Molly barked loudly as Aurora gasped and sat up in bed.
Reaching over and switching on the light, Aurora turned to the black Labrador that sat beside her. "Thanks, Mol," she said, petting her behind the ear.
For the last week, Molly had been barking every night.
Breathing heavily, Aurora pulled back the covers of her bedspread and stepped out onto the floor. The carpet was soft between her toes, but Aurora didn't think much of it as she carefully made her way into the bathroom. Her heart was racing a mile a minute inside her chest, and as she flipped the light switch and her reflection appeared in the mirror, she could see fear in her eyes.
"Calm down, Rory," Aurora coached herself. It had been a while since she'd had any form of an epileptic fit, but lately it had been happening frequently. Taking a deep breath, Aurora closed her eyes and tried to remember what she was dreaming about before she had woken up. The fit hadn't have been a serious one, it had lasted a few seconds, but she'd had ones that had lasted close to an hour, ones like that had resulted with her being rushed to the hospital for treatment.
Sadly she couldn't remember anything.
"What's happening to me?" Aurora asked, opening her eyes and looking back at her reflection. What had happened in the last week that changed about her? It had been five years since she had first come to Europe, she couldn't believe time had flown so quickly. But in the last week nothing much had happened. She'd met foster child, Jenni Jacobs, and become an emergency carer for the youngster.
Emergency Carer meant that Aurora was available to take Jenni in when unforeseen circumstances arose. It had yet to happen, but Aurora knew not to see that as a good sign. From what Aurora had seen from Jenni's file, the youngsters' parents had been reported to social services for domestic abuse and sexual violation of the child. It made Aurora sick to her stomach to even think about it.
"Aurora, are you OK?"
Alexis was awake.
"Yeah, I'm fine," Aurora called back. She eased herself up off of the sink, flipped off the light switch and pulled back the door to reveal her tired roommate. "Go back to bed."
"I heard Molly barking," Alexis said. "Did you have another one? Do I need to phone Doctor Shaw?"
Aurora shook her head and headed back for her bed. She sat on the edge and Alexis sat beside her. "No, I'm fine, I swear," she said. "It was just a little one, nothing serious. I promise."
"This is has been happening for nearly a week," Alexis said. "You're still keeping a record, right?"
"Yeah," Aurora said, reaching for the diary on her bedside table. She opened it to the last page and showed it to Alexis. The pages all read the same thing. 'Awoke from a nightmare to Molly barking. Spencer only barks when a seizure is nigh.'
"Can you ever remember what you dream about?" Alexis asked.
Aurora shook her head. "I've been trying to remember what's happened in the last week that could possibly be a trigger. All I can think of is Jenni, and I don't want her to be a trigger because I want her case."
"But if her case is putting your own health at risk maybe you should pass it on to someone else," Alexis said, closing the diary and setting it on the bed. "We're not meant to hurt ourselves, remember?"
"I know," Aurora said, looking down. "But Jenni needs me. I've spent far too long getting to know her and provided for her so much that I don't want anyone else to take her away."
"You're getting attached," Alexis said. "You know we're not supposed to get attached. Remember what Joanna said? 'There is us and them?' We do our part to help them, take care of them, make them comfortable, but we're not to get involved too much. This job will destroy us if we let it."
Aurora nodded. She knew all this, she had gone through it with her supervisors so many times that she knew it back to front, but it didn't stop her from feeling so much when it came to the children that she worked with. Some of them she could relate to, the ones that had lost a parent or had a parent walk out on them, Aurora knew what that felt like, but then someone like Jenni came along and Aurora could only imagine what the child's world was like. She wanted to, at the very least, show Jenni that not everyone in the world would try to hurt her.
"I've become an emergency carer for Jenni," Aurora admitted.
Alexis' eyes widened as she stared at her roommate. "You have? When?" she asked.
"I had the go ahead yesterday," Aurora said.
"Do Joanna and Malcolm know?"
Aurora shook her head. "Not yet," she said.
"They won't be pleased."
"I don't care," Aurora said. "This kid needs to know that not everyone in this world is trying to hurt her. Her parents are just 1% of the population that isn't worth anyone's time. I want her to feel safe, and she's told me that she feels safe with me."
"Emergency Care is one step away from fostering, you know that, right?" Alexis asked. "Or is that what you want?"
Aurora shrugged. "I don't know, it's still early days," she said. "Maybe one day it'll be more than fostering, if I convince Joanna and Malcolm that this is the right thing for Jenni, and then fast track the paperwork, I may even consider adopting her."
"Have you spoken to, you know, about this?"
"It's got nothing to do with him," Aurora replied. "Besides we're hardly a couple."
"It's hard to do anything or be anywhere with him," Aurora admitted. "He's always surrounded by his mindless minions and every time we go out someone recognizes him."
"True, but the publicity you're receiving has been awesome for the centre," Alexis said, smiling.
Aurora chuckled and shook her head. "Yeah, but my life is now out there for everyone to know about," she said, "and while I don't care what they think or say about me, if they see me with Jenni, they're going to want to know who she is, and I don't want to be the reason that people are poking their noses in her life. She doesn't deserve that scrutiny."
"Fair point," Alexis said.
Silence fell between the two roommates, one that was interrupted only by Spencer's light breathing.
"Are you going to be OK?" Alexis asked. She wanted to make sure that her friend was alright, but she also had an early morning the next day, which meant she needed as much sleep has possible.
"Yeah, you go back to bed," Aurora said. "I'm going to write down what I can remember about this attack, and then curl up myself."
Alexis smiled and squeezed her friend's shoulder reassuringly. "I'm right down the hall if you need me," she said.
"I know," Aurora said. "Thanks, Lex."
Alexis nodded once and then left the room, glancing back several times to make sure that Aurora was, indeed, alright.
Having lived together for close to seven years now, Alexis felt obligated to check on Aurora's health and safety. While she didn't have epilepsy herself, she had dealt with a child that suffered from it; the child had a severe case of the condition and had actually died from it. This was partly the reason that Alexis felt she needed to look after Aurora, especially before, during and after a seizure.
"Goodnight," Aurora said, smiling as Alexis hesitated in the doorway.
"More like good morning," Alexis teased, pointing at the clock before disappearing.
Aurora waited until she had heard Alexis' door close before glancing at the clock. It was 3am. She chuckled, shook her head and then reached for the diary on the bed. She had barely picked it up when something bright and shimmering caught her attention.
Resting beside Molly's paw was the crimson-coloured crystal that Aurora had bought a week ago. She had been birthday shopping for Jenni with Alexis when the crystal had caught her eye from an antique's shop window. Instantly she had taken a liking to it and decided to buy it. She wasn't sure what had drawn her to the crystal but ever since purchasing it, Aurora realised, she had had a seizure every night.
Aurora frowned and picked up the crystal, examining it between her fingers. Was it possible that the two were connected? If so, how could one tiny and insignificant crystal be causing her to have seizures every night?
"What do you think, Mol?" Aurora asked. "Connection or not?" She glanced to the sleeping dog and smiled. "That's what I thought." She set the crystal down on her bedside table, grabbed her diary, opened it to an empty page and started to write. "It's just a crystal."
On the table, the crimson crystal shimmered brightly as a holographic image of a Giganotosaurus, more commonly known as a G-Rex, appeared above it.