The Doll Collector

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Chapter 97

Abigail continued to sit on a padded but hard seat, hugging herself and holding back tears. At least I’m somewhere warm, even if it’s a hospital.

She had expected time to drag in circumstances such as this, but time was flying, as if all she wanted to do was to reach out and stop the hands of the clock moving. If she could stop time, perhaps she could keep her father alive for longer. Instead, all she could do was to sit and wait and hope.

She had been looked after by some of the swarm of police officers that descended on the container ship an hour or so earlier. They had wrapped her up, put her in an ambulance with her father, and then they went to take care of the bodies on the ship, and the two that had gone overboard.

Staring at the ground, she once again saw, reflected in the shiny black floor, not her own reflection but a replay of Joshua, disappearing for good beneath the surface. It can only be a matter of time before he washes up somewhere. To survive, he would have to have a hell of a thing to live for, and what does he have?

She shook her head and raised it, this time staring at a poster on the wall. It suggested to every passer-by that they get that suspicious lump checked by a doctor. Whatever I look at, I can’t see anything but the faces of the dead... She looked towards the doors through which her father had been wheeled some time ago. …and the dying.

The police woman sitting with Abigail had reassured her that her mother and her younger brother were on their way south to the hospital. Hopefully it would be a happy reunion in time for her father to wake up, after a successful spell in surgery.

In her darkest moments, she had longed for the chance to be in the same county as the rest of her family, let alone the same building or the same room. Somehow, the chance to embrace her mother again in a few hours had lost its lustre since she had dared to dream. I can only hope that, in time, we can all be together, laughing.

She looked down the corridor at the others wandering the halls, waiting for news. Some would leave devastated, others would leave elated or relieved. I wonder what the chances are of me getting my happy ending.

The past few days had not given her mind the chance to dwell on the future. Until today it had looked bleak. What about my own recovery? How will my body recover? My mind?

In just a few days she had been emotionally and mentally mangled. Images of the suffering she had witnessed and the people she had seen killed flashed before her eyes, and the sounds of the screams filled her ears. The world was a darker place than it had been a week ago. I’ve experienced things no girl should experience.

“How do you do it?” she asked of the female officer.

The woman looked at her with a furrowed brow. “How do I do what?” she asked in return.

She turned to face the woman to whom she was talking. “How do you keep going when there’s so much… misery?”

The woman smiled with pity in her eyes. “Some days it’s not easy. Sometimes I can go a whole day without seeing anyone do anything good.”

Abigail shook her head. “Don’t you just go home and cry?”

The woman nodded. “Sometimes,” she said in a soft voice, wiping her eye with a finger. “But then I remember that I can make a difference.”

“How?”

“By making sure that on the landscape of the wreckage of humanity, that I do something to improve it.”

Abigail had nothing more to say. She nodded along with the woman, who moved closer and put an arm over her shoulders.

She heard quick footsteps on the hard floor, approaching. She looked up to see a doctor who didn’t look too much older than her. He was dressed in light blue and had just removed his face mask and cap.

The man was looking at her, smiling.

This was good news.

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