Emergency rooms and we Andersson twins were exactly strangers. Between the two of us over eighteen years, we had nine broken bones, 82 stitches, three swallowed small parts of toys, and two cases of appendicitis a year apart to the day. These trips all taught me that it was easier to be the patient than it was to be the loved one. Tonight was no exception.
The whole “being pregnant” thing got Marta on the fast track for being taken care of, but it also meant she was whisked away from me within ten minutes of getting to the hospital, and I hadn’t seen her since. About forty minutes later, Mr. and Mrs. Martin showed up with dinner for Bradley and I since Bradley had called to tell them we weren’t leaving until Marta was. Dr. Janet came out after an hour and ten minutes, and reassured us that Marta and her baby boy were doing alright. Apparently, Marta had a bit of preterm labor that they’d managed to stop, but they wanted to run a couple more tests because of the initial sharp pain that Marta had described. “I want to believe it’s nothing, but we’re going to check everything just in case. This is most definitely a case of safe rather than sorry.” Bradley and his dad went back to the apartment to get some things for Marta in case she had to stay the night, and to grab out textbooks so that we could pretend to study to distract ourselves from the waiting—which left Mrs. Martin there with me, sitting on the bench just—waiting.
After a little while, she pulled me close to her side. I rested my head on her shoulder, and listened as she quietly prayed, for Marta, for her baby, for me, for Bradley. She prayed for strength and help and love. She prayed for understanding from the doctors. She prayed for no additional stress in any of our lives. Perhaps it was the love, and understanding of her prayers, maybe it was just the lilt in her voice, or maybe it was just because it felt so nice to feel like I had a mother again just for a moment, but I cried into her shoulder until I fell asleep against her.
I woke up as they tried to gently move me from Mrs. Martin’s shoulder to Bradley’s. I sat up quickly, “Marta? How’s Marta?”
“We don’t know yet, Ave. We didn’t mean to wake you, Mom and Dad are just heading home for the night.” Bradley reassured me, trying to pull a little closer on the bench, as if he could convince me to fall asleep again by proximity.
I jumped up from the bench. “Thank you for coming, and for bringing us dinner. And—sorry for falling asleep on you. And for crying on your shoulder. And for potentially drooling on you because I know I drool in my sleep—“ I was still a little disoriented from my nap, so I was rambling a bit.
Mrs. Martin must have understood, because she just pulled me into a hug and kissed me on the top of my head. “It’s alright, dear. Send home my son when we know your sister I going to be okay.”
“Yes, Ma’am.” I got one more kiss to the forehead, and then they headed off.
“What time is it?” I sat back down next to Bradley, “Have we heard any more from Dr. Janet?”
“It’s 10:23 pm. And she’s been out to let us know that so far the tests are all turning up the way we want them to. She is going to want Marta to stay the night, and she says when the tests are done you can go in and see her for a bit.” Bradley picked up my hand and kissed it gently. “You doing okay? Mom said you were visibly upset. I think you freaked her out a bit.”
“Oh—I should apologize again.”
“No, no, she’ll never admit it. It’s just—I don’t think other people see you visibly upset much. Marta’s loud, you keep it in. Not that that’s a bad thing, or a good thing, just a thing. I’m tired, please don’t get mad at me for my rambling.”
“I’m not mad. And, yes, I see your point. It just—we had things handled, Brad. We have a place to live, we have an income and a budget, school’s out in two weeks, I’d finally become desensitized to the vaguely threatening comments from the idiots, we were going to be a family, we were going to be okay.” I felt childish—again. But I’d known Bradley for so long—if he was going to judge me for it, he would have done so long time ago—or so I hope. I think a dumping would be the straw that broke the camel’s back.
“I’m sorry, A. Do you want to try to take another nap while we wait for Dr. Janet to come get us?”
“No. No, I think I want my history text-book. You did bring it, didn’t you?”
Bradley gave a little laugh before realizing that I wasn’t joking. “You want to study now?”
“Yes. If the rest of the world is going to fall apart around my ears, I’m going to make damn sure I graduate with honors. Control what I can and what not. Do you want to quiz me on Supreme Court decisions, or do you have studying of your own to do?” I reached around Bradley to pick up the bag sitting at his feet, pulling out my history book.
He stared at me blankly for a second, before taking the book back out of my hand. “You’re insane. I love you. I’ll quiz you. Want to start with chapter twenty-four?”