The Accident Ch. 03-04bythecelt©
Thanks again to angel love for editing. She is the best.
"There is no doubt that you are the man for the European expansion enterprise Tom. It is high time that we moved you over there full time to begin to bring this to a successful conclusion. I would like to offer you the position of Vice President of European Operations effective immediately. I would expect you to pick your team, make all of the arrangements and move to Brussels effective as soon as possible. Will you accept?"
"Gladly and with gratitude. It is no secret that this is what I have been working for. I can probably be over there within 45 days. I'll start on the plans right away."
After a few more words and thanks, Tom left George's office and went home to begin taking the first steps. It was important to do this right and he had been making plans for some time.
Tom first spoke to Shelly, telling her of the assignment and that it would mean moving to Brussels Belgium with the twins. He told her that she was welcome to come with them just as things were now. No change and no expectations. He wanted her to come but he did not want a wife or mother for his kids. The choice was hers and she wanted time to consider it.
Next, Tom spoke to Nicky's parents. Now that they knew the whole story, he wanted to proceed with the divorce. He had thought endlessly about her part in the whole charade and he kept coming back to the lack of trust that she displayed both for doubting him and for expecting that he could forgive her transgressions even when she felt she had reason. Try as he might, he could not forgive her for that.
He told them of his anger not at what Nicky was planning on doing, but that she had so little trust in him that she believed he was capable of doing what she was told. He was also hurt by her failure to come to him instead of believing the worst without giving him a chance to defend himself.
They both tried to convince him to reconsider until Nicky could speak for herself, but he refused, telling them that he had come to the decision after living with this for the last three months. He was going ahead and he was moving to Europe as soon as he could get things in order. He had filed the divorce and would let the lawyers take care of the details. He told them he would make plans to have Nicky moved into a private nursing home where she would get the best care. He would continue to pay for her care as he had agreed. All they had to do was be available if needed. Once divorced, they would become her guardians.
Of course, Betty and Harry were hurt that they would no longer be able to see the twins but he promised to come back periodically and bring them with him. He also planned to send pictures often and they could call from time to time. They would not be deprived of contact completely. He promised them that.
Over the next three weeks, Tom initiated the divorce, sold his home with the proceeds going into a trust for Nicky, put most of the furniture into storage and made the arrangements for Nicky's care. All was complete by the end of the month and Tom was ready to make the move. Shelly had finally decided that she would stay and not move with him. She cried over the twins but couldn't see any future for her if she went with Tom and Tom reluctantly agreed. Their arrangement was devoid of love and they both knew it. He gave her some money; enough to get a new start and wished her well. He would miss her.
He went to the hospital to see Nicky; the first time he had been there since Harris was discharged. She looked the same as before: serene, beautiful, with a smile that was almost mysterious. Betty had brushed her hair that day and it lay on the pillow, shining like gold. He felt a lump form in his throat. Why had she done this thing? Why had she chosen to believe Harris, rather than ask him for the truth? These things preyed on him as he watched her slow breathing. He loved her more than life itself, but without trust, he knew of no way to stay with her. Her loss of trust in him left him empty and alone, even with her there in front of him. He couldn't explain to anyone how he felt, but he felt it nonetheless. As he watched her slow breathing, the tears started and flowed freely for the next minutes. He let them come, shamelessly.
He had put all of his feelings about what she had done and how he felt about it in a letter. In the letter, he talked of her loss of trust in him; his life before he met her and how trust was so important to him; and he spoke of his last conversation with Harris. He didn't say what Harris had told him except to say that he believed him when he described that day. He also told her about Shelly and how she had helped him with the house and the twins. He apologized for living with her but told her that he needed someone since she had taken everything from him. He told her of the twins and how they were growing. He told her of his move to Brussels and his promotion.
He told her of the plans he had made with Betty and Harry to care for her and that he hoped she would someday regain her life. He poured his feelings into that letter and felt better afterwards.
He left the letter on the nightstand beside her bed. It was addressed to her and sealed with a small elephant sticker, the ones that the twins loved to paste on their toys. It was inside a manila envelope that said simply "For Nicky's eyes only." He stood up and, looking once more at her sleeping face, left.
He was scheduled to depart from Newark, NJ on a flight to Brussels, Belgium. The flight would take about 9 hours total and he wasn't looking forward to it. The twins would be a handful and he wished that Shelly were coming along to help with them. He talked with a doctor who prescribed some antihistamines for them that should help to make them sleepy. Maybe that would do some good and make the trip a little less hectic.
He finally arrived in Brussels with his sanity intact and was met by the man he had hired so long ago. He had found a wonderful place for them to stay, a nice little bungalow with a small garden, surrounded by a high block wall. It was his for the next three years and was paid for by the company. He had picked it out himself since it was close to the new site and convenient to the local daycare facility. He wanted the twins to be exposed to the local language and to the local customs. It would be a great learning experience for them.
He sat in a very new European style chair and looked out the window of his new flat. He could see the lights of Brussels spread out before him and if he looked off in the distance he could see the beltway around the city. He was pleased with things so far but there was sadness in him that wouldn't go away. He knew what it was but he was not going to recognize it or give it validation. He shrugged his shoulders and got up to see to the twins. They were so tired they had gone to bed without a whimper so he had far too much time on his hands. But tomorrow was the first day of the rest of his life, or so the saying went. He would take it a day at a time.
Betty sat in the hospital room with her daughter and knitted. She was working on a slip over cardigan that she thought Nicky would love. She had already made sweaters for the twins and a scarf for Harry. She wondered if Harry would wear the scarf: he was always so warm that he needed very little. Oh, well. It was the thought that counted.
She knew that she should pack up the sweaters and get them ready for shipment to Belgium. The boys turned 3 years old this past month and Tom had sent pictures of their birthday party. They were growing so fast and they looked so much like their mother at that age. They certainly took after her. At the thought, she glanced over at Nicky, so still and so quiet. It had been 20 months, 13 days and some odd hours since the accident and Nicky had been in a coma for that entire time. The doctors still said she could wake up at any time, but Betty was beginning to accept the fact that her daughter was never going to be coming out of it. Harry had already said as much but Harry was always the pessimist. She was beginning to agree with him, however and it made her sad.
She went back to her knitting and was humming a little tune that Nicky had always liked when she thought she heard something. She turned to glance at Nicky and was shocked to see her eyes open and moving around the room. Nicky had never opened her eyes since she had been in this room. Betty dropped her knitting and rushed to Nicky's bedside. She took her hand and watched as Nicky moved her eyes toward her. Her eyes focused! She was looking at her!
"Nicky! Nicky dear! Can you hear me? Can you say something? Say something Nicky!" She was squeezing her hand and looking wildly around for a nurse. She remembered the call button and reached out for it. She held her finger down on the button while she continued to talk to her daughter.
"Nicky, say something dear. Can you talk to me, baby? Say something, please?"
Nicky was trying to speak, but she was not able to do much except grunt. The sounds were soft and hardly audible but they were sounds. She was trying! Betty dropped her hand and ran to the doorway, looking left and right for someone, anyone. She finally saw a nurse come around the corner and she must have understood right away when she saw Betty waving and jumping up and down. She stopped, whirled around and ran for the phone to call the doctor on call.
Betty went back to the bed and saw that Nicky still had her eyes open and was still trying to make sounds. She screwed up her face and finally said,
"Wh. wh. Where... am.. I?"
She was moving her head now and she was looking at everything, trying to understand what she was seeing. She wouldn't recognize anything anyway since she had never seen this room when she was conscious. Still, she focused on Betty as she came back to the bedside and she was able to reach out with her hand to take her mother's hand in hers.
"Mom? What are you doing here? Where am I?"
Her voice was getting stronger and she was no longer disoriented. She was weak, pale, and much thinner than she had ever been but she was awake! Betty could only look at her and cry. She couldn't say anything but she clung to her daughter's hand and held it to her lips as she cried. Nicky was becoming frustrated by the lack of information but she was too weak to do anything other than hold on to her mother's hand. This was enough to almost wear her out but she held on.
The doctor on call came running into the room and took one look at Nicky and yelled at the nurse trailing behind. "Get Dr. Edwards right away!"
He watched as the nurse left and turned to Nicky and Betty. He smiled and took his little flashlight out of his pocket and sat down on the bed beside Nicky.
He flashed the light into her eyes and was pleased with the response since he grinned and said, "That's what we like to see. Good responses. How are you feeling? Any pain? Discomfort? Anything that feels strange or out of place?"
Nicky looked at him and tried to speak several times before she was able to make sense.
"Can you tell me where I am? Why am I here? Am I ill? Please, can you tell me what's happening?"
"You were in a car accident Miss Campbell. Do you remember anything about it? Can you recall what you were doing or whom you were with? Can you remember anything?"
He watched her very closely as she tried to make sense of what she was just told. Nothing came to her at first and then she closed her eyes for a minute trying to think of what he had said that was odd. Oh, yes. He had called her by her mother's last name. He probably didn't know any different. She tried then to remember an accident but nothing came to mind. She would relax and let it come.
"I can't remember any accident but maybe it will come back to me. Oh, and my name is Nichole Preston. Campbell is my mother's name. But you can call me Nicky." She was already getting tired.
"I am very tired. I think I just want to put my head down for awhile if it's OK." With that thought, she dropped off into a deep sleep.
"Is she going back into a coma?" Betty was afraid that Nicky was leaving them again. She still had her hand and wasn't going to let go till she knew Nicky was OK.
"She is just sleeping now. This is normal. She will be very tired for some time until she builds her strength back up. That will take time but she is on the way now. I think you will see steady improvement now. Congratulations."
He made some comments on the chart at her bedside and turned to leave when he stopped and said, "What did she mean that her name is Preston? The only name we have in her records is Campbell, the same as yours. She is not married is she?"
"She was married at the time of her accident Doctor. Her husband divorced her and we had her name changed back to her maiden name for insurance purposes. She doesn't know about that yet. I don't know how to tell her either. I'll want to talk to Dr. Edwards and with Harry, my husband."
"What kind of man would divorce his wife when she was in a reversible coma? He must be a real scumbag!" With that, he left the room mumbling to himself.
Betty packed up her knitting and left the room to call Harry. She had to let him know that Nicky was out of her coma and he had to come to the clinic as soon as possible so that he could help her decide how to tell Nicky about Tom and the divorce. She didn't know how much to tell her now. How much could she take? It was all so confusing. As it was, Nicky slept through the night and Betty and Harry went home for some much needed rest before the next day. It was sure to be a terrible one for Nicky and they had to be ready.
Nicky woke up in a strange bed in a room that she didn't recognize. She remembered her mother being here and a doctor asking her about an accident. She closed her eyes and tried to remember what had happened. She thought she remembered something but it was fuzzy. She opened her eyes again and took inventory of her surroundings. She spotted a call button and pressed it. She seemed to be much stronger this morning and that was a good sign. She pressed the button again in impatience and was almost ready to yell out loud when a tall black male nurse walked into the room.
"Good mornin Miss Nicky. It's so good to see you awake after all this time. You all have been asleep for some long time. Welcome back to the world. Can I get you some breakfast? Doc said you could have juice, some toast and maybe some jello. Always good to get some jello."
"I am starved so, yes, some breakfast would be great. You said I have been asleep for some long time? How long is some time?"
"Near's I can tell, you've been sleepin somewhat over a year and a half. Maybe a little longer. Hard to be exact since they brought you here just a year ago from the hospital."
He left to get the breakfast without seeing the shock on Nicky's face. A year and a half or even longer? What the hell had happened? Where was her mother and where was Tom? They had to have told him that she was awake. Her mother was here last night and she would have told him, wouldn't she? She was still struggling with this news when a small, bald man in a doctor's jacket walked in. He smiled when he saw her awake.
"Good morning Nichole! How are you feeling? We are so happy that you decided to rejoin the world. Is Sam getting you some breakfast? I thought I saw him leaving the room. We'll take good care of you until he gets back."
With that, he began to do all of the normal things a doctor does: pulse, heartbeat, temperature and blood pressure. He puttered around with these things for the next 5 minutes while she struggled with strange flashes of memory spinning around in her head. She finally could take no more and grabbed his hand.
He turned to look at her in surprise as she began to ask him those questions that were clamoring in her head for release.
"How long have I been unconscious? How long?"
"Well, ah, it's been just over 20 months. You were hurt in a car accident and you had severe head trauma. The swelling went down some time ago but you didn't wake up as we had hoped. You have been here at this facility for just over a year."
"Where is my husband? Has he been notified that I am awake? Is he coming to see me?"
The doctor expressed some surprise at her question. "I'm sorry but I am not aware of a husband. My records indicate that you are divorced and have your maiden name of Campbell. I know of no other people that are to be notified beside your mother and father."
"What about my children? I have twin boys. I want to see them. Please!" Nicky began to cry, not understanding any of this. Divorced? No husband? Her name was Campbell and not Preston? None of it made any sense. None!
"Please Miss Campbell, please calm down. Your mother has been notified and she is on her way here. She can no doubt answer most of your questions, far better than I."
The doctor was concerned that she become too agitated this close to her awakening. He called the nurse to bring a sedative, although a mild one. He had to keep her calm until she could get stronger. Her heart had not been working hard for so long that it would take some time to get her back to a functional level of strength. Physical therapy was absolutely necessary and he wanted to speak to her mother and father about that. He hoped that they would be here soon.
"I can't calm down until I know what's happened! You have to tell me. Someone has to tell me. Please, please, where are my sons?"
Nicky began to cry and pound her fists on the bed covers. She was too weak to do anything else and she had to know what had happened. She felt the sedative begin to course through her veins and, in spite of herself, she began to drift in that twilight place where problems were still present but not worth the time to worry about them. She finally just let go and drifted away to a quiet place. She could spend some time there until things were clearer.
As the doctor watched her pulse rate slow and her heart rate drop back to normal, he sighed a sigh of relief. He would prescribe a mild sedative and keep her on it for a while. It would not do to have her agitated at this point. He would speak to the mother as soon as she came in.
It was just past 7:00 in the evening when the phone rang. Tom heaved a sigh and pulled himself out of his recliner to answer. It had been a long day and the negotiations with the freight line operators had not gone well. He was worried that the costs could be well over his estimates. But that was for tomorrow. Tonight, he just wanted to rest and discuss the world of toys and games with his twins and gain a new perspective through the eyes of a 4 year old.
"This is Tom Preston"
"Tom, it's Betty. Nicky is awake! She's awake Tom, and she is going to be fine! She woke up today when I was there and she is going to be OK! Can you believe it?"
Tom listened to Betty while his mind worked overtime. Nicky was awake? How long had it been? Had it been almost 2 years? He had almost forgotten. Had she remembered everything? Had she read his letter to her? Too many questions and too much information. He didn't know how he felt about this and wondered if maybe it wasn't better if she had never awakened.
"That's great news Betty. You must be very happy. How's Harry taking it?"
"We're both so happy. I thought you would want to know. Are you coming home with the twins to see her? When can you get here?"
Tom was jolted for a minute. Go to the states? Why would he do that and why would Betty think he would? It was crazy!