Chapter 21 – Ryan
"Michael! Julie! Come on!" I yell up the stairs. "Your mom is going to kill me if we're late again!"
We were supposed to be meeting up with everyone at the convention center, and we were running behind. It wasn't the first time, and it definitely wouldn't be the last. It also always seemed like when there was an extremely important event, I was the one having to do everything. It was like my wife enjoyed seeing me flounder about.
"And how is that my problem?" My eldest remarks as he makes his appearance on the steps. He's only seven, but he is going to be tall like me. He actually takes quite a bit after me, from his facial features to his marbled green eyes. His hair is a soft, dark brown, like his mother's.
"You want to live with Grandma and Grandpa once I'm dead and your mom is in jail?" I shoot back with a smile.
"I don't wanna live with grammy and grampaw." Came the whiney voice of my five year-old Julie, who was right behind her brother.
They looked very much alike, with hair and eyes, but Julie looked like she was going to be petite like her mother.
"Then let's get going."
The drive was not really long, but it was almost painful. The entire time the kids were picking at each other, so the ride was filled with a lot of, "Daddy, Michael did…" and "Dad, Julie did…" and me sighing in frustration.
We finally arrive at the convention center, and I manage to get decent parking, I also manage to get the kids inside in one piece.
"Ryan! There you are!"
I look up to see my mother through the crowd of people.
"Hi Grammy!" the kids say as they rush up into her open arms.
"Hey kids." She responds with a smile before pointing to a walkway. "Grandpa is in section 3, row G, now go up and find him."
"Hi Mom." I say as the kids rush off to find their grandfather.
"Hello sweetie." She replies as I pull her into a quick hug.
"Did I beat her here?" I ask as soon as we break apart.
My mother nods and I find myself throwing my hand up in the air with a gratifying "Yes!"
The older woman chuckles before looking at something just past my shoulder, "You just barely beat her."
I turn to see the most beautiful woman in the world, my wife, and the mother of my children.
Her dark brown hair is longer than when we first met, hanging down to the middle of her back, and her beautiful hazel eyes can still mesmerize me. Her body has gotten a little rounder in places from childbirth, but it only adds to her beauty.
"Hello my lovely wife." I say as she scowls at me. "We made it."
Lorelie Coleson breaks into a warm smile and greets me in a hug.
I pull back and kiss her soft lips, but keep it light. It is my brother's High school graduation after all.
She pulls away and speaks.
"Ryan, wake up." Came a deep voice that sounded very similar to my dad's.
"What?" I ask confused.
"You need to wake up Ryan."
I watch in horror as the lovely face before me, the one I had just kissed, shifted into my father's face.
I step away and look at my mother. Her face has changed too. Everywhere I looked I saw my father's face.
I awoke with a start.
I was in the hospital sitting beside the bed that held Lorelie.
I turn to see the speaker and am greeted by my father. I guess that explains the weirdness of my dream.
"Hey dad." I said on a sigh.
He looks down at me and then his eyes flit to where I'm clutching Lore's hand. Something passes through his eyes before the swing back to my face.
"Son, we need to talk." He puts his hands on his hips and seems to be bracing himself for what he is about to say.
"You can't keep doing this. Skipping practices, and now school, for a girl you barely know."
I'm shocked at first by his words, but then I start to get angry.
How could he say that?
"I love her dad." I say in a clipped tone.
His eyes soften a small amount.
"I know that you feel that way right now, but again, you've only known her for a month…"
"It shouldn't matter whether I've known her for a month or six years. I love her!"
"I know this is hard to hear son, but she may never wake up. What will you do if that's the case? Sit by her bedside for your entire life?"
"Yes. If I have to…" I say harshly. "It's been five days dad, five days, and you're telling me to just give up, to move on?"
"Son," he says exasperated. "I'm not telling you to move on to another girl, I'm just saying that you need to think about your future. Say she wakes up in a few years, how will you take care of her if all you did was sit there?"
A small point is breaking through my anger.
"You need to graduate and go to a good college. After that, get a good job so that you can take care of your family, whoever that may be."
Damn, my father's right. At the rate I'm going, I wouldn't be able to provide for her. No matter how much I want to be with her, I have to keep going and be strong for her.
"I'm sorry son. I know that this isn't what you wanted to hear…"
"No dad. You're right." I sigh. "This isn't what I wanted to hear, but it's what I needed to hear."
I'm no longer angry with my father; he was just trying to do what's best for me. I look up at him.
He smiles back.
"So no more skipping school, and back to normal practices on Monday?"
"Monday? What about tomorrow?"
"I've excused you for the week, but if you miss any more I will not hesitate to bench you."
"You would really bench your son and your star pitcher?" I ask with a smirk.
He responds, matching my look. "In a heartbeat."
He turns to the doorway.
"Be safe coming home later."
"I will dad."
I return my attention to the girl in front of me.
I find myself wishing to see her beautiful eyes again, to feel her soft lips pressed to mine, and to just feel her grasp my hand.
I want it so bad that I can feel a small pressure where my hand clasps hers.
"I love you, and I will be strong for you." I whisper as I lift her hand to my lips.
Her skin is cold against my warm skin. I kiss her palm and work my way to each of her fingers, starting with her pinky. By the time I reach her index finger I feel something shift.
I pull her hand back and look at it.
Did she just…
I look up at her face.
Nothing seems to have changed. It was probably just my imagination.
I look back down to the small hand in mine and I feel a very soft squeeze.
My heart rate spiked and my stomach fluttered like crazy.
Then the monitors start to beep and blare, sending my sudden elation down to panic.
No more than two seconds later, a crew rushes in and I get pushed out to wait in the waiting room.
With nothing left to do, I pace and I worry.
I'm not sure how much time passes, but before I know it Stella stops me.
"Ryan, what happened?"
Her parents and brother are with her, and all of them are looking at me expectantly.
"My Dad showed up, and after he left I was talking to Lorelie, holding her hand and… and she squeezed it…"
"She's awake?" Max asks in excitement, but I shake my head, which has his face falling.
"The monitors started going off, and the nurses rushed in."
After a brief silence Mr. Philips turns to his wife.
"I want you all to stay here, and I'll go see what's going on."
The older woman nods and ushers Max to the chairs
I stand there, looking down at my blurry feet.
"Hey, I'm sure that she's going to be fine." Stella says as she puts a comforting hand on my shoulder. "She'll come back to us."
"How do you know?" I ask through my tight throat.
"Because she loves us, and she loves you."
I feel the twinge of hope, but I can't keep the visions of the crashing monitors out of my head
"All she has wanted since the accident is to be with her family again, so which would you choose?"
Stella sighs. "I see your point, but she's been happier since meeting you. I believe that she'll realize that Cecilia would never want her to just give up. Cecilia loved her more than anything."
With that Stella went to join her mom and brother, leaving me alone to pace and worry some more.
AN: I finally finished another chapter, and I'm sorry it took me so long to do it. Work has been killing me and my creativity. the only real productive thing I've done recently is cleaned my kitchen, started trying a few new recipes for dinner, and baking cookies (They were delicious by the way...).
I hope that you enjoyed this chapter, and are not currently trying to reach through the screen to hit me for how i started it.
Thank you for reading, and i hope to be able to give you something soon.