COME AS YOU ARE - PART 18
A flood of emotion filled Rae. Maybe if she had told Herb all those years ago he would have stayed.
“Herb,” she said nervously, “You do have a child. You are a father biologically…”
Herb looked shocked, “What are you talking about?”
“Herb, Sophia is your daughter,” confessed Rae.
Herb pulled away, shocked and confused.
Herb stood up and stared at Rae in shock.
“Why didn’t you tell me all those years ago?!” he demanded.
“I don’t know. You were with Dorian. It’s no excuse…” she mumbled.
“You’re right, it’s no excuse!” thundered Herb, “My God…my daughter…is bleeding to death…”
“Don’t say that! You don’t know that! Sophia’s a fighter you know! She might make it!” said Rae standing up defending Sophia like a lion mother looking out for her cub.
“And then what?! Do you think Sophia is just going to welcome me with open arms? She doesn’t know a thing about me!!” spat Herb as he nervously began to pace the chapel.
“Sophia will give you a chance Herb,” said Rae fiercely.
“Like she’s given you?” retorted Herb, “Does she know I’m here father?!”
“I told her but she obviously didn’t recognize you,” said Rae following Herb’s pacing with her eyes.
“Obviously,” said Herb, “How could she? She’s never seen me!”
“She needs us…!” was all Rae could say, “To be strong for her.”
“Sophia needs people to believe in,” said Herb, “What about her adopted father?”
“Dead. And I don’t think she enjoyed her childhood. She won’t speak about it – neither will Freddie but I think their adopted father abused them,” explained Rae.
“Jesus,” muttered Herb as his heart sank. To think of his daughter growing up with an abusive parent just broke his heart.
“I thought you’d be happy to find out you had your own daughter…!” said Rae trying to appeal to Herb on another level.
“Honestly? Not like this…” said Herb. He stormed out of the chapel possessed with a sudden drive to find his daughter.
** Sophia was in recovery. Herb just peered through the window of the door watching her still form on the gurney.
“Hey old man, watcha’ doing?” came Freddie’s voice.
Herb turned around and studied Freddie in a different light.
“What?!” demanded Freddie, “I got cooties or something?!”
“No,” said Herb seriously, “Look where you a good brother?”
Freddie wrinkled his brow, “Me? I was a shitty brother. I still am.”
Just then Dr. Larry Wolek walked up.
“Larry, how’s Sophia?” asked Herb.
“She’ll make it but it was touch and go for a minute there,” said Larry, “We’ll be moving her to a private room in a minute.”
** Sophia was sleeping and Herb sat in a chair at her bedside holding her hand. His words were sincere as he addressed his sleeping daughter.
“I’m sorry. I never knew you. If I had known, I would have ensured I was in your life. I would have done my best to protect you…to love you…”
Herb looked up and saw Sophia was awake. Her eyes were half open and she looked very tired.
“You know? I’m your father…?” muttered Herb looking into the young woman’s eyes.
“Who else would…hold my hand?” she muttered, “Where’s Rae?”
“Ssshhh. Rest,” said Herb, “Rae, believe it or not, is trying to get a hold of Dorian in Switzerland. She’s told me you and Dorian are…friends.”
Sophia struggled to smile, “Yeah. Dorian’s cool. She won’t admit it but she’s a big “Hole” fan.”
“I’m glad…about you and Dorian…” said Herb at a loss for words.
“Freddie okay?” asked Sophia weakly.
“He’s a basketcase but I get the impression it’s nothing new to him…” said Herb allowing himself a small smile.
“That young man with the accent? He’s very worried about you…” said Herb.
“Good,” grinned Sophia, “Boyfriends should be. I guess that means he still loves me.”
Herb laughed, “I guess so. Look, Sophia…”
Sophia swallowed, “What?”
“I don’t know how you feel about me,” finished Herb.
“I dunno either,” answered Sophia, “But I sure would like it…if you stuck around…”
“I could do that,” whispered Herb.
Sophia studied his pained and worried face and wondered what it would be like to have a mother and father who cared about her like other people had. Could she have a fairly normal life with parents, a brother and a boyfriend? Was fairytaleland within her grasp? Dare she reach out and try to step into it? Would it burn down if she did?
”I will always haunt you…”
Maybe so. But not today. She was alive and had people who cared about her and she would savor the moment.