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The Accident by C.L. Taylor

The Accident by C.L. Taylor

Author:C.L. Taylor [Taylor, C.L.]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Published: 2014-04-09T23:00:00+00:00

Chapter 18

‘Where did you go, darling? It’s okay, you can tell Mummy.’ I speak little louder than a whisper. It’s 5 a.m. and, save a couple of patients being woken for obs, most of the ward is asleep. I can hear the nurses chatting quietly at their station and, every now and then, I hear the creaking of trolley wheels or the squeak of shoes on lino as a member of staff crosses the corridor outside Charlotte’s room. The nurse who answered the intercom was surprised by my request to see Charlotte but, when I told her I’d had a terrible dream that my daughter’s life was in danger, she relented and buzzed me in. I’m sure I’m not the first parent who’s turned up in the middle of the night to check their child is okay and I’m sure I won’t be the last.

The dream was a lie though. I haven’t actually been to sleep yet. How could I when my mind is so full of questions? We talked for a long time after we returned from the school but, at 1 a.m., Brian insisted we go to bed. I lay next to him, listening to his snores and snuffles for four hours before I slipped out from beneath the duvet, gathered up my clothes from the chair beside the bed and got dressed in the bathroom.

‘Mr Evans said you didn’t go on the school trip …’ I watch Charlotte’s face, sure there will be a reaction. This – this secret excursion with Ella – it’s part of the reason she stepped in front of a bus, I feel sure of it. ‘He said you pretended you had a bad tummy from a trip to Nandos. I know that was a lie, Charlotte.’

Nothing. No twitch, no tightening, no tension. If anything her face seems to relax a tiny bit, as though she’s just slipped into a deeper sleep. The nurses don’t believe me when I say I can tell when Charlotte is asleep. It’s a common misconception that comatose patients are always asleep – they’re not. They have sleep and wake states like the rest of us, only it’s not always obvious when they’re in a wake state. I can tell by the heaviness of her eyelids, the shape of her jaw and the looseness of her lips but I can also tell if she’s asleep, even in darkness. One of the nurses – Kimberley – gave me a kindly smile when I told her that Charlotte smells different when she’s asleep but I knew she thought it was a strange thing to say. It’s true though. I know Charlotte’s scent better than anyone else’s. I know the scent of her skin, the uniqueness that lies beyond her deodorant, her perfume and her hairspray. Sitting by her cot in the dark, when she was a baby, I’d know without touching or listening to her if she was asleep or not. The salty-sweet scent of sleep was all I needed to be sure.


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