She was startled awake by her ringing mobile. She reached over for it, groping on the nightstand for a moment, knowing the ringing was only waking her up. Tom wasn’t over at her flat tonight, as had been the norm since the hand stabbing incident at the wedding three weeks prior. There was definitely a tenseness between them, she’d noticed that. She was trying to fix it, but at this point, she wasn’t sure she could, really. And she almost wasn’t sure she wanted to, to be honest.
After a few more moments she finally had the small phone in her hand, and she looked at the number on it. She didn’t recognize it at all, and that was peculiar. Frowning, she swiped her thumb across the screen to accept the call and then put her mobile to her ear. “Hello?” she asked, her sleep-tinged voice giving way to a yawn before she’d finished.
“Margaret Hooper?” a woman asked.
Strange. Most people referred to her as Molly, not by her given name, even during most official calls. “Speaking,” she replied.
“Are you acquainted with Rani Grover?” the woman asked.
Molly sat up more, frowning. “Yes,” she said. “She’s a friend of mine, one of the oncologists at Barts. May I ask what this is about?”
“You’re listed as her emergency contact,” the woman said. “She...I regret to inform you there’s been an automobile accident. She passed away this evening at the Royal London.”
Molly felt as though she’d been stabbed in the gut and she almost dropped the phone. Rani had been one of the women she’d gone through medical school with. Molly had been the maid of honor at her wedding and Rani was going to be the matron of honour in hers and Molly was godmother to-- Her eyes went wide. “Was Clifford in the car? Was Maya?”
“I’m afraid they both were. Her husband was also killed, but their daughter survived. That’s why we’re calling. Maya has minor injuries, but we’re unsure who her legal guardian is, who is to make decisions for her care.”
“Neither Rani nor Clifford had family,” Molly said. “I was asked to be Maya’s godmum. I can...I can take care of her until things get settled, I suppose.”
“Very well. We’ll be keeping her overnight but she can be released to your care in the morning.” There was a pause. “I know your reputation, Doctor Hooper. You’re well liked by many people among those at Barts Health, as was Doctor Grover. We’re all very sorry for your loss here. If there’s anything we can do...”
“I don’t have anything for a baby,” she said quietly.
“I’ll see what we can gather up for you. Nappies and formula and that sort of thing. It’s the least we can do,” she said. “And I’m Claudia, by the way. Claudia Haversham. I apologize for not introducing myself earlier.” She paused again. “It will be all right. Maya wasn’t hurt badly, just a few cuts and scrapes. If you want to come by and see her, we’ll make an allowance for you, even though it’s past visiting hours. Those of us who work for Barts Health should stick together.”
Molly felt a lump form in her throat. This was so overwhelming and she was being so kind. “Thank you,” she got out. “I’ll be there as soon as I can.”
“We’ll be waiting,” Claudia said.
Molly hung up the phone as she felt tears began to form at the corners of her eyes. Oh, this just wasn’t fair. It wasn’t! Rani was so vibrant and full of life, and Clifford was an absolute gem of a man and they were so happy together and they had deserved a long and happy life. They deserved the chance to see Maya grow up and be the beautiful woman Molly knew she was destined to be and now they were gone and Maya was all alone and it just wasn’t fair.
She let the tears fall for a moment as she looked at her phone, debating whether to call Tom. Oh, she wanted to call him, to cry and vent and rage, but if he couldn’t be bothered to spend time with her and be there now she doubted he would appreciate a call at nearly three in the morning. No, she doubted he would appreciate that very much at all. They would probably have another row and she couldn’t handle that, not tonight. After a moment, she dialed John and Mary’s home number instead, dashing back her tears with the back of her hand. It took three rings, but finally, someone picked up. “Hello?” John asked sleepily.
“Oh, John,” Molly said, trying not to burst into new tears. “I...my friend is dead and I think I seem to have gotten custody of her daughter. Maybe.”
“Molly?” he asked.
“Sorry,” she said. “It’s a bit overwhelming.
“Do you want to talk to Mary?” he asked, his tone soothing.
“Yes, please,” she said.
It took a moment, and she could hear him explaining the situation, but after a moment Mary was on the line. “Oh, love,” Mary said, her tone soft. “Are you alright?”
“No,” Molly said, sniffling. “Rani died in an automobile accident, and her husband too, but Maya survived, and I’m about to head to hospital and...” She sniffed again.
“Which one?” Mary asked.
“I’ll meet you there,” Mary said.
“You don’t need to,” Molly said, her eyes wide.
“You’re in no fit state to be dealing with this on your own,” Mary said. “You have to support this little girl on your own, but someone should be there to support you and that someone is going to be me. Don’t argue. I’ll meet you there.” She paused. "No, never mind, I'll pick you up."
Molly nodded, even though Mary couldn’t see her. Truth be told, she was sure she’d fall apart the minute she saw Maya so having Mary there would help immensely, she knew that deep down. “All right,” she said.
“Good. I’ll come pick you up and we’ll go together. And then tomorrow we’ll go get you all the things you need to bring her to your flat. How old is she?”
“Six months. Almost seven,” Molly said.
“So a crib, nappies, formula...”
“The woman who called and told me said the staff would get nappies and formula,” Molly said. “Rani...Rani was a member of Barts Health. The woman said it was the least they could do.” She sniffed again, trying to hold back her tears. “Oh, Mary, what am I going to do?”
“You’ll make sure the little one is all right, see it with your own two eyes, and then you’ll go home and you’ll have a good cry and tomorrow I’ll help set you right and we’ll get things ready for her. And then you’ll do your best to give her everything she needs because you have a big heart and you want what’s best for her,” Mary said soothingly. “I would say everything will be okay, but they may not be, and I’m not the type of woman who gives false hope. But I will say you won’t do it alone. You’ll have help. I’ll guarantee it.”
“Thank you,” Molly said, feeling a tiny spring of hope well up inside her at those words.
“I’ll see you soon, love. Just be as strong as you can be, alright?”
“Alright,” Molly said before hanging up. She lowered her mobile and then got off the bed to begin to get dressed. She could try and be strong. If she wasn’t going to be alone, even if she couldn’t rely on Tom tonight, she could be strong. She could give Maya that.