Samantha was struggling back to reality. Scene after scene flashed through her mind; like some movie montage gone wild. Faces were peering down at her as she lay on the ground somewhere. There was a flashing light and then there was a very bright light. Faces were peering down at her again. Then she saw her mom come into a room. Where was she? Now she recognized it. She was in the living room of the little house in Bentlyville. Her mom had just come home from work. She was wearing that blue tailored suit; that looked so nice on her. But there was something about her mom. It was very important. What was it? Dead! Dead, that’s what it was! Her mom was dead. She’d killed herself and it was probably Samantha’s fault. Samantha’s eyes flew open. Jesus Christ! She was in Ted’s examining room. Samantha screamed and tried to get up. Her mom couldn’t be gone! She had to find her! She had to tell her she was sorry! She had to get away before Tracy came back in with…with what? Samantha began to sob in frustration, as she struggled to get up. But somehow she couldn’t. Now she felt someone holding her down, a sharp sting of pain and then blackness.
Samantha wasn’t sure how long she’d been sleeping. She opened her eyes again and realized she was in a real hospital room; not Ted’s examining room after all. Things were clearer now. Samantha remembered the scrap of paper Anna gave her at the bus station and what it said, “Local Woman Found Dead Daughter Missing”. Samantha closed her eyes again and tears began to stream down her face. Samantha heard footsteps in the room. She brought her hands up to her face, quickly brushing the tears away. Samantha sensed a presence close by and then a cool firm hand touched her forehead. She felt a Kleenex very gently dabbing the tears from her eyes and cheeks. She heard a voice; that had a pleasant reassuring tone to it say, “Well young lady, I guess the state I left your beautiful hair in must have given you quite a shock. I’m a very good doctor, but a lousy hair dresser. If you choose to open your eyes and take a look; I’m sure you’ll see that I don’t have much occasion to deal with hair.
Samantha slowly opened her eyes and saw a thin balding man of medium-height bending over her. He appeared to be in his mid to late fifties and had a pleasant-looking face. If her experience with Bill Boyer had taught Samantha anything; it was to go with her first impressions. As Samantha looked into this man’s clear calm gray eyes, she immediately knew that here was a good person, who could be trusted.
The man smiled and said, “That’s better. Now let’s have no more tears. We don’t want those pretty blue eyes all swollen and red. I can assure you that you’re going to be just fine before very long. The hair will grow in quickly and you’ll be good as new. I’m Doctor John Sherman and you are?”
For some reason, Samantha decided to change her name again. She said, “I’m Samantha Elliot.”
“Well Mrs. Elliot, you sustained a substantial blow to the back of the head. You’re very lucky that your skull wasn’t fractured. At this point though, my diagnosis is that you’ll make a swift and full recovery.
Samantha was confused, what made Doctor Sherman think she was married? She said, “I’m not married. It’s Miss Elliot, but I would prefer you call me Samantha.
“Oh, I see. You do appear a bit young to be married.”
Samantha said hastily, “I’m older than I look. I’m just not married.”
Doctor Sherman hesitated for a moment and then continued. “I see. Well Samantha, in addition to your injury, there’s another medical problem we’ve had to deal with. When did you last have your period?”
This question caught Samantha completely by surprise. She had never been good at keeping track of her period. It had always been erratic. Now, she couldn’t seem to remember when it came last. Finally Samantha said, “To be honest, I’m not sure I remember. Why?”
“Well I estimate that you were about six weeks pregnant. I’m sorry to have to tell you this Samantha, but you had a miscarriage. It was probably caused by the trauma associated to your injury.”
Samantha was shocked, but then she thought damn you’re so naïve. You know how babies are made. Did you think you were a special case? Samantha knew the baby had to have been Dave Weston’s.”
Doctor Sherman said, “There’s a phone right by your bed. I assume you’ll want to contact your family. You can have visitors, but don’t overdo it right away. I believe someone from Admitting will be up to get your information. You know… medical provider and the like.”
Now Samantha began to get a bit panicky. What could she possibly tell those people? What kind of story could she make up? If she ever needed a friend, it was now and who could she turn to? Suddenly Samantha realized just how alone in the world she was. Then the shock of her mother’s death hit her again. Samantha felt like she was drowning and she decided to go with her instincts. She was going to reach out to Doctor Sherman for help. She had no choice and if he refused her, all was lost anyway and nothing mattered.
Doctor Sherman said softly. “I’m terribly sorry to have to bring you bad news. But you’re young and healthy. You’re going to get over this and go on with your life. Apparently you didn’t have any identification when the paramedics brought you in. You should contact your family as soon as possible Samantha.”
Without warning, Samantha began to sob again. Doctor John Sherman came to the conclusion that this beautiful young girl was probably alone in the world and most likely was a runaway. How she got to the bus station in Rawlings, was probably a long story that she wouldn’t be willing to tell very easily. Doctor Sherman was very concerned about Samantha. He was sure she’d been through a lot. She was so beautiful and seemed so vulnerable. His heart went out to her. Then Doctor Sherman thought be careful John. Don’t get involved. Go slow and steady. Although this was sound reasoning, Doctor Sherman knew he was already involved and had been, since he first saw Samantha.
Doctor Sherman took Samantha’s hand and said, “Please Samantha, pull yourself together and tell me what’s wrong. I’ll help you in any way I can. You don’t have to tell me everything if you don’t feel you can. But promise what you do tell will be the truth. I can’t help you if I don’t know the truth.”
Samantha said as she choked back the tears. “I need help and I don’t have anyone to turn to. I don’t have any family to contact. My dad left mom and me over three years ago. I don’t have any idea where he is. My mom’s dead. I just found that out today at the bus station. I guess I must have fainted or something and fell down. I did leave home almost a month ago, but I’m not really a runaway. My mom was very upset with me and she told me to go. I don’t want to say why she wanted me to go, but we didn’t actually have a fight. I couldn’t blame her for the way she felt. I did some things that she had every right to be upset about. The problems we had were entirely my fault. I was hoping to make things up with her. I was going back home, when I found out there was no reason to.”
Doctor Sherman asked, “Where is your home Samantha? Where have you been for the past month? How did you end up at the bus station?”
“I don’t have a home now. For about three weeks, I was working as a housekeeper. But as things turned out, I didn’t fit in there. There was a good reason for it and that’s all I’m going to say. Someone from the family I was working for dropped me at the bus station. That person found out where I came from and what happened to my mom.”
“Samantha, you mean to say this person dropped you off and then said to you, “Oh by the way, your mother is dead.”
“It was about like that. There was a computer print out from a local news paper that I was given.”
“That was a cruel unfeeling thing to do to you S
“So it seems that you have no friends or family to help. What
do you want me to do Samantha?”
“Please get me out of here today. When they find out I don’t have any family or insurance. I don’t know what they’ll do and I’m afraid.”
“How old are you Samantha?”
“I’m almost eighteen.”
“Samantha, I’m a doctor. I take that responsibility very seriously. You have a head injury and there’s always the possibility that complications could develop, especially within the first forty-eight hours. I doubt if any will, but I won’t take that chance. You’ve also had a miscarriage. You’ve lost a lot of blood and you’re in no condition to leave this hospital today.”
Samantha’s heart sank and she said, “Then you can’t help me.”
“I didn’t say that Samantha. I don’t want you to worry about talking to the admitting folks or any uncomfortable questions being asked. I’ve been with this hospital for a very long time. I have connections here and plenty of favors owed to me. I have plenty of strings I can pull around here and I’m going to pull some for you. You deserve a break young lady and I’m going to see that you get it.”
Doctor Sherman knew that every chance that he was about to take would be worth it; when he saw the beautiful smile that came over Samantha’s face.