They stormed in, in a manner that had my mind flashing back to moments in the past when they ran to my aid. An older version of me, her up-styled hair streaked with grey brushed past me. My body twisted to avoid her shoulder and I watched her linger in the space between the two beds. Her shoulders shook. She was thinner than when I'd last seen her. A sense of déjà vu washed over me as I stood there, her form was replaced with my own. Had I looked like that earlier? Frail and trembling?
A hand descended on my shoulder and my body jerked, muscles jumping beneath my skin. Tilting my head, my eyes swivelled upward. They took in his crisp suit, white shirt with a bold red tie. Unlike her, his face was a bland mask of indifference. Pale blue eyes wandered over my figure with a distant calculation.
Clearing my throat, I straightened my shoulders. My chin, unconsciously, lifted as I met his eyes. "Father?"
His jaw twitched at the word and he retracted his hand, fixing the cuffs of his shirt. "What happened?"
"I...I don't know, they just became like this. They were fine before morning." Turning from his accusing gaze, I frowned at the back of my mother.
She was leaning over the still figure of Ryan. Her hands, with wrinkles I'd never seen lining them before, reached out and caressed his cheek. She touched him so tentatively, as if unsure of if he were real or not. Her fingers danced along his skin before she stepped away and turned to gaze at Damon.
"This couldn't have developed from nothing," my father voiced, striding around me to snatch at Damon's file. Both of them had been discarded on the table by the window. With a movement that screamed years of experience, he began examining the pages.
"Fever, dehydration, platelet count low, blood sugar low," He recited, dropping the file before scanning Ryan's. Without looking at me, he added, "These are signs of neglect."
"N-Neglect?" I repeated. Mother straightened from her stooped position and glanced between us. "Did you just accuse me of neglecting my sons?"
"The facts are there." The clicking of the file snapping shut echoed his words.
"And you're one to talk of neglect," I spat, my fists clenching at my sides. "You abandoned your pregnant seventeen-year-old daughter!"
"Lys," Mother gasped, stepping toward me with her hand outstretched.
"Don't you dare play that card on me," Father hissed, slamming the files onto the desk as he stepped towards me. "You were sure as hell acting like an adult when you went whoring around the place."
The space between us was suddenly closed. Our gazes clashing for a moment before, with a resounding smack, my hand whipped across his cheek. Redness bloomed on his pale skin as he gawked at the ground.
"Get out," I whispered, my voice ceasing to cooperate. Mother stilled where she was, her eyes flickering between the both of us. "I never once came to you for help. Not for five years. Only now, because I am terrified that my sons will die and I needed my parents. People who should have been by me all along and you dare say this shit to me!"
He raised a hand, his wedding band gleaming as he scrubbed his cheek. He was silent as I continued to rage on, my voice increasing to a scream. "I needed you! Doctor! Father! Oh, so mighty healer! Because there is no one else I would trust to save my sons! Despite all the shit you've done to me! There is no on-."
My words clogged in my throat, a choking gurgle escaping as I swallowed. Winding my arms around my waist, I turned away from him to stare at the beds, ignoring the tears that dribbled from my eyes.
"Just leave, I was wrong to call you both."
"Alyssa," she gushed, coming forward to pull me into her arms. I sidestepped her hold and moved to between the beds. "Alyssa, we're so-."
"Linda," his curt voice shut her up and I tensed, hearing his steps nearing me. What now? Would he strike me back? The thought caused a bitter snort to slip from my lips.
"Gerard, enough!" She retorted causing his steps to halt. "Why are you doing this? She is our only child, our baby and she needs us. Our grandchildren need us. You! Look at them! Look at your grandsons! They are hurting and you could help them! Instead, you are only hurting her! Enough! Please enough!"
Glancing over my shoulder, I studied his features as he stared at my sons. His eyes wandered from Ryan to Damon and I could see something in my stoic father break. His lips twitched as he clenched his jaw. Eyes watering, he glanced at me before tearing his eyes away.
He coughed once, clearing his throat before barking out, "What did the doctors say?"
"They need a blood transfusion," I muttered, fixing the already neat blanket over Damon.
"They'd taken some of your blood, I assume?"
"No?" he repeated, looking back at me with a glare. One I realised wasn't directed at me. "Why not? As their mother, you would-."
"They say I'm not compatible."
"Nonsense," he grumbled, turning around and heading for the door. "I will speak with the doctor. If they can't take your blood, then they'll take mine."
"He regrets what happened, you know," Mother murmured after the door had shut. She watched his form disappear from sight before turning to me. "He wanted to call you, to reconcile so much but you know your father, proud til the day he dies."
"Why are you telling me this?"
"Because I'm sorry," She blurted, her fingers intertwining nervously. Her eyes kept darting away from mine. "I'm so sorry I let you walk out that door. I'm sorry I didn't follow you and drag you back in, that I wasn't there for you. For them. I'm sorry I barely see you and let him not see you. I let you down as your mother, and I'll regret it for the rest of my life."
"Please stop," I interrupted as she went to speak again. Waving my hand out, I shook my head. "That doesn't matter to me. Nothing does, but them. Damon and Ryan are all that I care for, they're my life now."
She nodded, her hand wiping at her wet cheeks. "You sound like me after I first had you and you were sick."
"Did I ever get sick like this?"
Mother looked from one son to the other, her brows furrowing. "No. And I can tell your father hasn't seen something like this before."
"Like he said, something like this wouldn't happen out of the blue. Neglect is often the cause but your boys look healthy. And the thing about the blood, that isn't right either," She sighed and helplessly shrugged. "I'm not a doctor like your father, but even I know that it sounds weird that a mother's blood isn't compatible with at least one of her sons."
"So what does that mean? What will happen to them? Will they die? Will-?"
"Shush, shh," She urged. She darted forward and locked me in her arms just as I was about to crumble to the floor. She clung to me, holding me up right as I sobbed on her shoulders. "They will be ok. They will be alright. It will be ok. He'll save them."
Father still hadn't come back. Mother now paced the width of the room, much like I'd done before. She even gnawed on her thumbnail. I perched on the chair between my sons, my eyes watching the minute hand of my watch click onward. Forty-five minutes later and he still wasn't back.
"I meant to ask, where are your glasses?" mother piped up and I glanced up at her. "Are you wearing contacts? Or did you get surgery?"
"I..." I trailed off as my fingers trailed over my nose. I don't have them on? What the-? "Um...my bag."
"Please tell me you wore them driving," She muttered, pinching the bridge of her nose. "Lyss, you're sight -."
"Is not bad at all, mother," I cut her off with a huff. "My vision is still at the same level it was years ago. It's only changed the littlest bit. Things in the distant are a blur, nothing else."
"But still, that is dangerous, and -."
The sound of my phone coming to life silenced my mother. I fished it from my bag and stood as I answered. "Clari?"
"Hey, so I checked out the number you gave me," She started and as she spoke, I could hear the faint sound of keys clicking as she continued to tap at her laptop.
"And? Could you trace it?" I could feel my mother's eyes fixating on me as I spoke. I waved her away when she edged nearer. Some things never change, I thought, she always wanted to know any secrets.
"Yeah about that..." Clair trailed off before sighing. "It's weird. I could trace the phone to a location. But when I checked the coordinates and it seems barren."
"Yeah the maps don't show anything but grassland and some forestry," She huffed. "I scanned all around the location but there are no buildings, homes or even abandoned warehouses around."
"OK, send me the details."
"Lyss, I don't think – what if the phone is just abandoned there? It's about three hours away by car from you."
"I still want to check it out, please Clari," I pleaded, my voice hitching slightly. "I need to try."
"...How are they?"
"The same. Please Clari, just send them on to me."
She sighed heavily down the line before muttering, "Already on it. If you're going, I want you to keep your phone on you and set the GPS on. I'll keep an eye on you, got it?"
"Thank you, talk later."
"What was that about?" Mother questioned the moment I hung up. My phone beeped before I could answer her, and I opened the message to see the coordinates and a mini map.
"I'm going to find their father," I answered as I moved and grabbed my bag, slinging it over my shoulder.
"You're what? Now?" She gasped. "You haven't been in contact with this man ever and now you're going to arrive on his doorstep?"
"My sons are dying," I retorted, leaning down to kiss Ryan's forehead then Damon's. "I don't give a shit what it will mean, if they need him to survive then I'll be damned if I don't drag his ass here."
"Mother, please, please just stay with them until I get back," I reached for her and grasped her hands in my own. "Please, it's all I ask. Just stay by their side and keep your phone with you. Text me updates and keep me notified. I won't be long."
She sighed heavily and leaned closer to me. Her lips brushed against my forehead like I'd done to my sons just then and she squeezed my hands. "I'll stay here. You hurry back and take care of yourself. Don't do anything rash."
"I will, I promise. Thank you," I let her go and headed for the door, pushing it open as I rushed out. Before I began jogging down the hall to the exit, I heard her voice calling out to me as the door shut.
"And for the Lords sake Lyssa, put on your glasses!"