Already There

x

He wrapped his arm around his mother in laws shoulder as she sobbed, they watched from the other side of the glass, his wife’s body a labyrinth of yet more tubes and wires, guilt racked him as he thought about Ruby’s terrified cries, he swept her in to his arms as quickly as he could, shouting for a doctors attention as his wife lay crumpled at his feet.

The ventilator hissed loudly pulling him back to reality, a doctor approached them,

“Mrs Drummond? And Mr Medhurst I believe?”

“Yeah what’s wrong with her?”

Kevin demanded,

“We believe it’s septicaemia, thankfully it’s been caught in the early stages so shouldn’t be too difficult to treat, we’ve managed to stabilise her for now but she’s not totally out of the woods yet, she’ll need a lot of antibiotics which of course means a longer admission”

--

He sat in the passenger seat, a place he had been so many times before, and yet this time it felt alien,

“What did you name her?”

He said trying to break the tension, he wanted nothing more than to hold her, he popped the glove box open passing her a packet of tissues from inside, she took a few minutes to catch her breath,

“I always thought you’d be my happy ending, my bloody forever, even when you told me about your dad, it didn’t bother me I thought you’d want different for her”

“and I do”

“Oh yeah Kevin that’s obvious, you weren’t there, she’s nearly three months old and this is the first time you’ve laid eyes on her”

“It should have been different I should have come and made sure you were both okay, but I didn’t I dealt with it wrong, yes I drunk a lot, yes I ended up back in with Marian” he fell quiet his eyes cast down “and I shouldn’t have done, I should have been back home with you, I should have been baby shopping and putting together furniture and I’m sorry” he chocked up “I’m sorry Scarlett” he turned in his seat “Can I see her?”

She nodded, he opened the door and glanced in to the car seat, gently moving the blanket to the side, he gasped, soaking in every tiny detail of her face,

“She’s perfect Dolly, absolutely perfect”

She smiled to herself climbing out of the car and standing next to him,

“Look Kev, come back to mine after shift, we’ll talk properly there”

He smiled, he put his arm around her, nudging her closer, he pecked her on her temple,

“I’ll see you in a bit”

She smiled as he jogged back in to the station.

He walked in to her flat, hanging his coat and kicking his shoes off, it came naturally like he had never left,

“Do you want tea and toast love?” she stopped dead in her tracks as soon as the words left her mouth “I mean, if you want you can have tea and toast?”

“Go on then”

He smiled nervously, before sitting on the sofa, his eyes burned, and his body cried out for sleep, but this couldn’t wait.

She slipped in to the kitchen, rubbing her face, stress began to take its toll as her mind became more and more conflicted, having Kevin in her home felt like the missing piece, the flat felt warmer and she felt calmer, her mind kept snapping back to how it had been, long nights in the mess room, him laughing at her when she tried to bluff during poker, a skill which he had taught her, the days spent on his houseboat, sitting on the roof in the sun, him mocking her driving even when they were on a shout.

She walked back in to the living room stopping as she got to the doorway, Kevin picked up the muslin from the sofa, wiping the baby’s mouth he put her on his shoulder rubbing her back, the half empty bottle on the coffee table, a warmth spread through Scarlett’s chest, she put the mug and plate on the table, sitting on the sofa next to Kevin,

“Marmite as well” he grinned “I knew there was a reason we called your mum Doll!” She passed him the mug watching as he took a swig “That reminds me, what do we call you eh?” he sat and examined her face, “You are the image of your mother” he paused “Ruby? Yeah definitely a Ruby just like mummy”

She looked at him confused,

“My name is Scarlett Kev, Christ!”

“They’re both shades of red you daft mare!”

They laughed together, for the first time in well over a year, he took a breath in,

“Scar? Just come home”

She sighed

“I am home Kev”

“Nah I mean it, me you and Ruby, we’ll live together on the boat, like a proper family”

“It’s not that easy, with everything that’s gone on and Marian I can’t live with her hanging over me”

He put Ruby back in her Mosses basket,

“Don’t be like that love, I’ve already told her to do one”

“Really?”

She asked in disbelief an eyebrow raised,

“I swear to you, she’s gone, ask anyone at the station, I told her before I left” he sat on the sofa next to her, pulling her on to his lap “there was never a question over who I’d rather spend the rest of my life with” she rolled her eyes, “ and the rest of my shifts”

She leaned in to him, resting her head on his shoulder,

“Small steps Kev” she run her fingers through his hair “Now go to bed for a bit, you know where the bedroom is”

He grinned, lifting her as he stood, she laughed as he strolled through the flat with her dumping her on to the bed, before disappearing and returning with Ruby, he kissed her softly before laying her in to her cot, he climbed in to bed, pulling Scarlett close to him,

“I missed you”

“Yeah you’re alright as well mate”

She sniggered, as he sighed and rolled over, like old times, she rested her head in the crook of his neck, he had one arm under his pillow and the other draped lazily over her hips, within minutes his breathing had turned soft and slow, she lay awake, mulling things over in her head, she felt as though she belonged, in this moment right now, laying in Kevin’s arms this is where she was supposed to be, but as a father he was supposed to attend appointments and hold her hand during labour, she had already admitted to herself she needed him, she pushed the thoughts to the back of her mind, allowing herself to rest.

--

He took his station once more at her bedside, he hadn’t felt so guilty leaving her there when she was better, when she was walking and laughing, but now, he couldn’t face her doing it alone, he went cold at the thought of her laying alone and untouched in a silent hospital side room, he tried to spend a night at home, only to wake in cold sweats plagued by nightmares, that moment replaying in his brain, the noise rattling him all over again, like a horror film stuck on repeat.

He tried to stay strong for Ruby, having the little mite with him as often as possible, he had lost count of how many pizza picnics they had on their living room floor with her teddies, he lost count of the amount of nights he sat on the sofa cradling the trembling toddler, still shaken from the events that had rocked the family.