Someday Soon @brookhacker
Chapter 97

SS 97

Everyone was relieved to see Riley in better spirits when they arrived that afternoon with lunch. When Riley saw the Chinese take out containers her eyes lit up. After the truly pitiful offering from the hospital for breakfast, she was grateful for some real food.

Maya tried to fane excitement, accepting a plate of food with a forced smile. Everyone was steering clear of any touchy topics, so the talk in the room was light, but Maya found herself unable to follow the conversation. She just wanted to close her eyes for a while, but she knew if she did the dark feeling lingering over her head would overtake her.

Maya hadn't felt like this in a long time like she could break open at any moment. She felt guilty for being so weak and making any part of this about her when it was her best friend in the hospital bed. But something about being in a hospital room, something about the overhead lighting and the specific antiseptic smell of the hallway sent Maya reeling backwards into grief.

She hadn't expected this. She hadn't even thought about it when she'd rushed to the hospital to be at Riley's side. She thought she knew her grief well. She knew what made it swell and what caused it to subside. Maya had felt as if she had some control over it after all this time, but there she was, sitting in a hospital room, feeling as if she was about to fall to pieces.

Maya poked at the egg roll on her plate with her fork. She knew she should eat it, she hadn't had anything to eat since the night before, not daring to go near Riley's suspicious-looking hospital breakfast, but she had no appetite. She didn't know how much longer she could sit there. The feeling in the room was that of relief and gratefulness, and Maya wasn't sure if she could keep pretending that nothing was wrong. Everything was wrong. This was a place where people came to die. This was a place where families were broken. This was a place just like the one where she had lost her mother.

"I'm going to the bathroom" Maya muttered, getting up and placing her plate on her chair. She hurried into the hallway and walked as quickly as she could without looking suspicious, in the direction of the elevator. She wasn't sure where she was going but she knew she needed to get out of that room.

She wanted to get outside, but in her flustered state she'd accidentally ended up in an elevator heading up instead of down. She picked a floor at random, not paying attention to the button she pressed as she tried to slow her breathing while the elevator rose.

The elevator doors slide open to reveal pale pink walls, one arrow painted on the wall pointing in the direction of labour and delivery, and an identical arrow pointing in the opposite direction with the word Nursery printed in neat letters.

Maya hesitated, before turning right towards the nursery. She figured that the corridor should be quiet, wasn't sleeping pretty much the only thing that newborn babies did? Maya walked to the end of the hallway before she found herself face to face with a window. On the other side of the glass, she counted at least 15 sleeping newborns in either pink or blue tiny hats.

Maya hadn't even known that nurseries with these observation windows still existed. It felt like the kind of thing you only saw on tv.

Maya marvelled at the tiny humans experiencing their first days on earth. It was hard to believe that so many little lives had come into the world within the past 24 hours. Maya didn't dislike children, but she'd never felt exactly a strong pull towards them, but standing there in front of the nursery glass she felt in complete awe. It was incredible to think that these little sacks of wrapped blankets and tiny caps, would grow into real people, who would hope and dream and make mistakes. No one had hurt them yet, no one had disappointed them, no one had left them. She didn't know why she was thinking like this. She never got this philosophical.

She wasn't sure how long she stood there, watching the newborn's sleep. She hoped she didn't look too creepy, just standing there staring. There was a part of her that worried that a nurse might come along and shoo her away. She had nowhere else to go. Something about standing there made her feel safe.

She heard Josh approaching before she saw him. She didn't have to turn to know that it was him that had come and stood next to her. Maya was a little surprised that he had come looking for her. She didn't think she had been gone that long.

Josh slipped his hand into Maya's without saying anything. Maya clung onto his hand, feeling like he was grounding her back to reality.

"Hi," she said quietly, not taking her eyes off the glass.

"Are you ok?" Josh asked before he could stop himself

"Sorry" he quickly corrected " I know you don't like that question"

Maya gave him a sad smile, remembering the time that Josh had asked her that when her mother had just got sick, and how she'd nearly bitten his head off.

"Is it that obvious?" She asked. Josh smirked.

" You barely touched your food and I know Chinese is your favourite, and you ran away to go to the bathroom, but there's one attached to Riley's room, and-" he reached into his pocket and pulled out Maya's phone

"You left your phone on the bed and I know you don't pee without scrolling through your Instagram feed"

Maya almost had to laugh

"You got me there"

" Your dad took the lower floors and went to look outside, and I headed upstairs, which reminds me"

Josh typed out a quick message on his own phone

" I should call him off, he's probably halfway down the block by now."

They stood in silence for a minute, both of them watch the babies tucked up tight in their blankets.

"It's weird to think that Riley almost had one of those" Maya said quietly, trying to picture what a baby that was half Riley and half Lucas might look like.

"I can't even really imagine it"

Josh squeezed her hand, and for a second a picture of a baby with Josh's curly brown hair and her own blue eyes might look like. She wondered that if someone walked by if they would assume that she and Josh were watching their own child behind the glass. She wondered if they looked something like a family. She shook that thought out of her head.

"We should probably go before someone accuses us of being creeps" Maya joked. She let Josh lead her back down the hall and towards the elevator. As the lift descended down back towards Rileys floor she felt some of the heaviness that had briefly left her to begin to ease back in. While she stood in front of the nursery window, surrounded by new life, she had almost forgotten everything she lost. The weight on her chest had eased for just a moment, but her heart started to sink again along with the elevator.

Still, she felt a little better with Josh by her side, his hand in hers, and when the elevator doors opened, and Shawn was waiting for them on the other side, Maya was truly reminded that she was not alone.

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