I couldn’t open my eyes or move my arms and my nose itched. All of that was my first impression when I woke up. Only woke up probably isn’t the medical term for it. I could hear but that’s about it. I couldn’t interact with my surroundings … or the people in them. I existed in twilight and could hear but not necessarily really comprehend.
“Jax you gotta stop this. It was a mistake.”
“I’m telling you I didn’t … okay, it was nice for … for someone to … to see … me … but … but I never … god I never did. Yeah, she offered but I never took her up on it. I didn’t know about … about all that she was doing … my God … Lydie will never believe me. I’ve …”
Another voice sighed in fatigue and said, “Jax, man … give it a rest already. We all got played. Those government contracts were just too sweet to turn down. We all got caught up. We all got pulled away. None of us ever suspected that Matt was behind things.”
“Reggie it isn’t the same thing. And Lydie didn’t get played.”
“Oh yeah? And what were those letters we found?”
In a voice that sounded like someone had finally understood something, only too late, “A lonely woman thinking she had found a friend. That’s all they were. No matter what Vicky tried to make them out to be. There wasn’t anything like she said there was in them. I can at least tell her that I know … that I know she didn’t fall for …”
Then it was like a switch flipped and a connection got made; like more than one piston had started to fire inside my brain. I was finally able to say, “My nose itches.”
“Where are the kidlets?”
“In their classes. I … I …”
“We’re at the clinic? I can’t … can’t see.”
“There are compresses on your eyes.”
“Just spit it out. I gotta make plans. The farm … need to get back. Just …”
It was Reggie that said, “Don’t worry about it. Johnson said he will keep an eye on things.”
“Fine. Take that away too. Whatever. Just leave me alone. I can deal. Like always. I’ll figure things out.”
I didn’t know it at the time but there was a shocked silence in the room with everyone looking at each other, not knowing what to say. Before anyone could say anything I was unconscious again.
Next time I woke up it was to hear crying. “Kelly ...”
“I do have a mommy. I do! Don’t let her leave!”
“Kelly, look at me. Lydie isn’t going to leave. She’s just … she’s just … healing. That’s all. She’s healing and it has her tired out.”
I heard more crying realized it must be the boys and then there was some shuffling sounds and then the room grew quiet. I was almost asleep again when the door opened. There were too many footsteps at one time for it to be one person and that proved to be true. Two female voices started talking.
“I had no idea the doctor had a wife. Did you?”
“I’d heard rumors but … Vicky … she seemed so sure and reasonable.”
“Reasonable? Geez, she is one sick chick. And that man? The one that jumped over the side at the old dam? Have you heard who he was?”
“He fell is what I heard. And yeah, but better stay quiet about that. That Major Something-or-Other that has been prowling around … just better stay quiet about that.”
“I suppose.” She squawked and then said, “Okay, I get it. Stop pinching. But seriously, how could a good-looking guy like Doc R have a wife and no one know?”
“Look, it was a … um … a ploy. Vicky just … look, I don’t know the details, I don’t want to know the details. But the doc is really broke up about this and look at his kids. Whatever it is or was or whatever … it was real so … let’s just leave it at that.”
“Yeah. Yeah I suppose. It’s just so strange.”
Eventually they left after changing the sheets. I was sore from being moved around but I also felt better too. Then I heard the door again and wondered who was doing what next. A chair scraped across the floor and then I jumped when I felt something cool against my lips.
“Shhhh, I know you don’t really hear me but it’s alright Lydie. It’s just ice chips. You were right, it was worth building the machine. It’s been dead useful now that we’ve been able to secure the water source for it. Your mouth is a little … a little cut up. The ice will help with the swelling. Thank goodness he didn’t crack any teeth but … but the inside of your mouth is cut up. I … I had to put stitches …” Then he just laid his head next to mind and I could hear him crying.
No, that couldn’t be right. Crying? Jax? No. Uh uh.
“I’ve messed up so bad Lydie. But I swear … on my life … on Kelly and the boys … I was tempted but I never … never … gave in. I swear it Lydie. Please believe me. Please don’t leave. Don’t leave me. Don’t leave the children. They’re terrified you will. They … Vicky has been … talking to them … saying things. I didn’t know. You have to help me Lydie. Kelly is … she’s so confused. I don’t know how this all happened. I mean I do … Matt … again … but … oh god Lydie, just come back to me. You’ve been asleep for so long … too long … please you have to wake up. I can’t lose you. I deserve to but I can’t. Please …”
I wanted to wake up at that point but something wouldn’t let me. I tried and tried but then grew tired and all was black again.