As she slid back into consciousness, she wrestled the sheets and hit the bars of the hospital bed. A nurse would be in soon. She vaguely remembered them pumping milk out of her breasts last time. She didn’t even know they could do that while someone was only semi-conscious. Was that all she was to be now? A lactating cow, never to hold her babies again? And what happens when they decide the girls can go onto formula? She could move her limbs but they weren’t exactly working in time with the orders from her brain. She knew there would be no way she could sit up let alone escape.
Within minutes the next assault was upon her. The same nurse, who had taken her babies, appeared at her bedside and shined the torch in her eyes. She started to thrash. No, no, no. Not again. It was too late. She was driven further into a black void with every millilitre that was forced under her skin.
She opened her eyes slowly. Her head was resting on a pillow. The veil of fog had been lifted almost completely and her mind was clear enough to know not to move, to stay in that exact position lest they find her out. She couldn’t see anyone from where she lay, but she could hear light breathing. Someone was sitting at the end of the bed.
She wasn’t willing to risk another dose. Ensuring she made no sound, she carefully moved her head and looked down at her body. Her limbs weren’t strapped down but dark purple bruises stained her arms. Perhaps now, with her mind sharp, she could think about how to escape. The only option she could think of was to knock out the person sitting at the end of her bed, but she knew that would be impossible. She’d been lying in a hospital bed, probably for days, with a pretty potent drug keeping her there. There was no way her body would allow her to fight any time soon.
A noise startled her. She held her breath. She heard the noise again. A baby, she was sure there was a baby in the room. She sat bolt upright, not caring anymore if they held her down and put a needle through her flesh, if she could just get a glimpse of her twins.
She froze, struggling to utter the word caught in her throat.
‘Yes, it’s me. Hello Melissa.’ The woman who looked so much like herself sat at the end of her bed, nursing her infant on her breast. It was almost like staring in to the mirror, except Marion’s hair was styled into a modern cut and she wasn’t dressed in a hospital robe.
‘Where are my girls?’ Melissa pleaded.
‘They are safe, I promise’ Marion paused. ‘I don’t have long but I’m so glad I was able to meet you. Thank you for saving Alexandra’s life.’ She looked at the baby in her arms.
‘Uh, you’re welcome. Why are you here?’ She asked, feeling strangely calm.
‘I really needed to see you. I found out about you a few years ago, although I think I had a suspicion earlier than that. There was a lot of whispering after I’d had a miscarriage and I remember overhearing my father talking about a twin. I only found out yesterday that your name was Melissa.’
‘What’s going to happen to me?’ Melissa asked.
Marion sighed. ‘Nothing, now. As soon as I was out of recovery, I demanded to see you and ensure you were safe. You saved my baby, after all. I wish things were different but they aren’t and it won’t be a happy ending if you don’t get out of here. I’ve arranged some transport for you.’ She paused and looked at the door. ‘You might want to get away as soon as you’re able. You can’t trust anyone.’
‘I’m going home?’ She was stunned.
‘Yes, today. As much as I love my father, I don’t believe he always does the right thing. He will do whatever it takes to ensure you remain a secret, so you need to leave as soon as possible.’ She could see the dark sunken circles under Marion’s eyes.
Marion stood up abruptly, almost as though she’d been told to leave by an unseen force.
‘Good luck, Melissa, and thank you again.’ Marion moved towards the bed and gave her a kiss on the cheek. She didn’t kiss Marion back but took a closer look at the bundled up newborn in her arms; her niece was the spitting image of her girls. Marion smiled and quickly walked out.
Now alone, Melissa moved her feet off the bed and although a little wobbly, she could stand. She wanted to believe her sister but there was no certainty that she was telling the truth. She did know that she wasn’t out of danger yet. She didn’t feel like she would ever be safe again. She saw that her hospital bag was still near the window sill and she opened it up. Someone had gone through it but she didn’t care. She took out some clothes and dressed herself, not worrying about her appearance.
A knock came at the door. She jumped. The whole time she’d been in the hospital no one had ever knocked.
She turned. ‘John?’
‘I’ve come to take you home.’ He came in and gave her a warm hug.
‘Oh, John,’ she hugged him back, breathing in the familiar smell of his aftershave. Her heart flowed on to his shirt, wetting it though. Finally she knew everything would be okay. He was here.
‘They have filled me in on what’s happening honey, I’ve been worried sick. They said you fainted and have been in the Intensive Care Unit for days. They wouldn’t let me talk to you. I wasn’t even allowed to see the girls.’
‘I have a lot to tell you but let’s get out of here first.’
She walked out of the hospital with John at her side, not knowing how she had gotten out of that situation, but thankful she had. The nurses were all very cooperative, too cooperative, but she wasn’t taking any chances. She knew she had to be quick just in case they changed their minds. She needed a good disguise and they needed to get a one way plane ticket to far, far away.
They secured the cubes in the car. She smiled. Her babies were safe and finally with her.
‘Is it okay if I drive?’ She asked.
‘Are you sure, honey?’ He looked concerned.
‘I need it. You know how it calms my nerves.’
‘Okay, just let me know if you need to swap back.’ He gave her a gentle kiss on the lips.
John shut her door like he always did and started moving around to the passenger side. Melissa turned the ignition, took one more look at the man she’d loved and put her foot on the accelerator. She looked in the review mirror as she sped away, leaving him standing alone in the hospital car park.
She knew John was involved somehow. There was no way the President’s elaborate deception about her identity could have been maintained without John being a part of the plan. That was why the nurses had let her leave, because she was safely being monitored.
Marion confirmed her suspicions when she thought back to their conversation, Marion had said that she’d organized her transport, an odd way to say her husband was coming to pick her up and she made a note of reminding Melissa not to trust anyone.
She knew Marion had done her a big favor. Thanks to her sister, her girls, her twins, would never be a part of their game. She accelerated, leaving everything she ever knew behind her.
*Firstly, I want to thank my readers and commenters over the last three weeks. Thank you so much for pushing me to continue this tale and write in a genre I’m not use to and thank you for your wonderful supportive comments.
*Secondly, I’m considering moving Short Tale Tuesday to a fortnightly linky. I just feel like I don’t get enough time to sit down and correct my writing the way I want to and I really want to become a better writer. The Birthing Suite was a great indication of how much better this little series could have been had I given myself a bit more time to pursue character development and plot. Yes, I could have left it and worked on it but I’m so limited in time (three children under five and I work two days a week) that I would have had nothing to post for Short Tale Tuesday. For my wonderful, supportive linkers, I would love to know your thoughts on switching it to a fortnightly link up.