Next Of Kin

Entry by: percypop

18th September 2015

The hospital car park was full as Paul arrived. He left his car on the grass verge and ran to the A+E entrance where an ambulance stood with its rear doors extended as if to block his view.
"Where is she?" What's happened?"
No one paid attention to him. They clustered round the stretcher carrying the little body; one tearing at her clothes and another pushing a mask over her mouth. It might be his daughter Jenny.
The group rapidly pushed through the flaps at the door, and disappeared from sight. He struggled to catch up but they moved surprisingly fast and there was no room to overtake them.
"Is she badly hurt?" he shouted but no one replied
"Can I come with you?"

This time a nurse grabbed his arm and held him back.
"You can't go in there, it's the triage area"
"Just tell me" he shouted "is it serious?"
He could hear his voice, strained and rising in tone as his frustration increased.
"The doctor will let you know as soon as possible."
Her tone was implacable-she shuffled papers as if too busy to pay him any attention. He saw there was no way she would help him.
He moved to a bench in the corridor and sat hunched inside his overcoat like a tramp in the park. Had he done wrong? When he left, Jenny was a bright eight year old taking her first riding lesson. He recalled her shining eyes and excited voice when she got to the stables. She wore her new riding kit and ran into the stables before he had stopped the car. Should he have stayed? The riding teacher waved to him and shouted "She'll be ready at three," so he left.
What could have happened? He knew Carol would blame him whatever the reason. She always blamed him for everything -that was why they divorced. But this was worse. The wait began to unnerve him so that when a white coated woman approached him he jumped up expecting some fearful news.
"Mr Bagot?"
"Yes! What's wrong? Can I see her now "
"I don't know, I am just from the Registry I need to fill in a form with you."
Paul felt a rush of anger, all he wanted was to know the real situation but they kept fobbing him off --and now these questions.
"Show me the form" he said "I'll sign it."
"Well," the woman ignored his brusque answer, "first I have to ask you certain questions, about her next of kin and her religion and so on."
She seemed unaware of his exasperation. Grimly he told her all the answers required and she left him.
"Next of kin" What did that signify? Was she fatally injured? Why ask him? Wasn't it obvious that he was her father? Or did they mean her mother? The legal custody after the divorce had gone to Carol. His mind in turmoil, he didn't see the doctor approaching.
"Mr Bagot?" He looked up blankly then he focussed on the doctor's face. The man wore dark rimmed glasses and his expression was difficult to read.
"I have some good news for you, your daughter can see you now -it's just a broken collar bone, but we were worried for a while. She's in here."

He pointed to a ward door opposite. Paul approached the little pale figure sitting up with a sling across her chest. A pale smile on her face
Next of kin felt good and tears welled in his eyes.