Sara's Promise(5)

By: Deanna Lynn Sletten

She rose, slowly at first, still not convinced the pain was entirely gone, but she felt fine, except for feeling exhausted from her long afternoon. She prepared dinner and Sandy came home from Brittany's house, and William came home from work. They all ate dinner like they did every evening. No one noticed how pale Sara was, or the dark circles under her eyes. They just ate and traded stories as usual.

During dinner, Sara felt the pressure in her side begin to grow again, but she said nothing. As she loaded the dishwasher, William came into the kitchen to tell her that he and Sammy were going to the driving range to hit a few balls. He didn't notice how flushed she looked as they rushed out the kitchen door. Only Sammy looked her over twice before reluctantly following his dad.

Sandy tried one more time to get her mom to agree to allow her to get her nose pierced, but Sara raised her hand in warning and shook her head.

"Not tonight," Sara told her. Angry, Sandy stormed up to her room, the words "I hate you" rushing down the stairs at Sara before Sandy slammed her door. But by now, Sara didn't care. She put the last of the dishes in the dishwasher and practically crawled to the living room sofa, and dropped onto it. The pain had become unbearable again, even worse than it had been before, and she felt completely drained. She was pale with bright spots of red on her cheeks, and her breathing had become increasingly labored.

This was how Sammy found her when they came home, curled up on the couch, her blue-green eyes glassy in her stark white face. William had gone directly into his den to work, but Sammy wanted to see if his mom was feeling better. Seeing her this way frightened him, and he ran directly to his father's den.

"Mom's really sick. You have to come," he said, his eyes wide with fear.

William looked up from his drawing board, frowning in confusion. Sara was fine at dinnertime, surely Sammy was exaggerating. "I'm sure your mother's fine," he said calmly. "She's probably just tired."

But Sammy wouldn't listen to his dad's excuses. "She's been sick all day, and she's really sick now," he insisted. "Come on!"

William had no choice but to follow his son into the living room, and when he got there, the site of Sara's pale, limp form unnerved him.

"Sara?" he asked gently, crouching down beside the sofa. She turned to him but said nothing. He placed a hand on her forehead and pressed lightly. She was burning up. Panic swelled inside him.

"I hurt," Sara said weakly, but the pain was so overwhelming, even talking was excruciating.

William had never seen his wife so sick before. For one long minute he wavered, debating what to do. Sara took care of them, not the other way around. When Sandy had her tonsils out at age six, it was Sara who'd sat beside her hospital bed all night. When Sammy fell off the swing set when he was three and lay unconscious, it was Sara who had calmly rushed him to the emergency room. She handled all the colds, flus, and illnesses. She was the one who doled out the medications, kept the children's shots current, and handled all doctor, dentist, and orthodontist appointments. He felt completely lost.

Sara closed her eyes and winced as the pain continued to envelope her. Her breathing was erratic now with short, gasping intakes of air. Seeing the pain etched on her face finally made William fly into action.

"Get your sister," he told Sammy as calmly as possible. "We're taking your mom to the hospital."

William drove to the hospital as fast as he dared, with both children silent in the backseat, and Sara reclined moaning softly in the front seat. He'd wrapped her in a blanket, even though her body had been radiating a fiery heat of its own.

Once there, the emergency room nurse took one look at Sara in William's arms and quickly showed them to a room where he could lay her down. Doctors came immediately to examine her, while William filled out insurance forms in the waiting room, and Sammy and Sandy waited nervously beside him. The three had just re-entered the emergency ward, when they saw Sara being wheeled out of her room on a gurney toward the elevators.

"We believe it's her appendix," the doctor in charge told William. "We must get her into surgery immediately. I've already informed the surgeon on duty."

William and the children stood, stunned for a moment, staring at the stout, gray-haired doctor standing in front of them. He tried to smile and reassure them. "Appendicitis is very common," he said calmly. "The doctors here treat several cases each month. Your wife is in capable hands."

At this, William relaxed a bit, letting his sensible side take over. Of course, appendectomies were as common as taking tonsils out. There was nothing to worry about. He nodded his understanding to the doctor, then calmly stepped over to Sara's gurney.

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