Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Chapter 39: Siren Is Adrift

Tues, November 17, 2074 4:42 pm: Pleasantview General Hospital- Tolsbury, Pleasantview


"I don't want some kid operating on my son." It was the first thing that Troy had said in over forty-five minutes, Siren knew. She had been watching the clock high above the receptionist's head as it turned, an endless carousel of seconds. Siren pinched the bridge of her nose in an attempt to focus her headache away. She didn't need Troy's pessimism just now.

"Dr. Greene is the best. We couldn't ask for more than that," she said quietly.


Siren turned her head to the side and stared at the short expanse of frosted glass behind her. The ground and sky rippled. It was like viewing the world from underwater. Siren thought with grim satisfaction that this was what waiting to drown must feel like.

Appendicitis. What child gets appendicitis? And Roan, being just as pig-headed as his father, never even mentioned that he was feeling sick. He had been running around for hours with what he later characterized as a "bad tummy ache" before his appendix nearly burst.

"We're taking Roan and Shane out of the Academy," Siren said. "I should have never let you talk me into sending them away." There was a short pause during which Troy fiddled with the crease in his pant leg.

"Whatever you want to do," he said.


"I mean, what would have happened if I hadn't been there? Jenine couldn't have driven him to the hospital herself, not with all those other kids visiting. She's only one woman. And an elderly woman at that. What use could she possibly be in an emergency?" Siren took off her glasses and cleaned them with her skirt while she spoke. She pressed her thumb into the concave groove of the left lens so forcefully that she imagined she could hear it bending.

"Jenine would have called an ambulance just like anyone else would have done," Troy responded flatly. Siren continued as though she hadn't heard him.

"It was an extraordinarily stupid idea for us to send them to the Academy in the first place. Even from an ideological point of view, it's completely against everything that I thought we stood for as parents. Throwing our children into that meat market so they can grow-up to be perfect, cookie cutter people with perfect, cookie cutter lives... It's just plain perverse. And now this has happened. And I assume that the possibility of an emergency must have crossed your mind before you decided to ship the boys off-" Troy turned to face her. His deep azure eyes were silencing.


"I don't think I like what you're implying."

"Oh? And what do you think I'm implying?"

"That I would somehow endanger our children." The words slipped from Troy's mouth syllable by syllable as though he could not believe that he was saying them. They landed on Siren and nested like pebbles falling into the sand. She only snorted in response. Troy didn't argue. He gave her a wide, doe-eyed look, opened his mouth to speak and quickly shut it again.


Siren bit her tongue. She knew what he was thinking. He was thinking that she just wanted someone to take her fear and frustration out on. He was thinking that he would gladly be her punching bag if that was what she needed. Self-righteous prick. If she had listened to her mother, she would have left him years ago. She wouldn't have had to worry about her babies being away from home and whether or not they were eating properly or going to bed on time or making it to the hospital before their little appendixes popped like over-filled balloons.


A door opened around the corner and two nurses emerged. Siren recognized them as the ones that had carted Roan away. She dug her fingernails into the couch, waiting for some telltale sign that never came. Nothing could be gleaned from their body language or their whispered tones. Beyond them, another door opened. A doctor and three kids. Their voices carried over those of Roan's nurses and Siren felt the sudden urge to scream. If the nurses had been barely audible before, now they were completely impossible to hear.


"Can't you do anything?" The eldest boy was almost shouting.

"Not until we know more about her condition. There is nothing physically wrong with your sister. Her brain activity is a little abnormal but-"

"When will she wake up? Will she wake up?"

"I'm sorry. We just don't know." The boy's shoulders slumped. A curly haired girl who Siren supposed was his sister, wrapped her arms around him.

"Come on, Vince. Let's go to the cafeteria and get some dinner," she said soothingly. The boy hung his head and allowed himself to be lead away.


Siren glanced over at her husband who was staring intently at the nurses. He drummed his fingers on his lap then reached for Siren's hand and squeezed. She followed his gaze. The nurse in red was approaching. Siren's stomach twisted into painful knots. Her lungs could expand no further. She was drowning. This was the last inhalation that she would ever draw. Troy pressed his palm against the small of her back, urging her upwards.


"Mr. and Mrs. Caliente? I'm sorry to keep you waiting. But the surgery's all done. Everything went well and your son is going to be just fine."

"Can we see him," Troy asked eagerly.

"'Course you can. He's beginning to come around. He might be a bit groggy and confused at first..."


The nurse's voice gradually faded out behind the heavy drumming of Siren's heart. She stared down at the great, pink stripes in the linoleum tile, imagining that the lines all converged under the bed where Roan was waking. Siren shuddered. The pain from her stomach was rising. The floor was swaying. She was a body adrift at sea. Troy caught her. She hadn't even realized that she was falling.


"Babe," he whispered.

"He could have died!" Troy pulled her in close and she buried her head in his neck.

"Don't say that." Troy kissed her head and stroked her shoulder.

"Is there anything that I can do for you," the nurse asked.

"No, thank you. She's just had a bit of a scare." And suddenly, Siren felt very guilty. Roan was fine. He was probably sitting up in bed, asking a nurse for ice cream at that very moment. And Troy, who had been every bit as shaken as she was, had to worry over her on top of everything. He took off her glasses, folded them neatly and wiped away her tears.

"I'm sorry," Siren choked.

"It's ok." Siren looked up into his eyes. They were as warm and understanding as they had ever been when they looked on her. The only thing worse than losing a child would have been losing a child without those eyes there for her to drown in.


  1. Damn you, Blogger! You won't let me keep my indents!

  2. Awww...that's freaking great that Roan is going to be okay! I was worried there for a moment! Whew! And however warped their relationship is Troy really does care for Siren.

    Sooo...are the boys leaving school? And I can't believe that Siren snapped like that about cookie cutter lives! Haha! Classic!

  3. *Sigh* Yes, this will be the boys' last term at Dewilliker Academy. But it isn't really a school. (I guess I've never really made that clear?) It's a boarding house. A very strict boarding house where kids are normally sent because they have behavioral problems of one kind or another. The kids who live there all attend Pleasantview Private School.

    Troy loves Siren deeply. He just isn't in love with her. He spent 16 years or so thinking that he loved her in that way because he had never been in love before and had no basis for comparison. Then he met Sabina and even though what he feels for her isn't much more than a strong crush, he realized that what he feels for his wife is not romantic love. It's been a weird transition for him. Like suddenly being pulled out of a dream.

    And yep, Roan is going to be back to terrorizing other children in no time!

  4. Oh, it's so good to hear he's okay! You had me worrying there for a while.

    I feel bad for both Troy and Siren. I hope their relationship gets sorted out eventually, in some way that somehow works for both of them...

  5. *Shakes fist at sky, knowing what's going to happen next*

    Also, no one seems to have noticed who the kids in picture 7 are. Hmmm...

  6. Also, the preview for Chapter 40 is now up. If I ever forget to do that again, just hit me over the head.

  7. It's the Mindelsohns (I always forget how to spells their last name)!

    So Ermengarde won't wake up? Hmmmm... the plot thickens... I wonder if she'll share her visions when she wakes up, or keep them to herself.

  8. I can tell you right now, she'll be keeping that stuff to herself. Most of it, anyway. ;)

    The thing about it is, what she saw included people and situations that she wasn't at all familiar with (except for Elise). Many (if not most) of those people have been long dead. Also, she wouldn't want anyone to think that she's nuts.

  9. Oh, parental grief is always the strongest. Glad to hear Roan is going to be alright.

    ...but I am so ready to find out what is going on with Ermengarde. Normal brain activity but she won't wake up. What the heck is that little girl tapping into.

  10. Or rather, what is tapping into her?

  11. Hi, I popped in from Beverly's place and have been reading your story to catch up past two days. Finally catched up! I like how you write the story based on the characters we all hate and love and transformed it into a place where caste system separate it all. I really like Troy despite his creepy relationship with Sabina. Glad Roan is ok, I really wonder how the hell Siren and Troy end up together anyway? They look more like a pair of siblings to me.

  12. Hey, Karen! Glad you're enjoying the story.

    Siren had been in love with Troy since childhood and was only weeks away from marrying Troy's brother Jean-Luc when she broke down and proposed to Troy. Troy said yes simply because it was something that Siren wanted and that he could give to her. Almost all of his major life decisions up until that point had been based around what he thought Siren wanted and needed. Marriage was no different. In any case, he also hates Jean-Luc. Well, maybe "hate" is a strong word but they don't get along.

  13. Oooh, I, too, was pleased to get a hint on the Ermengarde situation. I'll be excited to learn more about that down the road. Meanwhile, I am glad little Roan is going to be OK. And I really liked your hospital waiting room. Great job on the little details in that set!

  14. Hey, thanks! It's been a while since I've spent any time in a hospital waiting room so I was kinda scratching my head over how to build this one. In the next chapter, a little more will be revealed about Ermengarde. I'm trying to finish that chapter but I'm not quite pleased with it so far. My main goal is getting it out there before Thursday so that I can complete my requisite 7 chapters per month.

  15. I loved seeing all the intersecting stories and characters here. I just love when plots come together like this.

    (Still reading. I am SOOOOO slow! I've been reading Lothere-- trying to catch up-- for like six months now.)

  16. Someday, 1 billion years from now when the story is finally complete, I will have tied everything together into a neat little bundle of plots. :) I hope.

    I totally know how you feel! It too me 2 months to read Lothere but I was reading it constantly, everyday for HOURS and that was almost a year ago so I had a lot fewer chapters to read than you will...