Two Sisters Writing and Publishing

Winning Writers' Stories

"Second Chance" by Paulene Turner

 INT  HOSPITAL ROOM   DAY

MADELEINE, 20s, is lying unconscious on the hospital bed. There’s a drip in her arm, she’s hooked up to other machines, including a heart monitor. Beep Beep Beep.

SASHA, a nurse, has finished taking her blood pressure and records it on a chart at the end of the bed. She turns to go and gasps, as she finds JAKE, 20s, in the white coat of a doctor, suddenly there behind her. He’s transfixed with horror as he looks at the patient.

 

        SASHA

Doctor, sorry, I didn’t hear you come in.

For Jake, it is a struggle to keep his composure.

 

        SASHA

You’ve just missed the girl’s parents. They’ve gone for a conference with the specialist. Did you want to join them?

 

        JAKE

Is she gonna be all right?

 

Seeing the way he’s staring at the girl in the bed, she's concerned, but picks up the chart and flicks through it.

 

        SASHA

The patient’s name is Madeleine Clark. She’s 21 years old. She was the victim of a hit and run accident, and has sustained serious head and suspected internal injuries. The prognosis is-

 

The sound of a tortured sob stops her mid-sentence. She’s gobsmacked to find the doctor is crying.

 

        SASHA

Doctor, here sit down.

 

She pulls up a seat and Jake collapses into it.

 

        SASHA

Do you know this girl?

 

Jake shakes his head – no, and speaks through his tears.

 

        JAKE

No, I....

 

Unable to stay put, he gets up and walks over to the girl, and looks down at her with great tenderness.

 

        JAKE

What have I done?

 

Sasha, beginning to catch on, closes the door and approaches him.

 

        SASHA

Are you a doctor at this hospital?

 

He shakes his head – no.

 

        SASHA

Are you a family member, or friend?

 

A shake No again.

 

        SASHA

Then...

       

        JAKE

I’m the bastard who hit her.

 

His sobs increase.  A door opens and a POLICE OFFICER enters.

 

        POLICE OFFICER

I heard something.

 

He can see Jake crying and looks suspicious.

 

        SASHA

The doctor’s had some bad news.

 

        POLICE OFFICER

I thought she might have regained consciousness, so she could tell us something about the scum that hit her.

  

        SASHA

No, no not yet. If that happens, I’ll call you immediately.

 

Still observing the sobbing Jake suspiciously, the Police Officer starts to leave.

 

        POLICE OFFICER

I’ll be outside if you need me.

 

        SASHA

Officer. Why don’t you go get yourself a coffee. I’ll be doing obs for the next five to 10 minutes – so I’ll call you if there’s any change.

 

        POLICE OFFICER

You sure?

 

        SASHA

Yeah.

 

        POLICE OFFICER

Can I get you anything while I’m there?

 

        SASHA

Yes, thanks. Flat white, two sugars please.

 

        POLICE OFFICER

What about him?

 

        SASHA

No, he’s..fine.

 

He exits. Sasha closes the door. Jake’s cries subside.

 

        SASHA

What happened? 

 

        JAKE

I was late for a meeting. It was a big deal with a Japanese company – they don’t like you being late. Then, I got this text message. I looked down just for a second. She must have stepped onto the crossing just then.. Oh, God, can you believe that – late for a meeting?  How fucking stupid. When that cop comes back, I’m turning myself in. I don’t care what happens to me.

 

Sasha goes about her observations, stealing glances as she assesses him.

 

        JAKE

Have you got any experience in these things?

 

        SASHA

You mean hit and runs? I’ve seen a couple.

 

        JAKE

What usually happens to the..you know..perpetrator?

 

        SASHA

Hard to say?

 

Jake can tell she’s prevaricating.

 

        JAKE

Jail?  I’ll be lucky if I ever see the light of day again. Of course, it’s worse for her. Will she ever wake up?

 

        SASHA

There’s no way of knowing. She could be like that for years, or she could wake up any minute and be perfectly normal.

        JAKE

And those machines – what are they for? 

        SASHA

They’re keeping her alive right now. Until she can do it herself.

        JAKE

Can she hear us now?

        SASHA

Probably at some level.

 

Jake goes over to her.

        JAKE

I’m so sorry Madeleine. I wish I’d stopped. I wish none of this had ever happened.

 

Jake sniffles a bit more. Sasha frowns.

 

        JAKE

Is that cop there yet?  I want to talk to him.

 

Jake tries to push past, but Sasha stops him.

 

        SASHA

Now let’s just calm down and think about this.

 

Sasha paces.

 

        JAKE

What’s to think about?  I was stupid, and now a young girl’s life is ruined.

 

        SASHA

Did anyone see you hit her?

 

        JAKE

I don’t think so – it was late.

 

        SASHA

Could someone have got a look at your number plate, from a window, say?

 

        JAKE

No-one’s come forward, so I don’t think so.

 

        SASHA

I have to ask this. Why didn’t you stop when you hit her?

 

        JAKE

I was scared. I was hoping it hadn’t really happened, that I’d imagined it. I drove half way to the meeting before I turned around. When I got back the ambulance was there, but I was too gutless to own up. Do you think it would have made a difference ..to her...if I had stopped.

 

        SASHA

Probably not much.

 

        JAKE

Have you got any pills? Sleeping pills. Rat poison. I’d like to end it right here, right now. The world would be better off without me.

 

He starts to cry.

 

        SASHA

Now listen. No purpose will be served by you killing yourself or going to jail. You made a mistake, but it was only an accident. The best thing you can do is get on with your life. And make it a good one...for her sake.

 

Jake looks up, hopefully, through his tears.

 

        SASHA

Now, you need to get out of here, before that cop comes back and puts two and two together.

 

Jake is calm now, and looking with gratitude at Sasha.

        SASHA

I’ll go and find him and keep him busy for a few minutes, give you time to get clear.

 

        JAKE

Are you sure?  Won’t you get into trouble?

 

        SASHA

Don’t worry about me. Just get off, and make sure nobody sees you.

 

        JAKE

Thank you. I’m gonna change my life. I’m gonna do good things. For her and for you... (looks at name tag) Sasha.

 

She smiles at him and exits.

 

He goes up to Madeleine, leans down and strokes her hair.

 

        JAKE

You’re so beautiful, so much ahead of you. I would give anything to have a second chance to make it right.

 

Madeleine’s eyes flutter open. She moans.

 

        MADELEINE

       (drowsily)

Where am I? 

 

The machine starts to alarm as she falls asleep again.

 

        JAKE

Oh shit. Shhh.

 

He looks around in a panic. He closes the door, then confronts the beeping panels. He starts pressing buttons and switching switches, but the bleeping continues.

 

        JAKE

Shhh. Shhh.

 

Breathing heavily, he pulls out plug after plug until the beeping stops. The only machine still plugged in is the heart monitor, with its beep, beep, beep.

 

He takes a couple of deep breaths, opens the door and strides out.

 

After he exits, the heart monitor flatlines with a loud BEEEEEEEEEEEEP.

 

© Paulene Turner

 

About the Author: Paulene Turner is an Australian writer of novels, short stories and short plays. Many of her short theatre works have been performed at Short and Sweet, Sydney, the biggest little play festival in the world. A former journalist, she is currently writing a YA book series. www.pauleneturnerwrites.com

Contest Winner Paulene Turner DSC02294.JPG