Struggling Onward

by AJ

"Who was that on the phone?" Jed looked over from the couch to his wife, who was sitting on their bed.

"That was the doctor at the hospital. He said that Dorian has suddenly improved dramatically, and we would be able to take him home tomorrow afternoon. He also mentioned that he tried to call Roni but... she didn't answer the phone."

"She's probably just sleeping, honey. She hasn't been doing much of that lately."

"I'm going to go check on her."

"Abbey, just leave her be. I know you are worried that she's changed again, but..."

"She'd want to know that Dorian is better, Jed. So I'm going to go tell her now." Abbey adopted a tone. "You can come or sit there, but I'm going."

Without a word, Jed stood up and leaned on his crutches. Glancing at his wife, he slowly began the journey with her to their daughter's room.

Upon arriving outside Roni's room, Abbey lightly tapped on the door and then, seconds later, she opened it, revealing an empty room.

An empty room...



"Jed!" Abbey screamed in fear. "She isn't here!"

"Calm down, Abbey." Jed was forced into being the voice of reason, although he was just as scared as Abbey was over the disappearance of their youngest daughter. "We'll find her." Jed promised as he entered the room, hoping to find a note or some kind of indication as to where she went.

No such luck...

Plan two...

"Brad, this is the President. Do you know where Roni is?" Jed spoke into the phone.

"Yes, Sir. I dropped her off at the White House an hour ago. She should be in her room, hopefully asleep."

"Damn." Jed's voice was not more than a whisper.

"Sir, what's happened?"

"She isn't here." Jed looked up at his wife. "Or she isn't in her room at least. Say, would you mind helping us look for her? If there's anyone that knows her, it's you."

"Sure thing, Mr. President. I'll be right down there." Brad hurriedly hung up the phone and rushed out of his house to his truck.

Arriving in the residence shortly after, Brad got a full update on Dorian's condition. He also got an update on how worried Jed and Abbey were about Roni, although that was no news flash. And right away, Brad went to work.

Knowing Roni as he did, the first place to look was in the halls of the White House. For some reason, she loved to travel through the halls of the White House. She loved all the paintings along the walls of the halls.

The paintings...

The painting in front of him...

A Cathedral...

"The bell tower. That's where she is!" Brad shouted, overjoyed by his epiphany.

The drive to the tower seemed to last for hours. Or perhaps it was the nature of his thoughts that caused it to seem slow. But finally, none of that mattered for he was there. And this time, he was *not* going to wait down by the truck for her to come down. No, he was going to go up there and get her.

"Roni, what are you doing here?" He found her image in the dark, damp corner.

"Leave!" Roni shouted, no life to her voice, and obviously drunk.

"Roni, come on, let's get some coffee in you and get you home." Brad saw the bottle of Jack Daniels that was in her hands, a third of the way empty. "Give me that." He demanded.

"No, ishh mine. Yoo get yooour own boddle." Roni's speech long past slurred.

Staring at her for a long minute, Brad didn't like who he saw. She had changed. She really had changed. He had hoped that he was wrong about that look in her eye before... but he wasn't. There was definately some sort of transfiguration going on within her head. *His* Roni, always having been a good little Catholic girl, never would have picked up a bottle of alcohol. Of course, *his* Roni never would have tried to kill herself either. Leaving only one possibility, this was not *his* Roni. Not anymore.

"Roni, give me the damn bottle." He fought with her for a moment, and soon won out. Then he poured it out onto the ground. "Come on, we are going home."

"No. Me wannnaa ssstaaaay."

"You're coming home, now, whether you like it or not." Brad grabbed her by the arm sternly.

"Lemmmmme gooooo." She struggled with him as he picked her up and placed her over his left shoulder, quickly disappearing down the steps.



Struggling Onward - 9


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