Short Story: Speechless

Speechless By: Ida R. Jardines

Get the files to Johnson. Call Pierce. Tell Angela I love her. Ask Lexy to send out the morning’s memo. Write the report. Ask Angela how her day is going. Call Jeremy. Clear Saturday’s schedule for Lola’s dance recital. Thank Angela for Lola and Sasha. Make it home for dinner. Meet with the Chinese division. Meet with the European division. Try and make it home by dessert. Meet with the company’s vice president. Possible promotion. Don’t think about that. Work on Saturday’s report. Try and make it home before the girls go to bed.

These were the thoughts that ran through Jason’s head as he went about his day. There never seemed to be enough hours to accomplish all that he wanted. He promised his wife, Angela, that he would make it home for dinner that night. He dreaded having to tell his wife that he would be breaking his promise…again.

“Jason,” his secretary, Lexy, said trying to get his attention. He hadn’t even heard her enter his office.

“Yes?” he responded, without looking at her.

“It’s Angela,” she said. It was as if Angela knew she was on her husband’s mind. He couldn’t blame Lexy for the fear he heard in her voice. Angela was intimidating when it came to matters having to do with the family. She was kind, loving, protective, and having dinner every night as a family was not negotiable to her.

“Tell her I’ll call her back,” Jason said, not ready to break the news to his wife.

“Jason, I don’t-“ Lexy began.

“Better yet, YOU can tell her I won’t be home for dinner and then she can lecture YOU,” Jason said with a chuckle. He loved his wife more than anything but she managed to intimidate even him sometimes.

“Jason-“ Lexy tried again.

“I’m kidding, Lexy,” Jason said, “I wouldn’t do that to you. Tell her-“

“Mr. Campbell!” Lexy said, nearly screaming. She finally managed to get his attention. Their office was fairly casual and she had never called him by his last name. Jason turned to meet Lexy’s gaze for the first time. He was surprised by what he saw. Her face wasn’t fearful, it was worried. It looked as if she were on the brink of tears.

“What’s going on?” Jason asked cautiously.

“Angela isn’t on the phone,” she replied, much quieter now, “It’s the ER. They’re asking for you. They need you to go down there-“

Jason was out of his chair before Lexy finished her statement.

As he ran towards the cubicles towards the elevator, he heard her yell after him: “She’s at Memorial Hospital on Oak.”

The elevator was taking too long so he ran down the 44 flights of stairs to the parking garage where he jumped into his Porsche and sped out of the lot.

Get to Angela. Get to Angela. Get to Angela. Get to Angela. Get to Angela. Get to Angela. Get to Angela. Get to Angela. Get to Angela. Get to Angela. Get to Angela. Get to Angela. Get to Angela. Get to Angela. Get to Angela. Get to Angela. Get to Angela. Get to Angela.

Gone were the thoughts about meetings, files, and his possible promotion. All he could think about was getting to his wife. As the gap between himself and the hospital closed, he found himself laughing. He probably looked ridiculous running out of the office like he did. He didn’t even wait for Lexy to explain what was wrong with Angela. She could be sitting in the hospital with a sprained ankle and nothing more. Jason didn’t care; she was worth all the office teasing he would endure upon his return. He decided to take the rest of the day off and take care of her, regardless of how small her injury may be. He really would try and make it to dinner every night.

Walking through the sliding doors of the hospital, Jason was much calmer. He walked up to reception and gave them his wife’s name: Angela. He had never heard a more beautiful name. Her name rolled off his tongue. He had been saying her name for nearly twenty-five years. He couldn’t get enough of her name. He couldn’t get enough of her.

The receptionist led Jason into the deepest recesses of the ER and asked him to take a seat in the hallway. He was surrounded by so much chaos and noise: running feet, shouts, tears, liquid hitting the floor, his name-

“Mr. Campbell?” a tall, tired looking man in dirty scrubs shook his hand. “Your wife was in a car accident.”

“And she only suffered a sprained ankle,” he thought.

“She had to be cut out of the car,” the doctor continued.

“It’s a miracle that she only had some bumps and bruises,” Jason continued to fill his head with hopeful thoughts.

“Her injuries were too severe.”

“But with some rehab, she’ll recover.” Jason thought before he stopped himself, finally addressing the doctor: “Did you say ‘were’?”

“I’m sorry, Mr. Campbell but we did everything we could, her injuries were too severe…”

The world went quiet after that. Jason could no longer hear the hustle and bustle of the ER. He couldn’t hear the lengthy explanation the doctor continued to give. All he could hear was the loud thump of his heartbeat and the distinct sound of it breaking.

He spent the next few hours at the hospital, talking to various people, making arrangements. He found himself sitting in his car with a bag of his wife’s possessions in a hospital bag in the seat next to him. He had no idea how he made it to the car.

His phone began to ring and he absentmindedly looked at it, “Sasha.” His seventeen-year-old daughter was calling and he willed himself to answer.

Before he could attempt a “hello” his daughter started talking.

“Dad, I’m so sorry, I know you’re working but mom was supposed to pick me and Lola up an hour ago and her phone goes straight to voicemail. This isn’t like her and I was wondering if you’ve heard from her.”

“I’ll be picking you up today,” he told her, trying his best to sound natural. He stared at his phone for a long time after he hung up.

The faces of his teenage daughters occupied his head and the remnants of his heart. He had to break the news to them. He had to tell them about their mother. But first he had to pick them up.

Jason looked at the seat next to him, with his wife’s things, and the non-existent back seat behind him. He was driving a two-seater.