I gazed up into her big blue eyes. Ithought I'd never see her again. Her eyes held the same look as the night we'd been taken from each other. The night we'd both been shot. My hands flew to my stomach. It was wrapped in bandages and it throbbed painfully. Tears welled up in my eyes as I stared at the wrapping. A pair of hands found mine, resting on top of my stomach.
"Gerard," Em's voice whispered."You're okay."
"I thought you'd never wake up. They said you'd lost so much blood..." her voice broke. "I couldn't have lived without you."
I met her eyes. "Are you alright?You were shot too."
Emerson lifted the corner of her hospital gown, revealing a bandage similar to mine. "I'm okay. No big deal."
"I missed you, Em."
She smiled and leaned over. Our lips met. Before I could do or say anything else, a doctor came into the room, making Em draw back, her cheeks flushed with embarrassment.
"Hello, Mr. Way. I'm your doctor, Dr. James. How are you feeling, son?" He stepped forward to take a peek at my heart monitor. "It appears as though you are stable. Very good."
"I'm feeling fine, considering," I replied.
"Good." Dr. James turned to Emerson."And you must be Emerson. It's a pleasure," he said, shaking her hand warmly."As I understand, you wanted to wait until Gerard here had woken to discuss the technicalities of that night?"
I glanced at Em. Her hand had tightened on mine and she nibbled her lower lip nervously. I was lost. Technicalities? What else was there to know? We'd been shot. No more, no less. Right?
"You look confused, Gerard. Do you have any questions?" Dr. James asked.
"Yeah, I do. What's happened? How long have I been here? What are you talking about?"
Dr. James sighed and sat down on anearby stool. "It's been thirteen days. You were in a coma. Emerson was medically induced, but woke up on the fifth day. Now, let me explain each of your injuries." He rose once more to pin up some x-rays to the light board."These are yours, Gerard. The gun was fired very close to you, and the bullet entered just above your liver. It lodged there, which, in your case, was a good thing. It allowed us more time to operate before too much blood was lost. Although, as is obvious, you still lost quite a bit, which was what put you into the coma. We've been giving you blood transfusions all the while."
I honestly didn't care about what had happened to me. Emerson was the one I was worried about. I knew there was something she hadn't told me. Or maybe she herself didn't even know what that something was yet. "And Emerson?"
The doctor removed his glasses, rubbing his temple with an index finger. "With Emerson, things are a little more complicated," he said, hesitating. "Miss Quick, are you aware that you were pregnant when the shooting occurred?"
Had I heard him correctly? I looked quickly over at Em. Her eyes were wide and she was trembling.
"I- I was?"
"Yes, you were. But you see, the bullet ripped through your uterus, where the baby was growing and developing. As it had only been a couple of weeks since the baby was conceived, the fetus hadn't a chance. We were able to go in and stitch everything up, but normally that kind of injury is fatal. It's a miracle you are even alive."
Em let out a sob, and her hand fell from mine. I wanted so badly to reach over and hug her tight and comfort her.
"I'm terribly sorry, Miss Quick."
Em looked up slowly, her face wet with tears. "How- what happens to the baby now? I mean- is it still inside of me?" she said in a small voice.
"Since it was so early into your pregnancy, your body still has the ability to reabsorb the fetus. If that doesn't happen, you'll never know otherwise."
"Is that all?" Em asked, looking physically sick.
The doctor rubbed the back of his neck uncomfortably. "Well, not quite. As long as your stitches hold, you will be fine. It's a possibility, however, for them to come out and your uterus to burst. If that happens, you'll begin bleeding from the inside, and that's not good at all. If such things happen, and you'll know if they do, you need to get to a hospital as soon as possible," Dr. James said. Seeing the look on Em's face, he added quickly, "Now the possibility of that happening is very, very low. Don't worry about that. And one more thing.Unfortunately, Emerson, you're not going to be able to conceive another child."
"Ever again?" she asked, her voice wavering.
"Regrettably so.Now, I must be off to see to other patients. I'm very sorry, Miss Quick." And with that, the doctor left us to our misery.
I couldn't bear to look at Emerson. I felt awful. It was my fault. I should have protected her. The tears that I'd been holding back swelled forward. When would we ever get our break? I just wanted us to be happy and live. Really live. I wanted everything to be normal. But would they ever be? I was beginning to think we'd never be able to settle down and just be.
I looked up slowly, raising my eyes to Emerson's. The pain I found there was terrible. "Em, I'm so sorry." I watched as she tried desperately to smile. But despite her best efforts, the corners of her mouth fell and she let out a sob.
"A baby, Gerard!I've gotten our baby killed! I'm a murderer. How can I live with that?"
I leaned over and grabbed her shoulder. "Listen to me. It's in no way your fault. I should have protected you. But we can't change what happened. We'll get out of here, start our lives together. We've had enough happen to us that we deserve that, right?"
Emerson shook her head. "Don't you see? Things are never going be normal! And I keep bringing you down with me. Ican't keep doing that to you. You have so much ahead of you. Start your band like you've always wanted! But me? I've got nothing left to do. I just can't live like this, Gerard."
I couldn't believe what she was saying. I searched her face frantically with my eyes. All the life had gone from her eyes and she sounded so sad and empty. This wasn't the Emerson I knew. "Em. Please don't say those things. Of course you have afuture. It's with me! I'm nothing without you, honest."
Emerson pulled away from me, clutching her stomach. "I've got a dead human being inside of me. Our child. I can't do this!" she wailed, her voice rising.
"Stop. You'll be okay. Just wait until we're both released. You'll see."
She sighed. "I guess."
"That's my girl. I love you."
"I love you too, Gerard."
Weeks passed. I was given a clean bill of health, and upon my release from the hospital, I was given the keys to my own apartment as a gift from my parents. Now you've probably been wondering where my parents have been throughout this entire mess, am I right? The answer is that they've been here all along, totally supportive of both me and Em.
Anyways, I immediately pleaded with Ellie, the nurse who'd been in charge of Em's care until she was eighteen, to let her come and live with me.
"Please, Ellie. I need her, and she needs me. I'm sure she'll be happier with me. No offense," I added hastily.
The nurse smiled. "None taken, dear. And on many levels I am sure she would be happier with you. But I must warn you, the Emerson you knew before may be very different now. How would you deal with that?"
"I'm not sure I know what you mean."
"Your Em is what one would call atroubled soul. When you see her when she comes to visit you, she may act perfectly normal and maybe only a little bit off. But it's what you haven't seen, that you will soon, should she come and live with you, that's disturbing. She comes home from visiting you in the hospital and just lies down and sobs as if her little heart will just burst. Cries for hours.Cries so much that she makes herself sick and throws up. She refuses to eat. When I ask her what's troubling her, she just shakes her head and locks herself in her room. It's a miracle she manages to get out of bed every morning to come visit you. I think you're the only thing that keeps her going. Yes, I think she'd better go live with you."