Petrina and Laudina quietly did the dishes in the kitchen. Within the three days she had been home, Petrina could actually count the number of words that her parents and sister had spoken to her. Laudina seemed to make the effort to carry on a conversation but Petrina noticed that she struggled a lot with it. Her parents on the other hand would not speak to her unless it was absolutely necessary to. It was very hard to deal with the pain of the silent treatment but after what she had put her family through, she knew she deserved it. Harry in his innocence was the only one who chatted endlessly with her.
The police had been told she ran away from the house for personal reasons and they were consequently carrying out their investigations. Jacob was still around, assisting the police. She was glad that her dad had been kind enough to allow him to stay in their boy’s quarters. She hoped that Jacob would not be in any form of trouble at the end of the investigations. He continued to be a great source of company to her as opposed to the cold treatment from her family. One thing that everyone especially Petrina did not understand was the disappearance of Gerald. She had taken the trouble to go to his house but it was empty. His phone was permanently off. All his friends knew nothing of his whereabouts. She wondered what could be wrong with him. She was constantly worried.
Just then, Laudina’s phone rang. She dried her hands with a napkin and reached into her pocket for the phone. Petrina hoped it was Benjamin and that Laudina would actually pick up the call this time around. She was very sad to know that Laudina and her fiancé were having trouble because of her disappearance. Anytime she thought over the events of the last few weeks, she wondered if she would have been better off staying at home in her shame. She doubted that her parents and Laudina would have been as disappointed and angry as they were now.
Her attention was turned to the phone call when she heard her sister say, “Yes, this is Laudina.”
Her sister was quiet for a few seconds then said, “Yes, I know Gerald Van-Lare.”
At the mention of his name, Petrina’s heart skipped a beat. She wished she could collect the phone at the moment to listen to the other end of the conversation. She watched as Laudina’s expression changed from one of confusion to sadness and then to worry. The call lasted for a few more minutes and then she Laudina said, “Thank you very much. We would be there soon.”
She ended the call and even before Petrina could ask any questions, Laudina reported to her, “That was Hubert, Gerald’s brother.”
“Okay.” Petrina managed to say, panting as though she had just run a long distance race. “What is wrong with him?”
“Gerald is…Gerald is in intensive care unit…”
“In what?” Petrina cut in.
“ICU at St. Luke’s Hospital,” she replied quietly, still stunned by the news. “He’s been in a coma for about a week but came round only yesterday.”
“I don’t know, Pet. I told Hubert we would be there soon.”
“And how come he called you?”
“Don’t ask too many questions, Petrina. I don’t feel well about all this. He just said he noticed several missed calls from my number in Gerald’s call log.”
“And how…” Petrina stopped herself mid-sentence. She went to her room to change her clothes and put on her sandals. She came back to see Laudina had also changed and had grabbed her car keys.
“Let’s leave Harry with Jacob. I’m not sure how soon mum and dad would be back.”
Petrina sighed. Her parents had left to her uncle’s place to ‘catch some air’ earlier in the day. She had deliberately decided not to ponder too much about it. She stepped out to inform Jacob about the new developments. He was very excited that finally the mystery of Gerald’s whereabouts had been solved. She ushered him into the house and pointed out Harry’s lunch to him. Harry was asleep by then.
With all that accomplished, the two sisters sat in Laudina’s pale blue Opel Astra and drove as fast as they could to St. Luke’s Hospital.
“Gerald Van-Lare, please.” Petrina said at the reception.
“Room 23 of the male ward. He was moved there only this morning. Take the first right down the corridor right behind me.”
“Thank you very much,” Petrina replied as they walked briskly to the ward.
On reaching there, they met Hubert at the door.
“Please be quiet. He is still recovering,” He paused and smiled. “Glad to see you again, Petrina.”
“Erm..okay,” she answered as she dashed inside with Laudina.
Gerald was lying on the only bed in the room. He looked very pale and his eyes were barely open. Several medical instruments surrounded him. He struggled to lift himself up a bit when he noticed that he had visitors. Sensing that he could not see them clearly, they drew nearer to him.
They sat on the stool beside him. When he finally recognized them, they noticed him struggling to smile. Petrina held his hand and smiled although deep in her heart, she felt like crying. Petrina thought deeply once again about what she had done and the effects it had had on those around her. Her parents could barely speak to her. Harry had lost a lot of weight because of his irregular eating pattern while she was missing. Laudina and Benjamin seemed to have broken up. Gerald was barely recovering in the hospital. She felt so terrible about everything. By running away, she had thought only about how she felt without thinking about her loved ones. She tried hard to keep the words Jacob spoke to her every day in her heart.
Do not keep your mind focused on the mistakes you have made in the past. Let go of them, ask for forgiveness from God and then go on to strive to do things better. You won’t achieve it overnight. The most important thing however is to make the decision to begin.
She sighed. About ten minutes later, a nurse came in and asked them to excuse her.
When they stepped out, Petrina released the tears she had been holding. Laudina put her arm around her and turned to Hubert.
“So, what exactly happened to him?” she asked in a disturbed tone.
Hubert took in a deep breath before speaking. “He was attacked…”
“Attacked?” Petrina cut in and began to cry even harder.
“Yes,” he took in a deep breath again. “He was stabbed in the thigh and also had a very terrible wound in his head which I suspect came as a result of a fall. The doctors said he lost a lot of blood resulting in a condition known as hypo…hypoperfusion.” He concluded, checking a piece of paper in his pocket obviously for the right word.
“So would he be okay?” Laudina asked.
Hubert took in a deep breath again. “The doctors say the worst is over. He is actually recovering now. They stated that he went into a hypo…hypovo…” He paused and smiled. “These medical terms are crazy!”
Petrina and Laudina managed to smile back.
Making reference to his piece of paper again, he continued, “He went into a hypovolemic shock and subsequently, a coma. According to them however, once he has come round, he would be fine. It would take some time though for him to fully recover.”
Just then, the nurse came out of the ward. “You may go in,” she said to them. “But please allow him a lot of time to rest.”
The trio nodded at her quietly entered the ward. Gerald was asleep. They sat at his bedside as noiselessly as possible.
Petrina looked at Gerald and tried hard to hold back her tears. She prayed silently in her heart that she would soon forgive herself.
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