Sunday, April 20, 2014


      Nine a.m. Max knew she should call Tony. At the oddest times during the long, stressful night of waiting at the hospital, she thought of Tony anxiously waiting for news. She couldn't. Telling Tony her parents' condition would be admitting how bad it was. The three-hour difference between California and Ohio would only be a valid excuse for a little while longer.
      The hospital had set aside an entire waiting room, just for their family and friends. Max knew it was more a survival tactic than kindness. At least twenty people waited with her and her brothers at any one time. The noise alone had to be a problem. A private waiting room gave the staff the option of closing a door.
      Pastor Glenn and Rita had been there from around eleven until three in the morning, then they had to go home to get a little rest and prepare for the worship services. Jeannette Marshall had come around eight, with breakfast and fresh clothes for her and the boys. Dr. Morgan had keys to the theater, and he let her in, then followed her to the hospital. From the moment Morgan walked in the door, he had been a rock of support and common sense. Not ten minutes ago, he ran interference with the first newspaper reporter who tried to slip into the waiting room. Max hadn't even realized what was happening until Morgan was at the door, throwing the full weight of professorial disapproval on the stranger with the digital camera. Then a hospital security guard showed up and led the reporter away before any damage was done.
      Max supposed the moment the name Emily Keeler appeared in the accident report, a flag program somewhere on the Internet passed the news on to a thousand sites. The concept of "viral" took on a whole new meaning.
      Worrying about the paparazzi was low on her list. She had a book deadline to meet. Taming of the Shrew was supposed to open up next Tuesday. The set wasn't finished yet. The costumes weren't finished. And Joel was playing Petruchio -- who was she going to get to replace him with eight days to learn the lines and the blocking? Maybe she should cancel the production. She stared at the list of things to do when she went home from the hospital, if she ever went home from the hospital -- how could she go home and leave her parents here? Why wasn't Tony here to hold her hand and help her think straight? She was cut in half without Tony. Why did he have to pick now to leave her all alone?

      "Max." Morgan sat down next to her and caught hold of her hands. "One thing at a time. You're not alone in this."

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