The night shift was Phillip’s favourite. Inevitably there were less people around and this meant more opportunities for him to be with Amelia.
With Amelia it had been love at first sight, the kind you read about in fairy tales. From the moment he had seen her face, she had consumed his every thought. Of course there had been others, but never like this. He craved Amelia with every fibre of his body; he could spend hours just thinking about her, of running his fingers through her golden curls, dreaming of her plump red lips pressed against his.
He glanced up at the clock; its ticking amplified in the deserted corridor. Ten to midnight; if he got a move on he would reach her floor in ten minutes. Breathless with anticipation he hastily mopped the floor, racing from one end of the dim corridor to the other.
Before Amelia had come into his world life had been merely an existence, but now he knew why his life had turned out this way. Why he’d ended up a janitor in a hospital, why he’d lost his fortune, why he’d been disowned by his family. All this had happened so he would meet Amelia.
So that he could save her.
Her room was located perfectly at the end of a long ward tucked away in the corner with less chance of interruptions. Finally he reached it and stood gazing at her from the doorway. Moonlight filtered through the window of her small room, highlighting the curve of her cheekbones and giving her skin an ethereal glow. His heart raced in his chest, no matter how many times he saw her face, he still marvelled at how flawless she was. She was truly exquisite. She slept peacefully on; completely unaware of the effect she had on him. The monitors that surrounded her beeped and flashed rhythmically in time with the rise and fall of her chest. Phillip longed to hear her voice, to see her smile, but no matter how hard he wished, the coma kept her from him.
She’d been brought in 6 months ago, followed by a media frenzy. The daughter of a well-known property tycoon, heiress to his millions, the papers had salivated at the prospect of splashing her misfortune across the front page for all to see. She had been travelling in Asia when she’d been stung by the mystery creature. Just a single prick to the finger, had condemned her to this never ending slumber. Of course her father had immediately chartered a jet to bring her home, hired a team of private doctors to figure out a cure, to find the magic antidote that would bring her back.
At first there’d been an endless stream of visitors, pawing her, taking photos on their I-phones, hoping to make a quick buck for a decent shot. Her father had soon put a stop to that and now it was just he and his wife that came to visit her. When Phillip worked the day shift he would pass her parents sometimes in the corridor. They always had a smile for him; he knew they would approve.
Footsteps echoed down the dark corridor rousing him from his reverie. He paused momentarily, confused at the interruption. No one was supposed to be here at this time, this was his time with Amelia, no one else’s. The footsteps continued to ring out in the silence and he realised they were coming towards him. He scuttled out of sight, and hid in the shadows, listening intently.
The footsteps paused briefly outside her door before entering the room. He heard the scrape of the big brown armchair next to her bed being pulled back and the gentle whoosh of the leather as the trespasser sat. Phillip held his breath and waited, wanting to know who the intruder was. As they began to speak, he crept closer and was bemused to hear her father’s voice. He never visited at night? He leant forward, straining to hear what he was saying.
“Millie? Darling? It’s me, Dad,” he sighed, his words catching in his throat. “Darling, I know you can’t hear me. I accept that now. It’s taken me a long time, and please believe me; I’ve fought with everything I have, but, well, the doctors insist it’s hopeless. They tell me that they’ve done everything they can, tried everything, exhausted every option……and that, that they’ve stopped detecting brain activity. That it’s only the machines keeping you alive. My darling, precious girl, I wish there was something else I could do. Anything! I’d give all that I have if it would bring you back. If there was some way I could take your place, I wouldn’t hesitate. I curse the day I gave you the money for that trip. I curse the money that always drove me, the hours I spent in the office when I should have been with you, my little girl. Oh Millie, I missed so much, I always thought I had time, that I’d get to watch you grow old, have children of your own. I have all the money in the world and yet, it’s as useless to me as the paper it’s printed on because it can’t bring you back. I’m sorry. I pray that you’re somewhere better than here, that you can somehow forgive me for never being there. Millie, I…………….I’ve come to say goodbye. Your mother, she can’t take it anymore, she’s asked me to give permission to switch off the machines. I’ve agreed. I love you angel, I pray you know that.”
The sound of his heartbroken sobs reverberated down the empty corridor.
Phillip’s head was spinning; he must be dreaming. The colour drained from his face as the realisation of her father’s words sunk in, a cold sweat breaking out on his brow as he fought the rising nausea. They couldn’t take her away from him, he loved her. She was his soul.
Tomorrow, they were taking her away from him. Tomorrow. He sunk to the cold sterile floor and rocked as burning tears coursed silently down his face.
It seemed like hours before her father finally left. It took all his power not to confront him, not to beat some sense into him. How dare he take Amelia away? He rose slowly, stiff with grief and tiptoed quietly into Amelia’s room.
He sat in the chair, still warm from its previous guest and gingerly took her hand, caressing her porcelain skin between his fingers.
“My love,” he whispered, fresh tears filling his eyes. Time had run out. There would be no happily ever after. The reality of that hit him, twisting his heart so violently he could hardly catch a breath. He gazed at her in awe, he had vowed never to touch her lips until she woke, but now he knew that might never happen. He knew he couldn’t go on living without once kissing her perfect mouth.
His breathing shallow, he leant over her inhaling her scent. He paused, his lips quivering just above hers, savouring this moment, committing every detail to memory. Gently, he pressed his lips against hers, willing himself to wake up for this had to be a dream.
He pulled away and stared down at her beauty; still she continued to sleep. He reached forward to brush away a stray tear that had fallen on her face. As he did so her eyes flickered open, just for a second. The most amazing shade of blue he’d ever seen.