Arriving in Rome
She thinks of the car accident that claimed the lives of both their parents. Her sister is still so young, she still needs her parents. She needs her mother, the first time the tooth fairy brings money, and she runs to her mother, and excitedly say “the tooth fairy was there”, the first time she falls in love that she can't wait to get home to tell her mother about it, when she experience her first heartbreak and mom gets ice cream and allows her to sit, and cry for hours on her shoulder and whisper that everything is going to be ok. Her parents who encourage and support her at every sports match, support her in her academics, her father who will be too happy to help her if she is struggling with math or something she doesn, 't understand in scients. Proud and crying on her very firs day of school. She feels sad for her sister who can never share any of the above things with her parents like she did.
She is five years old and still don't understand why her mom and dad are no longer with her every day. Lisa planned a holiday to Italy, hoping to take her sister's thoughts away from all the sadness, from the environment that reminds her of her parents every day. Lisa asked for a month's leave at the dentist, where she work as a receptionist. Her boss was kind enough to grant her leave. She planned this holiday so that they could get away on their parents' first death anniversary.
After her parents' death, she became like a mother to Lilani, she is now her legal guardian. She used all her savings to make the holiday possible. And now they have finally reached their destination. The lights flash above the seats, and the passengers are request to fasten their seat belts as they will land at Fiumicino Airport within minutes.
Lisa's blue eyes brightened up immediately when she noticed the large airport below them. The air hostess, who noticed during the trip how weak, and exhausted Lilani looks, kindly offers to call a taxi upon their arrival at the airport who can take them to their hotel without delay. Lisa is grateful to the air hostess for her helpfulness. She just feels like a stranger in this foreign city because she does not understand a single word of this foreign language. It feels to Lisa as if fate is on her side because the manager of the hotel can happily speak a broken English. After the formalities are completed, a porter accompanies them to their room, which is located on the first floor.
Lisa sighed audibly from relief when they were finally alone in the room. “I think it is advisable that you rest a little now”, she suggests. “You are as pale as death, and that of pure exhaustion.” She removes the bed's blanket and makes her sister lovingly comfortable. After this she orders something to drink for them. Lilani had just finished drinking her fruit juice, then she fell asleep. Lisa suddenly feels somewhat emotional. It must have been her parents who brought Lilani on her first overseas vacation. She shakes her head to get rid of the sad thoughts, for the next four weeks she and Lilani are going to enjoy the holiday. and forget about all the sadness.
She looked out the window at the strange city. Then it comes to her that she have the city map of Rome that a work colleague gave to her. She took the card from her suitcase, spread it out and studied it with great concentration. It takes several minutes before she knows where the Palazzo Navona hotel is located. Now that she knows this, she does not find it at all difficult to locate all the places she would like to visit.
Lisa spends a full hour on the map. She memorizes a large part of the city, but decides to keep the map in her handbag just in case she needs it. She carefully folded it and put it in her handbag. Pensive, she stood in front of the bedroom window and stared at the still-flowing water of the Tiber River that flowed past behind the hotel. She decides to explore a part of the city today. Lisa turns away from the window and notices that her sister is still sleeping peacefully. She will certainly not wake up soon, Lisa realizes, and decides to lie down for a while herself.
Lisa wakes up when she hear her sister sing. “Lisa…", then knocking on the night stand “do you wanna build a snow man, come on, let, 't go and play” Lilani giggles as she climbs on the bed. “I'm awake, now stop singing” Lisa laughs at her sisters silliness as she feels Lilani on the bed. “How do you feel now Lil?” Lisa asked lovingly as Lilani lay down in her arms. “Much better thank you, Lissy, can we go and do something fun please”? Lilani asked, hoping that her sister would say yes. Lisa said to her sister as she got out of bed.” Yes let's go to the park.”
With the strap of her handbag comfortably over her shoulder, the two sisters leave the room. She can no longer wait to explore this famous city. Rome is drenched in glorious hot sunshine, and Lisa can hardly believe that they were just shivering in the bitter cold on O.R Tambo last night. In one, short night, they changed world and climate. They walk slowly and at ease around the hotel's corner in the direction of the Tiber River to the bridge. They stand for a while and watch as the water slowly flows past them and meanders gracefully through the age-old city. Then they walk on.
They decide to go and see what the much talked about amusement park, Villa Borghese, looks like. The colleague who gave the card studied in Rome for three years, and told her about all the sights. Lilani asks after a few minutes of walking if Lisa will give her a piggy back ride, that her feet are now sore from the walk. Lisa looks at her sister and bend down so that Lilani can climb on her back. So the two walk and look at all the old buildings of Rome, Lisa must admit that she likes Rome's beautiful, artistic ponds, especially the sculpture work. They first go to the legendary Fontana di Trevi with its images of water gods and horses chopping wild with their paws in the air, and water flowing like a waterfall over artificial rock nymphs.
“Here one is supposed to wish for something and then throw a coin on the water” she says to Lilani, the little girls eye's sparkle when she says, "oh please Lissy,can I please make a wish” she pleads with puppy eyes at her sister. Lisa smiles and gives her a coin to toss in the fountain. Lisa smiles at this unique way of making money however, this does not stop her from tossing a coin in the fountain, herself. But before she can wish for anything, her eye falls on two men sitting on a bench some distance from her. The one man, very neatly dressed, wears dark glasses, and she estimates him to be nothing older than thirty-four-years. He is handsome, tall, raven dark hair that is neatly cut, broad shoulders, she can't make out the color of his eyes because of the glasses.
She notice there is a hard, stern line around his full, pink lips. He looks arrogant and bitter. The man interest her in a strange and explainable way. The other guy is definitely middle age. Two young men come to stand some distance from her. The two men look at her from head to toe and smirks, this makes her temper flare. But before she could say anything, Lilani shouts at them “Why are you looking at my sister like that, don, 't you know it's rude to stare huh?” She's not some meal you can eat! Stop staring at her!” The men look at the little girl surprised that a little girl talk to them in such manner, then look at Lisa and walk away. Lisa smiles at Lilani and together they walk back to the hotel.
They decide to go for dinner in the dining room. Lilani didn, 't eat much, then she started complaining about a headache. Lisa took her to the room, so she could go to bed, hopefully she feels better tomorrow morning. Lilani lay peacefully asleep while Lisa played with her hair and lay worriedly staring at her sister, she never complained about a headache before, Lisa think.
That night Lisa could not fall asleep. The room is strange, the noises coming in from the window are strange, and to top it all off, her mind wanders to the man with the dark glasses who seemed so bitter with life. She just can't place the man.
He did not look like the kind of man who usually sits around in parks. On the contrary, he seemed more like a wealthy businessman harboring a terrible grievance against life. It's long after midnight when Lisa finally falls asleep, a restful, dreamless sleep. The next morning both sisters feel rested and ready to start the day. Lisa and Lilani are both wearing light summer dresses to enjoy the glorious, sunny days here in Italy's capital city. “You look better this morning Lil,” Lisa remarked at the breakfast table, while her gaze rested softly and compassionately on her sister. “It's because I feel much better Lissy”, Lilani smiles a little sadly, because she miss her parents very much and wish they were here.” I'm glad you feel better,” Lisa smiles along. “So tell me do you feel strong enough to go on an outing this morning?”
Lisa looks forward to it. She would like to admire all the works of the old masters. While Lisa pours her a second cup of coffee, her sister replies in a soft voice, “I feel completely strong Lissy I would like to enjoy the day with my favorite sister.” “I'm your only sister.” Lisa laughs at her sister. Lisa decides to take a trip to Tivoli. She calls a taxi, and soon she is enjoying herself in the beautiful, artificial ponds in the garden of Villa d 'Este, Lilanie enjoys the water the. They spend almost two hours in the beautiful gardens of Villa d 'Este. Then they go to the gardens of the late Emperor Hadrian. Here they stay much longer, reaching the hotel just in time for lunch. After lunch, they make a detour to Villa Borghese. Lisa is surprised to see the man with the dark glasses and his friend there again. Lilani tags her and run away while calling Lisa that she is it, before she can look at the man any longer. Lisa shook her head as if the man in front of her was going to disappear and ran after Lilani.
They walk to the church that stands on the corner of the park. After a while, they stand at the top of stairs leading to the square. From here they have a beautiful view over a large part of the city. Lilani starts complaining about headaches again, and she and Lisa make the trip back to the hotel. “I think it's time for you to consult a doctor. I'm worried about the constant headaches,” Lisa told her sister. Lilani agrees that they can go to a doctor if the headaches have not improved by the next day. She doesn tell Lisa that she have been getting headaches for the past three months.
The next morning Lilani feels no better, Lida decides to order breakfast, so they can get ready to go to a doctor. After Lisa are finishes in the bathroom, Lilani enters. Half an hour later, when Lilani had not yet made her appearance from the bathroom, Lisa became worried and went to investigate. As soon as she entered, she found her sister on the floor in a trance.
Pale with shock, she knelt beside her sister and sighed loud, relieved when she realized that her sister was only in a trance. She will have to call a doctor immediately. Lisa gets up to call a maid. “Please help me; we need to get a doctor for my sister” she requested in English. “Si, SI signorina I'll ask the manager to call a dot tore (doctor) right away” the maid assured Lisa. Lisa was sponging her sister's face with a damp cloth when the hotel manager knocked on the door and walked into the room, at her invitation. “I summoned dot tore Rossi for your sister,” he informs her matter-of-factly. “Now you can tell me how I can still serve you, signorina.”
Lisa puts the damp cloth on the bedside table and says with a sadness in her voice “You have already helped me so much by calling the doctor, Mr. Romano. But I fear I will not understand a word that the doctor says, ".
“You do not have to worry about the doctors, Signorina,” the helpful manager assured her immediately. “The doctors can speak English very well.” It suddenly feels to Lisa as if a heavy burden is lifted off her shoulders, for she feared that she and the doctor would not understand each other. “I honestly do not know how to thank you for your kindness, Mr. Romano.” she says with great gratitude. “I just hope my sister is not seriously ill because we just came to Europe to take her mind of all the things that have happened.”
“I understand, Signorina. I'll be in my office if you need my help,” the manager offered to help. “In the meantime, I hope your sister will recover quickly.” With that words, the manager leaves the room, and Lisa is alone again with the unconscious Lilani. She has no idea why her sister is in this condition. She gently stroked the pale face of the unconscious child with her hand, sadness suddenly overwhelmed her. She felt the tears well up in her eyes, but she hurriedly wiped them with the back of her hand. She realizes that she do not dare to give in to tears now, because the doctor can make his appearance at any moment and for her sister's sake she must remain strong.
Lisa just wants to sponge her sister with the damp cloth again, when the middle-aged doctor gently knocks, pushes the door open and walks into the room. “I'm Dr. Rossi, and you're obviously the patient's mother?” she hears the doctor ask in English with a heavy Italian accent. Lisa answers softly “I'm her older sister doctor Rossie, l I'm so grateful you came so soon doctor. I feel absolutely powerless because I do not know what to do for my sister. I have no idea what happened or what is wrong with her.” While the doctor is examining the patient, he asks Lisa about her sister's health condition.
She told him that she is healthy as far as she knows, just that her sister had been having a headache since the day before yesterday, and that she had found her on the bathroom floor in this unconscious state a while ago. “My sister often complained about headaches, Doctor,” Lisa concludes. The doctor struggles fruitlessly for almost thirty minutes to bring Lilani out of her trance. “Your sister will have to be admitted to hospital without any delay, Miss Saunders,” the doctor announced as he carefully placed his stethoscope in his suitcase. “Your sister is in a coma, not in a trance, as you initially thought.” Lisa is struck dumb with shock, and can only look at the man with eyes that swim in tears. “Is .... my sister's condition serious, Doctor?” she asked with a lump in her throat threatening to erase her voice. There is compassion in the doctor's voice as he puts his hand comfortingly on her shoulder and softly says, "Yes, I fear your sister's condition is serious, Miss. But exactly how serious, I do not know yet. I suggest that you pack the necessary for her in a suitcase, and accompany her to the hospital in the ambulance.”
Lisa suddenly feels deeply concerned and confused because they have not made provision for illnesses or hospital costs here in the forgein country. At home, there is also no more money in the bank that they can count on. After the doctor's departure, Lisa hurries to get the necessary pack for her sister. She was also just done with this when the ambulance stopped in front of the hotel. Fortunately, the hospital is not very far from the hotel. Lisa is happy about this, because now she does not need to catch a bus every time. She realizes that she will have to save every penny for her sister's medical treatment, and the hospital costs.
Lisa sat in the hospital's waiting room almost all afternoon to hear if the doctors had already determined what's wrong with her sister. She cannot even ask a nurse how her sister is doing, because she cannot understand or speak their language at all. She just flips through the magazines, and looks at the pictures, while her thoughts are constantly with her sister. Lisa sighed softly in relief as Dr. Rossi finally made his appearance in the waiting room door. She hurriedly got up from the chair, walked towards him and asked with something urgent in her voice, "Doctor, have you already determined what is wrong with my sister? Is she still in a coma?” The doctor looks at the girl quietly, and then says cautiously “Your sister is still in a coma, Miss Saunders, and I'm afraid her condition is critical. She will most likely have to undergo surgery. But we will only know for sure tomorrow, after the brain specialist has studied the X-ray plates again. You see, the plates show a tumor on the brain. But how serious it is, we will only know tomorrow. For your sake, I hope it is not serious.”
“I'll be right there, Doctor,” she said, getting up from the chair in a hurry. Lisa is clearly tense when Dr. Rossi introduces her to the brain specialist. He kindly invites her to sit down, and then says in broken English: “Unfortunately, the result of my examination is not good at all, Signorina. The signorina will have to be operated on as soon as possible, her life depends on it. But I also have to warn you that this is an extremely dangerous operation. “ He explains why the operation is so dangerous, but Lisa does not understand all the medical terms and Italian words he uses. She does understand when he says: “Your parents will have to be notified of the operation immediately, Signorina. The operation can only be postponed for a few days.” The thought that she would now also have to lose her sister makes it feel as if her heart was stabbed with a knife. Lisa cried softly. She feels lost. Yet, the man with the sunglasses heard her.