WONDER HORSE BOOK ONE
By: Victoria Hardesty and Nancy Perez
Writers of Action and Adventure with Arabian Horses
The same Friday Ali walked onto the Hartley Ranch in the High Desert, Becky felt herself moving out of the fog and into a brighter world. She could hear her mother singing one of the lullabies she sang to her when she was very little. Becky could hear the words clearly for the first time. She struggled to move. She could move her eyelids just a tiny bit at first. Her mother didn’t notice it the first time or two. She was holding Becky’s hand in hers. She felt the first movement when Becky tried to squeeze her hand. Caroline shot out of the chair and stood over Becky. “Becky, can you hear me? Becky, if you can hear me, can you open your eyes? Can you squeeze my hand?”
Becky felt everything all at once, but she was so tired by the effort she drifted off again. When Mom saw no movement and got no response from Becky, she hurried out of the room to the nurses’ station looking for Becky’s day nurse.
“I think she’s trying to wake up!” she told her. “I’m sure I saw her eyelids move a little, and I’m very sure she was trying to squeeze my hand.” Tears welled up in her eyes.
The nurse rushed to Becky’s room with Caroline right behind her. She checked Becky’s vital signs – all good. Becky appeared to be sleeping. The nurse shook Becky’s shoulder firmly. “Becky, are you there? Can you open your eyes?” Nothing. She shook her more firmly a second time. “Becky, can you hear me? Can you open your eyes?”
Becky felt like someone was trying to shake her out of a deep sleep. It irritated her. She wanted to sleep. She squeezed her eyes shut and turned her head away from the person shaking her.
“Did you see that?” Caroline almost whispered.
“Yes, I sure did. I think she may be coming around. It might take a while. She’s been out for almost two weeks. Give her some more time but keep talking to her. She hears you now. Her brain is processing information,” the nurse told Caroline. “I’ll be right outside if you need me.”
Caroline called Walter on his cell phone. Walter was in the shower and covered with soap when his phone rang. He opened the shower door reaching for the phone, and almost dropped it from his slippery palm. He gripped it and pulled it to his ear. “Yes?”
“Honey, she is waking up. She tried to squeeze my hand. The nurse shook her, and she squeezed her eyes shut and turned her head. You have to come back here now!” Caroline told him.
“Be there in ten minutes!” he shouted and ended the call. He rinsed off, dressed, and ran out the door. He drove to the hospital, not running red lights but ignoring speed limits all the way. He ran through the hospital lobby and pressed the elevator button. “Why, oh why, are elevators so slow when you need one?” On the floor for the ICU, Walter sprinted to the entry door and picked up the phone to the nurses’ station to give him access. When the door cracked open, he shoved it out of his way and sprinted to Becky’s room.
“What’s going on?” he asked Caroline. She was sitting next to Becky’s bed, holding her hand.
“I’ve seen her eyes flutter a couple of times. She squeezed them shut when the nurse shook her, so I closed the blinds in here. Maybe the light was too strong for her just yet?”
“Has she said anything?”
“Not yet, but she seems to come and go. She’s squeezed my hand a couple of times. I think it tires her out, and she drifts off again. Why don’t you sit here for a few minutes and just watch her, see what you think?”
Caroline gave the chair to Walter and sat down on the cot alongside the wall. She was exhausted. She didn’t sleep well, and she wasn’t eating well either. Two weeks of this, and she was running on fumes. She lay down on the cot to rest a few minutes. She drifted off too.
Walter sat in the chair and stared intently at his daughter’s face for at least thirty minutes before anything changed. He noticed her eyelids flutter a tiny bit. Then he felt the pressure of her hand in his squeezing a little bit. He began to talk to her. He told her how much he and her mother loved her and wanted her back. He told her how her friends at school missed her. Her teachers missed her too. Espie sent her love and many hugs. Fernando sent her a kiss on the forehead.
Becky heard every word! She didn’t understand what all the fuss was. She was just sleeping, after all.
Becky came and went over the next five days. There were times her parents were sure she would open her eyes and times when they were sure she was trying to speak to them. Becky squeezed their hands with more force. She moved her legs and feet, tiny movements at first, but more and more purposefully. The struggle to move, speak, and open her eyes exhausted her, and Becky fell back asleep, but it was sleep now, not the deep fog and blackness it had been. She heard most of the conversation in the room now and understood the words spoken.
Tuesday night, Caroline’s cell phone rang. Caroline answered, “Hello.” She remained silent and just listened. Suddenly her shoulders began to shake, and tears streamed from her eyes. She couldn’t speak.
Walter took the phone from her, “Who is this?” Ginny told him everything. “Oh, my Dear God, Thank you! Our prayers have been answered.” was about all he could say. He cleared his throat, “Thank you, Ginny. Will you please tell Mike and Brody how much we appreciate what you’ve done. Caroline and I will see you here in the lobby when you get here.”
Caroline stood up and threw her arms around him, and cried silently for a while. He comforted her and stroked her back until she regained control of herself.
“Oh, I’m so relieved,” she told him. “He’s okay and coming home soon. In the meantime, he’s in the best place possible.”
“I agree with you. We’ll talk to Ginny when she and Sharon get here.” Walter held her close.
“Mom? Dad?” Becky spoke for the first time in weeks. The words were clear as day and stopped her parents in their tracks.
Caroline and Walter spun around dumbfounded, split, and went to each side of the bed, reaching through the side rails to hold her hands. As they stared at her face, her blue eyes shined at them. She smiled.
“Mom, is Ali okay?”
“Yes, dear. Ali is fine. He is waiting for you!”
Becky sighed, closed her eyes, and fell back into a peaceful sleep.