Sunday serialisation – Knight after Knight, 6.2

Knight after Knight250

In Knight & Deigh, Hannice Knight suffered a back injury that left him without the use of his legs. Sophie Deigh, physiotherapist and recent widow, devoted herself to supporting him.

As Hannice’s body recovered, he became ever closer to Sophie, and soon they found themselves in a relationship they had neither anticipated nor intended and for which neither was fully prepared.

A bump in the Knight followed Hannice as he juggled business, hedonism, marriage and ultimately parenthood.

Knight after Knight is the third and final part of the Hannice Knight story. Starting after the marriage of Hannice and Sophie’s only son, David to Jess, the only child of Jason and Noelani Reeves of Hawaii, it traces the Knight family’s progression through the generations.

Knight after Knight. Chapter six, part two.

I crept in three times during the evening. The rise and fall of her torso confirmed she was sleeping peacefully. There was no way I was going to disturb her – sleep was probably exactly what she needed. On the third occasion, I crept up to her, kissed her lightly on the cheek and whispered, “Sleep well. I love you.” Sophie grunted in reply.
The sofa is perfect for sitting on, for reading, talking or consuming the rubbish that they call television programmes. For sleeping on, it’s a non-starter. If I had two hours’ sleep that night, that’s all I did have.

Before making myself breakfast, I crept up the stairs and gingerly entered our bedroom to see how Sophie was and find out if she wanted some food. What I saw inside the room was not what I expected or wanted to see. At some time during the night, Sophie had thrown the covers off herself and was laying on her back, spread-eagle fashion. Her night-dress was soaking wet and her skin was clammy but cold with a blue-grey hue. I tried to rouse her but failed. I checked her pulse. It was there, but thin and rapid. Her breathing was shallow. I ran downstairs, grabbed the phone and called the hospital. They agreed to send an ambulance straight away.

A crew arrived within a few minutes. Ten minutes later we were in the Emergency department of the local hospital where the resident doctor was looking Sophie over.
“What is it, Doctor?” I asked.

Instead of answering me, the doctor instructed one of his nurses to set up an urgent head and chest MRI scan.

“We’ll know more after the scan, Mr Knight,” he said, “but it doesn’t look good.”

“Do you mean…”

“Let’s wait for the scan result, shall we?” he said then followed the bed on which my wife was being pushed into the bowels of the hospital. I started to follow.

“Wait here, please, Mr Knight,” he said, pushing his way through the door, “Oh, by the way, do you know of any allergies?”

“No. Why?”

“Okay, good.” As he went through the door I heard him tell his nurse to prepare a contrast agent.

That was possibly the longest half-hour of my life. Longer even than the time I spent waiting in this same hospital when we brought David in with heat exhaustion all those years ago. Finally, the doctor came back in. I didn’t like the look on his face.

“I’m so sorry, Mr Knight,” he said.

“What is it?”

“It looks as though Sophie suffered a sudden bleed into part of her brain. I’m afraid we lost her whilst she was in the scanner.”

“What do you mean, lost her?”

“Do you want to see her?”

“She’s dead, isn’t she?” I asked, not really knowing what I was saying or even what I was thinking. “What caused it? This bleed?”

“We’ll need to do more tests to be sure, but I think it was a spontaneous subarachnoid haemorrhage.”

“Can’t you do anything?”

“I’m sorry, Mr Knight. She’s gone.”

“Oh, my God. Are you sure? Maybe she’s just passed out or something.”

The doctor called a nurse to bring me a cup of tea and sit with me for a while. When the nurse brought my drink, I took it automatically and, somewhere in the distance, I said, “Thank you.”

“Is there anyone I can call for you, Mr Knight?”

“What?” I said, absently, “Oh yes. Maxine Matham. She’s staying at the Churchill.”

“I’ll call her for you.”

“Don’t leave,” I begged, “I don’t want to be alone.”

“I’m not going anywhere, Mr Knight. There’s a phone in here – look,” she said, indicating the wall-phone in the corner. I hadn’t seen it before, but then, I hadn’t really seen anything since I came in here. She called the hotel and was put through to Max’s room.

“Maxine Matham?” I heard her say. I couldn’t hear the reply, of course.

“Mr Hannice Knight is here in the relatives’ room at the district hospital ED … no, he’s fine … yes … if you could, please.”

“Ms Matham will be here in a few minutes, Mr Knight.”

“Can you stay with me until she arrives, please?”

“Of course.”

We sat in silence for probably fifteen minutes or so, until Max arrived. As Max walked in, the nurse squeezed my hand, got up, said, “I’ll leave you with your friend, Mr Knight,” and left us.

Max sat beside me and took my hand. “What happened?” she said.

I told her how Sophie had stormed out the previous evening, how I had checked on her during the evening and what I had found in the morning.

“The worst thing,” I said, is that the last time we spoke, it was in anger.” I broke down and cried at that point.

“Let it out, Hannice,” Max said, “let me know when you’re ready to listen to what I have to say.”

I calmed a little, and said, “Okay.”

“Hannice. There are two things you need to remember. Firstly, Sophie wasn’t herself. I’m no medic, but I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that there was some sort of pressure on her brain for quite a while and that the pressure was behind her mental state. She didn’t mean any of the things she was saying. Okay?”

“What’s the second thing?” I snivelled.

“You told me that the last thing you said to her was to tell her that you loved her.”

“It was. But I don’t know if she would have heard it.”

“She grunted. It would have got through to her subconsciously even if she wasn’t fully aware of it. She died knowing that you love her. That’s important.”

“Thank you, Max. I don’t know how I’d manage without you.”

“What are friends for? We’ll get you back to the villa and put you to bed with a sedative. I’ll book out of the hotel, then I’ll stay with you to help you with whatever arrangements you choose to make, if you wish.”

“I don’t want to go back to the villa yet. And I certainly can’t sleep in the bed Sophie…” I trailed off and started sobbing again.

“Sure, Hannice. We’ll go back to the Churchill. I’m sure they have a spare room.”

At that point, the doctor came back in.

“How are we doing, Mr Knight?” he asked.

“I’m going to take him home now,” Max said, “can he have a sedative?”

“Of course, I’ll have the nurse give you something,” he replied, “and can you leave a contact number at reception so we can tie up any loose ends – I assume Mr Knight will want to make arrangements at his home in England?”

“Can we talk about that tomorrow?”

“Of course. We will need Mr Knight’s permission to carry out a post-mortem examination to confirm the cause of death before we can issue a death certificate. There’s also the matter of—”

“It was Sophie’s wish to donate any part of her body that can help someone after her death. We were both clear on that,” I said.

“Thank you, Mr Knight. We’ll talk tomorrow.”