Oscar gazed at Ava. She forced a smiled, holding Clara in one arm. Ava offered her snowy-white hand, which Oscar took gently in his trembling one.
“It looks like Clara likes me after all.”
“You’re her Mum, of course she loves you! I wish I could be with you!”
“I don’t think you can and I’d rather you didn’t come. Rest while I’m not here.”
“Ava, you’re more important than sleep, I want to come with you, please!”
“Ava will be under local anaesthetic, I’m afraid that wont be possible.” Hanna stated.
“Okay. Well, I- I’ll be right here when you get back, with Clara.”
“I know you will. Look after her for me in the years to come.”
“Ava what are you saying?” Ava beckoned for him to come a little closer.
“Don’t forget what I said before.” She whispered.
“I remember. Hanna, am I able to stay on the ward until Ava gets back?”
“Yes absolutely. The theatre staff will take good care of her.”
“Thanks. My-my Mum Janet is on her way from London, she set off about half an hour ago.She-she should be here in three hours. I should have told you Ava, I’m sorry.”
Ava nodded. “I’m so glad.”
“Yes you’ll need her. Goodbye Oscar, I wish things could have been different, I really do. Still, it’s too late to turn back the clock now. Oh shh now, don’t cry.” She placed a hand to Oscar’s, tracing her index finger along his cheekbones.
“Sorry for treating you badly. You deserve a nice girl, not a messed up one like me. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. I guess I kept my anger locked up for too long and had to vent it on someone. You have a good heart; give it to someone more deserving.”
Oscar wrapped his arms around Ava, holding her close. “You’re still so thin Oscar.”
Oscar pulled away ever so slightly. “Oscar I know it’s not your fault, I realise that now. I’m not well Oscar, both physically and mentally, I haven’t been well for a long time. Look after yourself for the sake of Clara and your Mum.”
Oscar paced anxiously around the small hospital room with Clara resting on a muslin cloth on his shoulder. He patted her back ever so gently after her feed, attempting to ease her wind.
“That’s it. You’re a tired little girl aren’t you? It’s been such a long day for you, a challenging day for everyone. Grandma should be here in less than an hour. She’s going to love you isn’t she? Yes she is.”
“I wonder how your Mummy is doing? They’ve been over an hour and a half so far. I think you were ready for that milk weren’t you?” Oscar cooed, kissing Clara’s forehead.
“I –I’m going to change your nappy and then I think we could sit outside for 10 minutes or so. It’s lovely and warm, that’ll be nice wont it?”
Oscar carefully changed her nappy, dusting her with some talcum powder.
“There we are my darling; you’re all nice and fresh now.” Oscar carried Clara outside, rocking her, humming quietly as he sat upon a bench in the warm sun.
“It’s lovely out here isn’t it Clara? Look at all the little birdies in the sky, there are lots of them.”
Oscar sighed, placing a hand to his face. He jumped, sensing a hand upon his back.
“Mum! Oh God, I can’t thank you enough for coming. Ava’s still in theatre.”
“Have you heard anything?”
“Has anyone come to see you with any news?”
“No, it’s a waiting game. I’m so, so glad that you’re here. I just needed 5 or 10 minutes of fresh air, we both did.” Janet peeked into the knitted woollen shawl.
“Sounds like you’re doing a great job already. I’m glad you liked the shawl. She’s the spitting image of you!”
“That’s what Ava said.”
“Well, for once she was right. Her birthmark really isn’t that bad. I actually expected worse.”
“She’s beautiful.” Oscar smiled.
You look drained Oscar, I don’t know how you’ve lasted. Have you had much to eat and drink?”
“What about food?”
“Not a lot.”
“Hmm, that’s understandable, but you need energy. I have a cereal bar in my bag, would you like it?”
“I don’t think I could manage to eat anything right now, my stomach is in knots. We’d better go back in, I just wish someone would tell me how Ava is doing. It’s just here, we need to go to the left.”
“Okay. Yes I understand.” Janet patted Oscar’s hand. “My God! You’re absolutely freezing. Here sit down. Is this the right bed?”
She walked over to the stack of linen and grabbed one of the woollen hospital blankets, draping it around Oscar. “You’re covered in goose bumps and deathly pale, it’s probably the shock.” She muttered, pulling the blanket more tightly around him.
“You’d really benefit from a good sleep and a hot drink with plenty of sugar. Maybe the fresh air wasn’t such a good idea.”
“I refuse to go back to the house!”
“That’s not what I was suggesting. I know you’re not supposed to; cross contamination, infection control and all that but you would benefit from sleeping on Ava’s bed.”
“I don’t think I could.”
“It’s been cleaned and changed.Just lie on top. The blue cover is over it. Here, I’ll take Clara from you for a little bit. Oh Grandma thinks that you’re such a cute little girl, yes she does.”
An exhausted Oscar reluctantly climbed onto the bed. Janet placed his own blanket over Oscar, sitting beside him, just as he had done with Ava. “There now, you catch a couple of hours of sleep before Ava gets back. No matter what happens, I promise that I won’t abandon you again.”
To be continued….