Episode #569

- During a tense rooftop showdown, “Sabrina” finally revealed herself to be Shannon Parish. She also revealed that she had brutally attacked Courtney, who lay bleeding on the roof.
- A skirmish over Shannon’s gun led to Sandy being shot in the leg.
- After Jason rejected her, Shannon leapt from the hotel’s roof to her death.
- Courtney clung to life as paramedics arrived on the scene and rushed her to the hospital.


From the moment that he and Courtney Chase began planning their wedding, Jason Fisher has had a clear vision of how their wedding night would go. After they saw off their guests, and after the baby was packed off with relatives, they would return to a plush hotel suite, the kind of extravagant place neither of them would spring for on any ordinary night. Jason would help Courtney out of her beautiful but complicated dress. Then she would take down her hair and wash off her make-up at lightning speed, as she somehow manages to do every night, while Jason would dawdle in the bathroom. Courtney would yell at him from the bed to hurry up, but it would still take him an inordinate amount of time to take out his contacts and brush his teeth.

When he finally finished, he would make his way out to where his new wife would be waiting for him, and he would climb into bed beside her, ready for their first night as a married couple and the beginning of the rest of their lives.

Instead, he is the one waiting--in a hospital, for word on a surgery that will determine whether Courtney lives or dies.

His family, Courtney’s parents, and their closest friends fill the waiting area around him. An over-tired Sophie squirms in his lap.

“Do you want me to take her?” Molly asks.

Jason shakes his head. Normally he would ask one of his siblings or his mother to bring her home and put her down for the night, but he selfishly needs all of them here tonight, especially his young daughter. He holds her tightly, simultaneously wishing for the minutes to pass and for time to stand still. He is not sure that he wants to hear whatever news is coming.

“Maybe we should put her in the stroller for a bit,” Paula says. At the end of the row of chairs, she sits with a hand on the stroller, rocking it back and forth as though a baby were actually trying to sleep in it.

“It’s fine.” Jason does his best to keep from snapping. He appreciates everyone’s offers of help, but he would rather have Sophie close to him right now.

When Dr. Patel, a woman with too-large eyes and a too-small mouth, emerges through the double doors, Jason’s heart stops.

“Mr. Fisher,” Dr. Patel says.

Jason’s feet pull him to a standing position before his brain even fully registers the thought. “How is she? Is she alive?”

The wait for the doctor’s answer is probably the longest wait of Jason’s life, longer than the entire time they have been waiting here for news.

“She is.”

A sigh of relief leaves every pair of lungs in the waiting area.

“Can we see her?” he asks.

“Yes. Could I speak with you in private first?”

“Sure. Yeah.” He finds Tim’s arms already outstretched to take Sophie from him, so he hands the baby off. Then he motions for Don and Helen to come with him. “Courtney’s parents,” he tells the doctor.

With a slight nod, she leads them back through the double doors. Jason suspects that there is some complication she wants to discuss, some reason not to celebrate in full just yet. He doesn’t care. Courtney is alive, and nothing else matters.


As the doors swing shut behind Jason and the Chases, Paula turns to her husband with relief.

“Thank goodness. I just hope that whatever the doctor has to tell them isn’t too serious.”

“If Courtney is alive,” Bill says, “everything else will fall into place.”

Paula notices that his breathing sounds more labored than usual. “Are you feeling all right?”

“I’m fine. Tired.”

Paula eyes him with concern but decides not to push too hard at the moment. “This day has been endless.” She sees Sophie peering over from Tim’s lap. “Hi, there, sweetie. Are you tired?”

“Ma,” Sophie squawks in response, holding out her hand and then closing her fist around some imaginary object.

“You’ll get to see her in a little bit,” Tim tells his niece. To his parents, he says, “I still can’t believe any of this happened. Sabrina really being Shannon is... nuts.”

“At least she’s really, truly gone now,” Molly says. They all share a shudder as they recall Brent’s explanation of just how dead Shannon was after her jump from the hotel’s roof.

“And Courtney is all right,” Paula says. “That’s all that matters now.” Silence overcomes them all as their heads turn to those double doors, wondering what is being said on the other side.


Dr. Patel leads Jason, Helen, and Don halfway down the first corridor, then to the right, then to the right again. The march feels endless. When they come to a stop, it is in a hallway identical to the first, with patient rooms lining both sides. Jason peeks into the nearest room, where the door is open, but unless surgery turned Courtney into an elderly man, it is not her room. He wonders which of the rooms is hers and how soon he can be with her.

“Can we see our daughter?” Helen asks as soon as they stop.

“In a moment,” Dr. Patel says. “I need to have a word with all of you first.”

Jason spots another open door and strains to see inside, but he sees little more than the edge of a bed and an expanse of linoleum floor.

“Courtney survived the surgery,” the doctor explains. “We were able to repair the damage to her liver and bowel.”

“That’s a good thing, isn’t it?” Jason says. He doesn’t understand why the doctor sounds so grim.

“Yes. Of course. But the stab wounds were extensive, to say the least.”

Don’s follow-up is immediate. “What’s wrong with her?”

“As I said, the knife punctured her bowel.”

Jason cuts in: “You said you were able to fix that--”

“We were able to repair the bowel itself.” Dr. Patel pauses, and her already-tiny lips seem to disappear. “When the bowel is punctured, however, there is the risk of waste leaking out and infecting both the bloodstream and the surrounding organs.”

The rest remains unspoken: that is exactly what has happened to Courtney.

“What can you do about that?” Helen asks.

“Courtney is suffering from what’s known as sepsis,” Dr. Patel says. “During the surgery, her body went into septic shock. As a result, her kidneys suffered what is known as prerenal failure--meaning that they weren’t receiving enough blood to filter.”

Jason wishes he had some idea what all of these things mean. It is as if each time the doctor peels back a layer of information, all they find is another layer that requires even more explanation, but the actual answers are nowhere to be found.

“So what’s happening? How is my wife?” he says.

“We have her on dialysis,” the doctor says. “To help her kidneys function.”

“Can we see her?” Don asks.

“Yes.” She points to a barely-cracked door. “She’s in that room. She should be coming out from under the anesthesia shortly.”

“I’ll be in in a minute,” Jason tells the Chases, who head for Courtney’s room. He turns back to the doctor. “What are we looking at here?”

Dr. Patel’s face again seems to swallow her lips. “The risk at this stage is that her body will suffer circulatory failure. The dialysis will help the kidneys along, but if the antibiotics aren’t sufficient to combat the sepsis, then... It’s too soon to know anything for certain.”

The screaming inside Jason’s head is too loud for him to think of any more questions.


Don and Helen stand together beside the bed. Their daughter, her wedding make-up smudged and smeared, lies in a peaceful sleep. Helen can hardly take her eyes off Courtney, fearing that if she does, she might miss the slightest movement or a sign that Courtney needs some kind of life-saving attention.

“She’s going to pull through this,” Don says, able to read his wife’s emotions after so many years.

“She has to. This day was supposed to be the beginning for her and Jason.”

“It will be.” Don holds Helen’s hand. “This girl is a fighter. Remember how determined she was to get back on the ice after she was almost fully recovered from that broken leg and then Shannon had her attacked? So many kids would have given up at that point. Not Courtney.”

Helen’s first instinct is to remind him that this is more than a matter of willpower, but perhaps it is not. Perhaps Courtney’s fighting spirit will be the thing that makes the difference.

“That damn Shannon,” she says instead. “She almost killed both you and Courtney once. We should have been able to protect her this time.”

“She’s dead now. She can’t do any more harm.”

Despite Don’s words, Helen can hear the cracks in his confidence.

He does what he always does: redirects. “Remember the day you bought her very first competition dress?”

“And she tried to throw it in the garbage because it didn’t have enough sparkles?” Helen smiles at the memory, unable now to remember how angry she was at her 8-year-old daughter at the time of the incident.

“That dress was ugly,” a voice croaks from below them.

Both Helen and Don turn back to the bed, where Courtney’s eyes are open halfway. Tired pupils stare up at them.

“You brat,” Helen says with a laugh.

Courtney’s head swivels from side to side as she takes in her surroundings. “Where’s Sophie? Is she okay?”

“She’s absolutely wonderful,” Don says. “We’ll bring her in to see you in a minute.”

“What about Shannon?” Even saying the name makes Courtney’s face go slack with fear.

“She’s gone. She can’t hurt any of you any longer.” Helen takes her daughter’s hand softly.

Courtney weakly tries to raise her head, only to give up partway and drop it back down to the pillow. “Jason? Sandy?”

“Jason is outside talking to the doctor,” Don says. “Sandy is having her leg looked at.” It occurs to him that they should have seen Courtney’s former coach by now, but he brushes the thought aside for the time being. “Everyone is fine. And you will be, too.”

“We love you so much,” Helen says, so grateful to see her baby looking back at her and speaking.


“Look who came to visit,” Alex Marshall announces as he carries Sophie into the hospital room. Lauren Brooks files in behind him.

Courtney brightens at the sight of her daughter. “Hey, honey!” No matter her enthusiasm, however, Alex cannot help but notice how pale she looks, even with the residual make-up on her face.

He brings the baby to Courtney’s bedside and, while Sophie makes a full orchestra’s worth of noises, Lauren says, “Some wedding day, huh?”

Courtney turns to Alex. “Did you get enough material to write your next book?”

He knows it is in her nature to make jokes at a time like this, but seeing her like this... jokes seem entirely inappropriate. He cannot fathom how this is the same woman who was proudly walking down the aisle and sharing her first dance with Jason mere hours ago.

“I’m glad you’re awake,” he says.

“I’m glad you guys are here.” Courtney closes her eyes for the briefest of moments. “And that you were part of the wedding. It wouldn’t have been the same without you.”

“Sorry I stressed you out by almost being late,” Lauren says.

“Believe me, it doesn’t seem like such a big deal now.” She pauses to draw a very loud, very heavy breath. “Can you guys believe this Shannon thing?”

“Ma!” Sophie cries out and then giggles. All three adults stop to coo back at her.

“At least it’s over,” Lauren says. “She can’t hurt you now.”

Courtney’s eyes flutter closed and then open and then closed again. “My dad said she jumped.”

Alex will be forever grateful that the police prevented them from seeing the results of Shannon’s dive. “Yeah. I guess she finally got the message.”

“I just can’t believe--” Courtney stops to suck in another heavy but shallow breath. “--that we were working with her all that time and never knew it was her.”

“Let’s talk about happier things,” Lauren says. “Like the fact that you’re married. Speaking of things I can’t believe.”

Something catches Alex’s attention out of the corner of his vision. He spots Jason lingering outside the room, but as soon as Alex sees him, he moves out of the way.

“How did we get so old?” Courtney fake-moans.

“Seems like yesterday we were sitting in Biology together sophomore year,” Lauren says.

“With Ms. Douglas! And that Sideshow Bob hair.”

“Hey. If she hadn’t had that hair, we might not have become friends.”

Alex glances back again and, seeing Jason, suddenly hands Sophie off to Lauren. “Would you hold her for a sec?”

“Where are you going?” Courtney asks.

“I’ll be right back,” he says. “There’s something I have to do.”

He slides out of the room as casually as he can, then grabs Jason by the sleeve and pulls him down the hallway a few feet. “What is wrong with you?”

“What do you mean?” Jason says.

“Go in there! Talk to your wife.”

Jason’s lips part, presumably to spit out some excuse, but instead his whole body deflates like a balloon with a leak. “I should have believed her. If I’d just believed her about Sabrina...”

“This isn’t your fault, Jason.”

He doesn’t appear even a little convinced. “When she’s better.”

“You need to get in there,” Alex says. He pulls Jason back toward the window, and they watch Courtney and Lauren chatting. “You have to go in and spend time with her.”

He can tell that Jason knows he is right. Now it is just a matter of getting him in that room before it is too late.


The door to the small hospital chapel creaks open. Paula holds it wide so that her three oldest grandchildren can come inside. The lighting in here is dimmer than the offensive, fluorescent glare that fills the rest of the hospital, but there is still something cold and harsh about it.

“Do we have to do this?” Tori asks as they file into one of the handful of pews.

“Yes,” Paula says simply. She seats herself, and when Samantha sits beside her, she takes her granddaughter’s hand. Samantha takes the hint and reaches for Travis, who seems to understand that this is not the time to argue, and then he joins hands with Tori, too.

Paula focuses on the front wall of the room, painted with a large mural that depicts a peaceful pastoral scene. She remembers a time when a large wooden cross hung there.  Now, in the interest of diversity, all religion-specific symbols have been removed. She supposes that it is just as well; the prayers need to come from within them, not from any external representation of their professed faith.

Tori leans forward to look down the line at her grandmother. “So what do we do now?”

“Pray,” Samantha snaps.

Paula opts for a gentler approach. “Think positive thoughts. Think about your cousin Sophie and your uncle Jason and Courtney--your aunt Courtney. Think about all the good things that lie ahead for them, and ask God to take care of them.”

Seeming to accept that, Tori sits back. Just as Paula settles into a prayer in her own head, though, the groaning of the door rousts her from it.

“Is it okay if I join you guys?” Sandy James asks as she hobbles into the chapel on crutches.

“Of course!” Paula watches her maneuver toward them. “How are you feeling?”

“Tired. My leg hurts. But I’ll be just fine.” Sandy props her crutches against the end of the pew and then sits next to Tori. “She needs our prayers.”

“I know,” Paula says. She would give anything to make this prayer session a grandmother’s unnecessary indulgence, but she knows that it is far from that.


Alex stands back and, at last, Jason enters the room. He finds the rhythmic background noise of various monitors beeping and blipping to be strangely comforting; anything is better than dead silence. Seeing him, Lauren takes her cue.

“I love you,” she says to Courtney. Jason sees the way that their hands linger together, fingers entwined just as their lives have been for so many years. Finally Lauren turns to place Sophie in Jason’s arms and quickly exits the room.

“Hey,” Jason says, stepping closer to the bed. “Sorry I didn’t come in ‘til now.” Hearing the words aloud makes him realize how juvenile a choice it was. “I think I was scared.”

“I’m fine,” Courtney insists. Everything about her belies that statement. Her body is limp, her coloring pale to the point of being ashen. Her eyelids stand at half-mast. Tubes hook in and out of her body, tethering her to the assortment of machines.

“I was scared to see you like this,” he says, “because I feel like it’s my fault. I should have believed you about Sabrina--Shannon--a long time ago. You were right.”

The corners of her lips push upward and outward in a smile that might as well be a 500-pound squat, for all the energy it takes. “Yeah, I was.” She pauses long enough to make Jason wonder if it is his turn to speak. “I still can’t believe it was her. All that time... it was her.”

“I know. It’s like something out of a movie. A really crazy movie.” Emboldened, he closes the gap between them, stepping up to the very side of her bed.

“Think about the house,” he says, bouncing Sophie up and down gently on his arm. “That wall in the dining room we still want to paint, and that stupid end table in the family room that we keep saying we’re going to replace.”

“That end table makes my head hurt.”

He pushes a laugh through his nose and tries to ignore the tears stinging the backs of his eyes. “Then you’ve got to get out of here so we can get rid of it. Think about all the things we’re gonna do in that house. We’re gonna have a whole life there.”

Her nod is labored, but the smile never evaporates from her face.

“Sophie’s going to need a little brother or sister,” he continues. “If it’s a boy, maybe they can skate pairs. And we can stand on the side of the ice and yell at them to do that lift again and again.”

“You want to be those parents?”

“If I have you, sure.”

“Ma!” Sophie says, more a declaration than a name. She swats her hands toward Courtney, who responds by letting the baby grab at her fingers.

“Jason,” she says. “Would you lie down with me?”

Wordlessly, he climbs onto the bed and lies on his side. Sophie seems to read the scene and nuzzles between them, the babbling and squirming suddenly left behind. Jason drapes an arm over her and across Courtney’s midsection.

“Maybe I’ll find time to coach,” he says. “Early mornings. We can give lessons together. Get some big winter coats and sit in the penalty box drinking coffee.”

“Yeah.” Courtney’s voice sounds a thousand miles away.

Jason feels his throat tightening and swallows hard to try and break through it. “We have so much life left to live, Court. This is only the beginning. I need you. Soph needs you.”

“I know.”

He glances up and finds her staring at them, watching them. He sees the life in her eyes, radiating outward even from behind those weary lids.

“It all sounds so wonderful,” she says. “I want all those things.” She reaches down and squeezes his hand. “I want all those things for you and Sophie.”

“And you. And you.”

She doesn’t respond.

He is scared to breathe too deeply for fear of turning the tears loose. The knot in his chest grows larger and larger, wrapping around itself until it fills his entire body.

“I love you,” he says. “I love you so much.” His fingers stroke the top of her hand, trying to ignore how fragile her hold feels.

“I love you, too. Both of you. And I’m always going to be with you.” She lifts a hand to kiss the tips of her fingers and then touches them to Sophie’s head.

“Courtney, don’t...”

He can’t fight the tears any longer.

They lie there, husband and wife on their wedding night, sharing a bed, for what might be minutes or what might be hours. The room is still around them, the machines keeping time and keeping total silence at bay. Everything seems to grow slower.

He can feel when it happens. Before there is any evidence, he can feel it. Life passing out of the bed. When the machine announces it with a sharp, flat squeal, he doesn’t even move. When two nurses race into the room, he still doesn’t move.

Because as soon as he does, he will have to face life without her.


What will happen to Jason and Sophie now?
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