The incessant, yet steady, beep-beep [beat] beep-beep [beat] of the heart monitor will be the undoing of Bel. She realizes she should be thankful that the sound still echoes around the whitewashed walls of Freddie’s room at Hammersmith Hospital, but all she wants to hear is the sound of his voice.
His last words to her echo through her memory: You are possible with me. She remembers the feel of his lips against her as though it were yesterday, but it had been many yesterdays since the program where they exposed Cilenti, the police corruption, and the nuclear scandal all in one hour. And what Bel wouldn’t do to go back in time and stuff that night’s program, so she could’ve gone after Freddie when he did not show up.
“Miss Rowley?” a nurse queries, peeking her head into the hospital room and pulling Bel from a reverie that replayed to her the last memories of Freddie out of this hospital bed. It was a welcome distraction.
“Yes?” she replies, looking up from a spot on the floor she could have sworn was burned through already by her eyes. Bel looks to the clock, and her heart falls in her chest. “Let me just stay for tonight,” she pleads, and the note in her voice is strong enough that the nurse smiles at her with pity and closes the door behind her.
Bel looks back to Freddie’s prone form in the bed, his chest rising and falling slowly, steadily. His face has healed; the only sign of his near-death beating is a pink swath of skin beneath his left eye, still bearing little white strips of bandages while the scar forms and heals. She scoots her chair closer to the bed, the sound harsh in the room, and pulls Freddie’s limp hand towards her, holding it against her cheek and pressing her lips to it.
“Cilenti’s trial started today,” she begins, smiling at him. “And ended, coincidentally. He’s been sentenced to life in prison for 9 counts of homicide, 42 counts of battery, and 1 account of attempted manslaughter. Yours, of course. Thank God, Freddie,” Bel sighs in relief and starts crying. “Thank God that he wasn’t successful. When you wake up, you might wish he had been for all the yelling I might do.” She gives a watery laugh, but it dissolves into a sob around her speech. “Hector and Marnie came by with me after the program, tonight. She’s pregnant--two months gone. It’s not Hector’s, of course, but I think they’re sweeping it under the rug. They all just want to be happy, now. I suppose...” She trails off, and she sighs--it wavers, a full-body sigh that shows in the dark circles beneath her eyes and the split ends that are poking out of her French twist.
Bel slips her hand out of Freddie’s and stands, stepping out of her pumps and shrugging her green jacket off her shoulders. She places it across the chair and climbs into the narrow bed next to Freddie, reminded of a few times when they had done the same in her flat, before he had gone off to America, before Hector. She feels like a young girl again, seeking comfort in her mother’s bed from the monsters in the cupboard; but this time, the monsters are real, in the form of brain-swelling and a coma that Freddie has been in for nearly two months. She rests her head against his chest, comforted by the sound of his still-beating heart, and falls asleep, dreaming of a day when Freddie will wake up and they can, finally, be possible.
It is only a few more days before that happens.