Posts tagged “hospital

Lighthouse, Chapter 14

Posted on 27/06/2016

Darah and J.R. stood in front of the hospital bed while Hana perched beside a cranky L.J. Obed who glared at the couple before him. A tick jumped in his tight jaw as he eyed their joined hands before lifting his gaze to J.R. “Raju, what is the meaning of this?”

“Meaning of what?” J.R. drawled softly.

The elder Obed shifted his gaze to the girl and his lips thinned in disapproval. “Who is this… child?”

J.R. sighed. “She’s not a child, and her name is Darah.”

L.J. arched a gray brow. “She looks like she barely just graduated high school.”

Darah choked on a laugh. “Oh wow…”

L.J. squinted at her. “Is something funny here?”

“I get that a lot but really sir,” Darah ignored J.R. squeezing her hand a bit too tight and met the older man’s disapproving eyes. “I’m twenty-five years old, twenty-six come September.”

He sniffed and turned his attention back to J.R. “And what is she doing here?”

“We were together when we heard the news,” J.R. answered dutifully, loosening his grip on Darah’s hand. “We need to talk, Father.” He glanced pointedly at Hana.

Hana nodded and stood, only to be stopped by L.J.’s hand on her arm.

“You stay.” L.J. instructed Hana and then looked to Darah with his brow arched. “Since this is a family discussion, please leave.”

“Babu—”

“Not a problem,” Darah said breezily and slipped her hand from J.R.’s. She flashed the older man a grin and spun on her heels, exiting the room.

“Cheeky little…” L.J. muttered, and Hana fought a smile.

“Did you really have to do that just now?” J.R. scowled. “That was completely unnecessary.”

L.J. snorted. “I won’t stand to be disrespected in my own hospital room.”

Hana cleared her throat and rose. Her eyes volleyed between the two glaring at each other, both forgetting she was still there. “You two should talk. I’ll be just outside.”

She maneuvered her way out of the room and immediately spotted Darah leaning against the opposite wall, her arms folded across her chest. She managed a smile that easily slipped when Darah turned away. “Hey, hold on.”

Darah paused in step and turned to face her, brows raised expectantly. “Yes?”

Hana strolled up to her. “Sorry about Uncle L.J., he’s naturally grouchy.”

Darah shrugged. “It’s whatever.”

Her eyes swept over this young woman, J.R.’s fiancée, and was curious about their relationship. They seemed polar opposites, especially after witnessing Darah’s impetuous behavior with J.R.’s father just now. But maybe the ‘opposites attract’ theory applied to—she shook out of the thought, not wanting to entertain such foolishness.

“I was on my way to the restroom,” Darah spoke up. “Can I go now or you’ve got something to say?”

Hana swallowed a laugh. This girl was cheeky indeed. She nodded. “Yeah, I need a potty break too.”

Darah didn’t reply and just turned around. Hana fought a smirk and followed her down the hall toward the bathroom.

L.J.’s scowl darkened the minute Hana left the room. “Where did you find such an outrageous girl?”

“I would rather discuss why I’m just now finding out you’re in this hospital bed.” J.R. folded his arms across his chest.

“You tell me. I was unconscious this whole time,” L.J. replied brusquely. “Imagine my surprise waking up in a foreign place and seeing that insolent chit—“

“Father!”

L.J.’s scowl slipped in surprise at J.R.’s raised tone. He studied his son’s brooding expression and then sighed, his narrow shoulders drooping. “I know you have questions.”

“And I want answers.”

L.J. nodded, now somber. “I’ll try to answer as much as I know.”

“How long have you known about the cancer?”

L.J. blinked in surprise. “They told you?”

J.R.’s lips thinned. “How long?”

His father lowered his head. “A year and a half… almost two now.”

The silence prompted L.J. to lift his head and read his son’s expression. Anger marked J.R.’s furrowed brow and tightened his facial muscles. “Son, I…”

“And when did you plan on telling me?” J.R. asked, his tone low and uncharacteristically steady. His brow furrowed deeper. “When you had one more day to live? Or maybe when I’d receive another call from the hospital?”

L.J. lowered his head so he wouldn’t read the pain displayed in his son’s dark eyes. Regret and shame gripped his throat from answering.

“Th-that’s why you retired early, isn’t it?”

L.J. closed his eyes.

J.R. choked on a dry laugh. “Th-that’s why y-you’re so hell-bent on g-getting me settled, i-isn’t it? Y-you’d kn-nown all that time y-you wouldn’t live for much longer.”

The stutter had returned, indicating J.R. was quickly losing control of his emotions. All because of him.

L.J. sought his son’s face and his stomach dropped at the sight of tears swimming in J.R.’s angry eyes. He sighed and reached out a hand to his boy. “Beta…”

J.R. took a step back, glaring at his father. “H-how could you do this?”

The accusation in J.R’s eyes was worse than the words themselves. L.J. frowned. “If I could’ve prevented myself from getting cancer I would’ve, Raju.”

“You should’ve told me!” J.R. roared, eyes flashing with rage.

L.J. inadvertently flinched. J.R. cringed and L.J. instantly regretted it.

“I-I can’t do this.” J.R. took a step back and another, ready to run. He spun toward the door.

“Raj–!” L.J. groaned when J.R. slammed the door behind him and he covered his face.

Not a moment later, the door opened and he looked up, stifling another groan when an alarmed Hana hurried in.

“Uncle,” she rushed to his side and reached for his hand. “Are you okay?”

L.J. looked past her at the door. “Raju, please go to him…”

Hana paused in counting his pulse. “He’s with Darah, don’t worry.” She ignored his growl and squeezed his hand. “For now, you need to calm down or the nurse will come in—”

Nurse Karen Wells stepped in and gave both a smile. “Good, you’re awake. Just in time for your checkup with Doctor Yancey.”

L.J. dropped his forehead against Hana’s shoulder and groaned, unaware that Hana and Nurse Karen exchanged a cautious smile.

The two sat in silence, facing the brick wall that separated the hospital garden from the bayou. Bullfrogs and crickets croaked in unison, deafening the silence.

Then Darah sighed and peeked from the corner at J.R.’s profile. “Did you two fight?”

J.R. merely snorted and looked down, the sole of his loafer scraping the cement.

She arched a brow. “You two resemble each other. He’s practically an older version of you with the thick hair, tanned skin, dark eyes.”

“It’s the only thing similar between us.”

Her lips twitched in a wry grin. “Unfortunately.”

J.R. jerked his head to gape at her. “What does that mean?”

Darah shrugged. “Just that he’s more expressive than you. It’s refreshing to know not all Obed men are the same.”

He raised a brow. “I don’t see what—“

“I wish you’d be more expressive about your feelings, J.R.”

J.R. sighed and looked away. Darah sighed also and turned her eyes back to the fence.

“It’s not that easy…”

Darah rolled her eyes. “Actually it is. When you’re angry, you show anger. When you’re happy, you show joy or laugh or at least smile. You have a great smile when caught off-guard.”

J.R. didn’t respond and Darah scoffed aloud but didn’t say anything else. She needed to pee again. Pushing to her feet, she started for the door.

“I’m angry.”

Pausing in step, Darah turned around to his lonely figure. His broad shoulders were bowed in defeat, his thick hair streaked with moonlight. Her fingers itched to thread through the strands.

He heaved a sigh and she quickly refocused her attention on him. Her feet shuffled back to the bench they’d once shared and she lowered herself beside him. Peeing could wait.

“I’m scared too.”

Her gut clenched tight. Her eyes traveled up his profile and rested on his furrowed brow. She could only imagine the pain he faced at the thought of his father facing a terminal illness.

“But mostly angry.” J.R. leaned forward, rested his elbows on his knees and buried his face in his hands. “And scared and confused. I don’t know what to do.”

The catch in his voice made her scoot closer until their hips touched. When J.R. didn’t scoot over, Darah released the breath she’d been holding and placed a hand on his back. “What scares you the most?” she asked softly, not knowing what else to ask.

“I-I don’t…know.”

Darah ran her palm over his back in a soothing motion. “I think you do, J.R.”

He was silent for a long while that Darah was afraid she’d pushed him too hard. He wasn’t very good at expressing his feelings, so of course expressing fear for his father’s health wouldn’t be easy to share.

Then she heard a sniffle and her hand paused in motion. Darah willed the bullfrogs to quit their pesky croaking so she could hear it clearly. Then she saw J.R.’s hand swipe under his nose, and she gaped.

The muscles in his back twitched under her hand and Darah bent forward. “Wait, are you crying?”

J.R. cupped a hand over the visible part of his face. “No.”

She frowned. “You are crying.”

“No, I’m not.” He shifted away then, causing her hand to fall.

“J.R—!” Darah pouted when he stood abruptly and started for the door. She quickly jumped to her feet and hurried to him, wrapping her arms around his waist. He froze. She laced her fingers together and rested her cheek against his back, listening to the rapid beat of his heart. He was agitated with worry or fear for his father, and she only made it worse by goading him. “Oh Jay…”

His muscles twitched against him; and Darah knew from nights she’d held Eli after a terrible nightmare that J.R. was holding back tears.

“Let it out, J.R.,” she said gently. Unlacing her fingers, she moved her open palm to his left breast, to where she could feel his racing heart. “Stop giving yourself a hard time and let it out.”

A garbled moan escaped his throat and Darah felt his body bow slightly.

Darah cringed as he choked on a held-back sob. Her other hand wrapped around his narrow waist and the other patted his chest, silently encouraging him to release the tension from his chest.

J.R. choked on a sob and it wasn’t long before he began to weep bitter tears.

Exhaling a breath, Darah pressed her face against his back, allowing his sobs echo against her body also. If only she could take away his pain, she would. For now though, she’d be his rock and his comfort. Closing her eyes, she held him tight while he cried like a baby.

<<Chapter 13 || Chapter 15>>

Lighthouse, Chapter 13

Posted on 21/06/2016

The constant beeping of the EKG machine cut through the silence in Lalana-Joel Obed’s room, with both J.R. and Hana watching him sleep from opposite sides of the bed. J.R. gazed at his father’s relaxed features while Hana watched J.R.

Then she shifted in the chair, the leather squeaking as she leaned forward with elbows to her knees. “How did this happen?”

J.R. stiffened as though just remembering that he wasn’t alone with his father. Then he exhaled a breath. “You tell me. You were the one who found him…” he swallowed hard. “Face down on the kitchen floor.”

Hana didn’t answer right away, hesitant to say anything. She’d been alarmed to find the older man facedown, but years of medical training pushed her through the initial panic. Telling J.R. though was a different story altogether; she’d stuttered through it, not knowing what good way to alert him of his father’s dire condition.

His fingers gripped the side rail. “I had no idea he was even sick.”

“Pancreatic cancer isn’t detectable to others…” she answered weakly, watching his knuckles grow white. No doubt he was still reeling from the doctor’s grave prognosis.

“Except he knew…”

Hana looked up at the hardness in J.R.’s voice. His features were taut, his angular face revealing an emotion she hadn’t seen before. Was it anger or worry?

“He knew all along.” J.R. turned his head to look down at his father’s face. “Keeping this to himself, going to appointments on his own.” His jaw tightened. “While I lived my life… thinking he’d live forever.”

Hana watched him warily, noting his voice break at the end of the sentence. “No one lives forever, Bhaiyaa,” she said softly.

His lips twitched in a wry smirk, remembering his mother who left too young. “I know that all too well…”

The two sat in silence, allowing the EKG machine to beep on. Hana fiddled with her hands, not knowing what to do for him. No doubt he was mulling through his father’s condition, estimating how long he had to live and wondering how he could change things for the better. She wished she could help him, give him some sort of comforting word but she too had no idea what would happen next.

Struggling with words to give him, Hana then cleared her throat. “So… looks like you’re engaged.” She winced when the words came out. That wasn’t at all what she’d meant to say.

J.R. didn’t glance up. “Looks that way.”

Hana frowned at his casual tone. “That’s… weird.”

“Weird?”

She nodded though he couldn’t see it. “Just four weeks ago, you were hell-bent on being single forever.”

“Never said anything about being single forever.”

Hana tamped a sigh. “Okay, so just hell-bent about not getting married to me then?”

His silence was enough and Hana ignored the sharp twinge in her chest. She folded her arms. “Does Uncle know about her?”

J.R. shrugged. “He will.”

Hana frowned. His cryptic response was suspect. “Where and when did you meet her?”

J.R. let out an incredulous laugh that seemed out of place considering where they were. His dark gaze slid over to her, brows crooked in question. “Are we really discussing this now?”

It was a sly reprimand and if Hana was in her right mind, she would’ve let it go. But she shrugged. “As part-caretaker of Uncle L.J., I’m concerned what this sudden news would do to him.”

J.R. snorted a laugh. “Part-caretaker?”

Hana tilted her chin. “When and where?”

He rolled his eyes and looked back at his unconscious father. “I’ve known her for ten years.”

Hana’s chin dropped as her shoulders did. “Ten…years?” Her eyes darted to L.J.’s face. “And your dad?”

J.R. sighed. “I’ve known her family for long. It just happened.”

Hana wanted to scoff aloud. Instead she curled her fingers into fists on her lap. “I see.”

A knock sounded on the door and both turned as it opened. Darah stuck her head in and Hana stiffened as the girl sought J.R. first.

“What is it, Darah?” J.R. sounded exasperated.

Hana arched an inquisitive brow when the girl pouted.

“Could you step out for a moment?” Her gaze shifted past him to L.J.’s form before returning to J.R.

Hana watched J.R.’s brow furrow deep, not liking the girl’s request. She bit back a smile. “It’s alright, Bhaiyaa. I’ll keep watch.”

Darah glanced once at Hana for the first time since she interrupted and gave her a quick smile that didn’t reach her eyes. Then she turned back to J.R. “Come.”

Hana frowned as J.R. stood without a word of protest, answering the girl’s beck-and-call. She waited until J.R. trudged out of the room and closed the door before letting out an unseemly scoff.

J.R. put his hands to his narrow hips once he closed the door. “What is it, Darah?”

She rolled her eyes. “Try not to sound like I’m pestering you.” She grabbed his arm and tugged hard.

He heaved a sigh but let her drag him away from the door. “Can we make this quick—“

“Why’d you say I was your fiancée?” Darah paused in step and turned to catch his reaction before he could answer. He didn’t have time to fix his expression. “Was it because of her?”

J.R. fought a groan and tugged his hand free from her hold. “Because of who? Nurse Wells?”

Darah punched his arm, a scowl marring her features. “The girl manhandling you earlier on.”

J.R. would’ve laughed if his heart wasn’t already in pieces over his father. “The only one manhandling me right now is you.”

She started to say something but clamped her mouth shut, and put her offending hand behind her back. Then she sighed. “Why’d you say I was your fiancée?”

He refrained from grimacing. Maybe introducing Darah as a very-distant cousin like Hana would’ve been a better idea. He huffed a breath. “’Cause you wouldn’t be allowed to stay with me otherwise.”

Her hazel eyes swept over him, searching for lies in his response. Then she sniffed and glanced over his shoulder. “Who is she though? Your cousin, for real?”

He shook his head, growing weary of the conversation. He glanced over his shoulder at the door separating him from his father.

“Oh wait…” Darah’s breathy voice had him turn around. Her eyes were wide. “She’s the girl your dad wants you to marry?”

With a sigh, J.R. pinched the bridge of his nose and looked over her head. “Darah, can we discuss this later…” he trailed off as Nurse Karen Wells walked up to them. His pulse quickened with alarm, dreading what she had to say.

“Sorry to interrupt but I was just informed that you have visitors wanting to speak with you.” When J.R. and Darah pointed to themselves, Karen nodded. “Both of you.”

Both exchanged glances, then Darah stepped away. “It’s probably Abe and Bart. Let me handle them. I’ll be back.”

He watched her hurry down the hallway to meet her brothers before exhaling a breath and turning to a very-amused Nurse Wells. His brows arched in silent question.

She gave him a wan smile. “Is there anything you’ll need before Doctor Yancey leaves for the night?”

J.R. felt his shoulders drooping, discomfited that the doctor who diagnosed his father was taking leave for the day while his father remained unconscious. “I have no idea…”

Nurse Wells nodded understandably. “I’ll be a call away. Just press the button and I’ll come over.”

He couldn’t muster a smile and just nodded. “Thank you.”

“Here,” Bart held out the overnight duffel and a lunch bag.

Darah wordlessly accepted the offering, draping the duffel strap over her shoulder and tucking the lunch bag under her arm. She could feel Abe’s gaze on her but didn’t lift her eyes to his.

“How is he?” Bart asked quietly.

She shrugged. “The best he can be considering.”

Abe’s sigh tugged her gaze upwards. His brows were bent in a deep V. “What are they saying?”

Darah shook her head. “I didn’t get the details, just that his father’s terminal…”

“Pancreatic cancer,” J.R.’s voice spoke up behind her.

All turned as J.R. strolled toward them, hands in his pockets. Instantly, she shuffled to stand behind him and away from Abe’s scrutinizing gaze.

“Sorry to hear that, Jay.” Abe’s brow furrowed in concern. “Has he woken up yet?”

J.R. heaved a sigh. “Not yet.”

Darah squeezed the strap of the bag to keep from placing her hand on his bowed shoulder. Not with her brothers’ hawk-eye stares on her.

“Give us your keys,” Bart spoke up, holding out a hand. “We’ll bring your car over and take Darah’s back home. You’ll get your car towed where you left it.”

J.R. nodded and fished the car keys from his back pocket. “Thanks.”

“No problem,” Bart answered, accepting the keys. His gaze skimmed over his sister before settling on J.R. “Heard there are congratulations in order.”

She swallowed a groan. “Bart, please…”

“Imagine our surprise when your nurse graciously informed us that Darah was your fiancée.”

“Astonishing,” Abe said dryly.

J.R. moved into Abe’s line of sight on Darah. “That’s my fault, not hers.”

“Hey man, it’s all good,” Bart said, amusement in his voice. “Anyway, Phoebe’s packed your fiancée here an overnight bag and dinner for you both.”

“Thanks,” J.R. mumbled, hands in his pockets.

Bart smirked. “No worries.”

Abe stared past J.R. at Darah. “We’ll come get you tomorrow morning.”

She didn’t dare protest and nodded silently. The sooner her brothers left, the sooner she could breathe easy. She’d deal with their scrutiny and probing questions later.

Bart clamped a hand over J.R.’s shoulder. “Stay strong, man.”

J.R. nodded, unable to say a word.

“He’ll make it,” Abe said gently, extending a hand out to J.R.

Darah watched her eldest brother pull J.R. into a quick manly hug and a soft smile crossed her lips. For as long as J.R. was introduced to their family, she enjoyed witnessing her brothers accept him as their own. It warmed her heart even at the tender age of fifteen. More so now when he needed it the most.

“Hey.”

She blinked at the soft entreaty and met J.R.’s quizzical stare. She looked past him, and found neither Abe nor Bart. She looked back at him and found him staring. Her cheeks warmed, realizing she’d been caught daydreaming. “H-huh?”

His gaze swept over her face before settling back on her eyes. “Ready to go back?”

Darah nodded but searched his weary features. “You okay?”

J.R. nodded and took her hand. “Come on.”

Her pulse tripped as he tugged her toward the hallway. Though there was no one watching them, J.R. kept up the ruse of their engagement. Not that she was complaining. Still, she couldn’t let him know what his touch did to her. “You need to get sleep.”

J.R.’s lips twitched wryly. “Is that your way of saying I look dead on my feet?”

“I merely said you needed sleep.” She shrugged. “Take it however you want it.”

He snorted as they entered the Oncology unit. “You’re a handful.”

Darah tightened her hold on his hand and stifled a giggle as one of the nurses strolled past.

After dishing out Phoebe’s delicious pot-roast and coaxing J.R. to take a break from watching his father to eat, Darah begrudgingly offered a portion to Hana. The young woman accepted with an amused expression and ate with gusto.

Nurse Karen Wells brought in a small cot at midnight; and J.R. placed it near the window, insisting Darah sleep first while he and Hana kept watch. Though J.R. was careful not to point out her pregnancy in front of both Hana and Nurse Wells, his consideration didn’t sit well with her. It meant Hana would be the one sitting with him through the night while she slept.

Fighting a yawn, she pouted on her way to the cot. Fuming when Hana chuckled and called her ‘cute’, she turned so her back faced them and succumbed to sleep minutes later.

Hours later, her stomach turned violently and she woke with a groan. Turning onto her other side, Darah spotted J.R. and Hana sleeping on the couch. Her jaw tightened at the sight of Hana’s head resting against J.R.’s shoulder.

She quickly pushed aside the blanket and scooted off the cot. Tiptoeing to the couch, she parked her hands on her hips and watched Hana’s head loll on J.R.’s shoulder. Then she snorted. “Don’t think for a minute that’s going to work, Missy.”

“Who are you?”

Darah jerked around, caught the narrowed glare of J.R.’s father on her and froze.

<<Chapter 12 || Chapter 14>>

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