Ryan’s phone rang. It was Monday morning and he had just gotten into work. He didn’t recognize the number and he had a meeting in a few minutes. His phone targeted the call from Portland, Oregon. Was it one of his coworkers from there? With his personal cell number?
“Ryan Shaw,” he answered into his phone.
As the person on the other end spoke, the color drained from Ryan’s face and he had to sit down.
“Are you-” Ryan’s voice broke and he choked back a sob. “Are you sure it’s Charlotte?”
“Unfortunately we don’t know her name. She has no ID and has only spoken your name during her brief moments of consciousness.”
“I will get on the first flight to Portland.” Ryan got the hospital’s information, grabbed his keys, and went immediately to his supervisor’s office and closed the door.
“Ryan, is everything alright?” His supervisor looked extremely concerned. Ryan imagined he looked pretty terrible.
“I have to go to Portland. Charlotte’s in a hospital there. She’s-” Ryan’s voice broke again. This time tears began rolling down his face. He bit his knuckle to try to stop them, but they just kept coming. “She’s-” He couldn’t finish.
“Go, do what you need to do. We’ll be here when you get back.” His supervisor opened the door and walked Ryan to the elevator. “Take as much time as you need. If you think to email us a day or time you’ll be back, please do. Take care of her.”
Ryan shook his supervisor’s hand gratefully. He drove straight to the airport. Putting his car into long-term parking, he ran to the ticket counter.
“I need to get to Portland as fast as possible.” Ryan breathlessly told the ticket agent.
“Um, okay.” The agent looked at available flights. “I can have you there by 2 pm today, two stops.”
“Is that the best you can do?” Ryan growled, harsher than he intended. Charlotte needed him!
“Well, let me look.” The agent took his harshness better than he would have anticipated. “I’m sorry sir, that is the best I can do.”
“That’s fine, I’ll take it. I’m sorry. Family emergency.” He smiled a small smile to her.
“You have 35 minutes to get to your flight. I will call to have them hold the plane until you get there.” The agent smiled back at him with compassion. He couldn’t believe it. “Good luck with your family, sir. I hope all turns out well for you.”
She handed his ticket over to him and Ryan sprinted for the security line. Nearly 25 minutes later, he made it through security. He ran as fast as he could safely do in the large airport. He made it to the gate just as the last passengers were boarding.
As he slid into his seat, Ryan closed his eyes and prayed. He didn’t even know if there was a God, but if there was, this was the time to reach out.
The flight seemed to take an eternity and each layover was brutal. Ryan paced up and down the the corridor by his gates, counting the minutes to his next flight.
Finally, after too many long hours, Ryan’s plane was landing in Portland. He caught a cab as quickly as he could and raced to the hospital where Charlotte was. He rushed in and, after an hour of explaining and re-explaining, finally got to Charlotte’s room.
The doctor was waiting for him outside her door. He explained what had been found and what Ryan should expect.
“She’s very lucky she didn’t lose her baby.” The doctor said matter-of-factly, nodding his head at Ryan and turned to leave.
“Her what?” Ryan said. He couldn’t believe what he had just heard.
“Her baby. She is pregnant, son. Didn’t you know?”
Ryan leaned against the wall, trying to catch his breath. Pregnant? He was going to be a dad?
“How did you know?” Ryan demanded from the doctor.
“Well,” the doctor began. “When we have a woman of childbearing age who is unable to answer for herself, we take some blood for a pregnancy test. There are certain procedures we cannot do if she is carrying a fetus.”
“Do you know how far along she is?” Ryan asked.
“We do not. We performed an external ultrasound to no avail. We will need to do a transvaginal ultrasound to see, but at this time her body cannot handle that. There has been too much trauma. We don’t know if the pregnancy will keep or if she will spontaneously abort in the next few days or weeks. We can only watch and wait now. Son, you better go in there, now. She needs you.” The doctor patted Ryan on the shoulder and walked away.
Ryan turned to face the door.
Gathering all of his strength, he opened it and walked in. He stopped short, his heart jumping into his chest. Charlotte’s face was mangled and bruised. She was so swollen that he barely recognized her. He slowly walked into the room and sat down next to her bed.
Charlotte stirred as Ryan took her hand. She looked over and saw his concerned face and breathed a sigh of relief. He was here.
Ryan smiled when she opened her eyes and looked at him.
“I’m here, sweetie,” he told her gently, stroking her hair and kissing her hand. “Everything is going to be alright. I’m going to take care of you.”