“Is Ava okay? Mum what’s happened, what’s wrong? Hanna? Mrs Bali? Oh God it’s Ava isn’t it?” Oscar swung his legs over the end of the bed.
Mrs Bali inhaled. “Oscar, Ava endured excessive bleeding after birth, before and during the operation, something that we call a Postpartum haemorrhage. There’s no easy way to say this I’m sorry to have to tell you that”….
“Oh Oscar I’m so sorry.” Janet gasped.
Oscar fell forwards off the end of the bed, his fall lessened by Janet who caught him, gently lowering his limp body floor.
“Jesus! He’s fainted!” Hanna swiftly checked Oscar’s pulse
“Shall I inform the Bereavement services?” Mrs Bali inquired, placing a pillow under his head.
Hanna shook her head. “No, I’ll let Oscar make that decision for himself.” They raised Oscar’s legs, placing them on a chair. Janet pulled the blanket off the bed, covering him once more.
“He’s so cold, just like Ava was before. Christ! This will be the end of him, he’s been through enough hell for one year, part of it is my fault. Poor Clara, she wont even remember Ava.”
Hanna shook her head. “Oscar will come to. I’ll do his blood pressure; we’ll need to keep a close eye on that. It’s very low.”
Janet shook him gently. “Oscar.”
Oscar stirred, retching violently. Hanna rapidly placed a cardboard bowl under his mouth as he vomited mostly saliva from his empty stomach. His eye lids fluttered and a tear trickled down his cheek. Janet wiped his mouth, handing the bowl to Hanna and holding a white plastic cup of iced water to his lips.
“Here, try and drink this.”
“Please tell me that there has been some awful mistake. Ava gave in, she said it was her time and that she wanted to die, but it wasn’t. She was so, so young. I should be dead not her, she was healthy and so full of life.” Oscar wept.
“Oscar, no! You’re a wonderful person and mean the world to Clara!”
“Oh yes, I’m so great that I made Ava’s life a misery?”
“No, Ava carved out her own existence She needed more help than she ever let on. I know that some of it was out of her hands, but she didn’t treat you well! ”
“I know.” Oscar sniffed.
“Ava’s Aunt is on her way to the hospital as we speak.”
“What was her reaction?” Janet handed him some tissues.
“Shocked like the rest of us.”
“I never for one moment thought that I’d outlive Ava. I-I can’t leave Ava alone in this hospital. I know they say a body’s just an empty shell but…I think I want to see her one last time before…”
“Have the porters come for her yet?”
“No, they won’t have.”
“Can, can I see her?”
“Hanna said yes, but they’ll need to do a post mortem which takes 24 hours. They’ll probably begin it in 24 hours time, so you can see Ava first. Are you sure you’re strong enough?”
“I have to be.”
“Here’s Hanna now. I’m coming with you.”
“I – I can’t leave Clara, I’ll just bring her, Ava never did hold her. Oh God! Clara will grow up not even knowing who her Mother was!”
“Ava didn’t show an interest!”
“I don’t want to hear a bad word said against her!”
“ Sorry Oscar. I’ll hold Clara, we’ll all go together. You badly need to go home and rest. You need decent food, a hot bath and a good sleep and then we’ll go from there. Don’t worry about Clara, I’ll look after her tonight.”
Hanna returned. “She’s in this little room for now, until they take her to the mortuary.”
“The mortuary.” Oscar parroted in a daze. Hanna unlocked the door, leading the way. Oscar paused. Janet placed a hand around his waist, while Hanna placed a chair behind him. Ava lay there, her skin ice white and her lips tinged with the blue hue of death. Bitter tears pricked in Oscar’s eyes as he looked on at his lifeless fiancé.
“I’ll leave you be for a little while.” Hanna closed the door behind her. Oscar stroked Ava’s slim fingers, tracing his fingertips over her manicured fingernails.
“You poor thing, this is all my fault. If I hadn’t got you pregnant in the first place we would have been happy and still together. I just believe that your body is an empty shell, but if your spirit is anywhere around us. Just know that I will always love you. I never thought-” Oscar paused, wiping away tears.
“I never thought that I’d outlive you. May was right, Clara and I are going to mean the world to each other.” He planted a tender kiss on her forehead.
“Sleep well angel, Clara will have the most wonderful life. Life is a gift, how we use it is our decision. The greatest gift of all is love. Clara will be brought up surrounded by love and kindness. While I’m living, I’ll make it my duty to protect her. Who’d have thought that our tale had begun with three inquisitive friends, but I couldn’t have predicted this. I’m going to fight this cancer and win.”
(END OF FIRST DRAFT)