“Mr. Kendrick, I came over to see how you’re doing. They let me in to see Declan.”
He falls into his armchair like someone took a baseball bat to the back of his legs.
“How is he?”
His face is so hopeful I hate to tell him the truth. Declan is still unconscious in ICU, and he looks like a gray lump connected to tubes and machines. His chart lists a bunch of scary-sounding medicines, and nurses float in and out adjusting things every few minutes.
“I couldn’t stay long, but he looked better.” I push aside a half-empty pizza box and sit at the table.
“But not conscious.” He looks down at his lap.
I shake my head. I know it’s not good. It’s been days. “What did the doctor tell you? They weren’t going to let me in, let alone answer any questions, because I’m not family, they said.”
His head snaps up. “Nonsense.”
“I know, right? The head nurse is a Nazi.”
This gets a small smile.
“But you got past her?”
I smile back. “With some help, but yeah.”
He rakes fingers through his wild hair. “I’ll call them. Tell them to let you see Declan whenever you want.” His hand rests on the old phone, but he doesn’t lift the receiver.
“Won’t help. They won’t listen.” I suck in a deep breath and just say it. “You have to come with me.”
“To the hospital?” He says it like he doesn’t understand the words. His hand on the receiver shakes. He pulls it away and clasps them together in his lap. “No. No, I can’t do that.”
“Okay, but they won’t let me in. Declan may wake up and think nobody cares about him if no one’s there.”
His face is gray and puffy. “The doctors said he may not regain consciousness.”
The words are scientific and cold, but the meaning is clear. The doctors warned Mr. Kendrick that Declan might have suffered brain damage, or worse, he might die.
I forget all about trying to get him to go with me to the hospital as the thought washes through me. The smell of old food and wet dogs turns my stomach. I swallow hard and eye the door, picturing myself walking through it. Coming back some other time.
That’s when I hear a screech. A screech or a scream or something piercing the walls of the house.
“Where’s Rosie?” Panic rises in my voice.
Mr. Kendrick points to the door. “Out there, tied to her perch.” His shoulders slump. “Tied or twisted up. I looked in on her but didn’t want to go inside. Her food’s gone, but no matter. She won’t eat for anyone but Declan.”
“Can we let her go? She can hunt—”
He looks down and shakes his head. “She’s hungry. I hear her struggling, trying to fly, calling for him.” He bites down on his bottom lip and looks away. “Don’t get near her, Regina. She’s dangerous. Especially now.”
“Call someone. Some hawk guy that worked with Declan—”
“Tried that. No one around. Or no one willing to come.” He pulls his cardigan tight around him.
No one willing to come? “But she’ll die.” The words are soft like scurrying mice in the stillness. “She’ll starve.”
Mr. Kendrick drops his head in his hands. The outline of his shoulders shakes. He told us hawks are messengers. They foretell death. Declan’s death. I watch, helpless. Then a thought whispers in my head, Maybe they prevent it, too.
“We have to get Declan to wake up. To tell us what to do.” I rush over to his chair and perch on the edge of the coffee table in front of him. “A hawk led Nuallan out of the cave. A hawk saved the king’s son, remember?”
He looks up at me with a tight smile. “Those are just stories, Regina.”
“But stories that are about truth. Real stuff in life. You said so. You said there’s magic still in life if you look for it.”
“They’re metaphors.” He grips his hands together so hard his fingers turn white. “They aren’t a secret formula for life.”
I stand up. “I just know that if Rosie dies, so will Declan. We have to save her. Save them both.”
Mr. Kendrick struggles to the edge of the armchair and leans forward. His eyes show a glimmer of hope, looking up at me under his bushy dark eyebrows. “How do we do that?”
“We go to the hospital and see Declan. You talk to him. You let him know you’re there.” I reach down and grab one hand. It’s cold. “Trust me.”
Declan’s dad doesn’t say anything but lets me pull him to his feet. Finally, he gives one curt nod. He disappears into a back room and returns wearing a fresh shirt, and his hair is wet and slicked down. In his trembling hand, he holds a set of keys out to me. They jingle together like bells.
“I’d like you to drive.”
The words I don’t have a license almost blurt out, but I’m smart enough to bite them back. If we don’t go now, he might change his mind. I take the keys. After all, I used to drive Aunt Sophia’s truck around the ranch in Texas, so it’s almost like having a driver’s license.
“No problem.” More lies.
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