“David!” A woman with dark brown hair and brown eyes called out as soon as she saw David sitting in the waiting room.
“What happened?” She asked. When she received the message that the mystery girl had been rushed to the ER, she had made sure to get to the hospital even quicker.
“According to Sandra, the police woman, she started feeling carsick and then just stopped breathing.”
“And where are the police now?” She asked scanning the room.
“They’re coordinating with Coast Guard to look for any boats that would match her ‘dolphin’ description in any way as well as looking into missing peoples cases. They want to find her family as soon as possible.” David said a hint of dread in his voice as he spoke.
“It’s just strange that I want to help that girl this much despite not knowing her at all.” Margret said, slumping onto the seat next to her husband.
“No. You’ve always been a saint Margret! What is stranger still is that I feel guilty not being able to help her… Margret…” He hesitated for a moment considering if he should tell her what had happened or not.
“I killed an innocent child.” He decided to tell her the truth, but his wife remained neutral, blank and nonchalant to the news he blurted out.
“I killed and innocent child, no I killed a family, the boy who only wanted to get away from some street bullies… I shot him because… he was carrying something… Someone… His baby sister beneath his wrapped blankets… He fell on her and crushed her… I killed innocent children and I even watched as the bullies rounded the corner and kicked his corpse…” He played the scene through his head from when he and his fellow soldiers had moved through a dying town in Afghanistan.
“You did what was right at that moment to protect yourself and the others. Though still a horrible thought, you are here now and you have her to take care of now. See it that way, if not for you something else might have happened to this girl and then her family, where ever they are, might never know that their daughter was still alive. Bad things happen, we all make mistakes, but it’s because we know this so well that we care this much even for a girl we know nothing about.” His wife tried to comfort him. A nurse stood silently and patiently as she waited for them to finish their comforting session.
“We’re going to have her get a CT scan, it isn’t a must seeing as you’re not her guardians, but since the police said she trust you we thought it best to get some consent and maybe even help calm her. She comes by every no or so for short moments at a time and is panicky every time.” The nurse told David his wife at his side listening to every word the nurse said.
“David?” Margret looked up at her rock and anchor, for who she now had a chance to give her support to now that he needed an anchor.
“Of course.” He nodded and followed the nurse to a half awake girl.
“We can’t see any signs that she was raped, but she definitely was molested, by the signs she might have fought back and gotten away. I think if she hadn’t she would have been raped and killed indefinitely. What doesn’t make sense is the high concentration of sodium and potassium in her blood. The salt is clearly from drinking sea water for some time from what I understand she was found coming from out of the sea? But the potassium, her body is producing a lot more than what is normal, perhaps to balance out the salt. We want to be sure that she didn’t suffer any lasting brain damage from the salt in her system and also from the sort time that she wasn’t breathing; as well as for damage of her other organs. Kidneys, lungs and liver.” The doctor explained as he did his final checks before allowing her to head for a CT scan.
“How old would you say the injuries are?” Margret asked the doctor.
“At least a month. I’d so no older than three months. I can’t be too exact with her situation. Margret clutched at David’s back, his clothes trapped in her grip.
“Do you think she can come live with us until we found her parents?” David asked feeling his wife’s silent nagging beside him as she tucked on his clothes.
“There shouldn’t be a problem, though best to ask the authorities in charge of her case. We will though be keeping her for observation for the next three days to be sure; if all is well and in order I really don’t see why not. You are truly some of the better people I’ve seen come through these doors.” The doctor told them just as he left the room the bed following suit with the sleeping girl on after.
David and Margret waited for another few hours for her to wake up. The CT scan showed that she had suffered damaged from the blow to the head and that she might suffer from amnesia of anything that happened before the accident, not after. Which made sense why she can’t remember her own name or say exactly where she was from. When she came to she was fueled with energy running about the nurses was already getting frustrated, so much that David couldn’t just leave her to run about as she did. She refused for the nurses or doctors to come anywhere near her!
“You seem like you need rest.” An elderly woman noted as she watched David try to get the girl to sit still.
“She’s going to have me pulling out my hair before my own children get that privilege! And to think I thought that they were hyper, this is maddening! Are all children this nightmarish?” He asked jokingly, Margret taking her seat next to the woman.
“Yes, but you wouldn’t want it any other way!” She gave a warm gently smile.
“I believe you!” He said giving up on chasing after the girl. Thankful that at least she wasn’t in the ER anymore.
“Is she a niece?” The woman asked curious.
“No. We actually don’t know her at all! She just appeared…” David answered, unaware the girl was crouching behind him ready to jump on him from behind.
“My! She looks just like the girl from the news of this morning!” The woman noted the similarity. The dark sea blue eyes and the starry night black hair with its salty shine to it.
“Yes.” Margret said remembering what David told her.
“Did she truly just wake out from the sea?” The woman asked her curiosity now at its very peak.
“Yes. I couldn’t believe it myself! I was just looking out to sea trying to ignore the entire buzz from the festivities when I saw her swim to the shore and just walk out, eat raw fish like it was popcorn!” The man told the woman of what he saw.
“She must be a mermaid!” The woman said and as if that was the key word the girl bounced from her crouch like a leopard and onto David’s back pushing him forward to fall and brace himself for the impact with the floor. David didn’t mind though and just stood up after the girl jumped off him and crouched next to him confused to why he fell…
“Go. I’ll take care of her. I’m waiting for my granddaughter to come out of theater, it will be a long night for me either way, might as well help look after a fairy while I wait.” The old woman said and Margret knew she could trust the woman; she shared the same look in her eyes as she herself, a look of motherly care not just for her own but for all children and people!
“David. Let’s go. Jacob and Clair are their aunt’s I’m sure they miss you and want you to play with them some before they’re off to bed.” Margret chimed in and as the boss he’d rather not disobey such clear instructions. The elderly woman stood up to greet them.
“Lillian. It is a pleasure to have met you.” The woman introduced herself. And with one last word with the girl to behave herself, David and Margret left for home.
“Now tell me everything!” The woman went to sit back down and gestured to the girl to accompany her. Instead of the bench, she though opted to sit on the floor in front of the woman.
“Did you get to see a lot of dolphins, whales and other great beasts and pretty creatures?” Lillian asked seeing the girl get excited. She nodded and attempted to tell of her adventures.
“Riva I friends. She I play. Mommy not happy Riva I go far alone. Meri like I sister. Like Mommy not happy I alone far. Meri teach to hunt fish. Mommy na-me Nixie. Not I real mommy. Riva mommy. I hurt lost Mommy save I.”
“I see so they’re like your family.”
“Dolphins I family!” the girl said proudly, beaming at the meaning of the word.”
“How long have you been with them?” Lillian asked.
“Seven-tens three suns!” She said full of joy.
“Seventy-three days?” The elderly woman asked having already made out how the girl forms her sentences. Nodding with glee the woman smiled.
“That is a long time indeed! How long where you alone before they found you?” She asked trying to figure out what the girl knew. It was her way of helping get the information needed to help find her family and who exactly the girl was.
“Not know. Think one-ten suns…” The girl seemed to count on her fingers as she tried to recall.
“Best not to recall bad days, right?” The woman tried to steer the girl from becoming saddened when she saw the girl realize that she was ‘alone’ again, as in not with her ‘dolphin family’.
“Left me alone… I not know…” the girl lip quivered as tears started to swell.
“Don’t cry! I’m sure they only wanted you to get well and is why they left you. If these bruises didn’t heal soon you could have died, and I sure they don’t want that for you!” The woman comforted the girl and it seemed to work as she wiped her tears and jumped back to her feat running to the nurses’ station to ask for ‘books’, though they only realized what she wanted after frustrated pointing at different items that all had ‘paper’ in them. Running back to Lillian with a children’s story book. Lillian started to read to her from the picture book about “The Little Mermaid”.
“I! I!” The girl said excitedly as Lillian pointed to a picture of Arial.
“Yes. You are almost just like her! She’s what we call mermaids. Made up creatures that are half fish and half human.” Lillian explained. The girl shook her head.
“Not fish. Dolphin!”
“I guess you a different mermaid from Arial. You’re half human half dolphin.” The woman agreed to keep the girl happy. The girl looked confused not sure about something that Lillian had said.
“Human?” She asked not sure what exactly was meant by that word. Lillian flipped to a picture of a the prince and showed her what a ‘human’ was. The girl confused still stood from her seat next to Lillian and inspected Lillian’s legs and feet and then stopped one of the nurses as the ‘examined’ the nurse’s legs and feet.
“Human. Human.” She said first pointing to Lillian then to the nurse as she repeated the words again. She then pointed to herself and remained silent for a moment…
“Not Human.” She said and then went to sit to look at her own feet and legs then standing to look at Lillian and the nurse’s faces and arms and hands. She looked at her own hands and arms, but it was when she tried to picture her own face she gave a confused crooked smile.
“Not Dolphin. Not Human.” She turned the pages back to the Arial between where she lost her tail in the water and back to where she saw Arial with feat.
“Mermaid? Not Human. Not Fish. Not Dolphin.” She pointed to herself again and smiled and repeated the words more sure of the facts now. Lillian’s warry smile was filled with pity and sympathy for the girl. The nurse confused with what the girl was trying to state, just agreed, glad that the girl was at least not making such noise as before.
“I think you should get some sleep.” Lillian said as she watched the girl rub her tired eyes. Leading her to her hospital bed and covering her, the girl was confused at the gesture and what the blankets were, but allowed liked the warmth it provided. Lillian taking a seat next to the bed.
Silence echoed in the room, the girl tossing around and turning about, could not fall asleep at all, Lillian even tried to sing her to sleep with a lullaby, but it proofed futile.
“Guess this is a useless exercise?” Lillian said teasingly and the girl staring at her. Lillian, trying to figure something out decided to ready a bath. The girl following her into the bathroom.
As the water poured from the tap the girl was in awe. With sparking eyes she looked to Lillian and back to the bath filling with water.
“Lillian like Ursula! Magic! Magic!” She said with amazement.
“I guess for you technology would count as magic. Especially feat like this.” Lillian said, her voice tainted with humour. Starting to help the girl out of the hospital gown Lillian helped the girl get into the lukewarm bath. The girl was in her element now. Refusing that Lillian close the tap, she placed her hand beneath the tap trying to figure out how it worked. With the bath nearly filled at the brim Lillian closed the tap despite her protesting whimpers.
“You can watch the tap again later.” Lillian assured her. The girl laid back and slid down until her head was completely under water. Lillian watched as she waited for the girl to come back up for air and ready to pull her up when it seemed that she would ‘drown’. But when the first three minutes were up Lillian couldn’t take the suspense. Un plugging the drain the water level started to drop, alerting the girl. Bolting up she watched the source of the disappearing water trying to stop it. Lillian opened the tap again and the level started to even out, not lowering or getting higher.
The girl listened and watched the water pour in, her eyes getting heavier as sleep took over. Once Lillian was sure the girl was asleep she closed the tap. Wanting to pick the girl up out of the bath she quickly realized that the girl was starting to stir awake and instead lowered her back into the water. Plugging the bath again and filling it one last time with warm water she watched as the girl slept peacefully in the water.
“Excuse me misses Botha?” The nurse called into the room where she was sure Lillian was with the girl, struggling to pronounce the strange family name.
“Your granddaughter will be coming out of surgery soon. I thought you might want to see her, you can wait for her in her room.”
“Would you mind pairing her in this room with this girl.” Lillian asked the nurse watching the girl sleeping in the water.
“I will see if that can be arranged, though I’m not sure… It’s strange to suddenly see her ‘this’ calm, her having been jumping about like a gummy bear only minutes ago.” The nurse ‘huffed’ a quiet laugh.
“See what you can arrange.” Lillian drew the nurse out of her silent reverie.