Lucy’s blue eyes slowly opened for the first time in what felt like ages. The sun seemed far too bright in the unfamiliar white room she found herself laying in. It took her eyes a few minutes to adjust to the brightness but finally they did and she felt her face relaxing from the squint it had been previously frozen in.
The whole room was white. The walls, the sheets, the curtains, the floor… literally everything. The only color in the room seemed to come from the various machines hooked up to Lucy. So many machines in an all white room and she was completely alone. Something wasn’t right at all. “Help me!” she screamed. “Help!”
Mere seconds later a woman dressed as a nurse came running into the room. Lucy looked at the woman with terrified eyes. “What’s going on?” she asked.
“Mrs. Sloper, you’ve been in a coma for over a year now,” the nurse said. Her voice was gentle and soothing but her words made Lucy’s head hurt.
“Charlie,” was her only response.
The nurse nodded, seeming to sort of understand what Lucy was asking for. “I’ll make sure he gets here soon. Your doctor will be in here in minute to talk to you, okay?”
“Charlie,” Lucy repeated.
Charlie walked through the doors of the hospital as quickly as possible. He had only been gone for a couple of hours - mainly to bring Pippa home from school and then go back to work for a bit - but apparently while he was gone something had happened but no one would tell him what exactly it was. It made his heart race. Had Lucy died? Had her parents finally won the ongoing legal battle in who would make the decision about her life support situation? Had they taken her off all of the machines? He rubbed his face with his hands as he took the stairs three at a time until he was on the fourth floor. He took the familiar path to her room where he saw a nurse standing outside of the closed door. That door had never been closed, not in the entire year that Lucy had been in the hospital. Something had to be wrong.
“What’s going on?” he demanded. He tried to look through the window into the room to see Lucy and confirm that at least she was still there but the curtain around her bed was closed and he couldn’t see a thing.
“Mr. Sloper…your wife has woken up,” the nurse said slowly.
Charlie could practically feel his heart stop in his chest. Lucy was awake. She wasn’t dead, she wasn’t dying…quite the opposite, really. She was awake. “I want to see her. Is she okay? Is she talking? Does she remember everything alright?”
“We can’t get her to talk to us so we’re not entirely sure what she remembers and what she doesn’t,” the short woman stated. “Every time we ask her a question she just says your name. That’s all she’s been saying since she woke up.”
Charlie’s heart skipped a beat. She was repeating his name. She had always abused his name wholeheartedly, saying it every chance she got and now she was doing that again. “So, she remembers me?” He had never heard his voice sound so hopeful and desperate in his entire life and if it hadn’t been due to Lucy and her life, he would have been disgusted with himself.
The nurse pursed her thin lips together in a straight line. “We don’t know that for sure,” she said. “She remembers your name and clearly connects it with a sense of protection but it doesn’t mean that she remembers you as a person. She may not recognize you when you go in.”
“No, she has to,” Charlie said. There was that desperate tone again. “And Pippa. She has to remember Pippa.” If she didn’t remember Pippa, he didn’t know what would happen. The poor little girl had been through so much already and Lucy not recognizing her or knowing who she was would break her five-year-old heart.
“Why don’t you go in and see if you can talk to her and then we can handle everything from there,” the nurse suggested.
Charlie didn’t need anymore encouragement. He reached for the door handle and pushed it open as quickly as possible. “Lucy?” he said. He opened up the curtain and there she was - awake and blinking at him with those curious, bright blue eyes of hers.
For a moment, they both just stared at each other. Charlie didn’t know what to say and he didn’t even know if she remembered him. The bewildered look on her face made him feel like she probably didn’t.
“I’ve been asleep for a year and you couldn’t have the decency to be here when I woke up?” she said. “You’re a horrible husband. I’ll never know why I married you.” After a second of scowling at him, her face broke into a smile and she reached her arms out to him. “Well come here, then! I’m sure you need a hug or something. Unless your affectionate side has died over the past year. In which case, you still need a hug because I will resurrect it. It took me five years to get that where I wanted it to be and I refuse to let it be gone forever.”
Charlie stared at her. She remembered him. She was awake. And she was absolutely, 100% herself. “Lucy,” he breathed. In a flash he was on the bed, holding her tightly to him. “Don’t ever leave me again. You can’t leave again.” He held her face in his hands and kissed her over and over again.
“Never,” Lucy promised between kisses. “Never, ever again.”
The two of them sat together on the bed. Charlie had one arm around Lucy’s waist and one hand on her cheek. Lucy’s hands were resting on the back of Charlie’s neck, playing with his hair. Their foreheads were resting against each others.
“I love you,” Charlie said after they had both been silent for a little while.
“I love you, too,” Lucy whispered. “I’m sorry I left you. I’m sorry we fought.”
Charlie shook his head. “I don’t care about that anymore,” he said. “I’m just glad you came back.”
Lucy smiled and kissed him tenderly. “You can’t get rid of me that easily, Charlie. You should know that by now.”
“I’m glad you’re annoyingly persistent when it comes to me,” Charlie said. He mirrored her smile. “I wouldn’t want it any other way.”