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The Quickest Way to the Hospital

by  danshaw

Posted: Friday, August 29, 2003
Word Count: 1208
Summary: A doting husband tries to prepare for the arrival of his first child.

Adam’s digital watch alarm started bleeping at precisely 2:45pm. Dropping his newspaper he ran upstairs to where his wife was napping in their bedroom. Switching on the light he gently shook her arm.
‘Quick Julia, we need to go now, the clock is ticking.’
Julia grunted something indecipherable and turned away from her husband, who had begun frantically ticking things off from a list that was pinned to the bed’s headboard.
‘Suitcase… check. Car keys… check. Spare map… check. Mobile phone… check. Wallet… check. Cigar… check.’
Julia sat up slowly, rubbing her eyes and blinking at him.
‘It’s Sunday, Adam, for Christ’s sake.’
‘I know, but we haven’t done a Sunday before. There might be traffic outside the churches along the route.’
‘What churches?’
‘Exactly my point. We need to know.’
Julia gingerly swung her legs over the side of the bed and slid her feet into the shoes that Adam had placed there the night before.
‘If you’re not careful you’re going to give this child some sort of anxiety disorder before it’s even born. Now where’s my hairbrush?’
‘There’s one in the bag, we haven’t got time to worry about your hair now. Every second counts.’
‘Shut up Paul Daniels.’ laughed Julia, throwing a pillow at her husband’s head.
He grinned back at her.
‘If you think your hair’s messy now, you wait until after 48 hours of labour, my sweet.’ Adam laughed.
The second pillow hit him square in the face.
‘I love you, you know that.’
‘I had kind of guessed by the way you make me do this three times a week.’ Julia said sarcastically. ‘Come on then, Parker, let’s get this over with. I want to be back in time for Eastenders.’

By the time Julia had navigated the stairs and got her coat on, Adam had started the car and reversed it to within a foot of the front door, reducing his wife’s total number of footsteps needed to get to the passenger side by at least seven. Pulling the front door to behind her, Julia manoeuvred herself beside him.
‘Four minutes twenty to the car,’ said Adam, checking a chart that was taped to the dashboard, ‘slower than Wednesday, but still on target.’
‘Ooh, do I get a prize?’ smiled Julia, putting her hand on his knee and moving it slowly up his thigh.
‘Stop it, that’s unfair use of distraction tactics. I may have to take away your breakfast in bed rights for the next week.’
‘Okay then spoilsport, let’s go. But I’ll remind you of that wasted opportunity six months from now when the only thing you’ll be able to put near me is a cup of tea and a warm milk bottle.’
‘Right, that’s two week’s of no breakfast privileges for you missy, I warned you.’
Kissing her on the cheek, Adam pulled the car out of the driveway.

The route to Southridge Fields General Hospital was quite straightforward. Apart from the unknown quantity that was the occasional road works and diversions, the roads were wide and relatively clear. After five or six minutes they were due to be out of the village and onto the A33 dual carriageway that lead to within a few miles of the hospital. Then it was simply a case of two roundabouts, two sets of traffic lights and the winding B road that brought them to the hospital gates. After so many practise runs, he could drive it blindfolded.

Adam was secretly hoping that Julia would go into labour on a Tuesday afternoon, as they had got there in twenty six minutes last Tuesday. Although, to make sure, he would have to plan for a practise run on a Tuesday morning to see what the rush hour traffic was like compared to a Thursday or Friday. As the car accelerated onto the A33 Adam congratulated himself on a smooth first phase.
‘Can I put the radio on now?’ Julia asked, already reaching down to the dial.
‘Let me check the traffic news for a minute and then you can have it all to yourself for the next fifteen until we get to the turnoff.’
Julia sat back abruptly.
‘Go on then, Obsessive Man, but be quick, I want to hear the charts.’
Adam tuned it to Radio Presswich, the local radio station. He knew that they had a travel update at three. Of course, he knew all the times of the travel updates for all the local and national radio stations. Just in case.

After an eventless traffic update, Adam gave in to his wife and turned the dial to the Radio 1 Chart Show. They sat there in silence, listening to the saccharine offerings from the generation that they were just about to add to. God, I hope our child doesn’t want to be in a boy or girl band, thought Adam.
‘Wouldn’t it be great if our child was in one of those bands.’ said Julia.
Adam laughed out loud.
‘Nothing.’ Adam smiled.
‘No, seriously, you always laugh at me, Adam.’
‘I’m not laughing at you, I was just laughing.’
‘I hope so, because I’ve put up with a lot from you these last few months. The amount of dummy runs to this bloody hospital for a start.’
Adam turned to look at her.
‘I’m doing this for your benefit, you know. I’m doing it so that hopefully I can minimise any pain you have to go through.’
Julia softened.
‘I’m sorry. I just get tired of the routine, that’s all.’
‘Six more weeks honey, that’s all.’ He put his arm around her shoulder and they drove on.

Nine minutes and thirty five seconds later they were pulling off the A33 and approaching the first set of traffic lights. Adam looked at his watch. They had made up a bit of time, but were still off the pace. By his calculations they had just under six minutes to reach the hospital. He pressed down slightly on the accelerator. Up ahead the traffic lights turned amber. Adam kept going. It was only a few dozen yards and if they stopped then he had no chance of beating the time. He could feel Julia tensing beside him. She hated it when he drove fast.
‘Adam, slow down or this baby’s coming out now. Hospital or no hospital.’
Turning, he smiled reassuringly at her and drove on.

There were only a few yards to go as the lights turned red. Up ahead a car in the opposite filter lane was turning right. Seeing the light go red it swung out, straight into the path of Adam and Julia. There was no time for either driver to react. In the split second before the impact Adam was aware of his wife’s scream. Then there was nothing.


‘Alpha Echo one, this is Alpha Charlie twelve. Request secondary ambulance onsite. We have two vehicles and three casualties. Repeat. Three casualties. Status critical. One is a heavily pregnant woman.’
Alpha Charlie twelve, this is Alpha Echo one. Copy that. It’s on its way. What’s your ETA?’
‘We’re on our way with the pregnant woman and the driver. Should be there in less than three minutes if the traffic stays this clear. Over and out.’