I awoke to the sound of someone whispering something in my ear, “You have been sleeping for too long. Now, it’s time for you to rise and shine, Princess.”
Slowly, I opened my eyes to find out who was speaking. But I didn’t see anyone around me.
“Who was talking to me just now? Why isn’t there anyone here? Did it really happen or was it only a dream?” I wondered hazily.
“Wait!” I gasped as realization dawned on me that I was in an unfamiliar place right now.
“Where am I?” I asked myself in bewilderment.
Scrambling into a sitting position, my eyes roamed the room. The walls and ceiling were painted white which happened to match the highly polished marble floor. The door was a bluish green in colour with glass pane on it. Next to the door were dispensers for rubber gloves, hand sanitizer and soap. This room had a large window with pale blue curtains which gave on to the street. By the window, there were a light blue sofa, which was piled high with white cushions, and a coffee table.
The bed where I was currently sitting on was placed in the middle of the room. The sheets and blanket were white and so were the pillows. A plasma TV was set on the wall across the bed.
On the right side of the bed, there were stands for intravenous drips and monitors. Meanwhile, on the left side of the bed were a bedside table with a vase of flowers, a jug of water and an empty glass on it, and an armchair. A few metres from the bedside table, there was another door that probably led to the bathroom.
“T—this is a hospital room, right?” I sputtered.
I looked all round the room once again to make sure I wasn’t only seeing things. But no matter how many times I looked, the view remained the same. I was in a room in a hospital for the care of patients. A strong smell of disinfectant which assailed my nostrils confirmed my doubt.
“So I am really in a hospital room? But how could I end up here? Why can’t I recall being rushed to the hospital? What exactly has happened to me?” I mused.
“ROSANNE!!!” I twisted on the hospital bed when I heard somebody calling my name.
A slow smile worked its way across my face as I saw my adoptive sister standing in the doorway of the bathroom.
Marirosa ran up and threw her arms around me. “Thanks heavens you finally wake up, Rosanne,” she exulted.
I detached myself from my sister’s embrace and looked at her in mystification, “So, I have been unconscious?”
“Yes.” She nodded her head. “It worried us that you did not regain consciousness for two days. But thank God, you eventually come to now.”
“Marie, what’s happened to me exactly? Why am I in the hospital?” I asked perplexedly.
“I’ll explain it later,” she answered, “Now, I have to phone Mom and Dad first. They must be very happy to hear that you’ve regained consciousness.”
Before I could protest, Marirosa reached into the front pocket of her jacket, taking out her smartphone, and finally excused herself to make a phone call.
I shook my head in disapproval. My adoptive sister, Marirosa was always like that when she got too excited.
A little while later, Marirosa returned with a big smile on her face. “Mom and Dad will be here in a jiffy. They’re so glad to hear you have woken up,” she told me excitedly.
“Good!” I exclaimed. “I can’t wait to meet our parents. I don’t know why I miss them terribly. Although we haven’t met for only two days, but it feels like years.”
“It’s not only your feeling, silly,” Marie said jokingly, “The fact is you haven’t met them for a very long time.”
I frowned in puzzlement. “What do you mean?”
Marirosa was about to answer, but suddenly the door swung open and my adoptive parents burst in. I couldn’t help noticing that both of them had dark rings around their eyes, probably due to lack of sleep.
Mom and Dad ran towards me and
enveloped me in warm hugs.
“Oh Rosanne, thank God you’re finally awake,” my adoptive mother cried in delight.
I returned their hugs and said softly, “I missed you, Mom, Dad.”
“We miss you too, Sweetheart,” my adoptive father answered for both of them, “Never a day went by without our thinking of you.”
After some time, we finally broke our hug.
“We are on our way home when Marie called to tell us that you finally regained consciousness, Sweetheart. Then, we quickly turned the car around and hastened back to the hospital to see you,” my father told me.
“I have told your father not to leave the hospital, but he wasn’t having any. Instead, he conspired with your sister to persuade me to go home, until I could not refuse them. Consequently, I was unable to be present when you woke up, Rosanne,” Mom said accusingly.
“We just want the best for you, Honey. You were tired out after keeping a bedside vigil on Rosanne for two days straight. So you needed to go home and take a rest,” my father reasoned.
Mom tried to argue, “But I—”
“Please cut it out, Mom, Dad!” Marirosa broke in, “Rosanne has just regained consciousness. The two of you should not argue in front of her.”
“You’re right, Marie,” Dad sighed. He then turned to me and said apologetically, “I’m sorry that you have to listen to your parents fighting in your condition, Sweetheart.”
I smiled at him. “That’s all right, Dad.”
“Are you OK, Sweetheart? Are you hurt anywhere? Are you in pain?” my mother asked anxiously.
“I’m fine, Mom,” I answered, “But I’m just confused. How could I wind up in hospital?”
My question took my family by surprise.
“Don’t you remember what’s happened, Sweetheart?” Dad inquired.
I tried to recall exactly what happened to me, but the events of the previous days were just a blur, therefore, I shook my head.
“OK. Let me explain!” my father said helpfully. “That night, you asked our permission to go to your friend’s party, but we wouldn’t hear of it.”
“Because our parents wouldn’t allow you to go to that party,” Marirosa continued, “you finally decided to sneak out of the house while we were asleep, and Mom caught you at it.”
“I tried to stop you from going to the party, Rosanne,” said my mother, “but you didn’t want to listen to me. We then had a blazing row, and at last, you stormed angrily out of the house.”
After listening to my family’s story, the memories of that night finally came crowding into my mind.
“I can remember everything now,” I said, “I was on my way to Josh’s house that night when suddenly two hooded men appeared out of nowhere and grabbed my arms. I struggled, but they were much stronger than me. When I tried to scream for help, one of them clamped a cloth over my mouth. I can’t remember any more. I must have lost consciousness back then.”
“Yes, Sweetheart. You have been kidnapped,” my mother confirmed.
“The police investigation into your case had drawn a blank. They were unable to discover the identity of your kidnappers. All their efforts to locate you were futile too. At last, you were listed as missing, along with the other girls from all over the world who had mysteriously disappeared from their homes, until the police found you two days ago,” my father elaborated.
“You know, Rosanne,” said Marie, “as you had been missing for months, the police were beginning to fear the worst.”
I gasped, clapping a hand over my mouth. “So the police thought that I was dead?”
“Yes, they did,” my mother replied, “But we have never given up hope of finding you alive. That’s why we kept searching for you. After a year went by, our prayers were finally answered and you’re found safe and well.”
“I can’t believe I was taken hostage for more than a year,” I mumbled.
“We couldn’t believe either that we had to be away from you for that long, Sweetheart. You know, a year without you was the worst time of our lives. But we tried to hold on in the belief that you will return home one day,” my mother explained.
“Thank you for not giving up on me, Mom, Dad, Marie,” I said emotionally.
“There’s no need to thank us, Sweetheart. That’s what family is for,” Dad emphasized.
“That’s right,” Mom agreed.
Tears brimmed in my eyes after I heard their statements. I never thought that they would love me this much considering I was just their adopted child.
All of a sudden, a feeling of guilt began to stir in me. My adoptive family had always been very kind to me, but I often behaved very badly towards them.
“I want to apologize to all of you, especially to you, Mom,” I said sadly.
Mom’s eyebrows lifted. “Apologize? Why?”
“I’m sorry that I have put all of you to a lot of trouble for the last one year. And for you, Mom, I’m sorry I hurt your feelings that night. I deeply regret the terrible things I had said to you. I wish I could take it all back,” I said ruefully.
“That’s all right, Sweetheart. I know you didn’t mean to hurt my feelings. Just forget it, okay?” my mother said soothingly.
I shook my head. “No, Mom. I cannot just forget it. I realize that it was the wrong thing to say. I shouldn’t have said those cruel words to you. I’m really sorry, Mom.”
“Look, Sweetheart! I have forgiven you, even before you apologize to me. To err is human. The most important thing is you have realized your mistake and you wanted to make amends for what you’d done,” my mother advised me.
“But I can’t forgive myself for what I had done, Mom. My stubbornness and selfishness had caused suffering for our family. The three of you wouldn’t have endured great hardship if I’d listened to the two of you, Mom, Dad,” I said remorsefully.
“No, Sweetheart, it’s not your fault. If anyone’s to blame, it’s your kidnappers. They had destroyed our family’s happiness by separating you from us. So, stop blaming yourself, okay?” Mom tried to convince me.
“Yes, Rosanne,” added Marie, “we didn’t blame you for what had happened. You’re just the innocent victim of the kidnapping.”
“But I can’t get rid of this feeling of guilt,” I admitted, “I—”
“Look, Rosanne!” Dad cut me off, “Let’s forget about who was more to blame! It’s all past history. So we should not rake over it. The most important thing is our family can be reunited again now.”
“That’s right,” Mom and Marie said simultaneously.
“I can’t thank you enough for all that you have done for me, Mom, Dad, Marie. The three of you make me feel like the luckiest girl in the world to have you as my family,” I said in a choked voice.
“No, Sweetheart,” my father refuted, “On the contrary, we got so lucky to get a daughter like you.”
My mother nodded to signify that she agreed with my father.
“And I couldn’t ask for a better sister than you, Rosanne,” Marirosa added.
“Oh, I love you, Guys,” I declared.
“We love you too,” they responded in unison.
At last, the four of us put our arms around each other and hugged.