All Or Nothing…
ALL OR NOTHING
Diamond walked briskly through the outpatient’s department of Pearls Hospital. She was on the morning shift and as always, she had arrived early to take over from the night nurses enable them to go home early to have some rest.
She pushed the doors to the male word open with the usual exuberance and entered. Diamond loved her job and everyone noticed that about her. She looked around quickly, taking in the beds that had been occupied by new patients. She could count about four additions since the last time she was around. That was two days ago. She had taken the previous day off to get groomed for Karen’s wedding anniversary dinner dance.
She walked over to the nurse’s desk and greeted Cilia who was updating the patients’ records on the laptop. Cilia looked up and responded to her greeting. Diamond could see she was dead tired and looked like she lacked sleep.
Diamond walked to the changing room and was back a few minutes later ready for the takeover.
Cilia looked at her with worried eyes and asked her to sit for the usual handing-over briefing. She pulled a chair and sat beside Cilia as she gave her the rundown of the new patients and their schedules for treatment. When Cilia mentioned Shawn Benson as one of the new patients, Diamond knew there was something familiar about the name but could not place it immediately.
“Shawn Benson?” she asked with worry.
“Yes, do you know him? He was brought in unconscious after midnight and when he came to briefly, he gave his name as such. He didn’t have a phone on him and he did not remember much so we have not contacted anyone for him. Furthermore, he didn’t have his family’s number off-head so it’s been difficult. We had to heavily sedate him because he was in a lot of pain,” Cilia responded.
“Which bed is he in?” Diamond asked.
Diamond was already on her way when Cilia provided the bed number. She walked over to bed 7 and saw to her horror that the occupant was none other than Karen’s husband. To say she was confused was putting it mildly. She had left the party almost when everyone had left and the two love birds, as she always called them, had been happy and healthy.
What had happened?
Cilia had joined Diamond now.
“Do you know him?” Cilia asked.
“That’s Karen’s husband!”
“Karen, the nurse supervisor? The one who had her anniversary dinner a couple of days ago?” Cilia retorted.
“Yes, the same one. Do you know if he was alone during the accident?”
“No. The guys who brought him did not say much. One of them is a doctor in one of the hospitals. Said he was on his way for an emergency so he was kind of in a rush. He left his name and number. Said he would pass through later in the day.”
Diamond stood looking at the solemn-looking Shawn who was deeply asleep whilst a million and one thoughts went through her head. She was getting very scared all of a sudden. She wondered if Karen had been with her husband when the accident happened and why in hell’s name were they out on their anniversary night around midnight?
Karen had discussed their schedule with Diamond before the event and all she knew was they were going to stay in the hotel for a week and then travel to a secret location in the western region.
Diamond was really getting agitated as her worst fears went around her head over and over. Had something really bad happened to Karen? She walked back to the nurses’ desk and picked her phone. The only way to find out was to call Karen. The phone rang unanswered for a while and then on the third ring, Karen’s groggy voice had come on the line.
She sounded like she had been crying for a long time.
“Good morning, Karen,” Diamond said hesitantly because she was suddenly not sure how best to broach the subject now that she was aware Karen had not been in the car with Shawn.
“Morning D. I’m kind of in the middle of something. Can I call you back?” Karen replied.
“What happened last night, Karen? You sound like you’ve been crying and Shawn…”
“Did he come to you?”
“But what? How did you know something happened?”
“Well…I don’t know how to say this but there is a patient here in the ward who knows where he is. He keeps asking for you. The patient is out of danger. A broken bone and a few scratches but he is okay. I think you should come over to see him. Then you can tell me what is going on if you want to,” Diamond said and hung up before Karen could ask any further questions.
She put her phone on silent and went about her duties still confused. Now more than ever she believed something really deep had gone on. She prayed Shawn would be alright without any dangerous relapses.
It did not surprise her much when Karen walked into the ward less than an hour after they spoke. She was aware that the hotel they lodged at was a bit far from the hospital even though they lived nearby.
Diamond was not sure how to break the news to her so she whisked her to the changing room and locked up. She made Karen sit on the bed as she thought of the best way to tell her Shawn was the one in the ward.
“What happened Karen? Look at your eyes! You’ve cried your eyes sore. I know something really bad happened. I’ve seen Shawn and he’s in a bad shape too.”
Karen started crying all over again. Diamond was her subordinate at the workplace but she was the only friend Karen could open up to because she always knew what to say or do.
“We had an argument, yes. He was hurt and angry when he left the hotel. It was late. I begged him not to leave but…” Karen tried to explain but her tears interrupted her words.
“An argument about what exactly Karen? I’m so confused. You two seemed so good together. I’ve never seen either of you angry or vengeful. I’ve always looked up to you two and yearned for something as beautiful as what you have. I know there are times you both would not on the same wavelength but you always have a way of making it work. What argument would cause a man to leave his wife on the night of their wedding anniversary?”
“I know it sounds a little extreme but that was what happened. Something really bad happened five years ago and I had to tell him. Standing there and listening to all the beautiful accolades he had for me broke my back. My guilt peaked and I had to tell him I wasn’t the saint he thought I was. He was hurt and angry. I am to blame for this. He is a good man. He doesn’t deserve what I did to him. You said you knew where he was. Where is he, please? I know he’s hurting. Let me go to him even though I know I’m the last person he would want to see.”
Diamond was getting more confused.
What could possibly make Karen this shattered? She had always been in full control of her emotions and actions. If there was one thing Diamond had admired about Karen all this while, that would be how principled the lady was. As a result, Diamond was really finding it hard pinpointing what might have happened to cause such a reaction from her husband. She did not want to push Karen too much, though. It looked like she really got agitated when she talked about whatever had happened.
She sat beside Karen on the bed and took her hands in hers.
“Shawn is doing well. He is just hurt physically but he is out of danger. He is on admission in the ward. Unfortunately, he had an accident in the early hours of today.”
Karen stared into the serious face of Diamond and she knew she was not playing. Her Shawn was in an accident?
“Oh God, what have I done? Can I see him? I want to see him, please.”
“Yes, I will take you to him. He’s been sedated because he had a fracture in the right foot. I know you understand what I’m trying to tell you.”
Karen got to her feet and unlocked the door. She went out and waited for Diamond to follow. Diamond led her to the desk first and whispered something to Cilia, her colleague who was new from school.
Karen’s legs almost gave when she saw Shawn with the POP on his right foot and some scratches on his face sleeping heavily.
She checked his pulse and went through the chart clipped to the foot of the bed even though Diamond protested. She drew up a chair and sat beside the bed, taking Shawn’s left hand in hers. Karen then rubbed it gently and begged for forgiveness over and again. She stayed like that for the three hours or so that Shawn slept.
A moan of pain from across the ward made Diamond turn her head and noticed that Shawn was up and tossing, obviously in great pain. She had just finished setting the infusion system for a patient and was on her way to the desk when it happened. She rushed to his bedside. Karen was talking to him, urging him to stay a bit still but he was just staring at her.
“Where am I?” he asked in confusion.
Karen answered and tried to put her hand on his forward to check his temperature but he moved his head.
“Hospital? Why? And who are you?”
Both Karen and Diamond froze and then they exchanged worried looks. This was highly unexpected. Shawn’s injuries were nowhere near his head. The fact was, it was the foot fracture that was the main physical injury to him with a few scratches here and there from broken glasses. The report from the doctor on duty was extensive, thankfully, and it detailed the fact that there was no injury to the head and memory loss was not anticipated.
It was, therefore, baffling to hear him ask a question like that.
Diamond moved closer hoping that would help a bit but Shawn still asked the same question. She asked him personal questions like his name, siblings, parents, schools etcetera and surprisingly he was able to recollect with complete accuracy.
Diamond explained she was a nurse and was going to take care of him till he got back on his feet again. Since he did not recollect anything about the accident, Diamond explained things to him and the injuries he sustained. She also informed him that the doctor in charge had been buzzed as instructed and would be with him shortly.
“And who is this beautiful lady who is ruining her beauty with tears and anguish?” Shawn asked, trying to make light of his own pain.
Karen, blinded by her tears and guilt looked at Diamond and then Shawn and shook her head. She was so devasted that she could not utter a single word. She was aware Shawn might have lost part of his memory including their life together and that was something that shook her to the core but she knew she had herself to blame for that.
Her stupidity had hurt the only man she knew she loved with all her heart and badly hurt herself in the process. How she wished she could turn back the hands of time and undo the mistakes in the past. How she wished she could have kept that secret for the rest of their lives but her guilt had been suffocating her.
Every time he said something nice, every time he did something nice and every time he touched her, she felt unworthy, she felt dirty and a fake. It was true she did not fall in love with him at first sight because she still believed she was in love with Caleb. She liked him a lot, he made it easy but she went around thinking she still loved someone else. She was still not convinced when they married but the moment Caleb touched and had her, she had known that what he felt for Shawn was very deep, deeper than she had imagined.
Karen knew it sounded ridiculous but that was how it happened for her and from that day onward she had yearned for a clean slate to start afresh.
Initially, she was going to put that unfortunate incident behind her and live as if nothing had happened. Shawn was away for eighteen months so it was easy because there was no intimacy between them. And then when he had finally returned home and their married life had picked off from where they had left off, her guilt had mounted.
It was extremely difficult to pretend nothing happened because Shawn was too good a gentleman to her and that made things worse. And then, there was the issue of childlessness. She had taken some day off and fasted with prayers and every time she slept during that period, she had seen one thing, her need to ask for forgiveness from the man she hurt that day.
She had put it off a lot of times because one thing or the other had come up but last night, after listening to him singing her praise and touching her like she was the only precious jewel in the world, her tears had given way and he had seen them and asked for an explanation. Karen knew it was time, her only chance and she had taken it. She had known it had consequences that might change her life forever but as far as her conscience would be free and the cross from the guilt she felt would be taken off, she was okay.
She heard Shawn ask about her gain and just then, the doctor walked in. Karen stood up quickly and hurried into the changing room and stayed there for a long time crying her heart out.
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