Johnny blinked several
times as Sam's face came into focus, sort of. It was like
looking through frosted glass that was a little clearer
towards the centre. He was elated and relieved and needed to
share his joy with Mattie and his family. Looking away from
Sam he could make out Scott, Teresa and Murdoch standing by
the bed but his smile faded when he couldn't see Mattie in
“Murdoch where's Mattie?”
“She left.” Murdoch frowned and handed Johnny a small folded piece of paper, he opened it and squinted at the childish writing but couldn't really make it out. He handed it to Sam who was closest, the look on his face saying everything.
“It says ‘because I Love you' Johnny, that all.” Sam handed the note back to Johnny who screwed it up and threw it across the room. There was a stilted silence in the room, like everybody was holding their breath, it was broken by Sam. “Right Johnny, You aren't healed yet, the pressure on the optic nerve is reducing and that is why you sight has finally begun to improve. To ensure a complete recovery you need to keep calm, keep your blood pressure down. The bleed in your head that caused the problems is healing but it could happen again. You know the routine take it easy, I mean easy! No arguing, shouting, excess exercise, riding, No riding Johnny I can't stress that enough. You have made good progress but you still have a way to go.”
Johnny grimaced and then threw Sam a wry smile “I promise Sam, this has been a real eye opener” Sam just looked at him and they both grinned.
Everyone in the room seemed to become active after Sam finished his lecture. Scott promised he'd keep eye on his brother; then slipped out the door quietly pulling Teresa with him.
Murdoch arms were wrapped around his torso in an echo of Johnny's protective stance; he was rocking on his heels and contemplating his feet. Sam smiled at the young man in the bed, glanced over at Murdoch and moved toward the door. A small cough caught Murdoch's attention and he looked up, surprised that he was now alone with his son. The door closed quietly behind the Doctor; Murdoch still deep in thought moved over and sat on the bed back resting against the headboard. He looked sideways in to his sons clear blue eyes and marvelled at Johnny's good luck. “How do you feel son?”
Johnny had to think about that. After a long pause he took a deep breath, grinned and said “Fine....” then he sighed deeply. “You know Murdoch I really thought this time.... this time I had found the right girl. I convinced myself that I loved her, that after a time we'd court, I would propose and then marry.” He paused, his gaze drawn to the window. Murdoch waited he knew there was more to come and that Johnny may need some prompting but he held his tongue.
After a minute or two Johnny began again. “Why do people leave Murdoch? Mattie and I have relied on each other for the last 2 weeks. With help from all of you we've been able to talk to each other about how we feel. I haven't put any pressure on her to do anything she didn't want to. I promised to go slow, I know she has led a sheltered life with Lem; but she had a chance here to live, grow to get an education. We discussed it all. Why go without ‘talking' to me?”
Murdoch followed his sons gaze to the window “What are you looking at?” Johnny fidgeted in the bed next to him then slid sideways to come to rest against Murdoch. “Nothing really just enjoying being able to see anything at all. The window is easy to make out. I know I can see it....... You asked me how I feel..... Hurt I feel hurt and like it's my fault for being too needy.”
Murdoch was surprised he never expected Johnny to confess so much. “Thank you for telling me son. I know it's difficult; I've been there too, never will be an answer to satisfy you. I do wonder though....” Murdoch paused and looked at Johnny out of the corner of his eye. Johnny had his eyes closed now and was relaxed. “Go on Murdoch” Johnny whispered. “Well.....if you hadn't regained you sight maybe she would have stayed because you would have both needed each other for support, but now..... maybe she thinks you won't need her and the offer of going east was the easy option. Mattie wouldn't have to wait around until you just didn't need her anymore.”
There was a contemplative “ummmm maybe” from Johnny “I guess we'll never know, there ain't no way I'm going chasing after her...... I guess that answers my question doesn't it. We just don't love each other enough to make it work.”
“Go to sleep, things will seem better tomorrow.” Murdoch eased out from beside Johnny leaving him half propped up on the pillows. He paused half in half out of the door and looked back at his sleeping son. He couldn't help being pleased Mattie had left. It meant his fledgling family could continue to grow and learn about each other without distractions; but he'd keep those thoughts to himself.
As he pulled to door closed he heard Johnny's soft drawl whisper “Thanks for listing Pa”
~ end ~