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"I think," said Dick, in a hushed, thoughtful voice, "that Governor Smith is running scared. It couldn't have happened at a worse time for him. This is election year, you know."

Terry collapsed into a nearby chair and buried his face in the palms of his hands.

After Abby had an hour to calm down, she pulled from her father's arms and insisted that she return to Jake's hospital room. As John led her out into the hall, he saw Terry's horrified face and immediately knew that there was some news to learn. He was about to ask his friend what it was, when Terry quickly shook his head while Abby had her back turned to him. Understanding that he didn't want to speak in front of Abby, John helped her locate Jake's room.

"Do you need me to stay?" asked the father, as Abby was about to step inside.

"No, I'm all right, Dad," she smiled bravely. "You can go."

"He probably isn't awake," pointed out John.

"I know," replied Abby, "but I want to be there when he opens his eyes again."

John tenderly kissed his little girl on the forehead and went back to find Terry.

Somehow, with the news of his freedom, Jake's dimly lit hospital room no longer seemed as sad as it had before. As Abby approached her husband's bedside, she noticed for the first time a thin, clear tube running beneath his nose.

"Nurse?" asked Abby, as a man entered the room to check a medication drip that ran from Jake's left arm. "What is that tube under his nose for?"

"That's for oxygen," explained the man in a hushed voice. "Mr. Murphy was having a little difficulty breathing."

"Oh," replied Abby, soberly.

The young woman pulled a chair beside Jake's bed and watched as his chest slowly moved up and down with each breath.

"Would you like me to open the venetian blinds so you can get a little light?" kindly offered the nurse.

Abby smiled thankfully, as the man went to the window and opened the blinds. The late afternoon sun filtered through the hospital window, and Abby could see tiny specks of dust float in the air and land on the white sheet that covered Jake's torso and legs. The peaceful stillness of the room slowly lulled her into a tired yawn. Folding her arms on Jake's mattress, Abby leaned her head down and sighed. The rustling leaves on a tree outside the window, cast their shadows onto the hospital floor. For several minutes, Abby stared at these moving shadows, and daydreamed of the time when Jake would come home. Before long, she fell asleep.

Through the stupor of a drug induced slumber and pain medications, Jake sensed Abby's presence and slowly opened his eyes. Since he was flat on his back, he couldn't see her from his vantage. Disappointed, Jake moved his right hand and grimaced. His shoulder felt as though it were on fire, and his hand throbbed with pain. Trying to maneuver his arm into a more comfortable position, Jake moved it once more, only to bump into something warm and silky on the bed beside him. Even through the pain, he was curious. Jake carefully moved his fingers over the soft object, until he realized that it was someone's hair that he was feeling. With great effort, and not a little discomfort, Jake raised his head long enough to see Abby, half resting on his mattress. With a smile, he let his head fall back onto the pillow and sighed euphorically. She was here, after all!

A tear rolled down the side of his face and fell into his ear. It was quickly followed by another and another, until Jake was gasping in pain, for the tears wouldn't stop coming and his broken ribs made each sob extremely agonizing. Hearing these gasps, Abby woke up and found Jake weeping and writhing in pain at the same time.

"Jake," she told him, trying to keep her voice gentle and reassuring, "you've got to stop crying. You're only making things worse." She tried to comfort him by caressing his face, but Jake quickly pulled away from her touch. "Do you want to hold my hand?" she offered, hopefully. Jake adamantly shook his head "no," and closed his eyes.
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