Life After Dark
Chapter 23

"Hold the elevator, please!"

Tommy pressed the 'open door' button and waited for the person to arrive.

"Hi, Tommy!" Lark said as she hopped into the elevator with him.

"Lark!" he said with a surprised smile. "What are you doing here on a Sunday?"

"I'm visiting," she said with a smile.

"Oh, well, that's nice."

Lark glanced at her watch and looked at him. "Isn't it kind of late for you? Aren't you usually here by now?"

"Well, yeah," he said shyly. "I had a late night last night."

"Oh, yeah?" she asked with a teasing grin.

Tommy blushed as the elevator doors opened. He moved to exit the elevator and stopped short when Lark joined him. "Your friend is on this floor?"

"My friend is your mother, silly," she said, laughing. "I heard that she woke up and I wanted to stop by and say hello. It is okay with you, right?"

"Sure," Tommy nodded. "I've told my mom about you. She would like to meet you in person."

"You've told her about me?" Lark asked with a small frown.

"Yeah. She was asleep at the time, but I've mentioned you," Tommy said as he moved to his mother's room. He smiled at the nurses who waved good morning to him. Everyone on the floor liked him and over time, he had begun to like them, too.

"What did you say about me?" she asked as she walked with him down the corridor.

"I told her that you were nice and that you helped me choose books for me to read to her. Pretty basic stuff. The same kind of things I told her about the other people who came to visit," he said. He missed the how the light in Lark's eyes dimmed a little as he pushed Simone's door open.

"Good morning, Mama," he said as he crossed the room to stand beside Simone's bed.

Simone sat up straight in her bed and opened her arms for her son. This was the first time that she was coherent enough to appreciate his presence. When Tommy fell into her arms, she felt her soul melt. He was truly alive. Her son was alive and well.

Tommy buried his head in his mother's shoulder as the sobs of relief escaped him. Simone patted his back and gave in to her own tears, as well.

Lark watched the scene from the door for a couple of moments before she began to feel like an intruder. Slowly, she backed out of the door and closed the door behind her.

"Good morning, Lark," Gina said as she approached the room. In her arms, she carried a few books and a home-made shawl.

Lark forced herself to smile. "Gina."

"I didn't know you worked on Sunday."

"I don't," Lark replied, as she moved past Gina to leave.

Gina shrugged as Lark walked away. As she opened the door and saw Tommy and Simone embrace, she felt the tears well up in her eyes. Deciding that she could wait a few minutes before she joined them, she closed the door and moved to wait in the lobby.

As Gina lowered herself into the oversized chair, she became oblivious to everything else as the tears began to flow door her face. As she fumbled for a Kleenex to wipe her eyes, she didnít notice the tall, dark man who watched her from behind the nurse's station.

~*~

Tommy pulled away from Simone and wiped at his tears as he looked at her. She was awake. Really awake. The realization made him want to cry again, but he made himself hold the tears at bay. Right now, he wanted to look at her.

"My aren't you a sight for sore eyes," Simone said, her voice hoarse from not being used for so long.

"So are you," Tommy said as he smiled at her.

"You've put on some weight. You look good," she said as she ran a hand through his hair.

"So do you," he said.

"Is that all you can say?" Simone asked, laughing.

He slowly shook his head. "There's something else I can say. I love you, Mama."

Simone felt her heart swell with his soft spoken words. Her eyes flooded with tears as Tommy fell into her arms again. "I love you, too, baby."

They continued to hold each other close as the minutes ticked away.

Chapter 24

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