Promises of Mercy

By: Vella Day

Chapter Two

Amber spent her day off with Chris. Only when she couldn’t keep her eyes open anymore, did she hug him one last time and return home. Her mom hadn’t called to check how Chris was doing, which added to her depression. Amber kept telling herself it was because her mom was waiting for her to call and deliver the news.

With shaking fingers, Amber punched in her cell.

No answer.

Damn. Delivering the additional bad news about the hopelessness of Chris’s condition sucked, but if she were honest, had they connected, her mom’s insensitive attitude might have upset her more.

The beep sounded. “Hey, Mom. The news isn’t good. Chris’s spine was severed at C7. He’s on pain meds, but maybe they can take him off the ventilator tomorrow. Call if you want to talk.” Her mom probably wouldn’t respond, but Amber harbored the slimmest of hope the accident might make her mother reach out for a change.

Amber pulled a leftover casserole from the fridge and heated it. She managed to eat a few bites, but as soon as she thought back to Chris, her appetite disappeared.

She had to get some sleep. After showering, she dropped into bed. Even after punching the pillow a few dozen times, she still couldn’t get comfortable or turn off her mind. Around three in the morning, Amber finally dozed off.

By eight, she’d dressed and returned to the hospital. She probably wouldn’t be at her finest for her two to midnight shift, but she wanted to be close to Chris in case he needed her.

As she entered his room, a fleeting rush of joy filled her. The ventilator was gone. Chris was asleep, his chest rising and falling gently. She pulled the chair next to his bed, lifted his hand in hers, and squeezed. “Hey, Chris. It’s Amber. Can you hear me?”

When Chris didn’t move, blood pounded in her head. “Come on, Chris.” She pressed a palm to her forehead to help keep the impending headache at bay. “Wake up. You can do it.”

If she had to sit there and carry on a one-sided conversation for hours on end, she would. He had to pull through. Chris was a fighter, and she’d be there for him every step of the way.

Amber squeezed his hand while she talked to him, trying to stimulate his brain into rousing. She recounted some happier times when they were growing up, like when Dad would take them to ball games, but even those memories failed to bring the usual joy.

It must have been close to noon when Chris finally groaned. Her heartbeat picked up. His lids fluttered and she placed a hand on his cheek and shook it gently.

“Welcome back, Chris.”

At the thought of having him wake up in a hospital, her stomach tumbled. Now she’d have to break the terrible news to him. Finally, he opened his eyes, but it seemed to take forever before he recognized her.


“Yeah. It’s me, kiddo. You don’t have to talk.”

“What happened?” His voice sounded scratchy, but that was to be expected from the throat tube.

He tried to wet his dry lips. She reached for the water and placed the straw to his lips. When he sucked up the liquid, excitement bubbled through her. He nodded, and she put the pitcher back down.

“Do you remember crashing your bike?” He shook his head then winced. “A car hit you.”

“How bad?” Pain sliced across his face.

“You messed up your back pretty bad.”

He wiggled his fingers as if attempting to lift his arm. He grit his teeth then relaxed his hand. “I can’t—”

Amber’s pain cut so deep, she lost the courage to tell him what was in store for him. “I’ll be right back.” She never was a coward, but this was her brother.

She shoved back her chair and rushed out the room. She needed to tell the nurse he was awake, as the monitors wouldn’t have alerted them. Tears trickled down her cheeks. As she rushed up to the nurses’ station, she wiped away the moisture.

The woman’s name was Sheri. The nurse looked up and smiled. “Can I help you?”

Amber explained Chris was awake. “I need his doctor to explain his condition to him. Now.”

Sympathy poured across Sheri’s face. “I’ll page him immediately.”

Amber’s chin shook. “Thanks.”