Second Chance with the Single Mom(4)

By: Annie Claydon

Raina pressed her lips together, tilting her jaw slightly. The look was so familiar to him that Alistair had to swallow a smile. Raina had made up her mind, and she was challenging him to disagree, but what she wanted for her daughter was exactly in line with his own thinking.

‘That’s our approach too. We believe that the speed and low cost of 3D pr0.inting can help us address some of the issues involved with children who have previously rejected prosthetics, but we’re not limiting our expectations to any one outcome.’

‘Neither am I. I just want...’ A car roared past, drowning out the rest of the sentence.

‘Sorry, I didn’t hear you.’

‘I want Anya to be happy and fulfilled. That’s the only expectation I’m not giving up on.’

He should have known that, without having to ask. Raina was a good doctor, and she never gave up on anyone. How could she be expected to give up on her own daughter?

Alistair started to walk again, and their route took them onto the main road, which ran along the bank of the Thames. He motioned Raina towards the crossing, noticing that her lips were moving and wondering if she was saying anything of any importance. He decided not to ask. He’d save the I didn’t hear for when he knew it was needed.

The wide pavement on the other side of the road was bordered by the river, and Alistair looked for a quiet place that they might sit. His head was buzzing, and he’d made his way towards a bench, standing in the shadow of Cleopatra’s Needle, before he realised where they were.

‘I have half an hour. Can you meet me on the bench by the river?’

One or the other of them had brought coffee then, too. They had been young doctors working long shifts and they’d needed the caffeine and the fresh air almost as much as they’d needed the love that had been in each other’s eyes.

It was too late to move now. Raina had sat down next to him, sipping the last dregs of her coffee. He shifted around on the bench so that he was facing her.

‘We’re hoping to involve parents very closely in this project. Would that be a problem for you time-wise?’

Raina shook her head. ‘I’ve taken a few years off work to care for Anya. She’s my only priority, and I can spend as much time as it takes to make this a success.’

She’d had such a promising career, and Raina had put that all on hold. It didn’t much surprise Alistair, but he felt shamed by it. He wondered whether he would have thought twice about doing the same.

‘Can you tell me a little about your daughter?’

‘Well, as I said, Anya’s three years old. And she’s beautiful...’ Raina smiled suddenly. ‘She’s becoming so curious about the world. Look...’

She took her phone from her pocket, flipping through photos. Alistair was about to tell her that he didn’t need to see photographs when Raina held out the phone.

A little girl, with dark curls and brown eyes, smiling gleefully as she inspected sea shells on a beach. She was so like Raina that it almost hurt to look, but in that moment he knew that if things had been different, and this had been his and Raina’s child, he would have given up everything for the little girl as well.

The temptation to tell her right now that she and her daughter had a place on the pilot scheme almost overwhelmed him. But there was a process, and all applications had to go through the assessment procedures.

‘And you’ve completed your application?’

‘Yes, and all the supporting documents are there too. I’ve spoken with Anya’s consultant about it, and he thinks that it’s a way forward for her. The kind of prosthetics you’re producing aren’t widely available yet and when I showed him your website he agreed that The Watchlight Trust’s patient-led approach made your scheme a very good option for Anya.’

She pulled the large manila envelope with his name on it out of her bag, opening it and taking out a folder and handing it to him. The application was neatly bound together with typed pages, which no doubt gave all the details about her daughter’s injury and her medical needs. But the front page gave little doubt about what Raina thought was most important. This photograph showed the little girl with crayons and a drawing pad. Raina’s whole focus was on what she could do, and her potential to do more.

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