Beating the Odds

Jennifer and Jasper Henbridge are twins. Both are diagnosed with "Black Vein Disease" when they are just six years old, they are told that the disease will give them only a few years to live. Both children beat the odds and fight through until reaching aged eighteen. Jennifer's dreams of becoming a vet are shattered and Jasper is forced to pull out of the navy. The twins beat the odds once, but can they do it the next time the doctor says that they have months to live?

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6. Disaster

"Jennifer?" Sarah asked tentatively, her daughter was in her bedroom, getting ready for the wedding. Sarah hadn't been worried at first, but now, forty-five minutes had passed and her daughter was still in her room.

"Jenny, hun? Are you okay? Do you want some help?" Nick joined Sarah by the locked door, and also called out to Jennifer.

Only silence answered them.

"Where's Jen? I've been ready for hours now!" Jasper whined suddenly appearing at Sarah's side.

"You've been ready for exactly twelve minutes and..." Nick glanced at his watch, "thirty-two seconds. Don't exaggerate."

Jasper laughed and Sarah was glad that at least one of her children was okay.

"Jenny, darling, please open the door. Mummy wants to see what you look like in your pretty dress." Sarah called out to her daughter again.

"Daddy wants to see too, come on sweetheart. You can't have taken that long getting changed. And if you don't hurry up, we'll go without you." Nick added.

"We're going to be late, mummy!" Jasper whined.

"Alright, alright. I'll open the door myself. I've got a skeleton key anyway." Sarah said, losing her patience.

"What's a skeleton key?" Jasper asked.

"It's a very special key that can open all the doors in the house." Nick replied.

"All of them?!" Jasper's voice sounded very shocked at the possibility of a key that could open all of the doors in the house.

"Yes Jasper. Even this one, which is the one that we want to open." Sarah said, her voice dripping with annoyance. She had the skeleton key in her hand and was trying to put it in the lock with shaky fingers.

"Why are you shaking?" Jasper asked.

"Jasper. Will you please shut up. I am bloody worried. That's why I'm shaking. Now please, Jasper, go downstairs and entertain yourself." Sarah snapped.

"But..." Jasper began.

"Jasper!"

"Jasper, son, just go downstairs and stop making mummy angry." Nick said calmly to encourage Jasper to leave them alone.

Jasper trailed down the stairs, misery etching his features. Sarah turned back to the door, and twisted the key round. The door popped open with a click.

Sarah pushed gently on the door, and it creaked open to reveal her daughter slumped on the floor, blood forming a sticky puddle beneath her still body. Nick went immediately into action mode and ran to Jennifer's side.

He tipped her head back slightly to check her pulse. "It's faint, but it's still there. Sarah? Call for an ambulance."

Sarah just continued to stand frozen in the doorway, the last time she had communicated with her daughter was to argue about what dress she would wear to the wedding. She wished that she had let Jennifer go with her own choice.

"Sarah." Nick snapped. "Call for an ambulance. Don't just stand there. Jen is dying."

"Oh my God." She whispered under her breath, running across the hall to the phone hanging on the wall.

Sarah jabbed the three buttons, and waited for someone to answer.

"Uh, hi. My daughter has collapsed in her room. She's bleeding really badly, and we can't really tell where it's coming from. Um, she's six. She also has Black Vein Disease. Yeah, okay thanks." Sarah spoke into the handset, occasionally pausing for the person on the other end to speak.

"So, are they coming?" Nick asked, still bent over Jen.

"Yeah, she said that they'll be a few minutes."

"A few minutes? Ugh, she might not have that long." Nick groaned, examining Jen's pale face and weak pulse.

"Don't say that. She will live. I want her and Jasper to prove the doctors wrong, and live a long and fulfilling life." Sarah said stubbornly. She wasn't sure who she was trying to convince. Herself or the odds.

**********

Sarah listened to her daughter's steady heartbeat, hoping for a miracle. Nick leant over to kiss Sarah's hands. They were folded delicately in her lap and shaking slightly. Sarah slid them out from under Nick's hands, which had moved to encase hers, and slipped them under her thighs to stop them from shaking so much.

"Sarah?" Nick asked tentatively. "What shall we do with her?"

"What do you mean? We are leaving her here on this hospital bed so that the doctors can check her out and make her feel better." Sarah said, turning to face Nick.

"No, no. I mean, shouldn't we take her home? Don't you think she'll want to die at home?"

"Die? She's not going to die, Nick."

"She is going to die. At some point she is going to die."

"Yes, of course, that's part of the life cycle. But I will die before her. She is not meant to die before me." Sarah said firmly.

"Sarah-"

"Excuse me," Doctor Wilson interrupted, poking his head into Jen's room. "Can I talk to you outside for a moment?"

"Both of us?" Nick asked.

"Yeah. Sarah, she'll be fine for a few moments, she won't even know that you're gone." Doctor Wilson added when he saw the look on Sarah's face.

"I'm coming..." Sarah said absentmindedly.

 

"What is it?" Nick asked the doctor when they were outside.

"I think... I think... I think you need to say goodbye." Doctor Wilson eventually said, very unprofessionally dropping his gaze to the floor.

Nick and Sarah stared at the doctor, not wanting to believe what he had just said. Sarah gulped back some tears forming in her eyes, wrapped her arms around her torso, and sucked in her lips to stop them from shaking. Nick blinked heavily, and sniffed, also crossing his arms.

Nick was the first one to speak. "What about Jasper?"

Doctor Wilson looked at him. "Well, I guess you could bring him in so that he could say goodbye."

"Are you actually being serious? There's nothing that you can do?" Sarah said desperately.

"I wouldn't joke about this! We've tried everything! If Jennifer wants to stay, it's up to her now. The only thing that we can do now is stop her pain by turning off her life support." Doctor Wilson said, a little anger in his voice.

"Kill her. You are asking us if we want to kill our daughter." It was a statement, not a question, and Nick's tone of voice plainly said so.

"If you put it that way, I suppose so. It's what's best for her! She is in pain and dying. There is nothing else to do for her, she will die anyway." Doctor Wilson stared at them both, before marching off down the corridor.

"I will not let her die. Not today." Sarah said stubbornly.

"No..." Nick answered, staring after the Doctor thoughtfully. "Look at that. Not very professional is it?"

Nick pointed down the corridor to Doctor Wilson, who had just collapsed against a wall and was hugging his knees to his chest. Nick and Sarah both watched as the doctor's head fell onto his knees and his shoulders began to shake. A nurse came out of a nearby room and crouched down to doctor Wilson's level, she put her hand on his shoulder, gently comforting him. He heaved himself to his feet and wiped his eyes, avoiding the nurse's eyes. Doctor Wilson eventually looked down at the nurse, spoke a few words to her, and strolled off down the passageway. He stopped suddenly, turned slowly back round, and went back to Nick and Sarah. The nurse was still frozen in place, and stared after him as he breezed down the corridor.

"Sorry about that. That was not very professional of me." Doctor Wilson said apologetically.

"That's fine..." Nick replied slowly, he stared at the doctor with a look of confusion on his face. "Why are you so bothered?"

Doctor Wilson looked uncomfortable. "Ah. Because I don't like letting lives go."

"But surely you do that a lot. You do work in a hospital." Sarah pointed out.

"Yes, but not often in lives so young." He dropped his gaze to the floor again. "You see, I also have a daughter. She's the same age as Jennifer. I can't even properly understand what it's like for you at the moment. I think of my own daughter when I see Jen laid on that bed, and it makes me heartbroken to try and get you to make this kind of decision about her life."

Nick and Sarah looked at each other, unsure of what to say.

"I won't force you to make the decision now." Doctor Wilson said quietly, walking away from them with his head bowed.

Sarah stared after the doctor, tears in her eyes. She blinked heavily and went back inside Jen's room.

"Jenny? My sweetheart?" Sarah said gently, crossing over to her bedside and perching herself delicately next to her daughter's coma-induced body. "I don't know if you can hear me, but I want you to keep fighting. Daddy and I want what's best for you and if doctor Wilson says that that is to let you go, then so be it. I don't want to do it, but I want you to be at peace. Keep fighting for now and show the disease that you won't be defeated." She leant forward until her forehead was resting on Jen's arm. "My baby..." She whispered, breaking down into silent tears.

Nick stood by the door, watching his wife slowly break down, sat on their daughter's bed. Nick didn't understand. He couldn't feel sadness. He didn't even feel like crying. All he felt was plain anger. He was angry at the disease for taking his daughter when she was so perfect and healthy before. He was angry that both his children had to be affected. He was angry at the doctors for not being able to save her. But most of all, he was angry at the world. For being so unfair, for giving his child, his baby, this disease.

Nick gulped and exited the room before he hit something. He managed to find his way to the hospital chapel. He hadn't held any religious beliefs since his praying had failed when his mother was dying. However, he needed to go somewhere quiet where he could feel something other than anger. He fell to his knees at the front of the chapel. His body curled in on itself until his head was resting on the cold stone floor. He could feel all the blood rushing to his brain, but he stayed still, letting his grief wash over him.

 

******

 

"Nick?" A voice echoed round the chapel and a gentle hand touched his shoulder.

Nick sat up suddenly, an immense feeling of dizziness immediately taking over his brain. He clutched his hands to the side of his head, waiting for the dizzy moment to pass. When it was almost clear, he looked up at the person who had spoken. It was doctor Wilson.

"Do you have any news?" Nick said. His voice sounded hoarse and broken. He had been screaming and crying a lot over the past few hours. Luckily the chapel was sound proof anyway.

"Yes."

Nick stared up at the doctor in silence.

"Jen is awake. She's going to live."

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