Hope y’all are ready for this chapter.
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“How is he?” Jane’s worry was evident to the point of being palpable.
She had been outside the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) for over three hours, pacing back and forth in restless worry. It was the a few minutes past 2am and Jane, in a creased, plain, grey shirt that was a few sizes bigger than her, looked worried beyond words. The shirt was stained with an irregular brown pattern that dominated her left shoulder and most of her torso. One look was all one needed to see that the brown pattern was dried blood and she had more dried stains on her face and hands; these things, however, did not seem to bother her. She just wanted to know how her Tobe was doing.
“Ebere…” Ekene rose from his perch in the waiting area outside the ICU to join Jane where she accosted the weary lady doctor who wanted nothing more than the sweet comfort of her bed. “Is he ok?”
“To the office first”.
Dr Ebere said as she turned from Jane to Ekene and back to Jane whose connection to the matter was still unclear at the moment. She could tell that the young lady cared deeply for her patient and Ekene’s ease around her told her that she was an important part of Tobe’s life.
She, however, could not understand when such an important person came into Tobe’s life and her very sick and highly disturbed patient did not think it important to mention it to her.
“Please… tell us how he is”
Dr Ebere had just fallen into the swivel chair in her office when the dark-skinned girl asked as she sat on one of the chairs opposite the doctor’s office table.
“Who is she?” the surprised doctor asked Ekene who sat down only after he closed the office door.
“Errr…” Ekene stuttered as he turned to look at Jane who was seated next to him opposite Dr Ebere, “She is…”
“I am Jane, the girlfriend”, Jane rudely interrupted with a scowl on her face, “I don’t really see how that is relevant at the moment; just tell me that he is ok… please!!!”
Dr Ebere’s eyes went wide with shock.
She could clearly hear the impatient anger in the girl’s words and the audacity with which she spoke them. She could understand the girl’s impatience and, to a certain degree, her frustration. No one likes to treated like an ornamental piece, or being spoken over by the people in the same situation and/or conversation in which they found themselves. Worse still, this happened when there was someone she cared about hanging in the balance.
What she could not understand was the desperate plea in her shaky voice when she spoke. If she did not see Tobe four days ago, she would have been worried that she had not been paying close attention to her patient.
‘Who is this girl and why does it feel like she needs Tobe to be ok?’ Dr. Ebere thought as she furrowed her brows in thought, still unable to reply the, still scowling, Jane whose eyes were veiled by a teary mist that threatened to condense into tears.
“Jane…” Ekene whispered conspiratorially from beside Jane, “This is Dr Ebere… Tobe’s elder sister”.
He had watched Dr Ebere’s countenance earlier, while they were still outside the ICU, and he had noted the bone deep weary in her face and the tired slouch in her shoulders. She had been woken from her sleep when Tobe passed out late in the night; she had been up patching the fellow up ever since. She looked dead on her feet outside the ICU.
Ekene, however, also noted an absence of worry on her face. If Tobe’s doctor and sister did not see his condition as worrying, Ekene did not see why he should worry. Jane, on the other hand, was not aware of this relationship between the fair skinned doctor whose low-cut hair and big, round, brown eyes were so different from Tobe’s mane of beard on his face and his small sunken eye-sockets that were hidden beneath long lashes that veiled his black eyes every time he smiled.
“You say wah?!” Jane was shocked out of her worry for a few moments.
Tobe’s big sister?
Tobe’s big sister was his personal doctor?
While this was not strange to people who had siblings or immediate family who were medical practitioners, one had to remember Tobe was a special case that required his special needs met by a special doctor who majors in the field of his particular demands. This means that Tobe needed a specialist to be his personal doctor.
She was only aware that Tobe had an elder sister and a late, twin, brother; that was all she knew about Tobe’s family. They had been too intoxicated by the fact that they found themselves to think of doing or saying anything else, where did they find the time to start explain the odd details about the other members of their family?
“Tobe’s elder sister…” Ekene supplied again with a knowing smile on his face. To think that Tobe’s girlfriend would have to meet the ‘family’ in this most inauspicious way… what were the odds?
“Hi…” Dr Ebere had a small smile on her face at the young girl’s consternation, she could not remember the last time she had seen anyone look so shocked and confused. “How long have you been with Tobe?”
“It’s been a week now… give or take a few days”
Jane’s reply was an odd combination of nerves and anger. She could not understand why this lady, irrespective of how close she was to Tobe, refused to tell her how he was doing. She wanted to make a good first impression, needed to gain her approval; she was not sure why but she felt Tobe would be unable to love her freely if his sister chose to put asunder.
“A few days?!” Dr Ebere was shocked beyond words. It only took few days for this girl to care so deeply for Tobe who was, for the most part, uncaring and unappreciative of emotions that could make him go against his better judgment. “Is this a joke?”
Ekene shrugged at Ebere’s question. Her weary face was now contorted in a fierce and grim look that revealed her inability to fully process what she had just heard. Her eyes shone with a hard light that asked an unspoken question, a question Ekene would rather Tobe answered himself.
“Well…” Ekene offered tentatively, “Tobe seems to like her almost as much as she likes him… so she is good people”.
“Oh seen…” Dr Ebere sneered with a raised eyebrow, “Because Tobe is a paragon of excellent judgment”.
Ekene just shrugged at her snide remark. Tobe and Ebere never really got along as well as they should, mostly because Ebere refused to tolerate most of Tobe’s eccentricities and quirks. Tobe, in her opinion, was being lazy and deliberately anti-social just so he could stand out and be noticed in a crowd. She loved him to bits, but she hated the oddities that made up most Tobe’s personality; he was unnecessarily difficult and she believed anyone Tobe considers cool was, ultimately, difficult as well.
For that reason alone, Ekene was already sure that Ebere would kick against the relationship to preserve what normalcy was left in her ailing brother.
“Errr…” Jane asked from Ekene’s side, “How is Tobe?”
Her face was calm and tranquil, but she was too close to losing her temper.
‘What a doctor!’ She thought quietly, cursing and swearing at the lady doctor who seemed to not want to give her any attention, ‘What an older sister!’
“And how is it that Tobe happened to get such a gash on his head?” Dr Ebere was still ignoring the unimportant casualty of Tobe’s poor judgment, she did not see why she should acknowledge a character that was already on her way out of the story.
“Yeah… about that…” Ekene stuttered, drawing back and away from Ebere’s hard gaze, he fought the urge to turn to Jane, thereby giving away the true nature of the culprit.
He, however, felt a sudden charge in the air around him, like someone or something was about to explode. It felt as though all the positive and negative ions were fully charged and released onto each other… a quick turn of his head and he saw Jane breathing hard and fast like she was about to explode.
“HOW IS TOBE GADDEMNIT?!!!”
Ekene was so stunned he did not feel his lower jaw fall free of his upper jaw.
Contrary to Tobe’s laid back and go-lucky nature, Ebere was a stern and unyielding lady who did not tolerate any form of insubordination or misconduct from anyone. Not her staff, nor her family, definitely not from strangers. She had studied Krav Maga for the past ten years as a way to keep fit, taking it up a notch when she gave birth to her first child. Ebere was prone to random acts of violence that would usually leave her opponents (victims) in more pain than they dared to admit.
While Ekene was not terrified of her, he knew to fear this temperamental vixen that always acted first and asked questions later.
“Excuse me?!” came Dr Ebere’s cool response.
“How is Tobe?” Jane asked again as angry tears rolled down her face, she wanted to wrap her fingers around Dr Ebere’s neck and squeeze till her anger was pacified but she did not think it wise so she never followed through on that impulse.
“You have been ignoring me since you came out of the operating room when all I want to know is how Tobe is doing… what the hell is the matter with you?!”
Something about the way her voice cracked with emotions when she spoke caught the Dr Ebere’s attention, something about the heated tears that streamed unhindered from her big eyes softened the hard lines that were taking form on Ebere’s face.
She could not make sense of the girl’s deep affection for her brother, but she knew that Jane’s attachment to Tobe was deeper than the few days they claimed to have been together.
“Please…” Jane begged as Dr Ebere’s cold silence filled the every corner of the office, “Please just tell me he’s ok… please?!”
Jane slid to her knees as her fear and worry overcame her mind and she started drawing conclusions on her own. Different images of a comatose Tobe lying in bed with all sorts of tubes and wires attached to his body flashed through her mind. She could almost see him feeding from tubes, clad in hospital robes and adult diapers while she had to rub him clean everyday due to his inability to care for himself.
Jane imagined coming to see him every day, watching his handsome face stuck with the rotten expression of blissful indifference that only sleep or death could bring; she imagined that being the last expression she ever got to see on his face before either of them died, seeing as neither of them were assured a long life to begin with.
Worse still, she imagined the fall had affected his neck and or spinal cord which meant he had to live the rest of his already sad and miserable life paralyzed from the neck down!
How was she supposed to live without having him by her side to remind her that everything would still be alright even if they were both destined to die young?
What was she supposed to do to make him happy if his entire body joined his heart to make his life more miserable than it already was?
What was she supposed to do with her life if Tobe decided to just up and end his life now that he was now a cripple?
Why would God allow such a thing to happen to him… to her… to them?
“Please!!!” She begged through tears that were a function of the fear that gripped her heart. “Please tell me he is ok!!!”
Her heart pounded heavily in her chest, filling her senses in its heavy thuds and drowning out the soothing words Ekene offered from beside her.
He knew from the shell-shocked look on Ebere’s face that she could not understand what could drive a girl who barely knew Tobe to such lengths and depths of desperation and worry over his well being.
Who would be able to understand the obsessive need Tobe and Jane had expressed for each other if they had not witnessed it first hand? It was as unhealthy as it was awe-inducing; a fact that Ekene had expressed in as many word as possible to Tobe who only ever laughed at his worries.
While Ebere might not comprehend the reason behind Jane’s heated tears, Ekene did… he completely understood her fear.
Tobe met Jane by accidentally stopping her from taking her life and in that instant, he became her connection to the world of the living. If that said connection were to be prematurely cut-off, it only stands to reason that she would be terrified of an existence without that link.
“Hey…” Ekene offered some words to comfort the girl who was already shivering on her knees, clutching her fists over her chest as though she was trying to press her heart back into place. “Don’t get ahead of yourself. The doctor has not said anything yet”
Ebere on the other hand was at a loss for words. Watching the Tobe’s girlfriend weep was one of the most heart wrenching things she had ever done in her life. The weird way her eyes seemed to lose all light and focus as she swayed to some unknown rhythm made her seem like a mentally unstable person. Then there was the silent nature of her gut-felt wailing, Ebere felt like someone turned the volume as the girl cried her heart out.
She could not understand what she was seeing; how could it be possible to love someone to the point of being distraught at the person’s passing in less than a week?!
She turned her eyes to Ekene with a pointed stare that seemed to be screaming a question in ear screeching decibels… “WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON!!!”
To be continued…