To her relief, he stirred. Groaning as he attempted to lift his head from the ground.
Alice noticed something red trickling into the sand. The more the boy moved, the more it flowed.
Alice covered her mouth. “Oh my goodness! That is blood!” she hurried downstairs to see the boy.
Through the window, she could see the other escapees, standing at a safe distance outside but watching all that was happening.
“So what do we do now?” Marvis who had come downstairs too said
“Hospital?” the boy had become more conscious and was starting to cry.
They could only imagine the pain. A part of his tiny, malnourished leg had been sliced by the metal plate and his head had received most of the pressure of the fall. He was leaking like a sachet of punctured pure water and if they didn’t act fast, this boy would die in minutes.
Alice pulled her jacket. “Please could you call a bike man, I have to take this boy to the hospital or he will not make it.” On looks had started to gather outside, watching the spectacle from sill-less windows.
“Are you silly? I will drive you there; he can’t get on a motorcycle in that condition.”
Alice wrapped his smashed head with the yellow jacket which immediately started to turn orange and then red. In a matter of seconds, they got the frail teenage boy into the car and drove to the hospital.
The nurses wheeled the boy into the emergency ward and Alice sat down at the waiting area. She was about to sigh when a bald man clad in surgeon attire came to meet her.
“Mrs… can I have a word with you?” the doctor said.
Her heart skipped five beats; she hoped it was not bad news, not after all the efforts she had made to save his life.
“It’s Miss, Miss Alice.” She didn’t blame them for the confusion though; she was looking really old lately. “Any problem?” she cringed expecting bad news.
“Well, I’m here to talk about the billing.” The man said.
“Are you serious? The boy’s state is critical. Won’t you treat him first?”
“That is my point. His state is critical. He could die or miraculously live. Does not have much to do with our performance. It is only unfortunate that you could pay all that money and he’d still die. All that money for some dirty street child. Money that you did not plan to spend. That is where my proposal comes in. I can make sure that you don’t have to pay that much. That is, we will delay the treatment just a little while just to make sure that you don’t need to pay for anything that does not need to be paid for.”
Alice was appalled at the idea. “That is terrible.”
“Maybe you have the money to pay. It is only five thousand naira for a night on admission, let’s not talk about the drugs, IV, medicine to treat his wounds. But if you have the money to pay, then there is no problem. The most tragic thing is that I’ve seen so many cases like this. You are driving innocently, one of these kids run into traffic and gets injured. You take them to the hospital, pay for surgery and buy the drugs but they still die.”
The clock along with her heart beat simultaneously in a loud gong-like bang. Time was ticking fast for the boy but money was one thing that she didn’t have. She looked at the waiting area and Mavis was still there. She thought the woman would have gone by now. Also, two of the other children had come to the hospital and they were sitting quietly in the waiting area. One was the girl who had put the fondant flower on her hair and the other was the smallest of the children.
“You’d just have to pay very little so that word about this will not get to management. You know, nurses are big gossips. But the amount you would pay is nothing compared to what you would pay for treatment.”
Alice perspired. She was in a real pickle. “Give me a minute let me make my decision.”
The doctor gave it to her freely. When he had gone, Alice explained her demise to Mavis.
“If I let this boy die, his blood will forever be in my hands. But it is not my fault. He was running, he didn’t see where he was going.” She seemed to be talking more to herself than to Mavis. “I don’t even have the money but I also can’t let him die. I don’t know what to do.”
One of the other street kid’s ears pricked as he heard the conversation.
“Alice. I don’t know what to advice you… but you have to make that decision by yourself and prepare to live with whatever consequences.”
“All I have in this life is that stupid building which Justin left me with, a stupid dream that does not make sense now. I have nothing. I’m not even sure if anyone will accept buying it…” her voice shook.
“Oh. I will.” The woman said sharply. “It’s perfect. Whatever the price, I will buy it. It’s a done deal.”
Alice exhaled. Her heart was beating so fast that it hurt. She walked away from Mavis slowly to a corner. She couldn’t hold the tears back anymore.
So this boy’s life was in her hands. The thread whether he lived or died lay in her hands. She thought about Justin, if only he even had a lingering moment like this before he passed. She could tell him that she loved him a million times, she would sing for him a million times in public despite her croaking voice. She would pray for him more that he would live longer or savor the final second of his life by his side. But he disappeared in a blink of an eye, leaving her in this harsh world to make hard choices on her own. Tears were running down her face now and she couldn’t even control it.
“Justin, what do I do?” she said out loud as a nurse stared at her. “What would you do?”
She exhaled. Wiped her eyes and decided within her heart. Mavis had told her that whatever choice she made, she should prepare to live with the consequences, and that is exactly what she did.
the end… just kidding