It was like eternity, but in reality it was just a few minutes past. He could not feel his spine, it was like his legs and everything below his waist had been replaced with a column of air. Blood was oozing out of his head but he was unbothered about that. He was more focused on the fact that he was not hearing voices audibly even though he was very sure the voices were just nearby. At this point, he tried with all his might for only the umpteenth time to part his eyelids so he could see the world at least for one more time. This time it took less effort than his previous futile attempts, and in a fraction of a second later his eyes were opened.
The first thing he saw was a trinity of stars hovering around his eyes. After two or three painful blinks, he could now see visibly and the next daunting task was to figure out exactly what was going on. It didn’t take him long to realise that he was being whisked on a stretcher at almost superhuman speed to the ER. He tried pushing his feeble mind to the events leading to his current predicament. All he could remember was his beloved fiancée, Ella, had asked him to rush to the nearby mart to get more eggs for the cake she was to bake. He thought further and remembered he was driving to Willy’s Mart and was listening to some classical songs he had just got from his sister as an engagement gift. He wanted to force a smile but the voices above him quickly reminded him of his current situation. Suddenly, he remembered something: he was singing joyfully and was about to make the turn into Willy’s Mart when he heard a loud honk and a split second later, a white delivery van was taking his car out of the way head on from the drivers’ side. He could remember he must have spun at least three times in the car as the impact was severe.
“How Ella must be waiting for me”, he thought. “Shit! Where’s Ella?!”
The future Mrs Ella Duke was happily conversing with her bestie who had just come in to spend some quality time with her. She had finished mixing the part-dough for about four hours and was waiting for her fiancé to return with the eggs. But for the company of her ever-supportive best friend, she’d already have most certainly picked the phone to call him. She had known Freda almost all her life; from the days they were growing up in struggles to this time. Freda was the sibling she never had but always longed for. She wasn’t the only one that shared this wish; her parents also wanted more kids because they wanted a greater chance at family continuity. Ella was a gem to them, as they had her relatively late, but they’d have really loved to add two or three more children to the family, especially a son to carry the family name on.
This was the best time for Ella and Freda to reminisce, and they’d been doing just that. Freda had reminded Ella how she met Johnny Duke two years ago at a fundraiser her company had raised. Johnny was not the richest of guys out there but he had a huge charm coupled with a great personality. He was from a fairly wealthy home and was the only son, but he never let that get into his head. He worked hard to get to where he was and a fundraiser from an up and coming company was the perfect platform to garner more clientele for his equally newly established law firm. Well, Ella was blessed with divine beauty and Mr Duke Jnr. couldn’t take his eyes off her when she was cheering her friend giving the opening speech. He too was a handsome lad, well built and was overdosed in confidence. He walked up to exchange pleasantries with her, and the rest is history.
Not every parent was going to take lightly the fact that their only son was dating a girl who had been a stripper for three years, and the Dukes were no different. They were a strong Christian couple and believed in core values, and dancing erotically semi-naked on poles at pubs to ‘pitiable’ men didn’t count as a good value. At one point, they threatened to disown him if he didn’t leave the abomination he called his girlfriend. Although they didn’t disown him, they cut off all personal and financial ties with him and told him not to approach them again until he agreed to leave Ella. He tried convincing them that her past was past and the future held better, but to no avail. Freda was doing well to remind Ella of these sacrifices this man had made for her.
In her defense, Ella never wanted to be a stripper, no one does. She needed money to survive and her parents were out of job. She had tried working at a cafeteria before but she didn’t like the pay, and when she heard there was an opening at Rog’s Strips, she couldn’t pass the chance. Three years on and she’d been a client favourite; Rog wouldn’t let her leave just like that. Besides, she needed the money to pay for her university tuition.
The girls’ reminiscence came to a halt when Ella’s phone began to ring. She smiled as she saw who the caller was: her boyfriend of two years-now-fiancé. She was happy because in about a few months, she’d be a Mrs Duke in her own right.
“Hello honey”, she said while sporting a wide blushing smile, before putting the speakerphone on. The voice that replied wasn’t a familiar one. It wasn’t the smooth and calm voice of her lover, but rather a coarse and deep voice.
“Hello madam”, the voice replied. “I’m Doctor Kelly from Tamu hospital and I’m sad to inform you that your husband has been involved in a severe auto accident. Please come right away!”, the voice continued.
Ella was as perturbed as a mouse in a maze and didn’t know the first line of action to take. Freda had heard everything through the speakerphone and was equally bamboozled. However, she regained control of herself quicker, and did the honour of reaching out to Ella’s parents. There was no time to dress up, and Ella quickly took the key to the car Johnny had bought for her two months ago on, on her birthday.
The journey to Tamu hospital was light years away, at least for Ella. She was weeping even as Freda tried exacerbatingly to console her. She couldn’t stomach the sight of seeing the man she loved going through pains. She cast her mind back to almost a year back, when Johnny took almost all of his savings to pay for her final fees at the university and settled all her outstanding debts. That wasn’t all though, as three months after graduation she was diagnosed of cerebral haemorrhage and who else stepped up to help, other than Johnny himself?
It was a miracle how she simultaneously drove and flashed back without dire consequences. As soon as she was at the entrance to Tamu, she jolted herself out of the car and ran straight to the reception like a bull attacking a matador. She could smell blood everywhere and she prayed the blood of her fiancé wasn’t in the air. She ran to the front desk, with Freda running closely behind her; she was never the athletic type. She gave her name to the nurse on duty and requested to immediately be allowed to see her betrothed. She was ushered in to see the doctor first, citing that he had stressfully requested that Ella should be brought to see him before anything else, after all Duke was in ER and she was not going to be allowed in. The journey to see Dr Kelly was ages far to Ella, and she was already fearing the worst. She was thinking her man must have died; this would be the end of her world, she thought. She recollected how her parents always bemoaned that they had just one child and were so eager to see a grandchild soon. Her aged dad at one time joked that he’d be dead in a couple of years and would fancy himself being called a granny before he passed on. On numerous occasions, she’d sit and imagine what it’d be like to carry a pregnancy for nine months and feel the symbiotic partner kick her from within her stomach. How great that’d be, to have her parents smile and congratulate her when she’d give birth to a baby.
She was interrupted in her thoughts as the nurse introduced her to Dr Kelly, who wore a grim look on his obviously experienced face. It was obvious he was struggling to conceal a painful and bitter truth. He could see that Ella had cried a lot and her friend waiting for her was no different.
“Ella”, he started. “Your fiancé was rushed in here about four hours ago. I’m gonna be straight up with you, Ella. From the looks of things, the trauma caused a Class A damage to his sacral segments S4-S5. He’s suffered injury to his lower vertebral column and although it’s too early, we have observed that sensory function is lost. His conus medullaris suffered from the impact”.
He could see the perplexed look on Ella as she was struggling effortlessly both to stop crying and to grasp what he was saying.
“This means that Johnny might not be able to walk anymore. He’s lost all feelings below waist level and he might also be unable to get you pregnant. All hope is not lost though, because there are extensive rehabilitations that can help his condition and we have surgeons working around the clock to ensure………”
Those words were like a bomb to Ella. She could hear no further. In fact, she didn’t want to hear further. She was weeping profoundly even as the doctor continued to calm her. In all honesty, she was more perturbed about the future than the present – the prospect of not having a child with Duke. She wept out of the office and her friend waiting outside knew something was grave but gave her no respite from her cries. She could see her parents rushing in the hospital even though her eyes were teary. Her mom was already crying even though she was oblivious to the true seriousness of the incident.
Two minutes later, and Ella had explained everything to her parents in her typical direct manner. Freda had left the family to converse, and all she could hear in between spasms of cries were inaudible whispers. Suddenly, she heard her Ella’s mother shout:
“I’m sorry Ella, but you just cannot continue with this relationship! We want whats best for you and this is it!”
TO BE CONTINUED…….
What would you advise Ella to do?
DISCLAIMER: The characters in this article are purely fictitious. Any resemblance with any person, living or dead, is a coincidence and is never intended.
P.S, I wrote this piece on-the-go in a short time, developing the plot whilst typing. Please bear any inconsistencies in the story as it’s just a rushed piece of fiction. Just trying a different form of writing