Chapter VI: The Family Dinner

“How long did you know?” Adrian accused Lucy that night at dinner.

“I just found out last night,” Lucy replied calmly.

“Why did you. . .why did you wait to tell me?” he asked desperately, pushing his fork through his untouched food.

“I already told you, Adrian,” their mother sighed.  “We wanted you to have your night.  Your sister is not to blame; I wanted to tell you myself when it was time.”

Stacy O’Rourke had now pinned her hair back.  It shamelessly revealed the growing grey disease – spreading further along her neck.

“I’m calling Doctor Bedford tomorrow,” Adrian announced.

“Darling-” their Mum started.

“Don’t darling me.  We are going to get you better.  I’m calling him tomorrow.”

Their mother simply smiled.  “If it will make you happy, we can get in touch with him.”

Adrian picked at his food before simply folding his napkin and went to bed.

“He’s just as stubborn as you,” Stacy remarked to her daughter.

“If that’s the case, he’ll get over it all the same.” Lucy replied, taking the plates and silverware to the sink.  “He’s just concerned.  As am I.”

Lucy’s Mum didn’t say anything but pursed her lips and looked off into the distance.  It was an odd situation of unity and separation within the family.  Even at the brink of tragedy, there is always binding force that cause loved ones to return, to stand strong, to support one another in the darkest of times.

“I’m going to bed early,” Lucy told her mother as she washed the dishes.

“It’s probably for the best,” her Mum managed to reply before breaking out into a fit of coughs.

“Mum!” Lucy ran forward and caught her shoulders before she lost her footing.

The pounding of feet on the stairs told her that Adrian had heard it too.  Ah, how the roles had reversed between mother and children.

“Mum, are you ok?” Adrian cried, bending to put his arms around her.

“I-I’m ok,” she sputtered.  “It’s passed.  It’s passed.”

The two siblings looked to each other and knew exactly what needed to be done.  Adrian helped their Mum up the stairs, while Lucy sprinted ahead to prepare her bed.  With the aid of each other, they carefully arranged their mother into a comfortable position.

“Just rest,” Lucy begged. “Don’t worry about anything else right now.”

“We’ll take care of it,” her brother added.

Stacy O’Rourke looked at her two children, tears kissing the corners of her eyes.  They had grown up.  She had done her job, done it well, and loved every minute of it.  “He would have been so proud of you two.  Your father. . .he really would have.”

Adrian didn’t quite understand, but Lucy felt the memories creeping up.

A playful toss.  A loving embrace.  A goodbye as quiet as the wind on a calm summer day.  And he was gone.

“Mum, no more nonsense.  You just rest.  I love you, “Lucy kissed her check.

“I love you too!” Adrian kissed the other.

“I love both of you,” she laughed weakly as pain fluttered up through her bones, and she leaned back in exhaustion.  The children bid their mother goodnight before slipping off into the hallway.

Lucy turned to her brother.  “You go off to bed.  I need to finish the dishes.”

“I can’t sleep. I can’t, Lulu,” Adrian admitted, as his body shook in fear and in restlessness.

“You can, and you will.  Mum, is going to need us more than ever.  You’ll need to help me look after her while she gets better.”

“What if-”

“Hush!” Lucy hissed, giving him a stern look. “Now go to bed.  No more rubbish.  We can call the doctor tomorrow, before I go into the bakery.”

Adrian nodded before throwing himself desperately around Lucy, stifling his tears. “I’m scared.”

His sister gave him a squeeze back.  She couldn’t admit that she was scared too.  That would only make matters worse.  Instead, she strove towards her courage.  “We’ll find a way.  We just have to keep hope alive.”

Adrian nodded in determination and turned to go to bed.  Lucy, however, had much grander plans for that chilly November night.

©2016 E. M. Vick

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