Through the wide window of the conference room Andrea stared at sheets of rain, like shards of glass, shattering onto the parking lot. Blasts of wind blew plants bordering the cement apron onto their sides. It was late in the day, pitch black outside.
Except for the security guard out front, she was alone in the offices belonging to her opposing legal counsel on the fraud case. Checking her watch, she hurriedly marked her place in the deposition she’d been reading. She had to leave immediately for the long-awaited dinner with Christopher’s new clients.
She tore downstairs, signed out at reception. She had a half hour to make it to Chez Francois off El Camino Real. To get there, she had to maneuver down Sand Hill Road to the Stanford campus and drive south to Los Altos. Outside the building she struggled to open her umbrella against the torrents. Impossible. She ran to her convertible, her briefcase in front of her to block the rain, praying her canvas top hadn’t leaked.
Thanks heavens, her motor started right up, but the rain was so heavy she could barely see through her wipers. She thought about pulling over and waiting until the storm let up, but she’d promised to arrive for cocktails. She decided to cut behind StanfordShopping Center and take Arboretum Drive to Palm Drive, a shortcut across campus that would keep her off Palo Alto’s city streets.
The fierce wind blew streams of water across the road. Her heart was pounding. She clutched the wheel, driving as slowly as she could, terrified that gusts of wind would force her little car off the road. It was hard to see much in front of her but, fortunately, there were few other cars out that miserable evening.
She finally made it to the right turn onto Arboretum Drive. She turned left onto Palm Drive and suddenly felt a thud. She skidded in the rushing water on the drive, and, out of control, careened into one of the huge, ancient palm trees that lined the road. The driver’s door beside her crumpled inward. Her head was thrown back hard against the iron bar of her convertible roof. She blacked out, her vision and sensations obliterated by unconsciousness.
From her bed at StanfordHospital, Andrea moaned as her side again began to throb. Gritting her teeth, she prayed the pain would recede. She needed another painkiller, but hated living on Vicodin.
She looked around the hospital room, her prison for almost a month. Placid beige walls, an intrusive television on the wall across from her bed, a blue plastic pitcher of water, paper cups and tissue box on her bedside table, the ugly yellow wedge of foam between her legs, all nasty reminders of her hospital stay.
To distract herself, she thought back to her accident, trying again to come up with some details of what had happened. She remembered the rain, remembered maneuvering her car over flooded roads. She couldn’t remember much beyond that due to memory loss from her brain injury. She yearned to know more of what she’d been through as if that would reduce her helplessness.
When the throbbing intensified, she signaled the nurse. The pill she swallowed took effect within fifteen minutes and she felt better, although drowsy. Eyes closed, she was vaguely aware of her senior nurse, Mrs. Reilly, tidying her hospital bed. That meant she was leaving soon and the evening nurse, lively Ms. Rosario from Costa Rica, would be coming on duty. As she nodded off, Andrea heard the two nurses murmuring to each other by the door of her hospital room.
“How goes it?” Ms. Rosario whispered as she pushed a a curly ring of hair back under her cap. “Which guy is coming tonight? The boyfriend or the husband?”
Mrs. Reilly, her thin lips in a straight line, looked annoyed. “Your concern must be for the patient. She keeps fighting the foam cushion between her legs. The surgeon requires that it stay to keep her from leaning on her hip.” Mrs. Reilly then sighed impatiently. “As for the men, I have no idea which one is coming. She seems happier when Christopher, her boyfriend, is here, but calmer when her husband Evan is around.”
Ms. Rosario winked. “Lucky girl – two men fighting over her.”
Mrs. Reilly stiffened. “She’s not lucky, not with those injuries. Regarding her husband and boyfriend, well, I’ve never seen any
Andrea Hirsch is high on life -- working as a lawyer in Silicon Valley, loving Christopher, a lawyer in her field -- until her car accident, an accident that changes what she wants out of life.
Andrea recuperates with the love and support of three men: her boyfriend Christopher; Evan, the husband from whom she is separated; and her father Josh, a widower. As she recovers, she faces difficult questions -- how her accident really happened, whether or not to move to New York with Christopher, how to re-create herself and her career in California.
Her accident teaches her that nurturance -- allowing herself to be nurtured and nurturing others -- is a higher value than professional success. It is not an easy lesson. It means re-working her relationship with her father, her job, and her former partner, Evan. It means finding the place in her life for a young Guatemalan boy and coming to terms with the issuing of parenting. Ultimately, she must re-open herself to love.
Most of all, Andrea needs to discover a new way of being. She needs to live her Spanish wedding toast -- salud y amor y tiempo para gustarlos. Health, love and time to enjoy them.
About the Author
Ellen Boneparth adores traveling and uses her overseas travels as background for her fiction. While her first three novels and a memoir revolved around her experiences in Greece, Salud y Amor features her visits to Guatemala and her connection to a young Guatemalan boy.
Likewise, Ellen went through a serious car accident in 2005 which raised for her many of the issues she treats in Salud y Amor.
Ellen Boneparth's previous novel, Tatiana, was published by Author House in 2008.