As Angel began to breathe on her own, Rosa developed a cough. It was a dry, rasping, deep-lung cough, that startled Radical out of his deep sleep on the cot beside Angel’s bed.
It was only day two of the induced coma, and Rosa was pleased that Angel’s temperature had come down a little, and that her breathing was less laboured. But I was concerned for Rosa.
She shrugged off my concerns, which was very like Rosa. She was the member of the crew least interested in intimacy, and would help populate the planet out of duty, not lust. She dismissed my worry not out of courage, but from disdain for my weakness and lack of focus. Of course she cared about her health; she cared nothing, however, about my frivolous opinions.
Radical’s routine had been disrupted and he was sleeping more than he ever did before we were quarantined. This alarmed me too. Yes, we three were stuck in a small space with a sick child, but I seemed to be the only one completely unscathed. I slept well, considering. I had a good appetite. I walked the treadmill. I kept my spirits up. I tended to Angel, keeping her clean and fresh. I distracted Radical, who should have been much more restless than he was. Perhaps boredom caused his sleep cycle change?
I just wanted Angel to get well, and for us all to get out and back with the rest of the crew, back to our regular activities and duties, get the children back in school and back to their active daily life.
“How is she?” Radical asked me, climbing, uncharacteristically, into my lap as I sat by Angel’s bed. Rosa was preparing to bring the child out of the coma. Angel’s parents observed from the monitor, tense and agitated.
Radical asked me because Rosa would have ignored his question. “She is doing well, Raddy,” I said, trying to hug him. His sharp elbows and ribbed spine impeded my attempts. “Look! She is breathing just fine on her own.”
And Rosa crumpled to the floor.
Radical tumbled unceremoniously to the floor as I stood and rushed to Rosa’s side. She wasn’t breathing. I threw protocol to the wind then, for which I could have been severely reprimanded. Rightly so.
I broke quarantine and let the others into the hospital unit. Ed was second medical officer. Rosa needed him.
Christopher and Sara gave Ed a wide berth and went directly to the other side of the bed, leaning over Angel. Christopher then threw protocol to the stars, and picked their daughter up, cradling her in his arms.
Protocol didn’t matter any more.
Angel opened her eyes.
I went to get a blanket for Rosa, and saw my son, Radical. He was in the shadows behind Angel’s bed, watching everything, alone and unmoving.