Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Jocelyn's Decision - Alternate Ending
When I wrote Jocelyn's Decision, I was completely satisfied by the ending. I explained why in the comments, and never planned to change it, even though it made some readers so mad! And then, over the last week, I suddenly had a recurring dream of sorts in which the ending turned out differently. To be clear, I am NOT changing the official ending, but pretend for a moment that there are different realities in which other outcomes happen. This story is that alternate universe and what could have happened :-)
“Miss Jocelyn… Your dad wants to talk to you,” Bea informed me.
“Tell him I’ll call him back,” I mumbled.
“You misunderstand… He’s here.”
I sat up abruptly, and then groaned. I ached everywhere! “Man… he really did a number on me…” I muttered out loud to myself. I forced myself to focus on the clock.
“It’s been five hours?!” I gasped.
Bea handed me my plaid pants, and I slipped them on as I carefully got down from the desk.
“Where’s Dantaelian?” I asked.
“Still with Hayley. She called shortly after I returned from shopping, and since I couldn’t find Mr. McDerry, and you were sound asleep, I gave them permission to grab a bite to eat before going to a movie they begged to see,” Bea informed me.
“Scott’s not home?” I inquired, frowning.
“No,” she replied with a shake of her head.
I followed her to where my father stood just inside the entrance. He was in his police uniform, and Larry stood next to him. Both looked sad, and Larry even seemed on the verge of tears. This was an event so rare, I had never seen it before.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“That’s what we’d like to know,” Jim, Tim, and Harry stated, calling my attention to the fact that they were sitting on some stairs behind me.
My dad cleared his throat softly. “Larry received a phone call not too long ago. It seems that he is listed as Mr. McDerry’s emergency contact…”
I sighed. “Did he ask you to come make me leave? Talk about overreacting!”
“No… he… was in a bad car accident about 2 hours ago.”
It felt like all the blood in my body drained to my feet and then into the ground under me. “What?” I whispered, not able to accept that I’d heard the truth.
From the soft gasps behind me, I knew that no one else could believe their ears either.
“He's critical, Jocelyn. The doctor's don't think he'll live. It was a pretty bad crash involving three other cars.” Dad put a hand on my shoulder comfortingly, but my knees went weak. I fell to the ground, sitting on my knees, my feet wide apart.
“You’re lying! You have to be lying!” I wailed in anguish, unable to believe that the man I loved was at death's door.
I could hear his sons and Bea crying.
“I’m not lying,” my dad insisted gently.
I slammed my fists on the floor and screamed. “No! This can’t be happening!”
“This is all your fault!”
“He didn’t have to work today!”
“He probably wouldn’t have left if not for you!” His sons accused me, and I gasped when I realized that they were right.
I started sobbing. “Oh God! I killed him!” I wailed dramatically, feeling like it was true even though he wasn't actually dead yet.
My dad squatted to pat me on the back. “Hey… this is not your fault.”
“Yes it is!” I insisted in a wail.
One of the boys sighed, sniffling to stop his tears. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it… You’re not really to blame.”
Another one couldn’t make himself stop crying, but added his thoughts. “We were just so shocked earlier…”
“We weren’t prepared to see that…” The third finished.
I was still sobbing, curled up on the floor in something resembling child’s pose. “Yes it is my fault! From the time we woke up this morning, we were arguing. I challenged him to a drinking game hoping to get some answers out of him, and he got drunk, again. If not for me getting him drunk, he wouldn’t have crashed. So it really is all my fault!”
My dad sighed, and I think he had a pretty good idea of the things I had left out of my explanation. “No… Drunk or not, he chose to drive. Plus, he could have refused to play your game, but he didn’t. He chose to get drunk. You are not to blame.”
“Stop trying to make me feel better!” I shouted. “You’re only making me feel worse!”
“Jocelyn…” My dad tried to pull me into his arms, but I pushed him away. I got to my feet and ran outside until I could see my car. I threw open the door and climbed in, ready to drive to the ends of the Earth if necessary in order to be with Scott.
“Jocelyn! Where are you going?!” My dad shouted after me.
“To the hospital!” I shouted right back, only to realize that I didn't have my keys on me. I screeched in frustration and beat my fists on the steering wheel.
“Hey!” My dad pulled my out of my car and shook me a bit roughly. “If you tried to drive in your emotional state, you'd likely end up in an accident too!”
“I have to get to him!” I insisted passionately, trying to break free from my father's grasp.
“I understand that, so stop fighting me and get into the limo with everyone else. I'll drive!” My dad growled at me, forcing me to calm down and look over to where everyone else was standing. Apparently, Larry had anticipated the fact that we would all want to rush to the hospital and had pulled the limo out of the garage so that it was waiting for us to pile in and go. Everyone else stood in front of it watching me with this look that made me want to start crying all over again.
The look was sympathetic and understanding – we were all upset about Scott after all – but part of it was also angry and hard. Like they not only blamed me for the situation, but also thought that maybe I was just pretending to be upset. Reggie was the only one who had ever said it to me directly, but I knew that they all thought that I was simply playing with Scott so that he would give me money.
I wiped the tears from my eyes and sent up a prayer of thanks that Reggie was with Hayley and my daughter. I really didn't need him to look at me with his hate and anger right now. It would be more than I could bear!
Calmer now, I squared my shoulders and marched to the limo. It's not like I knew where the hospital was anyway, so I really did need someone who could think clearly to drive. My dad was right! I probably would have gotten into an accident by driving around like a crazy woman!
In the back of the limo, I was silent and numb for the first five or so minutes. My hands were white as they gripped each other, and I literally shook. Tears began to fall from my eyes one at a time until I had a small stream pouring from me. I felt like Scott's life literally depended on me getting to the hospital as soon as possible! I felt like he would die if I didn't make it to his side in time.
Those thoughts sent me spiraling into a depression that I couldn't shake. All I could do was curl my legs into my chest, hold my knees with my arms, and rock uncontrollably as I cried and cried. Bea looked like she wanted to comfort me, but she was busy trying to comfort Tim, Jim, and Harry.
They weren't crying like I was, but they did look numb with shock and fear. If I could stop crying long enough to pay attention to them, it would have been obvious that they were hurting pretty bad too. Even Bea looked ready to break down and cry, but she managed to keep it together for the boys.
Meanwhile, Larry was also lost in his thoughts. He had been Scott's friend for a very long time, and he was probably going through the stages of grief himself at the thought of loosing such a good friend. My crying seemed to help him though, because he responded by putting a hand on my shoulder and making soft noises in an attempt to calm me down. It didn't work, but I appreciated the effort.
It seemed to take an agonizingly long time, but we eventually arrived at the hospital.
“Where is he?!” I demanded of the first person who worked there that I came across. She was only a receptionist and looked at me as if I was crazy. Enraged by her lack of cooperation, I grabbed her by the shirt and pulled her closer so that I could growl at her. “WHERE. IS. HE?!”
“Jocelyn!” My father chided me, sounding astonished and ashamed by my behavior. He pulled me off of her and held me tight as I struggled to be free. Considering that he was in uniform, the woman decided not to call for security to come handle me.
“We're here to see Scott McDerry,” Bea explained much more politely than I had been.
The receptionist looked him up and then gave Bea a look of sympathy. “He's still in the ER, but you can all go to the waiting room and talk with the staff there.” She gave us directions to the waiting room and Bea thanked her.
I would have taken off running like my life depended on it, but my dad held onto me like I was a disobedient child. I struggled to pull free, but he was a trained police officer and far stronger than me. With a frustrated growl followed by a sigh, I realized that I was acting like a child, and did my best to calm down.
Waiting for Scott to get out of surgery was hands down the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life! I absolutely could not sit still and ended up pacing the waiting room incessantly. Every time a person that worked in the hospital walked by, I asked for an update on Scott, but all they could tell me was that we would be told as soon as there was something to tell.
Hours passed and I wasn't the only one who seemed to go a little crazy. The boys started bickering because they had to release some tension before they lost it like me. I was a mess! Tears flowed from me continually, even after my cheeks literally stung.
Finally, doctors emerged to talk to us about Scott. I practically mobbed them, clinging to one of the pair desperately.
“Is he alive?!” I demanded.
“Are you family?” They asked me, sounding cold to my overwrought ears.
“We're his sons,” the three of them chorused together. “So yes, you can tell us what is going on.
With a nod, the doctors explained that Scott had survived so far and was stable, but that they still couldn't be certain that he would live. We could see him, but he was unconscious and we had to be careful not to jostle him. Doing so could rupture his stitches or cause internal bleeding.
We all promised to be careful, and then stood staring at Scott in shock. He looked terrible! I couldn't stand to see him looking so beat up, so I buried my head in my dad's chest and simply cried.
Days passed. Scott remain stable, but he didn't wake up. This was only partially because of the drugs they gave him to manage the pain. The doctors assured us that he was simply trying to survive and that he would wake up when he was ready, but the longer he slept, the more concerned I could feel them getting.
Bea couldn't stay in the hospital, neither could my dad or Larry. They left and returned for visits when they could, but I refused to leave, and so did Tim, Jim, and Harry. We all camped out in Scott's room, which – by the way – was big and roomy because Scott was apparently a large donor to the hospital and they were willing to give him and us anything we wanted. They knew he was wealthy and would be paid a fortune for his care no matter what happened, so they played nice.
Even so, the doctors kept frowning at me. I didn't notice it at first, but eventually I couldn't ignore it any longer. “What?” I asked them impatiently.
“Who are you? You're not listed as an immediate family member, so technically, you shouldn't be here.”
“Uh!” I grunted in protest, offended by their rude disregard of how much I loved Scott.
“She's immediate family,” Harry stated, surprising me because I thought they were all asleep.
“She's our dad's... girlfriend, I guess you could say,” Tim added with a shrug.
“She's the mother of his daughter,” Jim finished the explanation.
My eyes were watering again, touched that they seemed to accept me as part of the family. I nodded in agreement because the doctors were looking at me in disbelief. I bet they thought we were lying for some reason.
“I haven't let our daughter come visit because I don't want her to see Scott like this, but it's true. We do have a child together,” I stated, my eyes returning to Scott, who hadn't really changed except that his heart was beating strong and steady now.
“I guess I went against your wishes then,” my father informed me as he entered the room. “Dantaelian threw a fit until we agreed to bring her here. She is afraid for her father's life and needs her mother to comfort her.”
I started crying again, having no idea how I was going to be strong and keep it together for my daughter. My dad stepped to the side and let Hayley and my daughter into the room. They both looked like they had been crying almost as much as I had. I held out my arms, my heart constricting at the thought of my daughter crying so hard over anything.
“Mama!” She wailed as she flung herself into my arms. Sobbing, she squeezed me tight as she looked over at Scott. “Daddy's hurt!”
I lost it again, sobbing with her as the doctors shook their heads and left the room. Eventually, we both calmed down and she fell asleep. I'm willing to bet that she hadn't slept well at all in days! I handed her over to my dad, who promised to take her home and bring her back for another visit later on.
A few more days passed, and Scott was doing really well. His wounds were healing and no longer in danger of rupturing. In fact, if he would just wake up, the doctors would probably let him go home to finish recuperating. As it was, they said there was still a chance that he might give up and die after all. I watched as nurses changed his bandages and shifted him slightly to the side so that he didn't develop bed sores from laying in one position for too long.
After they were gone, I studied his sons for a few minutes to determine that they were really asleep. It was exhausting doing nothing but praying all day long, so exhausting that we had actually all taken turns going to the hospital's gym just to get a break. We'd exercise for a bit, grab something to eat from the cafeteria, and then return to Scott's side.
With a sigh, I nodded in relief that they really were sleeping. I had something to say that couldn't be said in front of anyone because I was too emotionally raw and couldn't bear it if anyone heard me spill my guts. As carefully as I possibly could, I climbed into the hospital bed with Scott. It was larger than the regular beds because the hospital wanted him to feel pampered when he woke up, so I had just barely enough room to lay on my side next to him.
“Hey Scott,” I said softly, not quite a whisper. I grabbed his hand and held it tight. “You'd better be in there listening to me, because I've got something to say to you. Don't you dare leave me! I don't want to live my life without you! You hear me?”
I lightly ran my hand across his face to brush his hair to the side. It was longer than he usually preferred it, and somehow, he looked younger. He still had bruises, and they were that nasty blackish purple color that was tinged with yellow. It was a sign that he was healing, but he still looked terrible. The sight of him made me cry again.
“Please?” I begged. “Please? … Please don't leave me. I need you! I'll do anything you ask if you just come back to me.” I cried all the harder for a few minutes because my begging didn't seem to be working. Then I got angry.
“If you leave me, I'll never forgive you! You have a daughter that still needs you! Your sons may be adults now, but they still need their dad too! You can't leave us like this, damnit!”
This had no effect either, so I simply cried on his shoulder until I fell asleep, occasionally mumbling the word please over and over. As I slept, everyone gathered; my dad, Larry, Reggie, Bea, Hayley, Dantaelian, everyone! They were quiet so that they didn't wake the four of us, which meant that I had no idea that they were there. Simply being with Scott helped me to sleep better than I had since my birthday.
A nurse came in at one point to check on Scott's vitals. She was doing her own thing – documenting his information – when she suddenly gasped. It was loud enough that I heard her, but I refused to pay her any attention because I was so afraid that she had bad news.
“You're awake!” She stated in awe.
“Yes... how long have I been asleep?” Scott asked softly.
My eyes flew open and I stared at him in astonishment. He was looking right at me, the best he could with my head on his shoulder. My hand was in his because I had apparently refused to let it go.
“Mr. McDerry!” Hayley gasped happily, calling my attention to the fact that everyone was here.
Tim, Jim, and Harry rushed to the side of the bed so that they could put their hands on their father and reassure themselves that he was still alive and awake. “We thought we lost you!”
I started crying again, so happy that I just couldn't contain myself. I clutched his hospital gown in my free hand, squeezing his hand in mine; afraid that if I let him go, I would wake up and find that I was dreaming this miracle.
“Oh come now, surely things can't have been that bad,” Scott said, shifting his attention to his sons.
They didn't have a chance to respond before Dantaelian burst out wailing. “Daddy! You were asleep forever and ever!” She ran to the foot of the bed, climbed up carefully, and rested her head on his leg. “I thought you were never going to wake up!”
Scott looked around the room in concern. He could see by the looks on everyone's faces that she wasn't simply over exaggerating. He paled as the implication hit him.
“But... it was just a small fender bender,” he protested.
My dad shook his head. “No, I actually went to the scene of the accident. You may only remember a fender bender, but it was a bad crash involving three other cars. It's been determined that you were not at fault – the person you hit was responsible – but he died. There's been one other death and five people were critically injured. Thankfully, they've all recovered now.”
“How long was I asleep?” Scott wondered, his voice sounding concerned for the other victims of the accident.
The nurse told him exactly how many days – close to two weeks – that he had been in a coma.
“And you've all been here this entire time?” Scott asked incredulously.
“Not all of us,” Bea answered with a soft smile, her eyes shifted to me. “Just your sons... and her...”
“This was all my fault!” I blurted out.
Scott sighed and rolled his eyes. “No it isn't. Now will you all please give me a few moments alone? I want to get out of this bed and also talk to my doctors in private.”
I felt crushed! After all my worrying, he was still pushing me away. It hadn't even been 10 minutes since he'd woken, and already he wanted me to leave him alone. I closed my eyes to hide how hurt I was. If he didn't want me, I wasn't going to let him see me cry!
“Come on baby,” I said, scooping up my daughter. We all quietly left the room, waiting out in the hall. I couldn't handle it anymore!
“Dad, will you take Dantaelian? I need to walk around for a bit to clear my head and I think I'm going to take a bus home.”
My dad nodded, taking my daughter from me and kissing me on the temple. “Hey... don't worry. Everything will be better now.”
I shrugged, unable to believe him.
“Jocelyn? Can we talk?” Scott asked. He had been home over two weeks now, but I had been avoiding him when I was here. As a result, he had come to my room. I shrugged in response to his question.
“Whatever,” I muttered. Inside, I was preparing for him to kick me out of his house for good. I pulled my knees to my chest and held them with my arms.
He looked me over, noticing that I looked horrible, like I had been sick in bed for days. With a sigh, he sat on the edge of my bed so that he wasn't looking at me. He stared at his hands in silence for a few moments.
“Listen... I was telling you the truth when I said that I don't love you. Not the way you want me to anyway. I do care for you as the mother of my child and as my...” He sighed again, running a hand through his hair.
I looked away from him, knowing that he was trying his best to let me down gently.
“I'm never going to marry you, but I do want you in my life. I want what you have been offering me for so many years... a family. I guess almost dying forces a man to reevaluate his life, and I realized that I can be more or less alone when I die, or I can surround myself with loved ones,” he said, sounding like he really had given this a lot of thought.
“Yeah, well you don't need me for that. You have so many people who love you already,” I stated, deciding to make it easier for him to just tell me that he wanted me to be a good mom to our daughter but to basically leave him alone.
“True, but I want more... I have been thinking about how much joy Dantaelian has brought me. You asked me if I wanted another baby and I didn't know how to answer that, but now I do. I want more children, and... And even though I feel perverted even suggesting this, I can't imagine any other woman giving birth to them. So, if you still want to, I...”
“Wait!” I burst out incredulously. “Are you asking me to have more kids with you?”
Scott chuckled wryly. “Yes.”
I narrowed my eyes at him warily. “And do you mean naturally; by making love? Or do you mean by using a chemical process that doesn't require us to share a bed?”
This was important to know because I wouldn't agree to it if he just wanted to inseminate me in a doctor's office. He slumped over, still not looking at me. Every ounce of his body emanated shame for a moment, but then he took a deep breath and faced me.
I watched his hand reach out and slowly pull me closer. Very softly, he gave me a kiss and then hugged me. His hand stroked my hair as I listen to his heart beat. I melted into him completely, hoping against hope that he wasn't about to reject me yet again.
“I said that I don't love you but that I do want you in my life. If you're willing, I would like to have more children... the natural way... by making love...” He informed me hesitantly. “I just need you to understand that I will not marry you, and if you one day decide that you really do just want my money, you won't get a dime! But... if you are serious about being with me and having a family... I'd like that.”
I thought about this quietly for a moment. Could it be that he was suppressing his feelings for me out of the fear that I am just after him for his money after all? Considering that women have apparently thrown themselves at him his whole life, this made a lot of sense.
I snorted a laugh. “So... what were you going to say? You care for me as the mother of your child and as your...” I asked insistently.
He was silent for so long that I thought he was going to change his mind and leave the room before we finished working out our problems. Finally, he took a deep breath.
“Lover,” he stated, honestly as far as I could tell.
I smiled, winding my arms around his neck. “That's enough for me. So... when do you want to get started on those other children you mentioned?”
“How about now?” He murmured, almost whispering against my neck.
I purred happily, utterly thrilled that he was not drunk in the slightest and still wanted me. I kissed him, pressing my body into his.
“Now is good,” I murmured. He moaned, an expression of so many emotions; relief, desire, self-loathing, maybe even happiness. I smiled again. Maybe – if I kept telling him how much I loved him – maybe one day he would believe me and stop treating himself like a monster for having feelings for me. Maybe things would actually work out after all.
For the first time, I had hope for the future.