In spite of herself, Alice approached her mother's bedside and put a hand on the covers. The strong medicine dripping down from the IV plugged into her arm guaranteed that Marianne wouldn't wake up as Alice uncovered her leg. There, beneath the thick, unshaved hairs and popping varicose veins, hid what seemed to be a hole beneath the skin. Alice passed her finger softly over it, feeling the sinking of the muscle. She remembered the hole being smaller, not larger than a tennis ball. As Alice traced its perimeter, it seemed to her it'd started to venture into softball territory. She pressed the emergency call button.
"Call Dr. Taylor or Dr. Ramirez, whoever's on guard." The nurse stopped with her body halfway through the door she hadn't even quite opened yet and went back outside to fulfill Alice's request. The door quietly slid back into place and the nurse's soft footsteps faded on the carpet outside. Exhausted, Alice dragged the only chair in the room so she could sit while she held her mother's hand.
"Oh, mom..." Encouraged by the fact that Marianne was asleep, Alice lifted her mother's hand up to her lips and kissed it. Marianne's bony hand felt as though it could fall apart any moment, so Alice put it back with care on top of the sheets and leaned back on the chair as she waited. The headlights on the street next to the hospital created ocean-like shadows on the ceiling of the room, aided by the sound of engines rushing by. The night felt still, missing only the comfort of soft sand beneath the feet and the haunting of the stars above to soothe Alice's soul into oblivion.
As she gazed up, a shadow slid through the ceiling on the wrong direction. Alice rushed to the window, expecting some idiot to be driving the wrong way, but for the moment the street lay deserted. Startled, Alice edged back to the chair, and sat down with her eyes locked on the spot where the shadow had merged into the silhouette of her mother's bed. As she watched, something seemed to stir on the corner.
A screech sent her heart beating so fast the surge of blood pushed her body into a standing position. Her breath had turned into short, sharp gasps that did nothing to alleviate the empty lungs. Asliver of light accompannied the horrible sound, which stopped once the door was fully oppened. Doctor Travis entered the room, and the screech filled the air again as the door closed, straining its hinges.
"Miss Hamilton?" The doctor gave Alice a very puzzled look, and relief finally allowed her to breathe. "Did you call me?"
"I'm sorry, doctor, the door startled me. Yes, I called you. The treatment you gave my mother this morning isn't working. The hole is already much larger than it was this morning. Look." The doctor approached Marianne's leg and started pressing with his fingers, his frown growing.
"Well... I didn't expect it to work right away... but the fact that this keeps growing troubles me. Actually, I was just looking at the bacteria cultures we got this morning."
"I did find some unusual bacteria, but not the kind that could be doing this. They seem to be more of a consequence than a cause. Also, there are no signs of infection." Even in darkness, the doctor's eyes shone with frustrations, which caused a thousands screams of helplessness to well up in Alice's chest. The pressure made her whole body shake, and she had her mouth open a whole minute while trying to find her voice. The chords inside her throat tensed with the mere thought of being used for something other than wailing. Her eyes welled up, but a will of iron kept her body's instincts at bay.
"You mean it's... just.... going to keep growing?"
"I don't know, Miss Hamilton."
"Well it better not!" Alice slammed her fist against the wall. "I'm paying you a fucking fortune to just stand there and tell me you don't know why the hell there's a hole in my mother's leg? Can't you see it's growing? What kind of doctor are you?"
"Miss Hamilton, I would appreciate if you lowered your voice. I've already scheduled the operation room for your mother tomorrow morning. We'll open up the leg and assess the damage properly. I assure you we will find out what is happening to your mother."
"You'd better." Alice walked over to the window and pressed her forehead against the glass to cool it off. Tears were already streaming down her cheeks, forcing her to shut up or risk bursting into sobs. The door screeched again, signaling the doctor's exit. The echoes of his footsteps faded away, leaving behind a comforting silence. She was about to let her frustration turn into crying when she heard a soft screech that had nothing to do with the door.