Wyatt rushed into the hospital lobby, hoping Lily was still awake. It had taken longer than he expected due to Princess darting out the door when he returned home. He rode the elevator to the third floor and practically ran down the hallway to her room. He stopped short when he saw several doctors and nurses in the room, looking down at Lily.
“What’s going on?” He asked Nan as he entered the room and hurried to her side.
“She passed out, and I thought it was just like all those other times, and she’d be okay. I sat down, and was dozing in the chair when one of the machines she’s hooked to started beeping. It sounded like a siren and I jumped outta my chair and fell on my face. Doctors and nurses came running from every direction.”
“Is she breathing?” Wyatt whispered the question, afraid of the answer.
“Yes. They don’t know why the beepers went off, she’s unconscious and they said her heart was fine. They’re trying to figure out what’s wrong.”
He pulled her in for a hug and said, “Pray for her Nan.”
“I will. I’m so scared. She’s the sister I never had. How will I live without her?” Fresh tears cascaded down her face and Wyatt pulled out a hankie and handed it to her.
“Thanks.” She wiped her face and stuffed it in her pocket, not wanting to hand it back dirty. “I’ll give it back after I wash it.”
“Keep it, I have tons. Where’s Willie?” He was trying to keep from crying himself. The tears would look wrong coming from a man who barely knew her. They didn’t know he’d had a crush on her for years.
“He went to get some things for her. He should be back anytime.”
“He’s gonna freak-out.”
“Yeah, he loves his sister. They’re fraternal twins, you know.”
“I didn’t know that. They don’t look like twins.”
“That happens sometimes. They act a lot alike.”
“Do they? He’s always cracking jokes and making people laugh. I’ve never seen her do that.”
“You’ve only seen her in a public setting, until tonight. She was voted most likely to be a comedian in our graduating class.”
“Wow, I didn’t know that. Look, they’re backing away, and the beepers stopped blaring.”
“She’s okay.” Nan pulled away and moved toward the bed. “What happened?”
“We don’t know.” Dr. Wilkes said.
“What’s going on?” Willie screeched as he entered the room. He had an arm-load of stuff that fell to the floor, unnoticed.
Wyatt was beside Willie in seconds, explaining what had taken place.
“Is she gonna be okay?”
“They don’t know. I was asking the doctor when you came in.” Nan said. “Dr. Wilkes?”
“All indications are she’s slipped into a coma.”
Nan ran to the bed and shook Lily. “Wake up, sugar. Let me know you’re okay.”
Lily didn’t stir. Willie came over and prodded her, too, with the same result.
Wyatt didn’t think there was any hope, but he walked over and caressed her cheek. “Wake-up Sleeping Lily.” He whispered.
Lily moved, moaned, and mumbled, “Wyatt, is that you?”
Wyatt smiled and pushed the hair away from her face. “Will she be okay, doctor?” He looked up, catching the doctor’s eye.
“We won’t know until after the surgery.”
“But she just talked to me.” Wyatt argued.
“I didn’t hear her say anything.” Dr. Wilkes looked at him sympathetically.
“Wyatt, she hasn’t moved.” Willie said. Concern colored his eyes a deep blue.
“Nan, you saw her, didn’t you? She moved and said my name.”
Nan looked at him with pity in her huge dark eyes and he turned away in anger. He knew he’d seen her move.
“You’re just tired, sugar. We might as well try to get some sleep.”
“I’m not going home until I’ve talked to her.” Willie said stubbornly.
“I’ll have one of the aids bring in a couple recliners for you men.” Dr. Wilkes said.
“Thanks doc, that’ll be great.”
Lily opened her eyes and looked around. She was in a hospital room, but how had she gotten here?
Nan and Willie were dozing in recliners at the side of her bed. Tenderness swept through her at how innocent they looked. There was someone missing, but she couldn’t figure out who it was. Her brain was foggy, and she felt as if she were looking through a long, fuzzy tunnel. She had a metallic taste in her mouth and wanted some water to rinse it out. She threw her legs over the side of the bed and jumped down to the floor. The movement caused pain to shoot up into the back of her head. Bile rose to her throat and her head spun in dizziness. What was wrong with her? Why was she here? Those questions went unanswered as she searched for water. There wasn’t any on the table so she went into the bathroom, turned the water on and cupped her hands. When her makeshift cup was full she brought it to her dry, cracked lips and sighed in contentment. This was so refreshing…
“Lily, what are you doing?” Dr. Adams said as he came into the bathroom. She could see him standing behind her in the mirror.
“I was thirsty and there were no cups.”
“Here, let me help you back to bed.”
“But I want more water. I’m so thirsty.”
He put his arms around her shoulders and propelled her gently toward the bed. “I’ll get you a cup of water, okay?”
Wyatt breathed in deeply, the smell of flowers bringing a faint smile to his lips. Lily didn’t smell like lilies. She smelled like roses…no, a snowball bush…no, that wasn’t it, either. What was that smell? His face scrunched in consternation. The heat of her body seeped through the hospital gown and imprinted into the arm he held around her. He jumped away from her guiltily, hoping she hadn’t realized his thoughts.
“What?” He brushed the intruding hands away from his shoulder. He wanted to stay in this dream, find out what happened next.
“You’re having a dream, sugar.” Nan shook him a little more forcefully, and he jumped like he’d been shot.
“What’s wrong?” He sat up straight and rubbed at his tired eyes. He’d been having such a good dream…
“You were thrashing around like you were having a nightmare.” Nan said.
“I was? That’s weird, because my dream was a good one. Lily and I were…”
“You just keep that to yourself, sugar. Some things aren’t meant for public ears.” She smiled and patted him on the shoulder once more.
“Thanks for caring.”
“Who says I care?” She asked. She rested her hands on her hips in a smug way. “I can’t sleep with you over here moaning and groaning and…”
“Okay, I get the picture. You think I was having that kind of dream, but I wasn’t. In my dream Lily was in the bathroom getting a drink of water and I was leading her back to bed.”
“I knew there was a bed in there somewhere.” She teased.
“I give-up.” He smiled and held his hands up in surrender. He snuggled back into the surprisingly comfy chair and pulled the cover over his head.
Nan laughed as she returned to her own recliner on the other side of the hospital bed.
“What was that all about?” Willie asked tiredly.
“Wyatt was having a dream.”
“Oh. Has there been any response from Lily?”
“I haven’t heard a peep.”
“We need to pray for her, Nan.”
“Yes we do. Do you want to pray with me, or alone?”
“Let’s pray together.” Wyatt came over from his chair and knelt on the floor beside Lily’s bed and bowed his head. Willie followed suit.
“Dear Father, please heal our sister and friend. If it’s your will that she be taken from us, please enable us to withstand the pain and sorrow of losing a sister in Christ, amen.” Willie was crying at the end of the prayer, and Wyatt clapped him on the back.
“We’ll get through this. It’s a difficult time, but God promised He’d never give us more than we could bear.”
“That’s true, He did, didn’t he?”
The three friends got up and moved to the side of Lily’s bed, wanting to see her once more before they went back to sleep.
“She looks so peaceful.” Willy said.
“She’s beautiful.” Wyatt whispered.
“She’s the best thing that ever happened to me. If it hadn’t been for her, I would’ve been dead of a drug overdose a long time ago.”
“I didn’t know you were into drugs.” Willie said as he looked at her in surprise.
“That’s all I did in high school. I had a lot of problems at home, and was bullied at school. I guess I figured the best way to get through it was to do it high. Then your sister came into the lunchroom one day and told me to stop it. She didn’t molly-coddle me, but told me to quit throwing myself a pity-party and face life. She said I was beautiful, intelligent and funny and she wasn’t going to stand by and watch me ruin my life any longer.” Tears of remembrance flowed down her face and she swiped at them in exasperation.
They moved slowly back to their chairs and settled in for another nap. “I’m glad you guys are here with us.” Nan said into the semi-darkness.
“I’m glad too.” Willie said.
“I’m glad I got called over tonight. I hope we’ll all be great friends someday.”
“I think we’re already pretty good friends. Friends stick together in times of need, and this is definitely one of those times.” Nan said wearily.
“Yes it is.” Wyatt and Willie agreed.
Lily walked slowly to the hospital bed and used Wyatt’s arm to launch into it, pulling the covers over her shoulders and snuggling in. “It’s so cold in here. Could you turn the heat up?”
“It’s the middle of summer.”
“But I’m cold…”
“Okay, hold on.” He walked to the heater on the wall and turned it on. Sweat poured down his back already. A few minutes in this room and he’d be roast chicken. “There you go; anything else?”
“Could you snuggle with me to get me warm?” Lily was so cold. If he’d get up here with her she’d warm up a lot quicker.
“I can’t do that. I’m your doctor, Lily.”
“What does that have to do with anything? You still have body heat, don’t you?”
“I do, but I can’t share it with you.” He sounded awkward as he headed out the door. He said, “I’ll send an aid in with a heated blanket. They’ll be here to take you to surgery in about an hour.” He rapped the door with his knuckles a couple times, and then disappeared.
Lily sensed she was dreaming this time, but was unable to wake up. Was Wyatt real, or just a figment of her imagination? She hoped he was, because she was pretty sure she loved him. She’d loved him for years, at least in her dreams.
Nan was just dozing off when she heard a moan from the direction of Lily’s bed. She jumped up and was beside her before she realized she’d moved.
“Lily, you awake, sugar?”
“Where am I, Nan?”
“You’re in the hospital. Don’t you remember?”
“I don’t know, sort of. Everything is all jumbled in my mind. I keep having these weird, disjointed dreams about Wyatt. He’s so good-looking, and my heart races every time he gets near me. Is that love?”
Nan looked over toward Wyatt and gasped in embarrassment for her friend when she connected with his searing blue eyes. She shook her head, hoping he understood she didn’t want him to let Lily know he was in the room. He gave her a quick nod and she turned back to her best friend. “I don’t know, sugar. It’s attraction for sure, and that’s a start.”
“I wonder why he’s never noticed me. Am I ugly, Nan?”
“You know better, sugar. You’re the most beautiful person I know.”
“Then what is it?”
“Maybe he has noticed you and you’re just too enamored of him to see it.”
“That doesn’t sound right, even to me, and my minds muddy.” Lily giggled. “Nan, am I gonna die?”
“I hope not, sugar. You’re all I’ve got in this world.”
“You have Willie, if you’d just give him a chance.”
Nan’s gaze jerked toward Willie and she was chagrined to see him grinning from his recliner. She shook her head in warning. She didn’t want him saying anything right now, either. It was hard to tell whether Lily was really there, or she was in another dream. She’d been awake earlier when the men were there and she should’ve remembered their presence, shouldn’t she? She was so worried about her friend she threw caution to the wind. If this was the last time she ever spoke to her friend, she wanted her to be happy and worry free.
“I will give him a chance, sugar. I’ve loved him for years, you know that.”
“I do. I think he cares for you, too, he’s just too stubborn to admit it.”
“As soon as I see him, I’ll ask.” Nan assured her. She picked up her cold hand and rubbed it in between her warmer ones. “I love you Lily. I want you to know that.”
“I know you do. I saved your life.” She giggled girlishly, and then slipped into unconsciousness once more.
Silent tears of grief flowed freely down Nan’s cheeks and Willie jumped up and held her loosely. “She’ll be okay, Nan. Surely God wouldn’t take her away from us this soon.”
Wyatt came over and patted her awkwardly on the back. “We’re with you, Nan. We’ll be here through it all.”
“That’s what she needs, Wyatt, someone who’ll be there through it all.”
“I’m that man.”
“I think so, too.” She smiled and turned to hug him as well.
“This has been a weird day.”
“Yes it has, and another one’s quick on its heels.”
“One more hour and they’ll take her away.”
“She’ll be back.” Willie said. His voice was full of hope.
“Yes she will.” Nan and Wyatt said in unison.