May Writer’s Challenge Winner: Andrea Michelle Wood!

A horrible, cruel nightmare.

Luke slouched into the hard plastic chair beside Savannah’s hospital bassinet. He dropped his head into his hands, blocking out the sight of the faded blue-green divider curtain that surrounded his daughters exam room and the extensive collection of monitors and machines huddled around her bed. It all felt so real. Too real. If only he could just wake up.

Savannah’s whimper instantly snapped Luke back to reality. The flimsy curtain did little to drown out the constant commotion from vortex of the emergency center. Every deliberate footfall of rubber soled shoes, every ring of the phone lines at the nurses’ desk, every beep of every monitor, every tick of the institution style clock mounted on the wall, even the occasional flicker from the fluorescent glare of the tube lights seemed to mock Luke’s pain. The world around him continued to function while Luke was frozen, grasping for the yesterdays just out of reach.

Luke forced himself out of the chair and bent over his fussing daughter cocooned in a tangle of tubes and wires in the clear plastic bassinet. Her delicate flesh, covered only by a diaper, was battered and bruised, but she was alive.

Luke reached to stroke one small arm, careful to avoid the IV tube.

“I’m here, Baby. Daddy’s here.”

Savannah instantly calmed. She turned her face toward Luke and tried to open her eyes, but they squeezed shut against the brutal glare of the heating lamp. Her little body squirmed and her bottom lip protruded in her pre-cry pout.

“Shhh, I know it’s bright.” Luke bowed low over the bassinet and shielded her eyes with his hand. Savannah blinked a few times then focused on Luke’s face. Her big brown eyes locked with his and she stared at him. She flinched as a chart toting nurse snapped the curtain back.

“How’s she doing?”

Luke straightened, swallowing hard at the boulder that seemed permanently lodged in his throat. He shrugged.

Genuine concern softened her features. “We are going to take excellent care of your daughter. Imaging is ready for her.” She offered a smile, but the compassion in her eyes remained.

He almost wished they wouldn’t be so nice. It was easier to hold back the overwhelming waves of anguish that posed a continuous threat to his composure when he was annoyed with them. He bit his lower lip to keep it from trembling. Unable to speak, he nodded and stepped back from Savannah’s bed.

The nurse unwrapped the miniature blood pressure cuff from Savannah’s arm, unclipped the oxygen monitor that pinched the baby’s toe and disconnected several sensors from the machines.

“I’ll bring her back as soon as they finish her MRI. It will be maybe 20 minutes or so.” The nurse unlocked the wheels under the cart that housed Savannah’s bassinet and steered the bed through the open curtain, dragging the IV pole behind her with the other hand.

“There’s a fresh pot of coffee brewing in the waiting room. I’ll page you if she’s done before you get back.”

Luke watched her go, tension knotting between his shoulder blades.

When the nurse rounded the corner and disappeared from sight, Luke turned back to the empty exam room. He stared blankly and the cluster of machines in the corner. The heavy odor of antiseptic dehydrated his already parched throat. The beeping of the monitors seemed to echo through the emptiness.

Twenty minutes would feel like an eternity if he didn’t keep himself busy. He grabbed his wallet off the counter and shoved it into the pocket of his trousers.

He dodged busy doctors and orderlies on his way across the speckled vinyl floor of the emergency room. When he pushed through the swinging double doors that separated the emergency ward from the waiting room, the inviting aroma of brewing coffee flooded his senses. Like an old friend, the fragrance beckoned. He could already taste the rich flavor. The hot liquid would thaw his icy fingers and seep into the glacial cavern the day’s events had hollowed out of his torso.

Luke prepared a foam cup and savored a few indulgent sips of the familiarity he craved.

April’s Writer’s Challenge Winner!

Congratulations to Tari Faris who won the April writer’s Challenge with her Passionate Proposal! Below is the her entry: A Proposal Worth Waiting For. Don’t miss your opportunity to win 49 points just for ENTERING the challenge, or 210 points for winning. Each month we randomly select one of the contributors to win a FREE BOOK from the MBT Store. You can find the May Writer’s Challenge on your Locker Room Page.

 

A Proposal Worth Waiting For

Whoever said that red was the new blond had never watch the man they loved walk in the room with Barbie on his arm. Hannah glared in the mirror and yanked out one bobby-pin after another until her hair resembled a circus clown. She dug her fingers into the mass and massaged the pain from her scalp but it didn’t do much to tame the volume or the color.

She unzipped the lavender formal, slipped it off, and ditched it on her bed. After pulling on her owl pajama pants and lime green sweatshirt, she settled into her overstuffed chair by the window and drew up her knees. So much growth, so much learning and yet she found herself back where she started. Alone and with an ache so deep in her chest that it took effort to breathe.

Then, she had simply wanted to be married. Now, the longing for marriage remained but her heart only beat for one man. Unfortunately, his heart didn’t beat for her.

Hannah dropped her head in her knees. She heard a car pull up and she glanced out the window. Dread boiled in her stomach. Why couldn’t he just leave it alone?

Hannah had already made a fool of herself at the wedding, did he really need to show up here so she could do it again only this time looking like she stepped out of a pajama party from a bad eighties movie.

What if he’d brought his date? Daniel had said he wanted them to meet. Perfect.

Hannah stood and examined her reflection again. She tried finger combing her hair – no help. Daniel wanted her to be herself. She didn’t get more Hannah than this.

She marched to the kitchen and threw open the front door. Daniel leaned against the door jam with his arms crossed over his chest.

“Hannah. Hannah. Hannah.”

She longed for another spoon to throw. How dare he come here and be all charming after she humiliated herself?

She turned ready to slam the door in his face when he stepped forward and snagged the edge of her sweatshirt.

“Let go!” She refused to look at him.

“No.” He tugged on her shirt, forcing her to take a step toward him.

Fine. He wanted a confrontation; she’d oblige. She turned toward him with a scowl but saw her mistake too late. She hadn’t realized how close he’d stepped and now her lips hovered dangerously close to his chin.

Daniel’s hand, that had held her sweatshirt, pressed flat against her back and slid slowly toward her shoulder. His musky scent invaded her senses and every nerve in her body sang. She swallowed against her dry throat and chanced a look at him.

His gaze traced her face. “You’re so beautiful.”

“Don’t make fun of me.” Hannah looked away. She lifted her hand but he grabbed it.

“I’m not. And don’t you dare think about rubbing that nose.

I’ve been dreaming about the day when I’d get to kiss every last one of those freckles. I’d feel shorted if you finally managed to rub one off.”

What was he talking about? “But your date…”

“Is Annie. My half-sister. She insisted in coming to meet you and thank you for bring us all back together.”

Hannah’s breath left her. She’d have collapsed if Daniel’s arms hadn’t been around her.

“You’re not…”

“Dating Annie? No. In love with you? Since the tenth grade.”

Hannah’s mouth drop open and she quickly shut it.

“I’m sorry, Hannah. I should never have left. If it too late for us, I understand. But I’ve come back to ask you a question.”

“Yes!”

Daniel smiled. “Hey a guy only gets to do this once. I want to do it right. No answering before the proper time.” He winked at her, stepped back and dropped to one knee. He reached in his pocket and pulled out a round diamond solitaire.

“Hannah-Banana, will you marry me?”

Hannah bit her bottom lip as her eyes filled with tears.

“You can answer now.”

“Yes! Yes! Yes!” She wrapped her arms around his neck as he stood. She reached up and traced his dimple with her finger. Most definitely yes.