Chapter 3 | Orphan
It had all happened so fast.
One moment, Jasmine had been seated at the edge of the pile of rocks that lead out into the water. She’d been looking out at the water, trying to process everything that had happened.
Her home was gone. Her parents were gone. Her brother was gone.
It was finally sinking in, and Jasmine knew that Paige was all she had left.
The six-year-old went to shift into a more comfortable position, but that was exactly when the strong gust of wind came. Said wind caught her small body, pushing her off the cliff. Jasmine turned and tried to get a good hold on the rock she’d been sitting on, but it was too late.
She was already falling.
Jasmine screamed, kicking around as she tumbled through the air.
She could only just hear her sister’s call. Jasmine sucked in as much air into her lungs as she could before she was plunged into the water below.
She had no idea where she was going. She didn’t know if the ocean was pushing her forwards, pulling her back, pushing her to the side, or if she was still sinking.
Her feet just touched the sand, and she tried to force herself into a standing position, desperate to get back to the beach, and back to Paige. She didn’t manage though, and she continued to be tossed around the different currents.
At one point, she managed to fight her way to the surface. She tried to signal Paige of her location by waving madly. The six-year-old managed to shout, “HELP!” A few times with the air she managed to get into her lungs. She then breathed in quickly, holding her breath as she was plunged into the water again.
Jasmine sank pretty close to the bottom of the water, but she didn’t reach the sandy floor. She tried to get back up to the surface, grateful for the fact she could hold her breath for over a minute. A small while passed before anything else happened, but a human figure appeared in her sight. It was swimming at the top of the water, but then it started swimming down.
Paige! Jasmine thought mentally. Thank goodness, she continued. The six-year-old took hold of Paige’s arm once she was close enough. Jasmine felt her older sister tense briefly before she relaxed again. Paige then swam back up to the surface, taking Jasmine with her.
Jasmine heard her sister say to try and get to shore before she dove back underwater. A few seconds later, Jasmine felt hands supporting her waist, keeping her above water, and she swam.
Jasmine could see the beach. The ocean hadn’t dragged them too far from it, and with Paige and Jasmine kicking with the same goal, they were starting to get closer to the sand.
Jasmine tried to see if she could touch the ocean floor a few times as they got painfully close to the edge of the water. The waves were starting to affect them less, only pushing them forwards, and pulling them back a little.
Jasmine felt Paige’s grip relax, and her hands drifted away from Jasmine’s waist as one last wave caught them, finally carrying them the rest of the way to shore.
As the ocean pushed them forwards, Jasmine caught sight of Paige. She’d fallen unconscious, and Jasmine guessed it was because she hadn’t come up to take a breath.
But something had happened. Something Jasmine would never be able to forget.
Paige’s mouth was slightly opened, but there was an odd glow inside it. Despite the fact she was still in the water, clouds weaved around her hands. Tiny streaks of lighting weaved through her hair and around her chest, making it look like it was bursting from her heart.
Jasmine’s eyes widened. What the... she thought, not knowing what to do. What’s happening!?
Then, that moment ended. The glowing faded just as quickly as it had appeared, and the clouds disappeared into nothingness, and the several mini lightning bolts no longer existed.
The two of them were then tossed onto the sand.
Water lapped at their skin and clothing, pushing their hair forwards and then pulling it backwards.
The water was still cold, and the air rushing past her skin didn’t help. Why did I climb up onto those rocks? She thought miserably, using her hands to push her upper body off the ground, and out of the water.
Jasmine shakily stood up and looked around the beach for her sister.
Paige was a few body-lengths away from her, lying on her back.
“Paige!” Jasmine cried out, running on slightly weak legs to her. The six-year-old started trying to pull her out of the water. However, her sister was a dead weight, and Jasmine struggled to get anywhere. She only just managed to get her out of the water’s reach before her arm were sore and tired from the effort.
The sound of a car braking followed by an engine stopping caught Jasmine’s attention. She turned her head to see a lone white van was now parked in one of the car parks allocated to the beach. There was a silhouette of an adult and a child on the sides, accompanied with bold letters that Jasmine couldn’t make out from her distance.
The two doors at the front opened, and two women stepped out. Their clothing was rather casual, and Jasmine was rather surprised that they were awake.
The two women then started walking down the beach towards Jasmine and Paige. The former gulped nervously as they got closer. She scooted back, pressing into Paige’s unconscious form as the two reached them.
“The Grapes sisters?” The shorter of the two asked. She had bright blue eyes and long brown hair. Her hair was pulled into a loose plait, though it looked like it was done in a hurry.
“Y-yes,” Jasmine stammered. “Why?”
“I’m Julia Hartshrom,” The same woman introduced herself. “And this is my sister, Lilly.”
Lilly had the same blue eyes and brown hair, except hers was cut so short it only just reached her chin. She waved a little and finished for Julia with, “We’re from the ‘Bright’ Orphanage.”
Jasmine looked down when they said that. Her words made flashbacks from the fire appear in her head.
“We’re orphans,” She muttered. “Yeah. We... kind of figured that out.”
“We should get going,” Julia said. “You must be freezing cold out here.”
Jasmine nodded. “Yeah.” She stood up again, not questioning them. She figured it was best to get Paige and herself somewhere safe sooner rather than later.
“How did you get so wet?” Lilly then asked.
“Oh, that. I was sitting up there,” Jasmine started, pointing to the edge of the pile of rocks. “Then I fell, and Paige rescued me. She then held me above the water so I could breathe, but she never came up to take her own, so... I guess she passed out from not having any air?”
Lilly nodded, and then stooped to scoop Paige into her arms.
Jasmine then looked around the beach for Paige’s bag. She saw it a small bit away, her jacket still right on-top of it. The six-year old ran over, stuffed her jacket back inside it, re-zipped it, and ran back, bag in hand. The two women were by the van by then, so Jasmine simply headed there with the bag.
Jasmine was seated in the back row on a booster seat. She put Paige’s bag on the seat next to her, and Paige was laid across the middle seats. Julia and Lilly then got back in their seats (Julia in the drivers seat). The two of them closed their doors, and Julia inserted her car key before turning it. The engine rumbled to life.
Julia turned onto the road, and away they went.
At one point, Jasmine could see their burning home for a split second before another row of houses blocked her view of it.
The fire was beginning to die down at that point. It was running out of things to burn, and the local fire service had sent men to help put out the rest of the fire, and prevent it from spreading over the fences surrounding it.
Jasmine looked away sadly before the flames were even out of sight.
After that, the whole drive became a blur. Jasmine would switch between gazing out the window at what she could see, looking at the road lit up by the van’s headlights, and looking down at Paige.
The thirteen-year-old was starting to wake back up by the time they were halfway through the drive.
Jasmine looked down the first time she moved, only for her eyes to widen as she forgot to breathe. There were clouds weaving around her hands again.
Just like the time it had happened while they were in the sea, the clouds disappeared within a second.
Imediatley after, Paige stirred again, and her eyes fluttered open.
Paige saw the seats she was lying on and the roof of the van and started frowning in confusion.
She opened her mouth, most likely to ask something like ‘What happened’ or “Where are we’, but Jasmine leaned over the seat before any words emerged from her mouth.
“Someone must have seen us leave after the house caught on fire. They called an orphanage, since mum and dad didn’t make it out. It was probably Ms. Fuller or Mr. Masmer,” Jasmine explained.
Paige connected the dots (A bit slower that usual, due to her half awake mind) and nodded.
“Okay,” She said, her voice a slight bit hoarse.
At that, Lilly turned around. She immediately smiled when she saw that Paige was awake. “Ah, you’re awake!” She exclaimed.
“Yeah,” Paige replied. “I am.”
Lilly continued to smile as she introduced herself. “I’m Lilly. Lilly Hartshrom.”
Julia introduced herself. “And I’m Julia, Lilly’s sister. We’re from ‘Bright’ Orphanage.”
“Okay,” Paige said, pushing herself up to a sitting position on the seat. She then reached around to grab her seatbelt, pulling it across and clicking it into place.
The rest of the drive was silent, other than when Paige asked if Jasmine had picked up the bag and her jacket. Jasmine had nodded and pulled the bag and jacket up to show her.
Eventually, they pulled into another parking lot. Julia stopped the engine running. She and Lilly got back out before the latter slid open the door for Jasmine and Paige’s seats.
They both got out and followed the two women towards a large, two (or maybe three) story building with a sign that read ‘Bright Orphanage’ above the entrance.
The four of them walked in. The reception had a carpeted floor, and the walls were covered with pictures of different groups of children that were, or had been, at the orphanage and what nice and exciting activities the staff took them to do.
Lilly smiled at the receptionist. The receptionist smiled back before smiling at the two recently orphaned girls. “I’m Ella,” she introuced herself. “I usually do the night shifts for reception on weekends.”
“Thanks Ella,” Julia thanked her. “C’mon, you two.”
They followed the two older sisters through a few sets of corridors before they came to two separate rooms, one labeled: ‘SHOWER- GIRLS’ and the other ‘SHOWER- BOYS’.
They were told to have a quick shower to warm up. They were also told to leave their nightgowns there for them to deal with and there would be several fresh nightgowns ready for use, and that there’d still be a few freshly washed towels for them to used.
They left Paige’s bag just outside the door, and walked inside.
There were countless shower stalls, all of them in neat little rows. The two sisters went in stalls right next to each other, taking one of the nightgowns they had been told would be there from the pile in a large box at the from of the room, along with one of the few towels left each with them.
They both had the quickest shower they ever recalled having, drying themselves just as fast. Finally, they slipped the nightgowns on.
Paige finished before Jasmine did, but waited at the door for her to come out. They then walked back through the door together.
Lilly and Julia had waited for them. Paige picked up her bag, and then they were once more being lead through the corridors, eventually coming to a stop in-front of a room that said 'SICK BAY' on a red and white sign. They were lead inside. Julia cleaned Paige's cut before putting a plaster over it.
Afterwards, they were led back through the corridors to a staircase they had passed earlier. They were then lead up those to the second floor, where they were lead through yet another maze of corridors.
Lilly and Julia stopped infront of a door. On the door, there was a colourful sign that said '53'.
"This will be your room," Julia explained.
"Thank you," Paige replied.
"A bell should ring sometime around 7:45 in the morning," Lilly continued. "When that happens, everyone will go down to the dining room for breakfast, which is on the first floor."
"But where do we go?" Jasmine asked. "There were so many coridoors!" She exclaimed.
"Just follow the other kids in your room," Julia said with a friendly wink. "They'll know the way! For now, head on inside. There's 3 spare beds there right now. Choose two of them and go to sleep. It's only thirty minutes past midnight," She finished.
Paige nodded. "Thanks again," She said, opening the door herself. She lead Jasmine inside before shutting it behind her. She could just hear Julia and Lilly walking back down the corridoor.
There were ten beds in the dorm, and just like Julia had said, only seven were occupied, leaving three open for use.
The two sisters chose the two beds at the very end of the row, leaving one bed between them and the other girls in the room.
Paige set her bag down against the wall, in-between their beds, before climbing into hers. Jasmine had already gotten into her one.
After a small while, Jasmine's breathing had slowed down and evened out, signalling that she had fallen asleep.
Paige observed the room first. She couldn't make out the colour of the walls, but the floor was bright, so she guessed it was made out of something like birch wood.
The door was a more regular one, though there was a strip of glass across the top that was an inch or two high.
There was also a few windows (With curtains drawn across them) in two walls of the room, making her realise that the room must be in one of the corners of the building.
There was nothing else that Paige could observe in such dim lighting, so she simply lay down, closed her eyes and waited for sleep to claim her.