Copyright 2016 MillieAnne Lowe, Oceanside, California
Fire Chief Greg Mullin’s red sedan with lights flashing halted with a jerk as he stepped hard on the brakes at Robin’s driveway. He and Eric dashed to the front of the ivy covered brick home on Russian Hill. The English style door lamp shone wide over the doormat and highlighted the leaded and beveled cut windowpanes of the front door. Looking through the panes, Eric said, “I don’t see a light in the living room.”
“She must have gone upstairs,” said the Chief.
Eric used his key in the Schlage lock and the door swung open smooth and quiet. The two men moved stealthily through the entry and split directions. Eric checked out the kitchen and the pantry while the Chief checked the living room. He looked out through the patio doors after making sure the locks and the windowpanes were in tack. Eric flipped the switch to turn on the overhead light. “Nothing’s out of place.” Then they heard a sound above them.
“Quick. Upstairs,” the Chief said. The loving nephew and the fire chief, whose heart had been captured that night upon his first meeting with Robin, raced up the carpeted stairs to her bedroom.
On the right side of the hallway moonlight spilled out from Robin’s bedroom doorway. Eric paused before stepping into the quiet room. The Chief, right behind him whispered, “She looks asleep.” Eric turned on the bedside lamp.
The glow from the pleated cream-colored lampshade gently filled the room, but what Eric saw confused him. His Aunt Robin lay on her back with her arms to her side, her fists scrunched the comforter between her fingers like roots of a plant clinging to the soil. Her eyebrows furrowed toward the center and her eyelids squeezed tight. “Aunt Robin?” Eric whispered. “Aunt Robin, wake up,” he repeated.
The Chief moved to the other side of the bed and picked up her right hand. He opened her fingers to release the fabric. “Robin, can you hear us?” he said as he rubbed the top and bottom sides of her hand.
Swallowing back his fright, Eric sat down on her bed, put his arms around her shoulders and lifted her close to him. “Aunt Robin, wake up. It’s Eric.”
Seeing movements under her eyelids brought on a torrent of relief. Eric kissed her forehead and held her close, “What happened, Aunt Robin? Did you have a nightmare?” She didn’t respond. The silence worried Eric.
“Robin, Sweetheart,” said the Chief. He patted her hand as he spoke again, “Wake up from your deep sleep. Eric and I are here to keep you company tonight.”
For five long seconds, Robin didn’t appear to have heard them. Then her lips parted the slightest bit and a moan slipped out. She moved her head from side to side, “I can’t wake up. I have to wake up,” she said.
“Everything is okay, Aunt Robin. It’s okay to wake up now,” said Eric.
Her eyelids opened to a slim slit. “Everything is so blurry. Eric, it is you. And Greg, you’re here, too.” A slight smile formed, she took a deep breath, closed her eyes again, and fell into a slumber.
“No, don’t sleep now, Robin. It’s time to wake up and chat,” said Greg.
Eric blurted out his questions. “I agree with the Chief, Aunt Robin. Are you okay? Were you in danger? What made you ask for help?”
“Here now,” he said as he moved her to a sitting position against the pillows. “Does that feel more comfortable?”
She opened her eyes again and took a long look at him. “Yes, but why are you here in my bedroom? And why are you taking my pulse?”
“You don’t remember what happened? You don’t remember talking to me on the telephone?” asked Eric.
“No. I came up to bed and must have conked out right away. I had such a terrible headache,” she said as she raised her hand to touch her forehead.
“You didn’t fall or anything after we left, did you?” asked the Chief.
“No, sweetie. What makes you think that?” She paused for a moment, and then said, “Oh, I do remember feeling weak at the knees while standing at the kitchen sink. But I don’t recall falling on my head.”
“Maybe you became overtired with getting ready for company today,” said the Chief.
“Aunt Robin, I called you tonight and when you were on the line you cried out for me to come help you. Then the line went dead.”
“I don’t remember talking to you on the phone tonight, dear. But I’m glad you called me,” she said with a weak smile and touched her head again.
As they spoke, the Chief moved behind Eric and bent over by the bedside table. “Your phone is on the floor here and off the hook. There’s no dial tone.”
“If it’s off the hook it should be screeching,” said Robin.
“Nope, it’s quiet, very dead,” said the Chief with a smile. “I’ll go downstairs and check out the spare phone in your studio.” He turned and left the room.
Eric covered his aunt with a light blanket from the soft chaise lounge in the corner. “Aunt Robin, I don’t understand what’s happened. When I heard your distress I became frantic with fear.” He lowered his eyes and held her hands. “I thought maybe the worse was happening.”
“Oh dear, that is a horrible experience,” Robin said. She pulled out one hand and put it on top of his. She rubbed his hand affectionately. “I’m so sorry, but I don’t remember calling for help. I’m all right now, aren’t I? See,” and she reached up to touch her hair. “Wait…what’s happened to my hair? It’s unbraided and tangled. Maybe I did have a nightmare and tossed around a lot.” Then she touched her face and the sides of her arms. “The rest of me seems okay.”
“Were you having a bad dream tonight? You’re still in your day clothes, you must’ve have been very tired when you came in here to lie down.”
“Don’t worry, the wrinkles in this outfit can be pressed out. I would’ve welcomed the sleep to get away from that terrible headache. Although it keeps coming back. I think I will go see my doctor this week and…”
“Ahem, sorry to interrupt. But Eric, I need you to come see something,” said the Chief.
“What’s there to see? I want to see, too,” said Robin.
The two men glanced at each other. The Chief said, “That’s a good idea. I don’t want you to be alone up here.”
Eric put out his hand to help Robin stand. She took one step, then her left hand covered her forehead, and her right hand grabbed Eric’s shirt, she cried, “My headache is back.” Robin’s knees buckled and she began to fall.
Copyright 2016 MillieAnne Lowe, Oceanside, Calfornia