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Posted: Sep 2 2017, 11:24 AM
Table of Contents
This post has been edited by Jasper MacTavish: Feb 4 2018, 03:45 PM
Posted: Sep 13 2017, 06:49 AM
What to say to you
31 October 2006. Bishopbriggs, Scotland. Jasper MacTavish, Ruby MacTavish, Finley MacTavish.
Jasper had just gotten home fairly recently, not more than a month ago. The tour’s end had rendered him disoriented, fuzzy. Readjusting to a more calm way of life was a challenge every time he had to do it. The fact that they didn't have to move every day, fight something every day, the fact that he could be relatively certain there would be a tomorrow—it was a lot to take in. Just twenty-one years old, Corporal MacTavish had been through three tours already, the first lasting for a year and the next two of them lasting about six months. He got homesick a lot. Letters didn't come often, and phone service worked about as well as you’d expect in the desert. By the time he got back to Scotland, all he wanted to do was call his wife.
She was about seven and a half months pregnant. They decided not to find out what the baby’s gender would be. Ruby had started listing names: Leslie, Emily, Reese, or Leola if the baby was a girl; Killian, Samuel, Alexander, Or Jasper Jr. If it was a boy. (Jasper had protested against naming their firstborn child after him, but Ruby was just as strong willed as his was, so the name remained. Jasper hoped they had a girl just because of that.
He was just finishing up with lunch when his phone rang. He didn’t recognize the number. He answered it. “This’s Corporal Jasper MacTavish. What’s up?”
“Sir, is Ruby MacTavish your wife?” The voice on the other end asked.
“Erm, yeah, why?”
“She’s going into labor.”
“I’m sorry, what? It-it’s early, the baby’s not due until December,” Jasper said, freezing in place.
“Yes, sir, but it’s coming now.”
Jasper looked around. He needed to get down to Bishopbriggs. “Thank you. I'm on my way.” He hung up, threw some clothes into a drawstring bag, and ran down to the secretary's office. “Ma’am, I’m taking some of my vacation time.”
The lady behind the computer looked at him over the top of her glasses. “Name?”
“Alright, you’re good to go. Visiting family?”
“Aye,” Jasper nodded, smiling modestly.
With that, Jasper left the office and got into his truck.
He arrived in Bishopbriggs several hours later, making a beeline for the hospital. He found the door to the Neonatal ward. He parked his truck and walked into the hospital. He walked up to the lady at the desk. “I’m here to visit Ruby MacTavish,” he said. “I'm her husband.”
The lady nodded, gave him a sticker that read ‘visitor’, and pointed down the hall. “Room 203. Right side.”
With that, Jasper walked down the hall, into the room where his wife was. He looked at her, slowly closing the door behind him. He walked over to her, kissing her forehead. “Hey,” he said softly.
She smiled, her eyes still closed. The door opened, and a young doctor walked in. “Mister MacTavish?” She asked.
Jasper stood upright. “That’s me.” He looked around, realizing he hadn't seen any signs of a baby. “Where’s the baby?” He asked.
The doctor smiled at him. “We’re keeping her in the NICU for now. All things considered, though, she’s very healthy,” she said.
Jasper’s face softened. He had a daughter. A healthy daughter. He stammered for a few moments before finally managing to speak. “Can I see her?”
“Of course, sir, right this way.”
The doctor led the way down the hall before opening the door to the NICU. She gestured towards a sink in a small room before the actual NICU. “You’ll need to wash your hands,” she said.
Jasper did, then the doctor showed him where his daughter was—in an incubator towards the center of the room. Jasper stared at the baby, a mask over her face to help her breathe, and a few tubes here and there. She was tiny, and she already had a head full of feathery brown hair. She was sleeping, silent. Jasper fell to his knees next to the incubator in silence.
“She’s amazing, huh?” A voice next to him said. Ruby was in a wheelchair beside him. He looked at her. “Still needs a name, though, and she doesn't look like any of the names we picked out before.”
Jasper agreed with that, even if he didn’t quite understand why. A nurse approached from behind them, carrying a massive book. She handed it to Ruby, who set it open in her lap. “Oh, thank you,” she said to the nurse. She started flipping through the pages. “How about...Marianne?”
“I knew a Marianne in primary school,” Jasper said. “She made a baby cry just by looking at it.”
Ruby stared at him for a second before saying, “So, not Marianne. How about Lucy?”
“No, not Lucy. Lucy died in a car crash.”
Jasper didn't answer. Ruby sighed, then flipped through the pages some more. “Jasper, look.” She pointed to a name on the page, Jasper turned to look, grinning. Finley.
“That's it.” He said.
Ruby smiled. “Finley it is, then,” she said, “You pick her middle name.”
Jasper looked up, thinking. “Well, I have a sister named Rosie, so…”
“Finley Rosie?” Ruby asked.
Jasper paused before shaking his head. “No, it doesn't sound right.”
“How about just Rose?”
“Finley Rose.” Jasper tested the name before breaking out in laughter. “That’s it, that’s her name.”
Finley Rose MacTavish was born to Jasper Murray MacTavish and Ruby Eowyn MacTavish (Née Ainsley) on the thirty-first of October, 2006. She weighed 4.9 pounds at birth and measured in at 18.5 inches long. After a night in the NICU for observation, she was allowed to go home with her parents.
Posted: Nov 2 2017, 09:29 PM
Through the unimaginable
21 July 2019. Kinloss, Scotland. MacFam.
The sun shone bright over Kinloss that afternoon. It was a beautiful day, really—that wasn't even an opinionated statement, it was just a matter of fact. The base was bustling with soldiers and a few civilians—families of the soldiers—almost everyone was outside. Anyone who wasn't was inside because they had to be. Everyone was taking advantage of the weather, enjoying the sunshine. Because it was overcast so often around here, and to see the sun in the sky without any clouds to cover it up was such a rarity.
The sun was shining, and Jasper was running as fast as he could. The sun beat down on his back as he sprinted, holding his daughter in his arms. She wasn't moving. Jasper held her closer to his chest as though she could slip away if he dared to loosen his grasp on her, as though he could make sure she stayed alive if he held her tight enough. "C'mon, Finley." He begged, breathless from running. "Hang in there, you're gonna be fine." It was almost like a prayer—quiet, steady, pleading. Right then, he needed to make sure his daughter stayed alive. Nothing else mattered.
How had this happened? She'd been fine earlier. Jasper had to go work, and she'd gone off to join the other kids on base for a game of football. As a matter of fact, Jasper had heard her arguing with one of the other players about how the teams should be divided. ("No, you clueless eggplant, we can't do eleven on eleven because there's only sixteen of us. Didn't you go to primary school?"). She/d been fine. More than fine. She was fine, and then another soldier had told him he needed to follow him. Jasper did, and he found her lying motionless on the ground a few feet away from her mother who'd just been sedated. It didn't take a genius to connect the dots.
Her mother. That was what shook him the most. Like a shot through his stomach. How could her mother—any mother—do something like this. He didn't understand. There was no way to make sense of this at all. But that was what made it so hard to stomach. There was no rhyme or reason, no sense. It had just happened. Bad things were always easier to swallow if they had a reason or a clear motive, even if that motive was founded entirely on fallacy. There was none of that with this. It'd just happened.
As Jasper ran, each second brought a new wayve of doubt. What if he'd been there just a moment sooner? What if he'd known this was going to happen. Finley had told him about her mother's drinking. He'd never thought anything like this would come of it. What if he'd been able to stop it? He was a strong man, and he towered over virtually everyone he saw. He could've stopped it. He could've protected his daughter. That was what he was supposed to do, after all, wasn't it?
The infirmary was in sight now. Jasper sped up, pushing himself beyond anything he'd done in his many years of military experience. He needed to save his daughter's life. "Finley?" He tried to glimpse at her face. What wasn't covered in blood and bruises was deathly pale, with a tinge of blue in it as well. "Hang on, we're almost there."
By the time he burst in through the doors of the sick bay, he could no longer feel the shallow, but steady rising and falling of his daughter's chest. No. No, this wasn't happening. He wasn't going to lose her. Not now. Not like this. "Don't even think about it, Lassie," he told her, fear coursing through his veins. He looked around. "Help me!" He yelled. "It's my daughter, I don't think she's breathing." A few doctors ran over and ushered him to a trauma room off to the side. One of the doctors grabbed her hand and clipped a sensor of some sort to her finger. Immediately, the monitor started beeping frantically.
The doctor looked at it for a second before grabbing the defibrillator paddles saying, "Charge paddles to one-fifty."
"Charging," another responded.
Finley's body writhed in response to the shock. Jasper stared in mute fear, mumbling to himself—"C'mon, Finley."
One of the doctors looked right at him and nodded in his direction. "Get him outta here." He said.
"No," Jasper said, "I'm staying." Another doctor approached him, trying to usher him out of the room. "No!" he couldn't leave his daughter, not like this. He wouldn't. "Don't you fucking touch me!" he yelled as the doctor kept trying to guide him out of the room.
"Sir, we are going to do absolutely everything we can for your daughter, but you cannot be in here," the doctor said.
Finally, Jasper gave in. He stepped outside, waiting by the door for a few seconds, pacing back and forth before walking down the hall to the room where his wife was, having seen her through the window on the door.
He walked into the room. "Ruby" was all he said, his voice tight with something between anger and confusion. He didn't yell—that wasn't in his nature. He didn't ask why. He didn't break eye contact with her. "As soon as the doctor clears you, you need to leave."
"Jasper—" Ruby reached for his arm.
Jasper pulled his arm away from her hand. "No," he stopped her, "I don't want to hear it." She stared at him, mouth agape in shock. "Finley will be staying here with me. You will never go near her again, do you understand me?" his anger was showing now, in the way his jaw was clenched, in the strain on his voice.
"You can't do that!" Ruby yelled in protest. "I'm her mother!"
"She's hanging on by a thread because of you!" Jasper shot back. "What if she hadn't made it? What would you have done then?"
They were both yelling now, back and forth. They'd never fought like this before. This wasn't them. This wasn't Jasper. He wasn't like this. He didn't yell, not at civilians, let alone at his family. But he was yelling now. They fought like this until Jasper finally said "I'm done talking about this." He walked out, slamming the door behind him.
He walked back to the waiting room and sat down in a chair in the corner, staring at a wall, waiting and praying to whatever was listening anymore. That was all he could do, wasn't it. He was powerless, and it was a feeling he loathed. He was a strong man, and he was fairly intelligent. He could do a lot of things—almost anything, as a matter of fact. But right now, there was nothing else he could do besides wait for a doctor to come out and tell him if his daughter was alive or— No, he wouldn't consider that. He couldn't stand to. That wasn't an option. He couldn't live in a world where his daughter didn't. He had to believe she would be okay. She was a fighter, a survivor. She'd make it. Sh had to.
Six long hours passed, with Jasper staring staring at nothing, waiting. Finally, a doctor came in. Jasper stood up.
"She's alive. She's doped to high heaven on painkillers, and It's going to be one hell of a recovery. She's going to need months of physical therapy to recuperate, but she's alive."
"Can I see her?" Jasper asked, his voice shaking.
The doctor nodded. "Of course. Right this way, sir." He head him to her room.
The monitor by her bed beeped steadily. So much of her was wrapped in a cast, and there was a tube down her throat. Jasper blinked back tears at the sight of her. She was still unconscious, though that was no surprise. He took her hand and held it. She was alive. Nothing else mattered. She'd made it. She was okay. That was enough, at least for now.
This post has been edited by Jasper MacTavish: Feb 2 2018, 07:10 PM
Posted: Dec 26 2017, 09:49 AM
It’s Quiet Uptown
20 February 2021. Bishopbriggs, Scotland. Jasper MacTavish.
His daughter didn’t have a grave in Bishopbriggs. Her body was buried at her boarding school, which meant Jasper would likely never get to see her grave. He was a muggle, after all. All he had was a headstone in some cemetery a few minutes out of town. He had no idea when the headstone had been put up, but he did know it had been one of his siblings—probably Rosie, knowing her—who’d put it up. Of course, that had been how the rest of the town had found out. The name of a kid who’d grown up there, whose mother was a teacher at the local primary school and whose father was a fairly well-known RAF officer, tended to stand out on a headstone, especially when the two years were that close together.
Jasper had seen the glances he got whenever he went outside—he never reacted, never cared enough to, but he was always aware of them. People looked at his vague, distant, even angry expression and felt pity. Before, it’d just been his siblings and Louis, but now it was everyone, even the people he’d never spoken to before. It was even worse when someone went out of their way to approach him. Their voices were always soft, as though he was a bomb they were afraid he might go off if they spoke too loud. Sometimes it would be fathers or mothers close to his age, telling him how their daughter had been friends with his, and how sorry they were to hear that she’d passed. That was another thing: it was always “passed” or “moved on”. She hadn’t passed. Passing was peaceful; passing was what you did when you’re old and dying in your sleep. Finley had not passed. She had been ripped away from the world, from her friends, from him.
His life, if he looked at it objectively, was a mess. He had no job, having resigned from the Air Force because everything about Kinloss reminded him of his daughter. He didn't care enough to fix it; he had nothing to fix it for. His daughter was dead, and if he’d just been a better father—if he’d been there, written more often, taken the time to made sure she was alright—she’d be alive right now. He wondered if that was what everyone else saw when they looked at him: a man who hadn’t been enough to save his daughter. Nothing mattered anymore.
He barely left the house anymore. The glances and whispers were too much for him. Louis was often at work during the day, which meant Jasper spent a lot of time in isolation. He never would’ve considered himself much of a recluse, and yet he hadn’t left the flat in a little over a week. His appetite had vanished, and he’d lost the drive to do even the most basic of tasks, like take a shower or shave. He was scruffy, stubble starting to mature into a full-blown beard, and while Louis didn’t say anything, he knew he smelled. Problem was, he couldn’t bring himself to care.
All around him, the flat contained evidence of his stillness. There were the empty scotch bottles strewn across the floor—some in shards, thrown across the room in a fit of rage. There was a glass of water Louis had poured for him that was still full, and now had a few visible specks of dust floating on the top, and a film of dust had developed over nearly every surface, because Louis had been so preoccupied with taking care of him that there wasn’t enough time to clean.
At some point in the middle of the day—he hadn’t looked at a calendar in a while, but he was sure it was sometime around the third week of February—while Louis was at work doing whatever it was he did, Jasper decided he wanted to go out. He took a shower, put on a new outfit—he’d been wearing the old one for days, and spent a few minutes sizing up his scraggly beard before deciding fuck it, it looks fine and leaving it be. He left the flat without so much as a moment of hesitation, letting his feet guide him down the road.
He soon found himself at the cemetery. He froze at the gates. He didn't want to be here, but…
He knew, somewhere in the back of his mind, he needed to be here. He walked in, walked to the center of the cemetery, where his wife was buried. Even now, feelings of anger shot through him as he looked at her name. She had nearly killed their daughter in a drunken rage, having beaten her so badly she’d gone into cardiac arrest in his arms as he carried her to the infirmary. And then she’d gone through weeks of physical therapy that often ended in her collapsing into his arms, sobbing with pain and exhaustion. He had loved his wife once, but he couldn’t forgive her for doing that to his daughter.
Ruby E. MacTavish
Finley’s stone was right by her mother. Jasper looked at his daughter's name carved into the stone, a stark reminder of how badly he’d failed as her father.
Finley R. MacTavish
Jasper stood in front of his daughter’s headstone, feeling the tears stinging his eyes. He tried to plaster a weak smile on his face. “Hey, Monkey,” he said, his voice breaking. Monkey had been the nickname she’d earned for her tendency to climb on anything and everything. Staring, frozen, at her name, He fell to his knees as grief knocked him down. He sobbed into his hands, sometimes looking up to glance at the headstone, as though the name on it would change or even just disappear. But he knew it wouldn't. She was gone. He’d been told that fact a few weeks ago, and yet it still didn't seem real. This, though—the stone, the name carved on the stone—this was real.
He should’ve checked on her. He should’ve made sure she was okay. She’d always insisted on handling everything on her own, even after the beating she’d sustained from her own mother two years ago, the beating he’d never forgiven his wife for, the beating that had led to their sudden divorce and the ensuing custody battle. She’d pushed through the physical therapy, refusing to let him help. All he could do was hold her and tell her it would be alright when the pain finally caught up to her at the end of the day. She was fiercely independent, always had been, and in a way, that had always made him proud. But now… He should’ve been more vigilant. Maybe she’d still be alive if he hadn’t been so careless.
He pulled himself together as much as he could, looking at the headstone. “I’m sorry, Finley,” he whispered, “I should’ve...I should’ve been there for you. I should’ve been your dad…” He collapsed into tears yet again. “You can’t—you can't be gone…”
And yet, he knew she was.
Posted: Apr 7 2018, 09:15 PM
Oh simple thing, where have you gone?
20 August 2019. Kinloss Barracks, Scotland. Jasper MacTavish, Finley MacTavish.
Jasper pushed Finley's wheelchair down the hallways of the hospital, through the doors of the physical therapy room. Her casts had just been removed the day before, which meant that therapy would begin today—that was important. In addition to the severe atrophy her muscles had gone through in the casts, she might have lost some amount of motor function—that was what the doctor had told him—and they wouldn’t know just how much she had lost until they started therapy. That was today. He was scared—terrified. What if it was worse than they'd initially thought? Would she be able to walk? He tried not to show it, tried to keep his expression calm and optimistic, but he was terrified.
He opened the door with his foot and pushed the wheelchair through. The therapist—Doctor Campbell—looked at them and smiled. He was a stout man—significantly shorter than Jasper, and frankly, rather fat—and old enough to be Jasper’s father. He looked a lot like Jasper's father, too, especially with his rectangular, wire-frammed glasses that sat about halfway down the bridge of his nose. He had a mustache and no beard, and he was bald; all in all, he looked a lot like a bespectacled walrus. “Great! You guys are right on time.” He said clapping his hands together cheerfully, “Let’s get started, shall we?”
Jasper, a bit alarmed by Doctor Campbell's eagerness, said nothing for a moment, then nodded. Campbell crouched in front of Finley. “Hey, Finley, how you feeling?" He asked, his voice suddenly soft.
Finley answered with a small, affirmative grunt. The doctor nodded as though to agree with her. He glanced up at Jasper, his brow creasing with worry for the briefest of moments, his mouth twitching as if to say 'We'll talk about that later.' He redirected his attention to Finley, his face assuming its warm, jovial expression yet again. "Alright, for starters, I’m going to check out your motor function, okay?” Finley gave a faint, stiff nod. “Alright, can you wiggle your toes for me?” After a moment, Finley’s toes curled and straightened. She looked up at Jasper, smiling. Jasper smiled back at her, mouthing the words "Good job," as Doctor Campbell beamed at her. “Wonderful! Now, can you hold up a finger for me?”
Finley held up a hand, her index finger coming out just slightly before her hand started to shake. She let it drop, looking down at her feet, her smile gone. “That’s okay. It’ll come back,” Campbell said, “I’ll give you something to help you work on that when we’re done here, okay? No need to worry."
Finley nodded. Doctor Campbell smiled at her. “Alright, so I’m gonna come over here, okay. Jasper, can you come over to her other side?”
“Of course,” Jasper said. He stepped beside her. The therapist crouched down opposite Jasper, putting one hand under Finley’s elbow. He looked over at Jasper, who quickly got the message and followed suit. “Alright, Finley, we’re going to get you to your feet, and you’re going to try walking to that line right there—“ he pointed to a stripe of black tape on the floor, a few meters away—“Ready? On three.”
He counted off, then on three, they pulled her to her feet. Finley screamed through gritted teeth, shaking violently. Her chest heaved rapidly. “Stop. stop!” Jasper ordered, wrapping an arm around his daughter’s shoulders. The therapist tried to keep going, and Finley was sobbing with pain. “Stop!” Jasper yelled. Campbell let go, taking a step back. Jasper caught his daughter as her legs gave out and she fell into his arms, crying. “Shh, I know, I’ve got you,” He said softly, holding her close to him.
Campbell gave him a look that very clearly said 'A word?' With a small sigh, Jasper helped his daughter back into her wheelchair.
“Lieutenant, I understand how hard this is,” Campbell said, “I really do.”
“She was in pain,” Jasper cut in angrily.
“I know, but listen, this—" He sighed, "This is the hard part, okay? If we don’t start this now, it’ll only get harder for her.”
Jasper opened his mouth to protest, but nothing came out. The therapist was right—they had to do this. It killed him to see his daughter in pain, but he couldn't give up on her. He looked down, nodding. The therapist started to walk back to Finley, Jasper following close behind.
“Hey, Finley,” Campbell said, kneeling down in front of her, “Can I tell you something?”
After a moment of hesitation, Finley nodded.
“Well, when I was a few years older than you are now, I was in a car accident—a bad one. I had to do physical therapy, too,” he said, “When it started to hurt really bad, you know what I did?”
Finley shook her head.
“I grabbed onto whatever I could and squeezed super tight. Okay? So, we’re going to try again, and I want you to squeeze your da’s and my hands as tight as you can. We can take it, right Jasper?”
Jasper nodded. He didn’t want to do this—his daughter was in pain, and he didn’t want to put her through that again—but the doctor was right. They had to do this. If she was going to get better, they needed to do this. They counted to three for the second time, lifting her out of her wheelchair when they reached three. She cried in pain, squeezing Jasper’s hand. Her jaw was clenched tight, teeth bared.
"Come on, Fin, you can do this," Jasper said. "We've got you."
Finley kept going, putting one foot in front of the other. She trembled the whole way, but she didn't stop. Finally, she stepped over the black line before slumping into Jasper's arms. Her breathing slowly started to level out, her eyes closing and her shoulders quivering weakly. Campbell stood off to the side, nodding his approval at Jasper and beaming warmly.
"You made it," Jasper said gently, "You did so good," He held her close, a sense of hope filling him. She'd done it. She'd gotten through her first PT session—she could make it through the rest. The therapist handed Jasper a squeeze ball for her hands and shooed them out.
"Go," he said, "Take it easy; you've earned it."
As they left the therapy wing and wheeled back to her room, Jasper could have sworn he was glowing with pride; she'd made it.
She'd made it.
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