Jared saw Cindy pacing in the hospital waiting room. He went to her and touched her shoulder. When she turned to him, he said, “I’m guessing it’s not looking good.”
Cindy was quiet for a moment before she replied, “It’s pretty bad. She hasn’t woken up yet.”
Jared hadn’t believed it when he first got the call about Lucy. For one thing, he found it hard to believe that he was one of her emergency contacts. He hadn’t spoken to her in years, and he knew Cindy hadn’t either. It just goes to show, in the end, you only have your family.
Lucy had always been the odd sibling. As the middle child, she was always trying to stand out. Her rebellion began with harmless things like dying her hair blue and getting her nose, lips, and eyebrows pierced. After she pierced everything she could, she moved on to tattoos. She had different designs everywhere from behind her ear to her ankle. Then she got into drugs and alcohol. Their parents didn’t know what to do. She wasn’t doing things solely for attention anymore; she was addicted to the rush they gave her. Her judgment wasn’t any better when it came to dating.
Despite the steep competition, Danny was by far the worst of her boyfriends. Ironically, he had been the one with the most potential. When he came to pick her up for their dates, he wasn’t obviously high or drunk, and he was always respectful to their parents. They met during her freshman year of community college. She was still living with their parents because she couldn’t afford to live anywhere else. Their parents liked Danny and, at first, Jared did too. He liked Danny right up until the moment he found the bruises.
Lucy normally excelled at hiding them, but one day Jared saw them. She was covered in them. It seemed the only place Danny never hit her was her face. She begged Jared not to tell anyone. She said she had it under control. Jared was nowhere near prepared to deal with the new information; he was only fourteen. He decided to call Cindy and see what she thought he should do. She wanted immediate action, though she was torn over who to call first: the police or her parents. In the end, she chose to call her parents and let them decide what to do from there. They were even more horrified than Cindy had been. They liked Danny. They had welcomed him into their home. They decided to talk to Lucy immediately. At first, she tried to deny everything. Eventually though, she got so angry at what she called the intrusion into her private life that she told them the truth. She said it wasn’t a big deal and he only hit her when she deserved it. After one last glare at Jared, she stormed out of the room, called Danny, and asked him to pick her up. By the end of the day, she was completely moved into his apartment.
That had been several years ago, and despite their many efforts, none of the family had heard from her since. Not until now, anyway. Jared could tell Cindy was fighting back tears. He knew she wouldn’t want to answer his next question, but he needed to know.
After putting it off for several minutes, he said, “The nurse wouldn’t tell me anything. What happened?”
She looked at him silently for a moment then said, “She was pregnant, Jared. She was carrying his child, but he kept hitting her. He hit her right in the stomach. A neighbor heard her screaming and called the police. They brought an ambulance with them. She passed out on the way there and hasn’t woken up since. The doctors say she lost the baby and has internal bleeding. They took her into surgery immediately. She got out about an hour ago. Now we’re just waiting for her to wake up.”
Jared crossed to the window and stared out at the parking lot, struggling to understand everything.
Finally, he turned to Cindy and said, “Why did she stay with him? Especially when she knew she was pregnant? She couldn’t honestly have believed a man like that would stop hitting her to protect some little creature he’s never met!”
Cindy shook her head sadly and said, “You know why she stayed. She was addicted to him, just like she was addicted to everything else.”
Just then, a nurse came in.
She said, “Your sister’s awake. You can see her now.”