18 - Reunited: Day One

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The car drove through the crowd of media as it arrived at the hospital and was immediately bombarded with camera flashes and shouted questions that increased in intensity as the occupants of the vehicle were escorted into the building.

One of the hospital security guards led Melanie's friends and family to the elevator and took them to the eighth floor family room. They all sat impatiently as they waited for someone to come into the room to speak to them. They all jumped as Penny knocked on the door and poked her head into the room.

"Hi!" she greeted them excitedly. "How is everyone doing?" She stepped into the room and closed the door behind herself.

"That depends on what you've come to tell us," Alan replied nervously.

"How is she?" Dennis asked.

Penny sat on the arm of one of the couches and inhaled deeply, preparing herself to give Melanie's friends and family the news.

"Physically, she's going to be fine," Penny explained. She gave the occupants of the room the details of Melanie's physical condition, including the broken rib, punctured lung, the condition of her brain, as well as the multiple bruises and lacerations she'd incurred. "Mentally, Melanie's not herself," Penny continued. "She's highly inebriated at the moment, so we're not completely clear where she's at mentally. It seems as though her memory is quite limited, but we're going to wait until the drugs are out of her system to see if some of it comes back."

"How limited?" Geri asked, her expression serious and concerned.

"As far as I can tell, I don't think she even knows her own name," Penny replied regretfully. "We're assuming her memory goes back as far as the two weeks she's been separated from Brian. We haven't been able to get her to talk to us, but she didn't seem to even recognize her own reflection."

"So, she won't know who we are?" Emma squeaked, gripping her mum's hand.

"I don't think so," Penny replied sadly. "Not right away anyway."

There was a soft tapping at the door and Sandra let herself in. She smiled at the group and looked over at Melanie's parents. "We're going to keep her out for the next few hours," she explained. "We still have a few more assessments we want to do and it's too stressful for her to do them while she's awake. We're just waiting for our specialists to arrive before we take her back downstairs. You're welcome to come see her while we're waiting."

Melanie's parents followed Sandra out of the room with Paul and Stuart following close behind. There was a sense of apprehension and excitement as they entered Melanie's room. The anesthesiologist was in the room, checking Melanie's levels and ensuring she was still doing all right under the anesthesia. He smiled at the men and excused himself, leaving Sandra and Melanie's family alone.

Everyone struggled to control their emotions as they looked at Melanie. There was a tube protruding from her mouth, both to administer the sedative she was receiving and to keep her breathing. Another had been threaded through her nose to her stomach. Small wires from a heart monitor snaked out of the neck of her shirt and an IV jutted out of her arm. She'd been bathed following the exams and her hair was still slightly damp.

"The tube will be removed once we take her off the sedation and she looks a bit pale, but that's just from the anesthesia," Sandra explained. "She's not too badly banged up. There are quite a few superficial injuries I'm concerned with that Officer Shaw is going to come and assess. And, there's this."

Sandra pulled back Melanie's blanket and gently lifted her shirt, just enough to show Melanie's family the symbol on her stomach. Joan cupped her hand over her mouth with shock and she gently ran her fingers along the wounds.

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