The Call Of The City – Episode 13

Kerry relaxing in a bath as Daniel makes a meal Illustration by Sailesh Thakrar

“Any news?”

Meg looked up from her forgotten coffee cup with a dazed stare. Kerry stood in front of her, her face pale, her eyes huge with worry.

Meg shook her head. She’d lost track of time, hours blurring together as she waited for one of the consultants to tell her how her husband was.

“I brought fresh coffee.” Kerry removed the old cup from Meg’s slack fingers. “I think you could use some.”

Meg tried for a smile.

“I must look a sight.”

She’d barely had time to throw on clothes last night as Andrew was taken away in an ambulance.

It all came back in a frightening rush – going upstairs to bed after Grace’s telephone call; seeing Andrew gasping for breath and clutching his chest, unable to speak.

The paramedics had come and whisked Andrew away, Meg next to him in the ambulance, trembling.

He had been grey and still, his chest barely rising and falling in faint breaths. Since then, they’d heard only that Andrew needed surgery immediately.

She didn’t know what the surgery was, or how serious it might be, but recalling her husband’s face, she had a feeling it was very serious.

Her fingers clenched around her cup.

“How are you coping, Mum?” Kerry asked softly.

“I don’t know.” Meg shook her head. “I feel numb.”

“You’ll be exhausted.”

Meg shrugged.

“What time is it?”

“Seven. Daniel’s gone back to the farm to deal with the animals. He’ll be back as soon as he can.”

“He might as well wait till there’s news.” A shiver ran through Meg at the prospect of what that news might be. “And Grace?”

“I haven’t rung her yet. It’s early, and her audition is this morning. I didn’t think there was any harm in waiting till it’s finished.”

“Of course not.” Meg bit her lip.

Kerry put her hand over her mother’s.

“It’ll be OK, Mum.”

“Thanks, love.”

Meg tried for a smile. She knew her daughter could make no such promises, but she’d take comfort where she could.

“I hope they give us some news soon.”

As if she’d been heard, a consultant came through the doors into the waiting room, his face sober.

Meg tensed and Kerry half-rose from her chair.

“Has something . . .?”

Meg couldn’t speak at all. She felt as if her heart were suspended in her chest, frozen.

“Your husband has come out of the surgery, Mrs Cavendish,” he said. “But his condition is still very serious.”

Meg swallowed hard. She needed to say something, ask questions, but she felt as if she were wading through treacle.

“What does that mean?” Kerry asked.

The consultant turned to address her.

“When Andrew came in, he’d had a very serious heart attack. We initially tried a more minor procedure, but it was clear he needed a triple bypass.”

Triple? Meg knew that didn’t sound good.

“Did it work?”

“We have every hope it will improve his condition,” the consultant said carefully, “but he will have a long recovery period, and he will need to be careful not to exert himself.

“In a few weeks we’ll be able to assess his level of heart failure.”

Failure. It was such an awful word. Meg managed to nod, although her head was still spinning.

The consultant smiled at her with sympathy.

“Would you like to see him? He’s still sleeping, but you’re allowed in now.”

“Yes, please.” Her voice sounded croaky. She licked her lips.

Kerry reached for her hand and together they followed the doctor back through the double doors and down a corridor full of beeping machines and hushed voices.

The antiseptic smell peculiar to hospitals was pungent in the air and making Meg feel sick.

“Here he is.” The consultant stepped aside to let them into a room.

Meg gasped at the sight of Andrew.

He looked diminished, lying so still underneath the starched white sheet, hooked up to at least three different machines, his chest swathed with white bandages and tubes in his nose.

“Oh!” The word came out like a whimper.

“It may be a shock to see him like this,” the consultant said. “But overall, he’s doing fairly well.”

Kerry glanced up at him, narrowing her eyes at the word “fairly”.

Meg turned to the consultant, needing to ask the question even though she dreaded the answer.

“Is there . . . is there any chance that he could –” She couldn’t finish.

“The next twenty-four hours are critical. To see how he responds to the surgery, and whether his heart function improves.”

“You mean . . .?”

“I can’t make any promises at this stage, Mrs Cavendish, and the last thing I’d want to do in a situation like this is offer false hope.

“But your husband has come through the surgery, and I have every hope that his condition will stabilise in the next few hours.”

Meg nodded, then turned back to Andrew while the consultant left to give them a few moments of privacy.

“Oh, Andrew,” she whispered. “Andrew!”

She touched his hand, afraid of hurting him.

“Get better, love,” she whispered. “Stay strong.”

She blinked back tears, squaring her shoulders as she turned to Kerry.

“You’d better call Grace.”

To be continued…

Allison Hay

I joined the "My Weekly" team thirteen years ago and, more recently, "The People's Friend". I love the variety of topics we cover both online and in the magazines. I manage the digital content for the brands, sharing features and information on the website, social media and in our digital newsletters.