“How is he?” Mona asked my mother once we found her. Mona had a lead foot and we beat the others by at least five minutes.
“I told you to stay home,” my mother said wearily, slumped over in her chair. She suddenly looked older than her age as she stared at the floor. Since it was the usual beige carpeting, I knew it wasn’t the fascinating design which held her attention. “The boys are coming, too, aren’t they?”
“Yes, they are,” Mona said, her tone aggressive. “How’s Ba?”
“Still in surgery,” Mom said, her own tone wan. “I haven’t talked to a doctor since I last called you.”
“How is he?” Hank shouted as he ran down the hall. The others were far behind him as he skidded to a halt. Mom went through the explanation again, and we all sat down to wait. Rafe sat besides my mother and was whispering something in her ear. I was too proud to try to eavesdrop, but I was dying to know what he was saying. I vowed I’d corner my mother later and ask her. I had a hunch it had to do with something from Rafe’s past that he wouldn’t talk about, and it irked me that he’d tell my mother something he wouldn’t tell me. Whatever it was, it seemed to make my mother feel marginally better, so I was thankful.
It seemed like hours since we arrive at the hospital, and it may have been so. Time had slowed down to a crawl. Every time I looked at the clock, it was only minutes after the last time I checked, and yet, half an hour chunk of time managed to get swallowed up before I could blink. I watched as desolate people shuffled by. Some had that dumb look of agony in their eyes which could only signify death. Some were bleeding profusely as they waited to be served. One man had a dazed look of joy which I took to mean that his wife had just delivered. Mostly, though, there was every shade of pain known to humankind. It’s ironic that while hospitals were necessary and even helpful, most people were deathly afraid of them. I wasn’t, but I didn’t particularly care for them, either.