce her before bringing up the brothel situation …and this was my attempt to start. I was on the umpteenth repeat of the song by the time I received Latecia’s call.
They were close, but far enough away that I had to drive an hour-and-thirty-minutes to the next city to get to the hospital. I pulled up to the emergency room entrance and abandoned my car in a rush to get to the front desk, where I was met with zero compassion.
“…and who are you, again?”
“I’m…I’m her fiancé!”
“Well, ma’am that’s hard to believe, since her wife just ran in here a few moments before you.”
“I’m not sure who you are, but you’re going to have to wait until visiting hours.”
“…but she’s not her wife…I mean, technically she is, but they’re getting a divorce.”
“Well…TECHNICALLY…you still need to go to the visitor’s section.” She rolled her eyes and waved me away.
Not wanting a fight, I sarcastically thanked the woman for her “help” and tried calling Latecia to see if she could meet me in the lobby. When she didn’t pick up, I huffed, cut my eyes at the unhelpful woman, and made my way towards the visitor’s section down the hall. I hadn’t made it half-way when I heard the scream.
It was the kind of scream you don’t forget… “She can’t be dead! You fix it! You fix it now! BRING HER BACK!!”
I recognized the voice and ran in its direction. Each step feeling like led. “Letecia!” I screamed sprinting toward her voice.
“BRING HER BAAAACKKKK!” The pain in her voice cut through my veins. I rounded the corner in time to see her crumple to the floor in a ball of tears.
“It’s a lie! It’s a lie!!! You fix it dammit! Bring her bacccckkkkk!!!PLEASEEEE GOD…NOOOO!!” She agonized as I approached.
“It’s all right, Tecia….” I hadn’t noticed Monica consoling her…. “We’ve got you…just breath…” Monica acknowledged me with a look I couldn’t read before speaking in my direction, “Give me a moment, and I’ll take you to Sidney.”
Taking me to see Sidney meant she wasn’t dead. I let out a small sigh of relief, and immediately felt guilty. “Latecia…I’m soooo sorry…” I started up, unsure of what to say…
“Momma Tee!” I heard MeMe’s son yelling behind me. He arrived just in time to prevent me from saying something stupid. I stepped back and watched as step-mother and son exchanged grief-stricken hugs. I caught a glimpse of Latecia’s face as she stood; she looked thirty years older under the weight of her pain. Grief can do that to you.
“Come with me.” Monica grabbed my arm, snapping me out of my thoughts. I followed her into the hallway, and onto an elevator.
“You’re going to want to brace yourself before you enter the room.” Her tone was cold, yet compassionate… “she’s not dead, but…she’s not awake – and she was almost crushed in the impact. They’re not sure if she’s going to make it through the night…at least not without support.”
“WAI…WHAA” That last statement, knocked the wind out of me. I grabbed my chest and balanced myself against the wall.
“We don’t have time for your emotional break-downs right now, Jameka. She could literally die any second. YOU BETTER COME SEE HER WHILE I STILL HAVE IT ON MY HEART TO LET YOU.” She huffed and pulled me along.
“I shouldn’t even be doing this shit, but I know she’d do it for me.” I overheard Monica mumble. I said nothing. We walked the rest of the way in silence as I attempted to control the anxiousness in my mind.
“She could die any second now…? How does one go from, “I can’t wait to taste you…” to “please don’t die…” in a matter of a few hours? This was unimaginable! You really don’t think this kind of shit can happen to you until it does!
“She’s right here, in room sixty-three.” Monica motioned for me to follow her into the large corner-suite at the end of the hall. I lingered at the doorway for a moment, hoping to ready myself for whatever I was about to see.
The first thing I noticed were her eyes. One of them was covered with a patch, and the other – at least what I thought was the other – was swollen and blistered. A tube invaded her mouth, forcing her lungs to do what they should. Several teeth and a piece of her top lip were missing, and a portion of her skull was shaved, bloody, and slightly misshapen. That was just her head. I let out a shaky sigh and fought back tears.
“IF she wakes up…” I’d forgotten Monica was here, “they say she likely won’t be the same. She may not be able to function physically…even mentally…as she did before.”
I kept my eyes on Sidney and reached out my hand to touch hers…I recoiled in horror when I realized I couldn’t find it. I silently panicked and searched the bed.
“It’s gone…along with one of her legs” Monica interjected.
“Gone…where?” I asked, stunned, while eyeing the other side of the bed to see if the other arm was there – it was. I couldn’t even bring myself to look at her legs.
“On vacation….” Monica retorted sarcastically, “Where the fuck do you think it went?” She rolled her eyes and continued her report. “As I was saying, she’ll probably need round-the-clock-care and intensive therapy, and it’s going to be expensive. That is…if you want the best.” She smirked.
“I just don’t understand what the hell happened?” I kneeled next to Sindey’s bed and cradled my head in my hands, “I’d just talked to her…” my voice trailed off as tears started to flow. I hated crying in front of people. Even when the tears were understood.
“I don’t know,” she responded, annoyed. “Latecia called me and said they were in a wreck and I needed to get up here. So, I came. Does it matter?”
That was odd, I distinctly remember Latecia screaming that Monica called and told her about the wreck…
“I…just wanted to know. I’d just talked with her, she was fine.” I stumbled over my words.
“They’re called “accidents” Latecia, it’s not like you get a warning about these types of things. That’s why you keep the life insurance policy paid in advance.” She smirked again and sat down in the chair next to the bed. The change in her demeanor told me whatever was coming next wasn’t going to be good.
“Look, I don’t know how else to tell you this…but…” She cocked her head and pursed her lips before blurting it out, “If the doctors recommend… I’m going to pull the plug.”
“What kind of shit, MONICA?!!” My eyes felt like they’d bulge out of my head. I knew she was up to some bullshit. I knew it!
“Now before you try to make me out to be the bad guy…hear me out.”
“You’re trying to kill her! And you’re asking me to hear you out?” I frowned in contempt and silently wished she’d been in the car crash instead.
“She’d want this. Honestly, we’ve talked about it many times before. And we both said, if we were ever in this situation…” She tried to explain, but I cut her off. I didn’t need to hear anything she had to say.
“…bulllshit!” the words fell out of my mouth without warning, “you’re doing this out of spite and you know it!”
“SPITE? HA!” She actually rolled her eyes and gave me a pitiful look, “…honey, you honestly think Sidney’s such a great prize, you have at her. I haven’t stayed around all these years because I’ve had nowhere to go. She’s kept me around because she knows no other woman would be foolish enough to put up with her ass…and not even I’m that foolish…but she pays well, soooo….” She shrugged her shoulders and looked up at the ceiling.
“How can you just decide to do something like this so nonchalantly…what gives you the right?” Tears flooded my eyes…and pain flooded my judgement. I asked questions, but I didn’t really want answers. She gave them anyway.
“Well, first of all – the law gives me the right as her wife; and second, it is not nonchalantly. In fact, it’s filed with our lawyers, they’re her written directives. She’d never want to remain hooked up to the machines as some kind of living mummy. She always said she’d rather ‘let the Lord do His work’ who am I to get in the way of that?” She waited for my rebuttal, I had none.
We sat in silence for a few moments…my mind racing with the what ifs, whys, and prayers of pain. I bartered everything I owned, even my own soul for another moment with her, and cursed myself for not saying “I love you…” before hanging up on our last call. I was trying to be sensual…so I said, “I can’t wait to taste you…” instead. Stupid.
I squeezed her hand and silently begged her to wake up. I watched her intently and swore I saw her eyes flinch…but it was probably just wishful thinking. Monica stood near a window across the room, her gaze directed at something I couldn’t see.
“So…how long can I stay?” I asked, realizing she had all the rights here. I was sure I wasn’t supposed to be here, but she’d somehow worked it out.
“I know the nurse in charge. You’re fine…for now.”
“We’re just waiting on the doctor to return…she needs surgery, or maybe not…I don’t know. They asked me to wait… so I’m waiting. All I know is right now she’s sedated, she’s not breathing on her own, and I’m not even sure there’s brain activity…”
“How long before we know?”
“Well the doctor said she’d be back at approximately seven forty-five….” she said in a sing-song voice that let me know she was being sarcastic. “How the FUCK should I know, Jameka?!” She fumed and fumbled in her pockets for a moment, then headed towards the door, “I need a cigarette, can you sit here?”
“Of course, where else am I gonna go?”
She chuckled, “right…the devoted fiancé’….” She shook her head in pity, “…girl, if you only knew.” She glared at Sidney before walking out the room. I started to ask what that was about, but figured I’d pick my battles.
Besides, I was happy to have a moment alone, I only wished I’d known a moment was all I’d get.