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The Longest Night
The longest night of her life, she decided. This was the longest night of her life. The doctors had dimmed the lights when they left, leaving only the colors from the scanners, the sensors, but they were only memories of light, like something described in a story they had told their daughter once when she was young and afraid of the dark.
She was with her grandmother now. After the doctor's verdict Lwaxanna had taken Kestra by the hand, gave her a peck on the cheek and left. She got the feeling it was the hardest thing she had ever done, leaving her daughter-in-law to watch over her only daughter.
She wasn't sure she'd ever be able to properly say 'thank you' for that.
"If she survives the night," the doctors had said, "There's a chance... Well we'll know more in the morning." She hadn't told them she was a doctor, that she had said that same line too many times to count, that she knew what it meant when they gave her that look. She didn't want them to tell her the truth, she didn't want to know the extent of Deanna's injuries. She just wanted her to survive the night, so there would be a chance...
'Just survive the night,' she thought to Deanna's still body, laying there on the bed.
She tried to think good thoughts, happy thoughts, thoughts that would make Deanna want to wake up. She didn't know if Deanna could sense things in this state, but she didn't want to risk it, didn't want to breathe in case she would somehow destroy the fragile balance that was keeping her beloved alive.
She remembered the night their daughter was born, how beautiful Deanna had looked, glowing with sweat, face red with effort, eyes half shut, tears streaming down her cheeks. When she had handed her their new beautiful baby girl, Deanna had smiled.
She remembered their wedding, under the full moon. It had been a summer night, the leaves on the trees looked like silver in the moon-light, the grass under their bare feet had been as soft as silk, Deanna's face had shone, and her eyes reflected forever.
The darkness startled her when she returned to the terrible here the terrifying now, as did the sight of Deanna lying there... There were no cuts or bruises showing, not now. The doctors had repaired what damage they could. She looked like she was sleeping.
No, not really, Beverly thought to herself. When Deanna slept she softened, her whole body relaxed, and she snored, just a little. Now, she just looked dead.
Don't think like that, she tried to tell herself, she still alive, she's still here, there's still a chance. Except there was that look the doctors gave her, and Lwaxanna had left... and she looked so...
They shouldn't be here, not like this, not today. It was Earth's Winter Solstice, they were going to celebrate the coming of the light. They were going to light candles and sing songs, and when Kestra fell asleep they were going make love until the morning. The dark was going to be comfortable, reassuring, intimate. Not like this, not suffocating, tired, despairing, as though the light too, was afraid to shatter the thin thread that kept Deanna breathing, that kept her heart beating, that kept her alive.
"Don't die Deanna, please don't die." Her own voice startled her. She pulled her feet up and huddled in her chair. "Please don't die."
It hadn't been like this when Jack died. One day a man had showed up at her door, and that was that. There was none of this terrible waiting, of these moments between one breath and another, between one heartbeat and the next, that lasted forever.
Her chest felt hollow, every heart beat echoed painfully in her ears. Time did not exist for her; nothing existed for her outside these walls, this chair, that bed, and the woman on it.
She got up and stood by the bed, her hand hovered over Deanna's, close enough for her to feel its heat, to feel the air move around it. Just a twitch of her finger was all it would take for her to make contact. Her finger twitched, and she jerked her hand away, not breathing for a heartbeat, two, waiting for Deanna's breath, waiting for her to breath again. She did.
Beverly moved closer then, and covered Deanna's hand with hers. She didn't cry; she refused to cry. There would be enough time for that later. When it was all over, one way or another, there would be plenty of time to cry.
She ran her fingers down the back of Deanna's hand, down to her fingertips, trying desperately to imagine that those fingers, that hand, led up to a beautiful healthy woman who was sitting next to her, in bed reading, or sitting across from her at a restaurant indulging in chocolate. Her kisses would taste of chocolate afterwards, sweet kisses.
Beverly brought up her hand to her lips, trying to remember the feel of those lips against hers, the faint chocolate taste.... Deanna.
"I love you." She said, and couldn't remember why.
Without letting go of Deanna's hand she pulled her chair close to the bed, sitting down and assuming the posture that seemed universal among hospital visitors. The pose of hopeful grief. The pose of someone whose coin was up in the air, heads or tails, right now, it could go either way.
"Don't die Deanna," She whispered. "Please don't die."
It was the longest night of her life
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