Part 15 in Thurmount Holiday (see the category “Thurmount Holiday” for the other entries).
You know those movies where the wife is at home; her soldier husband is at war; someone comes to the door; and you know it’s just bad news? That’s pretty much how I felt when there was a rap at the front door. It was Will’s father, Ted, a big, burly teddy bear of a man. He took one look at me and realized he didn’t need to explain a thing.
“Grab your coat. Let’s go,” he said.
I pulled my coat off the hook near the front door and followed him to his behemoth of a pick-up truck. He didn’t ask me if I could get in, although I swear the step up into the cab seemed like it was nearly half my height. He knew me well enough to know that I would rather mountain climb than ask for help.
The cab was warm. I expected his wife to be there, but she was absent.
“Is Will . . .”
“Broken leg. He’s waiting at the hospital for us. He said to tell you before your nose got all outta joint that his phone battery died.”
When they say relief washes over you, I have to say it’s more like this huge ball of tension, which feels like it’s incased you in glass, shatters. A tremor quaked through my body, whether from tension or the cold, I don’t know. I swallowed hard as I buckled the seatbelt.
Ted drove on the bad roads like he did it every day. His demeanor was relaxed and that was probably where Will got his ease from. There was no one more laid back than his dad.
The emergency room was jam-packed, but people automatically parted for Ted so I just followed the path he made. While he spoke to the nurse, I looked around and that’s when I saw him in a wheelchair with his leg elevated, his shirt blood-stained, his head resting against the wall, his eyes closed. As if feeling my gaze on him, his eyes opened. I trotted over to him and threw my arms around him and buried my face in his neck.
“I’m not hurting you, am I?” I asked.
“Wouldn’t know. These pain pills are pretty miraculous. You’re a sight for sore eyes, Kay.”
“Y’all are taking our hero home?” A nurse in brightly colored scrubs asked.
“Hero?” I asked.
“He was helping a lady in one of the cars when somebody rammed the car. Could have been a lot worse than a broken leg,” she said.
We got Will situated into the front passenger’s seat and I climbed into the back of the extended cab. Will fell asleep almost immediately. I stared at his profile, feeling like there was something here, something significant that I should be understanding besides the obvious: I thought I had lost him, for real, for good. Maybe it’s just knowing that you can’t take people for granted, that you have to treasure every moment you have with them because you just never know if a caprice of fate will take them away from you.
Ted turned the radio on. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” sounded through the cab. The words “we will all be together if the fates allow” echoed in my head as I reached out to stroke Will’s beard.