Read Mitigation Online

Authors: Sawyer Bennett

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Mitigation

BOOK: Mitigation
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LEGAL AFFAIRS
Vol. 4 - Mitigation

By Sawyer Bennett

All Rights Reserved.

Copyright © 2014 by Sawyer Bennett

Published by Big Dog Books

ISBN: 978-1-940883-08-3

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

No part of this book can be reproduced in any form or by electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems, without the express written permission of the author. The only exception is by a reviewer who may quote short excerpts in a review.

Find Sawyer on the web!
www.sawyerbennett.com
www.twitter.com/bennettbooks
www.facebook.com/bennettbooks

Table of Contents

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11

I vaguely note that
Matt is wearing jeans, a t-shirt, and tennis shoes… an outfit
that I’ve never seen him in before. It’s a far cry from
the tailored business suits and silk ties he always wears.

No matter what he’s
wearing, when I release my mom’s hand and turn to walk into his
outstretched arms, I finally feel a small measure of comfort.

Matt wraps himself
around me, and I lay my head on his chest. He smells like fresh soap,
and I could care less how obvious I am when I turn my nose into his
shirt and inhale him deeply. Unfortunately, it makes me painfully
aware that I probably smell like a garbage dump since I haven’t
showered in over a day and a half.

Pressing his lips to
the top of my head, Matt just holds me until I’m ready to break
free. But I’m not sure I’ll ever be ready. This is the
first time in our tortured game that he has held me just to comfort
me, with no expectation of getting anything in return. It’s a
side of Matt I’ve never seen, and I probably won’t see
again after he leaves.

Which now makes me
realize… why is he here? This is very anti-Matt. We eat dinner
together… we have sex. That’s all there is.

But I can’t
let that be one of my worries because I have enough on my plate. For
now… I’ll just enjoy Matt’s strong embrace and
worry about everything else later.

Unfortunately, my
peaceful moment is disturbed when my stomach gives an incredibly loud
and embarrassingly long rumble of hunger. It sounds like Chewbacca
and a T-Rex having a mixed martial arts contest inside my stomach.

Matt pulls slightly
back and looks down at me. “When’s the last time you’ve
eaten?”

“When I had
dinner with you, I guess,” I answer, because I think that’s
the last time I’d eaten. Wracking my brain, I couldn’t
remember putting anything else in my stomach other than coffee, which
is probably why it felt full of burning acid right now.

Grabbing my hand,
Matt says, “Let’s rectify that.”

I pull back,
glancing in worry at my mom laying in the bed… the respirator
slowly whooshing in and out. “I can’t leave her.”

Matt’s eyes
turn warm, but they are stern. “Mac… she’ll be
fine if you leave for just a few minutes. The nurses’ station
is right outside her door. We’ll come right back, but you need
to eat to keep up your strength. Okay?”

He waits for me to
decide, which again is very anti-Matt. The Matt I’ve come to
know and ‘love to hate sometimes’ would have dragged me
kicking and screaming down to the cafeteria and shoved food down my
throat. Now, he’s presenting me with an option and leaving the
choice up to me.

“If you don’t
want to leave her,” he continues, “I’ll go down,
get you something, and bring it back. But I think you should come
with me… stretch those legs a bit.”

I glance back at my
mom and feel tremendous guilt for leaving her side for even a minute.
But then rationality comes back and I realize… she won’t
even know I’m gone. She won’t know anything, ever again.

I nod at Matt and he
takes me by the hand, linking his fingers with mine as we walk
through the hospital. Following the signs pointing to the cafeteria,
we walk in silence for a bit because I’m still stunned that
he’s here. I can’t figure out why. It’s not
something he should be doing as my employer. But he doesn’t
seem to have any feelings for me outside of the bedroom, so that
doesn’t make sense either.

Deciding to go ahead
and put this worry to rest so I can concentrate on the more important
things, I stop and turn to look at Matt. “Why are you here?”

“Because no
one should go through something like this alone,” he says
simply.

“Yeah…
but I’m not your responsibility or concern.”

Matt shrugs his
shoulders and resumes walking. “Truth be told, Mac… I’m
not really sure why I’m here. When I got into the office this
morning, Miss Anders told me what happened. I guess Macy called her.”

“Yeah, I
vaguely recall telling Macy to call the office for me.”

“Well, I
called Macy back to get more details. She was beside herself fretting
about you. Said you hadn’t called her, and you weren’t
returning her calls. She wasn’t sure whether to get on a plane
to fly to be by your side or not, but then she said you sort of told
her you didn’t want her there, so she didn’t want to
intrude. I’m telling you… she was a mess.”

Guilt courses
through me for doing that to Macy, and honestly… I don’t
even remember doing that. I think I was operating in a state of
shock. I make a note to call her as soon as I finish eating
something.

Matt continues.
“Anyway, I decided to take the worrying away from Macy and told
her I would fly down here to help you out. I made a quick stop at
home to pack a small bag, and here I am.”

“Thank you for
coming,” I say in a small voice. “You really didn’t
have to.”

“I know,”
is all he says, and then the subject is closed.

Matt walks me
through the line but nothing looks good to me, so he proceeds to fill
my tray up with a variety of items. After he pays, we find a seat and
he points at the food. “Eat.”

“You always
have to be in control, don’t you?” I grumble, even as I
pick my fork up and take a small bite of mac and cheese.

Damn, that’s
good.

Matt just gives me a
knowing smile and watches me while I eat. If I look like I’m
ready to slow down, he points at the food and that’s all he has
to do to urge me to eat. When I’m done to Matt’s
satisfaction, I push the tray off to the side and lean back in my
chair. I’m exhausted, and I scrub my hands over my face in an
attempt to revive myself.

Finally, I focus on
Matt, who is patiently waiting for me to talk… if I want to.

“I don’t
know what to do,” is the first thing I say to him.

He gazes at me in
understanding and sympathy. “Tell me what’s going on, and
we’ll talk it out.”

I inhale deeply,
sucking all the oxygen in that I can hold. After slowly letting it
out, I tell him, “The doctor is going to come by tonight and
talk to me in more detail about her condition, but from what they’ve
told me so far, she isn’t going to recover. She has minimal
brain activity… The machines are keeping her alive right now.
I think tonight… I think he wants to talk to me about taking
her off life support.”

“Did your mom
have a Living Will or any other health care directive?”

I knew this question
would be coming from Matt—he’s a lawyer after all—but
it’s like a sharp slap in the face when it comes. Tears well up
in my eyes, and I shake my head in the negative.

“I’m so
stupid,” I say vehemently. “I’m a fucking lawyer,
and I never thought to have my mom do one.”

Reaching across the
table, Matt takes my hands and attempts to soothe me by rubbing them
gently with his own. “Don’t do that to yourself. It has
no purpose here to dwell on those things.”

Pulling my lower lip
between my teeth, I bite down hard to feel some type of physical pain
that will force the emotional tears back. It works and, with a few
blinks, the wetness dissipates.

“Did you and
your mom ever talk about this?” Matt asks.

“No,” I
say miserably, staring at the Formica table in front of me. “Not
even when my dad died. He had a heart attack. It was so quick…
We never thought about something like this happening. I never thought
I’d have to make these decisions.”

Matt’s quiet
for a moment, and then he says, “Okay… let’s
figure out what your mom would want then. Tell me about her?”

A slow smile creeps
onto my face, and I raise my eyes to Matt’s. I know what he’s
doing, and it’s brilliant. He wants to make me focus on the
type of person my mom is… I mean
really
focus, so that
I could determine what her inherent wishes may be.

“She’s
energetic… always on the go. She works full time, but in her
spare time, I don’t think she sleeps. She’s always been
so active with her church, and she does volunteer work. Oh, and she
loves to garden. She always said she was happiest when her hands were
about three inches deep in soil.”

“Tell me about
her church,” Matt says. “What sorts of things does she do
there?”

And it goes on and
on. Matt sits there, using all of his skills he’s acquired as
an attorney, and he questions me like I’m a witness with a
juicy piece of information that he’s trying to discover. He’s
trying to help me discover what my mom would want. Except he’s
amazingly gentle with his questions, like he’s leading a small
child on the witness stand.

Matt gets me to talk
for almost an hour straight, and things start to get clearer. My
mother loved life too much to ever want to live life in a bed, stuck
to a respirator.

“What about
you, Matt? What would you want if this happened to you?”

“If I was just
like your mom? I’d want to be let go.”

I nod, because
that’s exactly what I would want, too.

Matt and I head back
to the room and wait for the doctor. I marvel at how Matt seems to be
at ease in this situation, and I can only guess that has come from
years of dealing with people, such as lawyers, judges, and doctors. I
think it’s probably very hard to get Matt Connover flustered
about anything. He’s a rock, and it’s something I sorely
needed today.

While we wait for
the doctor, Matt and I work a crossword puzzle together. Every once
in a while, I’ll take a break and walk over to my mom. I’ll
stroke her cheek or hold her hand for a bit.

I start my goodbyes.

The doctor finally
comes, and I introduce Matt as a “friend”. Dr. Fritz is a
neurosurgeon and was called in last night to evaluate my mom. He’s
a warm and outgoing guy, maybe in his mid-fifties, and I don’t
think I’ve ever met a doctor more personable. But he’s
very grave when talking to me about my mom’s condition. He uses
a lot of large words that I don’t understand, but at the end of
the conversation, he pats my knee gently and says, “Bottom
line… there is almost absolutely no hope of your mother
regaining brain function.”

Matt reaches out to
take my hand, and I’m grateful for the contact. He turns to the
doctor and says, “Put it in a percentage for us to understand,
Dr. Fritz.”

The kind doctor
looks at Matt seriously. “Less than a one-percent chance. I
mean… far less than one percent. It would be a medical
miracle.”

Less than one
percent. A medical miracle. The thing that sucks about that
phraseology is that it still implies there is some hope, no matter
how infinitesimal it is.

“If it was
your mother… what would you do?” I ask.

Dr. Fritz gives me a
knowing smile, and I can tell this is not the first time he’s
been asked that question. “Miss Dawson, if my mother was in the
same exact circumstances as your mother… there’s no
question. I’d discontinue extraordinary measures and let her
go.”

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