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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5. Pretending

"Nick?" Sarah spoke into the darkness after they had collapsed into bed when they got home.

"Mm?" Nick was tired and longing for sleep, but Sarah apparently had other ideas.

"Why us? I mean, why them? They're only six years old for God's sake!" She jerked upright and rocked the frame of the bed.

"Sarah, Sarah, sweetheart. There is nothing that we can do about it. They have the disease, and we will try to help them as much as possible. You are not a God. You can't change what has happened to them. Now calm down." Nick sat up too and looked his wife in the eyes, "alright?"

Sarah nodded and sank back down onto her pillows with a sigh, "it's just... I feel so helpless. My children are slowly becoming more and more ill and I'm just lying in bed, doing nothing. What sort of a mother is that?"

Nick sighed too, "Sarah, stop blaming it on yourself. It is not your fault."

"But what if it is?! The doctor said that it could be genetic, so it could be our fault!"

"Could, Sarah, could! He didn't say that it definitely is genetic. Now please, Sarah, go to sleep."

"I can't sleep! I can not physically sleep knowing that my children, my little darlings, are sick! I have to be with them."

She began to get up off the bed to go to Jen and Jasper, but Nick grabbed her arm and pulled her back down. "Sarah! You will only make things worse if you go to them. They are both sleeping soundly, now leave them alone. Go to sleep." He let go and rolled over to put his back to her, so that he could show her that the conversation was over.

"Fine. But my children will not die. Not before I do."

She reached up to turn the light off, turned over and slipped into slumber.

********

"Mummy..."

The sound of Jennifer's soft voice immediately jerked Sarah from her sleep, she hadn't slept very well as her brain was too crowded with the thoughts and visions of her children's deaths.

"What is it, honey?" Sarah sat up to see a faint outline of her daughter stood in the doorframe of the bedroom.

"I can't feel my arms. I feel hot, but I also feel cold. I don't think-"

Her words were cut off as she vomited all over the carpet, tears began streaming down her face as she saw the flecks of blood on the floor. She lifted her hand to her mouth and it came away covered in blood, her legs suddenly began shaking before she collapsed on the floor in a heap. Sarah leapt out of bed, shouting out for Nick to wake up, she called for Jasper to assess him and screamed for an ambulance.

"Sarah, Sarah!" Nick cried for her attention, "we don't need an ambulance. I'll drive. It will be quicker and it's not that serious. Sarah, please calm down, you're scaring Jasper!"

Jasper had appeared at the door and stood staring at his mother in horror as she shook Jennifer to try to wake her up. Nick clambered over the commotion in the doorway, he gently pushed Jasper in the direction of his bedroom to encourage him to quickly get changed. He ran round the house, grabbing car keys, clothes for Jen, Sarah and him; he found out a few towels and blankets, a large bottle of water and a packet of crackers. On second thoughts, he picked up some chocolate as well. He ran out to the car to set up the back seat with a towel and blanket, he chucked the food, clothes and water in the boot, and ran back inside to pick up the others. Running up the stairs, he met Jasper who was coming down to look for him, he called over his shoulder for Jasper to grab a game to play at the hospital and to get in the car. He didn't check whether Jasper had obeyed before going up to Sarah. He wrapped a blanked around Jennifer and gathered her up in his arms, Sarah nervously followed him, clutching the towels as if for dear life.

*******

Nick and Sarah Henbridge nervously watched their daughter sleeping on the hospital bed. Her skin was white and clammy with a cold sweat, the veins all over her body stood darkly out on her pale skin. Sarah gently ran her thumb over the inside of Jen's wrist, feeling the bumps where her raised veins were. She looked down at her own blue veins and sighed, swallowing back tears.

"Sarah?" Nick interrupted her thoughts.

"Mm?" Sarah wasn't really with it and she didn't want a conversation now.

Nick watched her staring at their daughter's wrist. "Come with me."

Sarah jerked up as if she had been slapped. "What about Jen? What if she wakes up? I have to be here when she wakes."

"Sarah, you heard the doctor. She's probably not going to wake for a few hours yet; and they'll need to do some tests when she does wake up." Nick gently stroked her arm, giving her a concerned look.

"I can't..." Sarah looked down at Jen, wishing for the situation to be reversed.

"Sarah, you're wearing night clothes." She looked down at herself, seemingly noticing for the first time that it was 9 o'clock in the morning and she was wearing pyjamas. "Now, come. Come get changed and have breakfast with me. We can go to your favourite French cafe."

Sarah looked longingly at her daughter before getting up to leave with Nick. "Let's go then, you can drive." She chucked the car keys at him, as Nick grinned at her, holding the door open.

*********

"Oh my God! Nick! I haven't seen you in such a long time! How's life?"

The woman shouting caught up with Nick and grabbed his arm. Sarah watched with suspicion at this strange woman with bright clothes and a gaudy bag swinging from her wrist. She raised her eyebrows at the woman's bright make-up and strong scent of perfume.

"Oh, wow! Claire? Oh my! Is it really you, Claire?" Nick frowned at the woman before recognition dawned on his face.

"Yes, yes! We dated. Remember? In year eleven. Goodness! I see you've done well haven't you?" This Claire woman also talked very loudly and seemed a little hyper. "Is this your wife? Do you have kids too?"

"Yes, yes, this is Sarah. Sarah meet Claire, Claire meet Sarah," he introduced the two women to each other. "We do have children. Twins, a boy and a girl."

"Oh! What are their names?" Claire stopped bouncing around in her excitement and calmed down enough to listen to Nick.

"Jasper Carlisle and Jennifer Sophie-Anne." Nick turned to smile at Sarah, but Sarah was staring at another mother with two girls, dressed identically. The girls were running around on the field after a small dog, while the mother watched on with fondness. Nick raised his eyebrows and turned back to Claire, who had already annoyed Sarah the minute she arrived.

"Aw, they're such cute names! Where are they then?"

"Oh, Jasper is round a friend's house at the moment and Jen is being babysat. We're just going out for a fancy breakfast." At that, Sarah turned to watch Nick steadily, who purposely ignored her.

"Awesome. Hey, guess what Nick?! I'm pregnant! I'm so excited! Just been to an ultrasound and I'm expecting a boy, maybe. I'm hoping they made a mistake, because I'd really like to have a girl." Claire rested her hand on her small bump, smiling up at Nick.

"Congratulations, Claire! Have you thought of names yet?"

"Um, well I had thought of Josephine for a girl and Jack for a boy. My boyfriend prefers Simon for a boy and Jessica for a girl."

"Where is your boyfriend?"

"Soon to be husband! We're getting married next week! I was a bit worried about the bump, but Jason says that it will look cute. I told him that we wouldn't be able to do much on our honeymoon in case we hurt the baby, but he said that the baby is enough to seal our relationship. We're still going on a honeymoon, but just to Paris. Oh, glad I saw you actually. Have a wedding invitation!" Claire handed over a piece of silver card telling them about the wedding. "Please do come, I know it's short notice, but I haven't seen you in ages!"

"Yeah, alright. Thanks for the invitation, can I bring my children?"

"Sure! Sarah can come too, you're all invited!"

Claire gave a broad smile before spotting her fiance over Nick's shoulder, she called goodbye and ran off to Jason. Nick's smile faded as he looked at Sarah who was still watching him intently.

"Sarah, I couldn't. I just couldn't."

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