Thicker than Water

Standard

I watched his head bob above the water.  Each time he surfaced he gulped air with a desperation I’d never seen in him.  As he disappeared again the tips of his fingers remained visible on the surface.

My own flesh and blood was drowning and a big part of me didn’t even care.

When we were small my mother had always loved him more.  Better looking, popular, as we grew all the women in our lives loved him more.  Every one.  Even my own wife.

I turned to walk away.  Let him go.  Would make the rest of my life a lot easier. 

But in the end my Hippocratic Oath saved him

Angela took a deep breath.  In two minutes the car would be ready to go and she would become Martin’s wife.  Tears pricked her eyes.  She had waited so long for this moment and when Martin had been deployed to the Falklands she had had a terrible gut feeling that he would never come back.  Now it was really happening and she couldn’t be happier.  She was the last of her group of friends to walk down the aisle but this just meant all her bridesmaids were already frumpy and nobody could overshadow her on her big day.

The image of her father appeared next to her reflection.  ‘Darling, you look beautiful.’  Unable to speak she threw her arms around his neck and because of the need to reapply her make-up, was, as all brides are, fashionably late to her own wedding.

‘I, Angela Briggs, take thee, Martin Hainsworth, to have and to hold, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, ‘til death do us part.’

‘You may kiss the bride.’

And with that, the make-up disappeared once more.

I performed CPR on the beach.  If all his fans could see him now, in this state of perfect irony.  Finally he began coughing and about half a pint of seawater spilled from his mouth.  The glare in his eyes told me he knew I’d stood watching him die before finally following him in.  I dragged up his still limp form and threw him into my car.  I’d drop him at the nearest A&E and be off.  He probably had my wife listed as his next-of-kin now anyway.

Angela sat at the dining table excitedly waiting for her husband to return.  His favourite meal was keeping warm in the oven and candles lit the room with a romantic glow.  Her favourite Police album was playing in the background and life was pretty perfect.

She heard the door shut and Martin walked in dripping with rain.  She rushed into his arms and all her pre-prepared speeches and scenarios drifted out of her head as she told him he was going to be a Daddy.  Soon they were both equally wet, but whether it was from the rain or tears no-one could tell.

Everything was warm, dark and pink.  He was here.  He’s always been here since the beginning of my time.  Sucking the life out of me.  Pushing and crushing.  This was the beginning of his trying to obliterate me as I know now he always has and always will.

Angela sat in front of the TV bursting with pride.  Her son, Adam was playing an Orthopaedic Consultant in her favourite medical drama On the Wards.  It had all started with a nappy advert and just snowballed from there.  Modelling in children’s catalogues, then seat-filling at awards dos and finally a contract with Whitemount Lane, the number-one British soap.  He started as a minor love interest for the pub landlady’s daughter and only had a three week contract but he was so popular he stayed for three years and only left because On the Wards was practically breaking down his dressing-room door.

And now here he was one of the most popular actors in the country.

Angela had tears of pride every time she saw her darling on screen.

It’s not fair!  How can she prefer him following a script to me?  A real doctor!  Twelve years of training for what!

Half the time she doesn’t even speak to me!  Anyone would think I didn’t even exist!

‘And the award for Best TV Actor goes to…  Adam Hainsworth!’

The audience erupted into applause as the nation’s most eligible bachelor stepped onto the stage.  The modesty in his downcast eyes and bashful smile increased the public’s love of him even more.

‘I would like to thank my fans, the writers, my co-stars and the rest of the production team without whom none of this would be possible.  And, as always, love to my wonderful mother, for all the support and encouragement she has given me throughout my whole life.’

He didn’t even mention me!  What happened to “I would like to thank my brother Andrew, the real doctor, the intelligent one, my fiancée’s ex.”  That bastard has used make believe to take everything from me and now I’m cast aside.  Ignored forever.  God Jenn,y how could you do this to me?  We were soul mates!

‘I, Jennifer Richardson, take thee, Adam Hainsworth, to have and to hold, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, ‘til death do us part.’

‘You may kiss the bride.’

 *****

Angela stared at the grainy grey picture of her twins on the screen.  They were so beautiful and she was so happy.  She looked over at Martin and noticed his frown.   Confused she looked at the doctor and saw the concern in his eyes.

‘I’m afraid, Mrs Hainsworth, that your twins are monoamniotic.  They are developing in the same sac and one is laid on the other’s umbilical cord.  This has led to a severe lack of nutrition and it is significantly smaller and weaker than the other.’

As the doctor explained that an emergency caesarean was the twins’ only chance, Angela’s make-up disappeared for the second time since her wedding day.

A blinding white light.  I’m so cold.  It hurts so much.  Everything sounds so far away.  Why is Mummy crying?

‘They’re both OK?’

Martin looked up and smiled.  ‘Yes darling, they’re both OK.’

I watched his head hanging just below the ceiling.  Trying to gulp air beneath the compression of the rope.  His hands hung limp by his sides. 

My own flesh and blood hanging and a big part of me didn’t even care. 

But once again my Hippocratic Oath saved him.

Angela and Martin named their twins Andrew and Adam.   She wanted both names beginning with A because they were her miracle angels and she loved them both equally.  She loved them both more than anything else in the world.  She loved them so much that when they were two years old Martin packed his bags and left them all.

Andrew was a quiet boy.  Studious and clever he was always reading books.  Adam was louder.  He made friends easily and when they started school quickly became the class clown as Andrew became the teachers’ pet.  Although Angela never had a favourite, Adam’s personality meant that he got more attention and as his confidence in his abilities grew, Andrew’s shrunk.  Dreadfully clever, told something once he’d remember it forever but as he got older he became more and more sullen.  Angela encouraged his studies but he interpreted it as getting shut in his room with his books so she could go and watch Adam in his plays.  Teachers were exasperated with his low self-esteem.  As much time as they spent telling him about the mechanics of organs and great playwrights was spent telling him that he was intelligent enough to be anything he wanted to be.  All he saw though was that while his education was free, Angela was spending about £350 a month on Adam’s singing, dancing, acting and whatever else it was he pranced about doing.

Still Andrew got straight As because he didn’t need to work hard.  It came natural to him.  He went into his exams and wrote brilliant answers without even thinking.  So he stayed on at school to do A Levels because he had nothing else to do and got straight As.  Then he went to university because he had nothing else to do and got a First.  Then he went to medical school because he had nothing else to do and graduated at the top of his year.  Then he sailed through training without even thinking about it.  Then he became one of Britain’s youngest consultants.  Then he met Jenny.

Beautiful with sparkling blue eyes.  A paramedic whose sparkling blue eyes met his over a rusty nail coming through a builder’s skin.  He was one of many.  An influx of them came from the site where scaffolding had collapsed.  Jenny was one of many paramedics who’d pulled them from the rubble.  This man’s condition was urgent because of the dirt.  The injury looked small compared to some of the others.  Minor.  This one would definitely live.  But the dirt going into the blood would create a poison that could lead to the loss of the arm.  Devastating for anyone.  For a builder, impossible to come back from.

Andrew removed the nail, cleaned the wound, and for the first time in many years, Jenny made him laugh.  Later, he went outside for some air and Jenny was leaning against the wall smoking.  She smiled at him and said ‘Nice job on that bloke.  You nailed it!’  Andrew laughed and when they went out after work for coffee he laughed all the time he was with her and when he took her out for dinner a week after he laughed and when she met his family and said his twin brother was “lovely but a bit of a ponce” he laughed as he carried her up the stairs to bed.

 *****

 ‘I, Jennifer Richardson, take thee, Andrew Hainsworth, to have and to hold, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, ‘til death do us part.’

‘You may kiss the bride.’

It had been a rough day in A&E and I was so, so tired.  I should have been on a fourteen hour shift but Mark let me off early.  Looking back I wish I’d insisted on sticking it out.  Still then I couldn’t wait to see Jenny and spend the afternoon trying to make the baby we were so desperate for. 

When I saw her with him, writhing and moaning in our bed, my heart shattered into a million pieces.

 ‘I love you baby.’

Adam cast his eyes down and Jenny felt her eyes fill with tears as always.  It was the same every time.  The media called it modesty but it was guilt.  Adam felt guilty.  He always had and he always would.  Not once would he ever tell Jenny he loved her back and never could she make him see that he had nothing to feel guilty about.

Once again he was at the edge of death.  Gulping air with a desperation now ever so familiar.  The tips of his fingers seemed to try and stem the flow of blood but there were far too many cuts.

My own flesh and blood was slipping away and I still couldn’t make myself care.

When we were small my mother had always loved him more.  Better looking, popular, as we grew all the women in our lives loved him more.  Every one.  Even my own wife.

I turned to walk away.  Let him go.  Would make the rest of my life a lot easier. 

I turned back to save him once again.  But I can’t do it this time.  The world is growing dark.  I’m too tired to help him this time.  I need to go to 

Then the truth flashed before his eyes.

Adam Hainsworth taking his boat far out and jumping off.  Disappearing into the deep black water but continuing to surface.  Disappearing again, the tips of his fingers remaining visible on the surface.

Something invisible, the tide, dragging him back to the beach.  He began coughing and about half a pint of seawater spilled from his mouth.  Dragging himself up and falling into his car.  Falling asleep in the footwell.

His head hanging just below the ceiling.  Instinctively trying to gulp air beneath the compression of the rope.  His hands hanging limp by his sides.

The rope snapping.  Him falling to the floor.

*****

‘I love you baby.’

Adam cast his eyes down.  It was the last straw.  He couldn’t take it anymore.  This time he would make sure.

There were far too many cuts.  He could finally slip away.

*****

A blinding white light.  So cold.  It hurts so much.  Everything sounds so far away.

‘They’re both OK?’

Martin looked up and shook his head sadly.

Angela and Martin named their twins Andrew and Adam.   She wanted both names beginning with A because they were her angels and she loved them both equally.  She loved them both more than anything else in the world.  She loved them so much that when Adam was two years old Martin packed his bags and left them all.

Adam made friends easily and when he started school quickly became the class clown.  Obviously Adam got more attention but she tried to talk to Andrew every day.  But as Adam grew she threw herself into his hobbies more and more.  Spending so much time and money on making him a star.  It was the only way she could cope.

*****

Dear Jenny

I’m sorry it was the only way.  I love you.

Adam

The one and only time he’d told her how he felt and now it was too late.  Soon they were both equally wet, but whether it was from the blood or tears no-one could tell.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s