BY NT FRANKLIN
Copyright is held by the author.
BOBBY LOOKED straight ahead and steered the compact car along the highway. “How long has it been since we took a vacation? A real vacation, just us two. Six years?”
Becky brushed a strand of blonde hair out of her face. “Before the boys were born,” she said, “that’s for sure.”
“It was nice of your folks to take the twins for the weekend. Think they’ll be too much for them?”
“Come on, Bobby, they’ll all be in their element. Mom will bake cookies and Dad will feed them to the boys for supper. He’s just a big kid.”
“But last visit . . . who knows what skill they’ll come home with this time.”
“Okay, he taught them how to spit. It was either that or how to skin a raccoon. Could have been worse.”
Bobby turned toward her and opened his mouth to reply.
“Watch out! The truck!” screamed Becky.
Then, everything went dark.
The next thing Becky knew, she was sitting in a hospital waiting room. Alone. She took a deep breath, trying to calm herself.
“Excuse me, where am I?” she asked the elderly woman sitting next to her.
The woman moved her cane from her left hand to her right hand and shrugged her frail shoulders.
A tall orderly, dressed in white, entered the room through the solid double doors and announced, “Mrs. Jamison, you need to come with me now.”
The elderly woman next to Becky struggled getting up, but managed with her cane. She smiled at Becky and followed the orderly through the door.
Becky moved over three chairs and sat next to a middle-aged man with a receding hairline. “Hi, can you tell me where we are?”
The man looked at Becky and smiled, but that was all.
She stood up and announced to the room, “I’d like to be with my husband.” Silence. Becky stared at the elevator across the room and breathed in and out loudly through her nose. “By God, someone is going to talk to me and answer my questions.”
A young man, also dressed in white, pushing an oversized laundry hamper, came off the elevator. He smiled at Becky and said, “Afternoon, ma’am.”
“Yup, my momma said I started talking before I was done being born.”
Becky looked at his name tag. Randy. Laundry. “Well, Randy, can you tell me where I am?”
Randy kept moving toward the double doors. “Yes, ma’am, you’re in the hospital. Sorry, but I need to get these delivered.” And Randy was gone.
Becky looked around the waiting room. She counted seven other people. Everyone made eye contact with her, but none spoke to her.
The same orderly returned and a Mr. Eldredge was escorted through the doors. Everyone was calmly waiting their turn to be called, but Becky was desperate to know how Bobby was doing.
When the orderly returned, Becky called out, “My husband’s name is Bobby, and I need to see him.”
A Mrs. Rosen left with the tall orderly.
Becky walked across the room and waited by the double doors. When they opened, she stood in front of the orderly, blocking his path. “I have to see my husband, is he okay?”
“You’ll have to wait your turn,” said the orderly. “Others are ahead of you,”
“But I need to see if he’s okay,” she implored. “I need to be with him,”
“It’s not your turn.” He turned and pointed to a middle-aged woman. “Mrs. Ryan, your husband is asking for you; if you’d like to be with him, please follow me.”
“I’m sure my husband is asking for me, too,” Becky pleaded, but to no avail.
When she returned to her seat, a few new faces were present in the waiting room. She tried to speak to them, but they too, didn’t answer her.
The elevator opened and Randy came out with more laundry. Becky rushed over to him. “Hi again, Randy. I’m Becky. I’m sorry I didn’t introduce myself before.”
“Oh, I know who you are, but nice to meet you, Becky.”
“Randy, you seem like a nice young man.”
“Can you tell me where I am?”
“Becky, I need to get this basket delivered, but I’ll be back soon.”
Becky stood near the elevator, waiting for Randy, ready to pump him for information.
“Randy, let me hold the door for you,” Becky offered. She put her foot in front of the wheels when Randy pulled it off the elevator. “I’m worried. I need to be with my husband. Have you seen him? Do you know how he is?”
Randy tugged at the laundry cart. “Dang, these wheels get stuck sometimes.”
“All I know is that there are others are ahead of me. I have to be with him. Can you help?”
Randy’s face sagged, making him look older. “Becky, let’s just say that I’m not really here. I need to get this basket delivered.”
She moved her foot and the cart rolled freely, but she grabbed his arm and stopped him. “I must get through the doors and be with my husband.”
Randy stopped and looked at her. “What about your children?”
“What? My children? They’re not here.”
“I know, but what about your children?” Randy stared at her. “Becky, you seem nice and remind me of my sister. Maybe I can help, but it’s risky. Wait right here. I’ll be back in a while.”
Becky didn’t move. When Randy returned, he came off the elevator pushing a nearly empty laundry cart. He pushed it slowly and said under his breath, “Get in the cart.”
Becky climbed in and Randy pushed it toward the double doors.
“I’m not supposed to do this, you know that, right?” Randy said softly.
“I’m grateful to you, Randy,” Becky whispered.
They went through the doors and suddenly there was blue sky above them.
“I can’t see over the cart. Where are we, Randy?”
“You wanted to be with your husband, right?”
“Well, your name hasn’t been called so this isn’t official. Understand?”
“This place has some strict rules. You need to think about your children.”
“Randy, please just take me to my husband.”
Becky raised up and saw a horrific road accident. Then she recognized their family car. It had collided with a fuel transport truck. It was still burning.
“I don’t understand,” she said.
“That’s your husband down there,’ Randy said. “He’s dead. He’s asking for you. I’m going to take you back to the waiting room for now. When they call your name, you’ll have a choice whether to join him or not. It’s up to you . . . but what about your children?”