“Mummy, what’s wrong with Russy?” the youngest Green daughter asked. Annie was only five, but she knew something was terribly wrong since she had never seen Russell cry before.
“He’s sick, dear. But don’t worry, bubby will be just fine.” Her words were reassuring, but her tone contradicted everything she had just promised.
In addition to fretting over her eldest son, Mrs. Green also had three other children to look after. The stress was almost unbearable for her, and her anxiety kept her checking on Russell about every five minutes. While she did this, Mr. Green took the opportunity to have a talk with his other children to explain what was going on.
Mr. Green took the children to his study and closed the door. They all sat in a circle around him and were perfectly silent, knowing that something bad had just happened. Delilah, being eleven, was old enough to understand the gravity of the situation.
“Dad, has Russ gone mad?” she asked, concerned.
“Now, Delilah, please don’t say such things. While it is true that something has happened to Russell, we can’t really be sure what it is right now, so don’t jump to any conclusions.” Ian Green’s brow furrowed at his eldest daughter, whom he suspected was looking a bit too far into the situation. She was old enough to know what was going on, but his other two children certainly weren’t. Ian made a note to talk to her separately after the doctor had come.
”So what happened to him, then?” Alexander Green, a boy of seven who looked like a miniature Russell, asked his father.
“The only thing we know is what David has told us. We know that Russell was in the middle of filming today-“
“For his job?” interrupted little Annie.
“Yes, that’s right sweetie, for his job. According to David, he had been doing a hospital scene when all of a sudden he didn’t remember who he really was. David found him crying in a hallway and tried to talk to him, but he got scared and angry then ran away. After that, apparently Russell went to find his friend and co-worker, Amy-“
“The one who plays Hermione?” Alexander asked with a gleam in his eye.
“Yes, the one who plays Hermione.”
“She’s pretty!” he exclaimed.
“Would you shut up about Amy? Dad’s trying to tell us what happened to Russ!” Delilah scolded impatiently.
“Delilah! Don’t talk to your brother that way. Now apologize,” Ian reprimanded.
“Sorry,” she said sullenly, “I just want to hear what happened. I’m worried; that's all.”
Ian’s harsh expression grew softer. “I know, dear. We’re all worried. But don’t you mind, it will all be ok,” he said assuredly. When none of the children felt the need to add their two-cents’ worth, he continued.
“Now Mommy is upstairs with Russell, and I will be up there as soon as the doctor gets here. Alex and Annie, can you be big kids today and listen to Delilah while Mommy and Daddy take care of your brother?”
Both children nodded their heads. “Good. I knew I could count on you. Delilah, you’re in charge. Just try to keep them entertained and out of trouble until your mother and I figure out what to do.”
“Ok, Dad. When will we be able to see him?” she implored.
Just then the doorbell rang and gave Ian Green a start. “Later… That’ll be the doctor. Remember what I said, kids.”
He left his three youngest children behind in the study and greeted the Dr. Nigel Sanford at the door. “Hello, Nigel. I’m so glad you could make it on such short notice. Can I take your coat for you?”
“Thank you, Ian. How’s he doing?” Dr. Sanford inquired while removing his coat.
“I’m not really sure. I’ve been talking to the little ones mostly, and Bianca’s been with Russell in his room. I haven’t heard any news so I’d be willing to bet he’s still sleeping. Any idea why that is, doctor?”
“Well I’m sure the trauma he’s experienced just drained him of all his energy. He’s probably in a mild state of shock, the body’s physical reaction to adverse environmental conditions,” Dr. Sanford stated with all seriousness. Ian just nodded as the two made their way up the stairs.
Ian knocked lightly on Russell’s bedroom door and opened it cautiously. “Bianca, Dr. Sanford is here…”
“Oh, thank God!” said the teary-eyed mother as she beckoned her husband to her side. Dr. Sanford set down his medical bag and took out his thermometer and stethoscope. He placed the handheld thermometer in Russell’s ear and waited for the digital read-out.
He then began to position the stethoscope in various positions on Russell’s chest, listening intently for any irregularities.
Mr. and Mrs. Green were relieved to hear that his vital signs were functioning correctly, but at the same time confused about what his condition was.
“It’s got to be a chemical imbalance. The only way we can check that is to draw blood. You’ll need to get him to the hospital and-”
“The hospital? Please can’t you do it here? I’d really rather not move him… What if he gets hurt?”
“Bianca, Russell will be perfectly safe at a hospital. You’ll need to take him in anyways for some tests, so the sooner you get him there the better.” Dr. Sanford hated to be so uncompromising, but he knew it was for the best.
“Can’t you just make an exception this once?” Her voice became frantic and rose in pitch as the tears started streaming. “We’re s-s-so s-scared, and the l-l-little o-ones…We c-can’t l-l-leave them!” She gripped her husband’s arm so tightly that it lost color below the elbow.
“Calm down, Mrs. Green. Just breathe; everything’s going to be fine. We’ll get Russell taken care of. If we’re going to do this, Ian, I’ll need your help.”
Ian nodded his head and held the tourniquet Dr. Sanford gave him. After preparing the sterilized needle and sample tube, he rolled up the left sleeve of Russell’s t-shirt and took the tourniquet from Ian to wrap tightly around Russell’s upper arm.
“Ok, Ian. I need you told hold this very tight in place. This is to increase the pressure of the veins in his arm so they will swell with blood, making it easier to extract.” Mr. Green had gone somewhat pale, but knew what he had to do.
The doctor poked at Russell’s forearm looking for a big enough vein, then signaled he was ready.
“Bianca, dear, you may want to close your eyes.” She turned her head and rested it behind her husband’s shoulder, but didn’t remove her hand from its resting place on Russell’s right arm.
The doctor began, “Russell, if you can hear me, this is Doctor Sanford. I want to let you know that I will be taking some blood. You will feel a small sting and then it will be over. One…Two…Three.”
Dr. Sanford expertly thrust the needle into Russell’s vein, and in an instant the comatose boy began screaming and flailing his arms about. The needle was ripped from his skin and blood began to trickle out of the small hole in his arm. The doctor took a blow to the face and backed up to avoid another.
“AHHHH!!!! GET AWAY FROM ME!!!! WHAT ARE YOU DOING? WHO ARE YOU!? NOOOOO GET OFF!!!!”
“Russell, it’s me, Mum. You’re ok, the doctor was just taking some-”
“YOU’RE NOT MY MUM! WHAT’S GOING ON? DON’T TOUCH ME! WHO ARE YOU PEOPLE!?”
Mr. Green swished at the air trying to grab a hold of his son’s flying limbs. He hoped he’d be able to keep him still long enough to explain what was going on. Eventually the doctor had to aid Ian, but while they got him to be still, they had no luck with his volume.
“LET ME GO!!!!! AHHHHH!!!”
The doctor released his grip only when Mrs. Green took his place, and searched his bag frantically for some sedatives. Taking a rather large dose, he plunged the needle into Russell’s bleeding arm and emptied the shot. Russell screamed at the pain and fright, but less than thirty seconds later, he was out cold.
Mrs. Green was crying again, and even Mr. Green had a hard time keeping himself under control. With pity in his eyes, Dr. Sanford addressed the frightened parents.
“I’m afraid there’s no other alternative. You’ll have to take him to the hospital. They can do bloodworm and other tests there.” He fished his wallet out of his back pocket, and searched it for a business card. “I want you to go see Dr. Sandra Curtis. She was a friend of mine at medical school and an excellent practitioner. She’ll take care of your boy.”
Mrs. Green leaned on her husband for support as they followed the doctor down the stairs. Dr. Sanford laid a sympathetic hand on Mr. Green’s shoulder and assured, “Ian, if you need anything at all, don’t hesitate to ask.” He took his coat off the hanger and waved goodbye as he stepped out.
The three younger children ran out of the study to badger their parents for answers.
“Is Russy fixed now?” Annie asked while tugging on her mother’s dress.
“Not exactly, darling,” Mr. Green answered. “We’re going to the hospital. Go grab some books and toys to play with; we’ll be there for a while.”
“He’s awake. Would you like to go in and see him?” the nurse asked sweetly.
Mr. and Mrs. Green looked at each other with anticipation, both thinking the same thing: he was awake and not screaming?
“Of course. Is he all right? I mean, he hasn’t…hurt anyone has he? Did he scream?” The expression on Mr. Green’s face was one of anticipation and anxiousness.
“No, no screaming. The sedatives are still in his system and have kept him very calm and passive.”
Mrs. Green stretched her stiff muscles as she stood up, holding Annie who had been asleep in her lap. Delilah closed her history textbook and walked with beside her mother, who followed behind the nurse and Mr. Green. Alexander reached up to grab his dad’s hand as they peered into the room where Russell was staying.
“It’s ok; you can go in.” The five of them entered the room after the nurse and took places surrounding his bedside.
He looked at them with indifference. “Do I know you?”
However bad it was for their son to not recognize them, both Bianca and Ian Green agreed that his docile questions were a hell of a lot better than his hysterical, frightened screams.
“Russ, honey, it’s Mum and Dad. And you remember your sisters, Delilah and Annie, and your little brother, Alex, don’t you?”
A far-off laugh escaped the bed-ridden boy’s mouth as he answered, “Russ? My name’s not Russ. It’s Ron. And you’re not my family… This is a really funny joke, but where are my real parents?”
Mrs. Green was perplexed and looked to the nurse for help. The nurse gave her a look that said, “just play along,” so she went with it.
“Yes, well…Ron… Your ‘real’ parents were unable to make it… So they asked their closest relatives to look after you. That’s us.” She glanced at the nurse to see how she was doing and received a nod.“When are they coming back? And what about my brothers and my sister? Where are they?” He didn’t actually sound very upset (due to the affect of the drugs), he just seemed more interested than anything.
“They’re not coming either. They can’t,” added Mr. Green.
“Why not? Did You Know Who get them?” Russell’s eyes widened with fear and sadness as he looked upon the strangers. The Greens had no idea how to answer.
“Well, not exactly. They’re still alive, but you can’t live with them anymore…because it’s not safe. Voldemort is stronger, and so your family has been separated. But don’t worry…Ron. We’re your new family, and we’ll take care of you.” Delilah was familiar with the Harry Potter books, and it was a good thing, too, because her parents had absolutely no clue. She also knew that she just couldn’t tell him his ‘family’ was dead, just in case he was ever able to return to work and happened to see the actors that played the roles of his family members.
Tears started to stream down Russell’s face as he asked, “And who are you?”
“I’m your sister, Delilah,” she said, smiling. She reached down and held Russell’s hand, and he squeezed it in return.
“Oh,” was all he managed before being swept away with another bout of exhaustion.
In the family waiting room, a tall, slender woman of about forty years old approached the family.
“Hello, I’m Dr. Sandra Curtis, chief neurologist. I’ll be working with your son.”
“Very nice to meet you. So, do you know what’s wrong with him?” Ian Green asked, hoping to finally get some answers.
“That’s what I need to talk to you about, Mr. Green. Russell’s blood test came back neutral, so we’re going to need to do a CAT scan and possibly an MRI to check for abnormalities in his brain. Here’s some information, if you’re interested,” she said as she offered them brochures.
“So what, we just bring him back tomorrow?” Mrs. Green asked doubtfully.
“I’m sorry, Mrs. Green, but we’ll have to keep him here overnight. There are, however, twenty-four hour visitation hours, so feel free to stay as long as you like. I will discuss the details of his tests with you tomorrow. If you have any question, please call me.” Dr. Curtis left the family waiting room to return to her other patients, and Mrs. Green began to cry again.
“Well, I guess we should get the kids back home. They’ve got school tomorrow…” said Mr. Green.
“Oh no they haven’t! Not when their brother is in such a state as this! No, we’re all staying here tonight. Let’s go home and get blankets and pillows; we’ll all sleep here in the-”
He wrapped an empathic arm around his wife and pulled her into a hug. “Now, honey, I know you’re upset, but we can’t sleep here. Why don’t we take it in shifts, that way one of us will be here at all times.”
“And the kids don’t have to go to school tomorrow. So, who’s staying?”
Mrs. Green looked longingly down the hallway in the direction of her son’s room. Mr. Green gave her a slight smile and answered his own question, “I’ll get the kids, and we’ll go say goodnight to Russ- err… ‘Ron.’ We’ll be back first thing in the morning. Is there anything I can get you, love?”
She shook her head.
“I hate to leave you here…”
“It’s ok, Ian. I’ll be fine. We’ve got three other children to think about,” she said logically.
“Call me with any new developments?”
“Of course. Goodnight, dear.”
Annie and Alex were asleep within minutes of hitting the seats of their dad’s SUV. Delilah stayed up to help her father carry the younger kids up to bed, and lay in bed with her eyes wide-open for hours. Neither parent slept a wink that night.
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