New Winslow S5E56
The first hour at the hospital was a blur to Celine. Roman was starting to come around as they arrived and the paramedics were rolling him into the emergency room. He wasn’t coherent, but he was conscious enough to grip Celine’s hand once more before they wheeled him away.
Then it was paperwork and signatures and so many questions. She answered every question they asked her, but someone else might as well have been talking through her for everything she remembered of the encounter. Finally, she was told he was in surgery and a kind receptionist brought her over to a waiting area. Dr. Degas had stayed behind to update the ER doctors on everything and came out a few minutes later.
“He’s going to be okay,” she said, sitting down next to Celine. “We did it. We got him here in time.”
Celine nodded, not numb enough to miss the way her legs were shaky with relief at those words. “Do you know how long it’s going to be?” she asked, mouth dry.
Dr. Degas shook her head. “I have no idea.”
Celine nodded again, then stood up. “I need to call my son.”
She walked out of the waiting room and toward the exit. The night air was cold and the breeze felt amazing on her sweaty face. Celine stretched her back, then pulled out her phone. She knew she was in shock, that all the emotions were going to hit her later. But she still had things to do before then.
Roman was out of New Winslow. For the first time since before they had even met. They’d never traveled together. Hell, they’d never gone to a supermarket together, let alone on vacation. He’d had to stay behind in New Winslow as she gave birth to all three of their children. And now he was out, at the moment they needed it most. She couldn’t even process it right now, and the fact that she couldn’t see him made it even more difficult. But right now she had to call Jamie.
He picked up on the first ring. “Mom?”
“Jamie,” she said. “We made it. He’s in surgery.”
She heard him sniffle. “Are you at the medical center?”
“No, sweetie. We’re in Athol at the emergency room.”
“And Dad’s with you?”
Jamie sounded like he didn’t dare believe it. Now Celine’s throat was tight. “He is.”
“I don’t know,” she confessed. “But he’s alive.”
Jamie was quietly crying in fear and relief. She waited patiently until he took a breath.
“Are you coming home?”
“I’m not sure when,” she said. “Is Noah still there?”
“Yeah, hang on.”
“Love you, Jamie.”
“Love you, Mom.”
She heard the rustling as he passed the phone over. “Hi, Celine,” Noah said, his voice rough.
“Hey, Noah,” Celine said. “Thank you so much for sticking around.”
“Of course,” he replied. “How’s Roman?”
“He’s in surgery. In Athol.”
Noah sucked in a sharp breath over the phone. “He got out?”
“He got out.”
She shrugged even though he couldn’t see her. “Your guess is as good as mine, hon,” she said.
“How’d he take it?”
“He was unconscious. And he’s in surgery now. So he won’t know until he wakes up.”
They were silent for a moment. “Do you think you’re coming home tonight?” Noah asked.
Celine sighed. “I hate to ask…”
“I’m here,” Noah said quickly, before she even got the opportunity. “If Jamie’s comfortable with it, I can just run home for a change of clothes and a toothbrush. But I’ll stay with the kids until you get back. Don’t worry.”
“Thank you so much.”
“I’m glad I can help,” Noah said. “I’ve got the kids, so please don’t worry about it.”
They hung up a moment later, with promises to text if anything changed on either end. She slid her phone into her pocket and gazed up at the night sky. There were a lot of stars tonight. Not as many as back in New Winslow, but the clear sky was dotted with light and Celine was pretty sure she could lose herself in it if she watched for too long.
She should go back in if she didn’t want to miss the doctors when Roman got out of surgery.
The doctors kept Roman sedated overnight, but they allowed Celine into his room at some point very late into the evening. He was hooked up to multiple machines, and an IV was hung on the pole beside his bed, the tubes snaking down from the bags into his body. But he was alive. All the intimidating machines around him said the same thing.
She sat down in the chair beside his bed and reached over for his hand. It was cold and rough, lying limp in hers. For a second, Celine thought maybe the machines were wrong and he was dead after all. She listened to his soft breathing for a long time, trying to shake that idea out of her mind. He wasn’t dead. He’d come so close, but he’d survived. And somehow made it out of New Winslow for the first time in twenty-two years.
She didn’t expect to fall asleep. But it seemed like the instant the adrenaline left her system, she was falling asleep in the chair. After jolting awake three times with no sign of anyone coming to kick her out, she rested her head on her arms on Roman’s mattress and fell asleep.
She woke up a couple of hours later to a nurse creeping in to take vitals. She smiled at Celine as Celine shook her head, trying to shake the cobwebs out. “Sorry to wake you,” the nurse said. “Just checking him.”
“He’s okay?” Celine asked, rubbing her eyes.
The nurse was strapping a blood pressure cuff on Roman’s limp arm. “Yeah, sweetie,” she said. “He’s okay.”
She finished up her work and started pushing the cart out of the room. But then, she laid a gentle hand on Celine’s shoulder.
“Listen,” the nurse said. “I’ve got family in New Winslow. I get what’s happening there, and I got the message from the doctor. Twenty years, right?”
The nurse let out a low whistle, shaking her head. “Somebody was looking out for you tonight,” she said. “You take care of yourself.”
Celine nodded, not trusting herself to speak. The nurse left the room, and she turned back toward the bed.
Roman hadn’t moved since she’d fallen asleep. His mouth was open slightly as he breathed. Celine suddenly felt gratitude welling up in her chest, so much that she thought maybe her own heart was about to burst.
She fell asleep again a few minutes later, holding Roman’s hand.