It was finally the big day. Claire was in the room of the hotel, in the middle of getting her hair and make-up perfected. The butterflies in her stomach were churning. Only a couple of more hours until she will finally be Mrs Grady.
To say she never imagined ever settling down, she couldn’t wait to marry Owen. Since the day she met him, her opinions on marriage and having a family had completely been turned upside down. Claire felt safe in his embrace, everything made sense. She was happy.
Karen was sat on the hotel bed watching her sister getting ready, she could literally see the happiness in her eyes reflecting in the mirror. Her own eyes beginning to well up at seeing Claire finally happy and getting her happy ending. All those conversations with Claire saying she couldn’t see herself settling down as she wasn’t loveable and only being career focused. Gone.
“Karen? Are you crying?” Claire noticed the tears in her sister’s eyes through the mirror.
“I... I’m just so happy for you, Claire. All those years telling me you would never settle down, now look at you. You’re glowing.” Karen replied, trying her best not to start sobbing so she didn’t ruin her already perfected make-up.
“Karen, please don’t you’ll set me off. And we know I’m not one for tears.” She joked, as her own eyes now began to well up at the thought.
“I’m sorry, I’ll go compose myself.” Karen replied while getting up and headed off towards the bathroom.
“Okay, Claire you’re all set. Just need to get you in your dress.” Her make-up artist spoke.
Claire took a deep breath, trying to calm her nerves.
“Okay, thank you, Zara.” She smiled, walked towards her dress that was hung up by the window.
Claire got into her dress, with the help of Zara helping her zip her up, and sort out the loose hairs on her head.
She looked in the mirror once Zara had finished, as she saw her reflection, she couldn’t help the shy smile on her face. The dress was beautiful, she looked like a princess.
Just then she heard the bathroom door open, and then a gasp.
“Oh, my goodness... Claire...” Karen couldn’t speak but the tears began to make another appearance.
“I know” Claire replied.
“You look so beautiful, Claire!!” Her sister walked up to her and embraced her in a hug.
“Thank you, Karen.”
There was a knock on their door and a masculine voice followed, letting them know the car was ready to head to the church.
“It’s time. Are you ready, soon to be Mrs Grady?” Karen chuckled.
Claire took one last deep breath, smiled her biggest smile at her sister
“I’m so ready.”
They were now in the car, not far now from the church. Karen and Claire having a conversation about their childhood, and about how proud and happy Karen was for her sister. When suddenly all they heard was a loud honking noise from in front of the car, then the next sound was the girls screaming as the car flipped and started soaring off the road and crashing into a tree on the side of the road. The driver had gone to swerve to dodge and animal that was in the road, he lost control which resulted him colliding with a barrier which caused the car to flip as it flew.
Claire’s vision was blurry, the sounds around her was muffled. She couldn’t move, the pain was unbearable, suddenly her vision started to go black after a few seconds and the last thing she saw was her sister attempting to unbuckle her seatbelt to assist Claire. The last thing she heard was Karen yelling at her to keep her eyes open, and that help was coming.
Owen was at home with his best man Barry getting into their tuxes and laughing and joking about sports and anything they could think of, just to keep Owen’s nerves down.
“You ready, Owen? We need to leave for the church in five minutes, Claire should almost be ready and the wedding starts in half an hour.”
“Yeah, dude. I’m ready.” Owen replied. He took one last deep breath and then headed out to the car.
“Well, in a few hours you will be a married man, Owen. I just can’t believe it man. I never pictured you to settle down for a few more years.” Barry joked.
“Me neither man. But it’s Claire... She’s just perfect inside and out, I would do anything for her. I have honestly never felt like this with anyone else before. She is definitely the one I want to spend my life with.”
“Wow Owen, Claire definitely has gotten to you, you’ve gone all soft on me. But I am so happy for you, and I’m so grateful that I get to be there by your side as your best man.”
“I wouldn’t want anyone else dude, thank you.”
Owen and Barry arrived at the church five minutes later. They greeted the guests and spoke to family, and then Owen let them know Claire was on her way and that everyone should start to take their seats.
30 minutes later, Claire still hadn’t arrived and no one had heard from her or Karen. Owen was beginning to get anxious, thinking Claire had changed her mind and no longer wanted to be his wife. Barry attempted to keep him calm, saying that they were probably stuck in traffic.
Not a minute later Owen’s phone started buzzing in his pocket... the caller ID popped up with Karen’s name, he was hesitant to answer it, but Barry snatched it from his hand and answered it.
“Hey, Karen. Where are you guys? Owen is starting to think Claire has changed her mind.” There was a long moment of silence as they waited for her reply, all they could hear was Karen screaming on the other end.
“Wait, you what?! What happened?!” Barry was suddenly panicked, and this did not help Owen’s anxious state, he knew it, Claire wasn’t ready to settle down.
“Okay, Okay! I’ll get Owen we are on our way!! Hold on okay!” Barry then hung up the phone, took a deep breath then turned to Owen.
“Okay, Owen we need to go.”
“What? Why? Where are we going?! Claire’s ran off hasn’t she, I knew she wasn’t ready. Why couldn’t she have just told me she wasn’t ready we...” Owen started rambling on.
Barry couldn’t believe how Owen was reacting, he knew he would be overwhelmed since Claire was late. But Owen was always so confident, and smug like. He knew he was good looking and used to be known as a player. So he was shocked at how vulnerable and insecure he was getting over thinking Claire had left him at the altar. Barry had to interrupt his rambling so he could understand what was happening.
“OWEN!! Claire hasn’t run away you know how much she loves you, they was in the car on their way but... there has... There’s been an accident. Karen said Claire doesn’t look in a good way as she is still stuck inside the car
, we need to get to them. The emergency services are on their way, so we need to go.”
Owen was stunned, he couldn’t believe what he was hearing. This can’t be real. Not on their wedding day.
“Okay.” Was all Owen managed to choke out. He was starting to feel numb; he didn’t know how serious this was, all he knew was that Karen said Claire was in a bad way. He didn’t know what to expect when they arrived at the scene of the crash.
As Barry slowly pulled up to the scene of the crash, Owen’s heart rate increased at the sight of the car. It was on its roof and crushed up against a tree, smoke coming out of the hood. It looked like something out of an action movie.
As soon as the car came to a stop Owen jumped out and ran towards the car.
“CLAIRE!!!” was all he could manage to shout.
Karen heard him shouting and ran towards him and grabbed hold of him.
“Hey, hey. Owen, you can’t go over there. It’s not safe!”
“THAT’S MY FIANCEE IN THERE, DON’T YOU DARE TELL ME I CAN’T GO OVER THERE!! I NEED TO SEE HER!!” He yelled. His breathing was rapid, his skin was pale. Karen needed to calm him down.
“Hey, Owen. Breath.” She calmly spoke to him, hands pressed onto his shoulders as she attempted to calm him.
“There isn’t anything you can do Owen. They’re getting her out. Claire is currently unconscious as they’ve had to give her morphine for the pain. But when they get her out and she comes to, she won’t want to see you like this. So just take deep breaths, okay.”
Owen looked at Karen, then towards the emergency team working around the car in attempts to remove Claire from the wreckage. He took a deep but shaky breath.
“How bad is it. She will be okay right?! Please tell me she’ll be okay!! I can’t lose her Karen, I can’t!!” Owen was desperate, he needed to know she was going to be okay.
Karen was shocked at the state Owen was in, she knew he loved Claire. But Owen wasn’t one for showing any signs of weakness, yet here he was, standing in front of her sobbing over her sister.
“Owen... I can’t really say how she is; I don’t want to tell she’s going to be okay and then the worse happen, that’s just not right. All I can say is, Claire is pretty banged up and the impact from the tree looks to have caused more damage. She fell unconscious moments after the crash happened.” Karen had to pause, saying all of this out loud was now starting to make it all feel real.
“Until they get her out, I can’t tell you have bad she is.”
Owen took a deep breath and looked back over to the car. All they could do now is just wait for them to get Claire out of that car, and then just hope there is not much damage and that she will be okay.
Barry slowly approached Owen and Karen unsure of what to say as he’ just been stood by the car since Owen jumped out when they arrived.
“Hey.” He spoke softly.
“I’m going to head back to the church and let everyone know what’s happening. Should I tell them to head to the venue of the after party or just send them home?”
Owen didn’t know how to respond; he was too focused on watching the emergency service team try and remove Claire from the wreckage.
“I think maybe tell them to go to the venue... at least that way if any news comes up, everyone can be informed and updated about everything. Unless they choose to go home.” Karen replied for Owen.
Barry nodded, patted Owen on his shoulder and then headed back to his car.
Back in the car, Claire was starting to come too. She could feel sever pain in her abdomen and her head was pounding. The noise of the crew cutting through the metal not helping her, she tried to move again but the pain was too much, all she good do was scream.
“HELP!! Please....” her voice cracked, the next words coming out just above a whisper “It hurts so much...”
Owen’s head shot up at the sound of Claire’s screaming.
“CLAIRE!!! I’M HERE OKAY JUST STAY CALM!!” He shouted over to her hoping she could hear him. He tried to push through the emergency services again.
“Please just let me through, I just want to talk to her. I want her to know I’m right here... Please!!” he was literally begging; Owen wasn’t the type of guy to beg. He just wanted to be with her, reassure her that everything was going to be okay and keep her calm.
The EMT’s finally caved and let him through, agreeing that he would be able to talk to her to keep her calm while they removed her.
He ran over to the wreckage, stunned by being more up close and seeing more clearly how much damage there was. His breath hinged in his throat and he prayed that Claire would be okay, she HAD to be okay.
“Claire, it’s me Owen. Can you hear me?”
Claire manged to make a noise that let him know she heard him, her eyes welling with tears at the sound of his voice. She couldn’t believe it.
“You’re okay Claire, they’re going to have you out in no time. I promise. We’re going to get you to the hospital. Just keep calm... I love you my darling Dearing. Everything is going to be okay, just hang on.” He just kept on talking, letting her hear his voice knowing it would calm her a little to know he was right outside the car.
“I... Love you... Too.” She managed to speak out. Owen only just being able to hear her.
“OKAY GUYS!! We have access we need to slowly slide her out and onto the stretcher!” The paramedics ran over with a stretcher ready for when Claire was pulled out.
Owen watched as they put her onto the stretcher, he couldn’t help the tears that fell seeing her in that state. There was blood covering her beautiful porcelain face... Her beautiful wedding dress all torn and blood everywhere.
He ran over to her and grabbed hold of her hand; it was cold.
“Hi, baby... you're out. We’re going to the hospital now; you’re going to be okay.”
Several hours later Owen and Karen were in the waiting room of the hospital. Karen was trying to read a magazine to occupy her mind, but with Owen’s pacing was distracting her.
“Owen, will you just sit down. Pacing won’t hurry things up.”
“I can’t just sit and do-nothing Karen! What is taking them so long?!” He was getting angry. Claire was undergoing surgery to check how much damage had be done. All he wanted to do was see her and know she was okay.
“Owen!! Calm down. Claire wouldn’t want to see you like this. These things take time, once they have any information the doctor will come tell us. Now sit down and breath.” Karen understood why he was like he was, they just wanted to know how Claire was, but it wasn’t going to help the situation or make time go any quicker.
Owen took a deep frustrated breath, and went to sit down. Karen was right, Claire wouldn’t like to see him this way. He just needed to sit and wait now.
Owen had decided to rest his eyes for a little since another hour had gone by with no updates. Just as he shut his eyes the door to the waiting room opened.
“Mr Grady.” Owen stood up instantly.
“How is she? Is she okay? What’s happening?” He had so many questions, they were all coming out so fast.
“She is in recovery. I will be honest, while fixing up some of her wounds and removing debris of the windows, we did lose her for a second. We got her back and she is stable. She has a few broken ribs, her left shin is fractured from where the car was crushed onto her leg, she is very lucky it isn’t broken. She also had to have 25 stitches to the wound on her head. We will need to keep her in for a few days to keep an eye on her, considering we did lose her for a second. But she’s resting now, you may go and see her.” The doctor finished off with a slight smile.
“Thank you so much Doctor, and yes please can we see her now?” Owen was desperate to see her, see for himself she was okay.
“Yes, follow me.”
Both Owen and Karen followed the doctor to Claire’s room. Once arrived Owen caught a glimpse of Claire through the window of her door. He had to stop, the sight of her being hooked up to so many wires terrified him, his eyes started stinging with the tears.
“Don’t worry it isn’t anything serious, it’s just for us to monitor her and some oxygen to help her with breathing as she will probably struggle with the few bruised ribs.”
He felt a little better, but still, seeing like that was terrifying.
The doctor opened the door to the room, he looked towards Karen who slightly nodded letting him know it was okay and that she’d wait outside so he could be alone with her for a while.
Owen slowly entered the room, the strong smell of disinfectant, the beeping of the machines. Claire was going to hate this when she wakes up. He took a seat next to her bed and took her left hand in his own. The diamond of her engagement glinting in the light. Her wedding ring should be there too, why did this have to happen today of all days! They should be married right now; she should be Mrs Claire Dearing-Grady.
Careful not to disturb her he brought her hand up to his lips and gave it a soft gentle kiss and then let her hand linger against his cheek.
There was a sudden twitch in her hand, he looked towards her. Her eyes started to flutter open. He jumped up to grab her a cup of water.
“Drink this darling, it will make your throat feel better.” He spoke softly.
She shakily took hold of the cup and slowly took steady sips. When she had enough, she passed the cup back to Owen, which he places on the table beside her bed.
He just stared at her with a soft smile on his face.
“You scared me back there. If you didn’t want to get married today you could have just told me you know, no need to go make a dramatic show of it.” He joked, while placing a soft kiss to her forehead.
She let out a soft laugh and squeezed his hand.
“How bad is it?” She wasn’t sure she wanted to even know.
“Just a few bruised ribs, you’ve got a fractured shin. And you’re going to have a nice little scar on your head as you needed 25 stitches.” He smiled
“Nothing to serious.”
“I wasn’t asking about me, how bad was the dress?” She chuckled.
Owen was stunned but that was Claire. He was relived she was okay. He couldn’t imagine what he’d have done if he had lost her.
He leant over and gave her a soft kiss.
“I love you Claire, don’t ever do that again.”
“I love you too Owen, and there’s no promises.”