Home > Love is Contagious : A Charity Anthology

Love is Contagious : A Charity Anthology
Author: J. Saman

Prologue

 

 

“Mommy, Mommy, guess what?” Maggie’s high-pitched squeal fills my ears. Her heavy stomps fly across the hardwood floor until her small body leaps through the air into my waiting arms.

“What, baby?” I ask, kissing her soft, blonde curls and pulling her small warm body into mine. Her hair is the same color as mine, and a little lighter than Eric’s.

“Daddy taking me ice cream,” she effervesces, her hands clapping wildly.

“Oh, is he?” I say, tilting my head, knowing full well Eric can hear me, which his chuckle confirms.

“How could I say no to that face?” He rounds the corner into the kitchen with an amused and indulgent expression.

“See!” More clapping. “He no say no to me.” Maggie is all smiles for her hero.

“Well, aren’t you a lucky girl?” I lean forward and kiss her round soft cheek.

She nods. “Yes. Mommy, you come too?”

I frown. “Oh, baby. I can’t. Mommy has to work tonight.” Maggie’s tiny body slumps in my arms as I adjust her weight so she can see my face. “Next time, okay?”

Her blue eyes sparkle. Same shade as Eric’s, darker than mine. “Okay, Mommy.”

“Hey, noodle bug?” Eric asks Maggie softly as he walks up to us, wrapping his arm around my waist and kissing my temple. “What if we brought Mommy some ice cream at work?” He looks at her sweet, ebullient expression and then back to me.

“Yay!” she yells, bouncing up and down in my arms. “We do that, Mommy?”

I laugh. I just can’t help myself, because you really can’t say no to her. It’s freaking impossible. “That sounds great.”

“Perfect.” Eric kisses my lips quickly before planting a kiss on Maggie’s lips too. “How’d I get so lucky to have two perfect girls?” He means it. “Go to work, babe.” He kisses me again, pulling Maggie out of my arms and into his. “We’ll see you soon with your special treat.” He winks at me. “Love you.”

“Now I’m the lucky one.” I kiss them both. “Love you back.” I throw a wave over my shoulder, and then get my butt in my SUV and off to work.

 

* * *

 

The ICU isn’t crowded tonight. In fact, we’re slow. We only have eight patients for twelve beds. “Hey, Kate?” Shannon, the charge nurse for tonight calls out to me as I walk out of my patient’s room. “You need to get down to the ED.”

My brows wrinkle as I walk toward her. “Why? What’s up?” Then I groan. “Am I being floated?”

She’s shaking her head. “No. They didn’t say. Just asked you to come down. Said it was important.”

I laugh. “Oh. It must be Eric and Maggie bringing me my ice cream.”

He always tries to avoid bringing her into the hospital, and sometimes he parks by the ED because it’s easy for me to get in and get out. Same for him.

“Lucky lady,” she winks. “Go on then. Can’t leave that cutie waiting in the ED.”

“Oh, he won’t bring Maggie in. I’ll have to run out to the car.”

She shakes her head. “I was talking about Eric, but I guess Maggie’s pretty cute too.” Another wink.

“You’re shameless,” I laugh, waving over my shoulder as I head toward the back stairwell. I hate hospital elevators. I avoid them if I can, and since the ICU is only on the fourth floor, I usually take the stairs. The second I open the door to the ED, I pause, and I can’t explain why.

Something feels off. Something feels so very wrong.

It’s nothing visual, more instinctual.

A chill runs up my spine, freezing my blood and taking over my body.

I’m off. Running down the hall and wishing I hadn’t taken the fucking stairs for once because the elevator would have put me on the other side of the ED where the trauma rooms are, instead of by triage. My clogs slap against the linoleum floors as I race down the hall, darting around people as I go.

Sound. Yelling. Orders. Controlled chaos. I hear all of it, but I’m removed from it. Detached. And even though I know why I’m running at full speed, I don’t know why I’m running. My gut is twisting and adrenaline is pulsing in my veins as I burst through the swinging doors of Triage One. Three doctors and four nurses surround the gurney, making it impossible for me to see the patient.

But I know.

I know exactly who it is because I feel her. And then I get a glimpse of her pink light-up sneaker tilted on its side on the floor where it looks like it was thrown.

“Maggie!” I shriek out before I race toward her.

“No. Wait. Kate!” Someone calls to me, stopping my motion mid-stride by wrapping her arms around my waist and pulling me back to the door.

“Let me go.” I fight, still trying to run to my girl. “Maggie,” I call again. “Stop. She needs me.” I’m kicking and pushing, becoming more and more hysterical by the second.

“Calm down, Kate. Let them work.”

I collapse in her arms and onto the floor. Something about the word work did it. They’re working on my little girl. Working a mile a minute and barking out orders that are laced with concern and frustration.

“What happened?” It’s both a whisper and a demand.

“Car accident.” Her hand glides down my back and I sob out, shaking uncontrollably.

“I need to go to her.” I can’t even bring myself to ask the next question. The sensible question. The one that I should be asking, but am unable to form into words to do so. She doesn’t respond, just holds on tight to me.

I have no idea whose arms are around me.

I don’t care.

I can’t pull my eyes off of my little girl’s lifeless body. Off the tube in her mouth breathing for her. Off the central line coming from her femoral artery pumping her full of medicine. Off the chest tube that the doctor is trying to place to re-expand her lung. Off the monitors that are barely indicating signs of life and then…flattens out. Blood, fluid, it’s all going in, but it’s not helping.

Nothing is helping.

My baby is dying in front of me and I can’t do anything to stop it.

Compressions. Defibrillation. I need to look away. I can’t look away. I just…can’t.

“Anything?” someone calls out.

“Nothing,” someone else responds.

“She’s losing it as fast as we can give it.” Another voice. And now I stand. The nurse lets me, but maintains her grip on my arm in case I decide to run at her again. “Her aorta is shredded. We’re not going to get her back.”

“Shut up,” someone snaps, and then all eyes are suddenly on me.

I shake my head.

My baby is going and I need to hold her.

Pushing someone aside, I look at my baby girl’s face for the first time. She doesn’t look like Maggie. Bruised, battered, and bloodied. A large head wound on the opposite side is seeping through the gauze placed over it. Her chest and abdomen are swollen and discolored.

“You have to move, Kate.” A hand is trying to pull me back again.

“Is she gone?” I ask, my voice barely recognizable.

Silence.

I wrap my arms around her small body, pulling her to me. I hear protesting behind me, but it just as quickly stops, and the room falls silent again. The only sound is the alarm of the machine that tells me her heart has stopped.

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