“Ian I appreciate you coming over but shouldn’t you be at home with Katrina?” She looked at him with a worried expression.
“Katrina is in good hands,” he smiled down her “dad has her.” Glancing at the clock he moaned “but I should be getting home so he can get back to the hospital.”
“How is Matty doing?”
“Better,” his smile brightened his face “he’s being transferred to the burn unit in a couple of days. I know that doesn’t sound like improvement but it is. It’s better than the ICU and it means they’ll be bringing him out of the coma soon.”
“Oh that is good news,” getting up she bit her lip undecided whether or not to tell him about the baby. She didn’t want him to think she needed him to take care of her. He needed to know but now wasn’t the right time.
Standing beside her Ian brought a hand up to caress her cheek “what’s wrong?”
Leaning into his hand she shook her head “nothing” she murmured.
“Celia,”he said tilting her face up to his “tell me.”
“I…I…can’t” she looked down and away.
Dropping his hands he exhaled loudly before turning towards the door. Celia grabbed his hand “Ian please … I … I want to tell you it’s just…” she burst into tears.
Pulling her close he kissed the top of her head. “Just tell me. It can’t be worse than this can it?”
“Yes,” she mumbled “it can.” She buried her head on his shoulder. “I’ve made so many mistakes and I’m afraid…”
“Afraid of what? Of me?” Ian asked. He felt her head move on his shoulder as he nodded.
“I’m afraid you’ll never be able to forgive me.” She sniffed taking a deep breath blurting out “I’m pregnant.”
It was like she had slapped him. Her words reverberated through his entire existence. His arms fell to his side as if weighted with lead “Celia,” his voice came out strangled “I thought that you…” Running his hands through his hair “never mind,” he mumbled turning toward the door.
“Ian please,” she grabbed his hand again.
Turning to face her hot tears streaming down his cheeks “please just let me go. I thought…I thought you wanted to get back together.” Wiping at his eyes he sniffed. “I’m such an idiot.”
“No you’re not. I am,” she cried “I’m the idiot not you. I’m the one who ruined everything not you.” Wrapping her arms around herself she cried softly “I’m so sorry.”
“Is he good to you?” Ian asked after a moment of silence.
“What?” she asked bewildered.
“Is he good to you? The baby’s father.” Ian asked again.
“That baby’s father pretty much called me a slut when he found out about the baby. Asking me if I was sure he was the father,” she looked up at Ian tears rolling down her nose. “I was so ashamed. It was the first time I realized what I was doing. How I must have hurt you.”
“So he’s not…you’re not,” he stared at Celia hardly breathing while she shook her head.
“No I’m not involved with the baby’s father. John was a mistake,” she buried her face in her hands.
“You have to come home,” Ian told her.
“No I don’t. That’s why I didn’t want to tell you,” Celia shook her head “I don’t need you to take care of me. I can do that myself.”
“I know but I want to,” Ian said putting his arms around her.
“Ian your sweet but I have to do this,” she said firmly “Katrina doesn’t know me. What would she do if you moved a complete stranger into the house?” He stared at her knowing what she said was true. Karina was already upset enough. “You know I’m right,” she said soothingly.
Nodding “yeah I know. It’s just I…I worry about you. I want us to be a family.” He hung his head sighing wistfully.
“So do I but it all happened to fast,” she grabbed his hand “this time let’s go slow. Get to know each other. Let Katrina get to know me.” Looking into his violet eyes she added “give yourself time to decide if you can accept me and the baby.”
“Of course I…” She put her hand to his mouth shaking her head. “You don’t know that. Not now at any rate. Give yourself time. You may feel differently once you’ve had a chance to think about it.”
Nodding he reluctantly agreed “we’ll do it your way.”
Holding her son’s hand Aimee watched intently for a glimmer that Matt was waking up. “Matty honey open your eyes,” she pleaded with him.
“Honey…” Gene started unable to finish when Aimee leaned into him crying. “why won’t he wake up? It’s been a week since he was moved the burn unit. The doctor’s said they he should be waking up any time now.”
“I don’t know why,” he caressed her hair hugging her tight “maybe he needs more time…”
“And maybe he won’t wake up at all,” she held onto him “I want my baby back,” she sobbed into his shirt.
“He held her tight knowing there wasn’t much he could do. He had hoped that Matty would be awake before he had to leave to start the interviews. His time was running out. He dreaded having to remind Aimee he was leaving in a couple of days. His arms tightened around her at the thought of leaving her alone and wishing he could break the contract he was in. But his promise to his dad and sister kept him from doing it. He wanted to be there for them. He just wasn’t entirely sure how much help he was going to be if he couldn’t get his mind in the game.
Sniffing Aimee sat up “you’re awfully quiet.”
“I,” his eyes shifted to Matty’s still form on the bed “I wish he’d wake up before I had to leave.”
Stiffening Aimee pulled away from him “you’re still going?” she glanced at him “why? We need you here.”
“I don’t care,” she crossed her arms “they can find someone else. Another celebrity…”
“Aimee please this is for my sister and my dad. I can’t just back out now.” Gene reached for her only to have her pull further away from him.
“If you loved us you’d stay,” she told him.
“Aimee that’s not fair. You know I’d rather be here with you.”
“Then don’t go,” Aimee repeated digging in refusing to be reasoned with.
Running his hands through his hair Gene sat staring at the floor feeling like he was being torn apart in a game of tug-of-war. Dropping his head in his hands hoping for a miracle.
Too angry to notice how her words wounded her husband Aimee stared at her son. Tears streamed from her eyes down her cheeks “come on baby open your eyes,” she pleaded
Gene lifted his head at the sound of her voice unable to take her silence and anger he slipped from the room.
His eyelids felt like weights as his ears picked out the sounds of his mothers anxious pleading voice. He wanted to open his eyes. Wanted to see something other than this eternal forever darkness. Wanted to tell her he was ok. All he could do was lie there trapped in this endless dark void.
He heard the voices. Knew they were talking about him. knew she was upset. The anger in her voice surprised him. The pleading voice of his father was painful to hear. Then silence and he knew his dad was upset. Quiet always meant his dad was trying to control his emotions before he exploded.
He wanted to tell him it was ok. He was going to be ok. He wanted to tell his mom to lay off him. Not be to be so mean. Dad loved them. How cold she say otherwise? Those words must have tore his heart wide open. Dad had always been there for him. For Ian. Even for mom when she didn’t even deserve it. He had done the research. Read the tabloids. Went to grandpa with his questions. He knew the truth. Trusted his dad had his best interests at heart no matter whether he was sitting idly by his bed or if he was doing some show for his sister. Family was important.
If only he could wake up. He’d tell his mom to lay off. He’d be the support dad needed against her more demanding nature. Instead all he could do was lie here and listen. He heard more than he cared to know. He now knew it was true comatose people could hear things while they appeared to be asleep. His mom was pleading again. Filling his mind with her voice. Ignoring her he sought peace through sleep not ready to face reality just yet.
Coming in the house Ian found his dad staring into space, unmoving. It was strange. His dad was always full of energy and life. “Dad is something wrong?” Ian asked putting Katrina on the floor to play.
When he received no response Ian sat beside him on the couch concerned,” Dad are you alright?” he asked again. His continued silence unnerved him. Touching his shoulder Ian said “Dad,” loudly in his ear.
Jumping Gene turned pain filled eyes toward his son “she…she…she…” he stammered unable to put the words together.
“She who?” Ian asked looking around the silent room “where’s mom?” it was unusual that she wasn’t there. His dad had been making sure she came home to rest about this time every day from the hospital.
“She said I didn’t love her,” Gene said more to himself like had been saying it over and over and still couldn’t believe it.
“Who? Mom?” Ian asked receiving a slight infinitesimal nod in response “dad she didn’t mean it. She couldn’t have” he protested.
Watching his dad hand his head in abject dejection Ian knew he had to go to the hospital. This was the last thing his dad needed to hear when he was going to be gone in a few days for a several weeks. “Dad she didn’t mean it.” He hugged him tight feeling the shudders as his dad fought for control. It was the first time Ian saw his dad as a man with weaknesses. The first time he saw how much the last few weeks had taken from him. The worry over Matty. Now the separation from his family. The least his mom could have done was be the tiniest bit supportive. “We’re going to be alright.” Ian told him. It felt strange being the one telling his dad this when it was usually his dad telling him. “I’m going to go see Matty.” He stood up “can you want Katrina?”
A slight nod was the only answer Ian received. Concern over his dad’s mental state had Ian calling the only person he knew would care about him. “Celia I need your help.” He explained what he thought had happened between his parents to her. “Do you think you can come over and give him a hand with Katrina?”
Knocking Celia waited patiently for Gene to come to the door. She wasn’t sure what she was expecting but it wasn’t this broken man in front of her. “Mr Bennett are you feeling alright?”
Nodding he let her in “I suppose Ian called you to come over,” he muttered.
“Um,” she hesitated before nodding “he’s worried….”
“There’s nothing to be worried about,”Gene commented.
Walking past him into the kitchen she smiled down at Katrina who was looking at her in a mixture of concern and curiosity “mama,” she announced and went back to playing with her dolls.
“That’s right,” Celia ran her hand through her daughters red hair. It had taken a while but Katrina was slowly warming up to her at least she no longer screamed in fear. “Have you eaten yet?” Celia asked turning to Gene.
Shrugging he mumbled “not hungry.”
“You just think you’re not but I make a pretty good bowl of chili. It’ll make your mouth water.”
That brought a brief lifting of the corners of his mouth. “Ok I’ll eat some if you make it.”
“You won’t regret it,” she squeezed him tight as she began to rummage through the cabinets for the ingredients she needed.
Arriving at the hospital Ian walked into the burn unit. He could hear his mother pleading with Matty to wake up. He understood why she said what he did but it still didn’t mean she had the right. Dad had always been there for her.
She looked up as he lingered in the doorway staring at her “Ian what are you doing here?”
He wanted to shout at her. Demand she apologize instead he silently took a seat beside her. He couldn’t help but to think this was the chair his dad had spent countless hours in watching over Matty. Blinking he turned to gaze at his mom. How could she be so heartless towards his dad?
“Where’s your father?” she asked her tone had a biting edge to it.
“Home,” he told her.
“Packing I suppose,” she turned away from him “if he goes he better not come back.” At Ian’s sharp intake of breath had her retorting “you don’t agree? He doesn’t love us. Doesn’t care about us. If he did he’d stay. We need him here.”
“Mom that’s not right and you know it. Dad agreed to do this show for his sister. The one he hadn’t seen since she died in that terrible house fire when dad was a kid. This isn’t a whim of the moment decision for him. It’s a commitment he made months before any of this happened with Matty. You know Dad loves you, us. Family is important to him. All of his family.”
“You don’t understand,” she shook her head “he has a responsibility to be here for me, his kids….”
“What do you expect of him?” Ian asked in exasperation. “Dad doesn’t want to leave but he signed a contract…”
“I don’t care,” she almost shouted at him “I need him to be here.”
“To do what?” Ian asked “to hold your hand? You’re an adult. Act like one. We all have to do things we don’t want to do. We all have responsibilities, obligations we can’t get out of.”
“Don’t talk to me like that. I’m your mother I deserve a little respect,” She shouted at him refusing to hear anything that contradicted her world view.
“No mother you’re the one out of line. Dad’s at home devastated over what happened. After everything you’ve been through don’t you think he deserves better from you?” Ian could see the anger flashing in her eyes as she glared at him “don’t you love him?”
Bursting into tears covering her face she cried deep wracking sobs. Ian rubbed her back unable to think of anything else. Looking at Matty’s silent still form he knew this was tearing his parents apart.
A different voice disturbed the monotony of his mother’s incessant pleas for him to wake up. Doesn’t she knew if he could he would? If only someone would shut her up. He smiled to himself recognizing his brother’s voice. He seemed to be upset with their mom. Good she needed someone to knock some sense into her. Yeah sure people do stupid things when they’re afraid buts she was being intolerable. How could she say dad didn’t love them? Everything he did was for them. His mom on the other hand had to be handled with kid gloves. Dad was master at handling her. Always shielding her from the harsher realities and this was how she treated him when she couldn’t be shielded anymore. Matt would stay asleep just to punish her if he thought it wouldn’t hurt his dad in the process.
He struggled against the weights against his eyes and limbs. He had to wake up if only to stop the fighting. Maybe his mom would forgive their dad then. For what he didn’t know but he knew enough dad wouldn’t be happy until she did. Why did she have to be so unreasonable?
“Ian go home,” she demanded “you don’t know what you’re talking about. Your father wouldn’t leave if he loved us. End of story.”
Shaking his head Ian stood up knowing he had lost the battle. His mom was to upset to be reasoned with. If only Matty would wake up. Dad would be able to leave with a clear conscience. His mother would be easier to deal with. Stopping in the doorway he looked back at his mother shaking his head. If he could only get her to see what she was doing?
Once Ian left Aimee buried her face in her hands. She knew she was being unreasonable. She knew Gene didn’t want to go and leave her alone to cope with all of this. Why couldn’t she let it go? Why did she accuse him of not loving her? She knew that wasn’t true. He loved her. Their kids more than he loved himself. She spoke out of fear and anger and knew how deeply she had hurt him. Why couldn’t she just apologize instead of wallowing in her self-pity? She had watched him leave dejected. What was wrong with her?
“Mom,” Aimee jerked her head up in surprise.
“Matty,” she cried.
“Don’t be mean ….” he licked his lips.
“Do you want something to drink?” she asked holding water to his dry lips.
Swallowing the room temperature water Matty tried to speak “don’t be mean to daddy.” His eyes closed as he fell asleep after delivering his message.
Stunned Aimee stared at him. Had he heard everything they spoke about? His gentle rebuke tore at her heart and she knew she had to call Gene. Had to apology before he left. Had to make sure he knew how loved he was.