Hadrians wall, p.1
Hadrian's Wall, page 1
(Cycle One - Present)
A Young Adult Novel
Copyright © 2012 Felicia Jensen
Published by Felicia Jensen at Smashwords
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This is a work of fiction.
Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
Published in the United States of America
Ille nihil dubitat qui nullam scientiam habet
To my little beloved, Pedrita
To Carol von Raesfeld (The von Raesfeld Agency)
for her editing skills, for helping me complete my novel,
and for her encouragement and support.
To my friend, Marlyane
for her never-ending moral support and
for encouraging me to finish this book.
The garden flowers swayed in the wind of the spring afternoon, their vibrant colors intensified by the sun. The nurse approached me and without saying a word, she gripped my hand and led me inside.
No, I don’t want go back!
The contrast between garden’s warmth and the hospital’s cool interior was shocking. I was trembling, my arms rigid as she marched me along the corridor, indifferent to my discomfort, forcing me into the room filled with sadness and the odor of death—the room where my father lay dying.
He was waiting for me. His face brightened the moment I appeared. He gave me a smile that should have been impossible for a dying man. Only someone full of life should be able to smile like that, but it was how Daddy always greeted me, regardless of his suffering. I hated that it made me feel guilty for wanting to run far away.
The nurse looked at me complacently. She was nice, but I didn’t like the way she pinched my cheeks. “He needs you to be brave, young lady,” she whispered.
It took great effort to smile as walked toward his bed. Daddy hugged me and smoothed my hair with his hands, even though IV tubing hindered his movements.
“How was your ride today? What did you see?” he asked between labored breaths.
I told him about the wind, the flowers, and the warm sun, all the while wishing that he could play with me outside. “I hate this place because it smells bad and makes you more sick,” I confessed.
Daddy placed his palm softly against my cheek. Tears welled up in his eyes, but he said nothing.
Minutes later my mother arrived. I felt the hostile vibrations emanating from her as soon as she appeared in the doorway. She was dressed in the uniform she wore to work at the diner. The smell of her perfume mingled with the odors of disinfectant and sickness, making the air in the small room unbearably cloying. She gave me a disapproving look when she saw me sitting on Daddy’s bed, so I jumped down.
He protested. “No, it’s fine, she can stay,” but I knew I could not. I felt bad when my mother was around, not because of the way she smelled, but because she didn’t approve of anything I did. It felt like she wished that I didn’t exist, so I tried to stay out of her way as much as possible. The only times I ever saw her eyes soften was when she looked at Daddy.
All of a sudden, things became confused. The same nurse rushed in and pulled me out of the room. She took me to the TV room where some of the elderly patients spent their days. “Stay here until I come back. Behave yourself!” I felt scared when I saw Daddy’s doctor rush quickly down the hallway.
I looked up at the television, suspended from an iron support mounted high on the wall. I heard the Woody Woodpecker laugh his extravagant laugh. The old men stupidly laughed with him, their glazed eyes fixed on the screen. They enjoyed the cartoon more than I did - a six year-old girl.
I don’t know how long I’d been standing there, staring at the screen without really paying attention, when I felt someone gently nudge me on shoulder. Daddy’s doctor knelt down and stared into my face like adults do when they want to tell you bad news. His eyes were filled with compassion. “Be brave, young lady.”
Before he could attempt to explain, I already knew that something very bad had happened to my father. The doctor led me back to Daddy’s room, all the while saying words like “heaven” and “he will rest in peace” and “goodbye.”
When we entered, the first thing I saw was a sheet stretched over a body. I also noticed that my mother was standing near the window. While the doctor and the nurse talked, I stared at the sheet. Is that my father? I told myself, ‘No, it can’t be—he was here just a minute ago, smiling at me!’ Then I remembered what the doctor had said before. The hard truth finally made me understand the meaning of his words. Strangely enough, I remained oblivious to the facts.
After the doctor left, the nurse offered to put away our things. There were tears in her eyes. Lately, I’d been spending more time in the hospital than at the motel where we lived because my mother didn’t have anybody to take care of me while she was at work. The nurse’s words seemed to startle my mother. Mommy turned away from the window and whispered, “Well, he’s gone. Finally, he’s resting in peace...and now I’m free.”
She moved towards the door. When I tried to follow her, Mommy stopped. She was livid that I was impeding her progress when I put my hand on her arm. My gesture caused her haunted eyes to pass over me like one might look at a stranger. She spoke very slowly, as if her mind was elsewhere.
“Wait in this room. I’ll be back.” She turned to the nurse. “Please, can you keep your eye on her?” Mommy left us without waiting for an answer.
I took my doll and obediently sat beside the bed, glancing toward the sheet covering my father. I was trying to understand how he could be dead when he was just smiling at me a few minutes ago. His smile had given me hope that he would get well, in spite of all the conversations I’d overheard from the nurses that my daddy had entered the “terminal stage.” I didn’t know exactly what those words meant, but I had believed his smile and now I felt betrayed...fooled...confused.
Meanwhile, the nurse disappeared. She was gone a long time, but when she returned carrying a stack of sheets in her arms, she didn’t seem to notice me until she’d laid the sheets on the bed and saw me sitting there. She was astonished that my mother had not yet returned.
“Where’s your mother? Hasn’t she come back yet?”
I shook my head. She frowned, glancing at my father’s body. She said something about it ‘not being suitable for a child to stay near a dead body’ and promptly sent me back to the TV room.
Why can’t I stay in the room with my Daddy? My mother told me to wait here. I didn’t understand why the nurse was so upset. I was a child, but
The nurse made me sit on the couch in the TV room and put my chess suitcase beside me. She bent down to speak to me, gave me an uncertain smile, and said that she would check on why my mother was taking so long to return for me.
Time passed. Cartoons gave way to afternoon shows with lots of family fights. I hated stories about families fighting. They made me feel sad. I already knew enough about aggression because my mother beat me for anything and everything.
Once again the doctor appeared in the hallway. He looked at me strangely and then disappeared. Later, it was the nurse’s turn. She smiled nervously, then also left. I needed to pee. I squeezed hard so that I wouldn’t wet my pants. I looked around, wondering who I could ask when along came a very serious-looking lady dressed in black. I’d never seen her before, but I’ll never be able to forget her. She had a lot of hair that seemed to form a ball around her head. She wore a large pair of glasses that balanced precariously upon her nose. She bent down to talk to me. Here we go again!
“Did your mother tell you where she was going, my darling?”
What kind of question is that? I started explain to her that my mommy told me to wait in my daddy’s room, but I fell mute when the woman’s face suddenly changed. She pulled a crumpled paper from her coat pocket and turned to hallway where the doctor was waiting. I could hear them talking about something, but I couldn’t distinguish the words; however, the what I heard next was perfectly understandable.
“The little girl knows nothing,” said the woman. “I think this paper has made the mother’s intentions quite clear. We need to call the sheriff before she leaves town.”
It was too late.
Years later I knew that my mother was gone before the Sheriff appeared. He sent his assistant to check the diner and the motel; however, no one had any idea of her whereabouts. She was gone. She’d left behind the debts—our motel charges and my daddy’s medical treatment. Thanks to kindness of strangers, Daddy had a simple funeral.
And as for me...
Twelve years later...
If I was not dying, then I most certainly was panicking.
The noise was coming from everywhere, denouncing the abrupt movements from an unequal fight. Muffled by animal sounds, screams of terror expressed despair from someone who knows there is no chance to escape. Soon the screams were supplanted by an inhuman, terrifying roar which put an end to the agony, plunging all into the deepest silence, broken occasionally when the wind gently fingered the leaves of trees.
I had no longer had any strength. All I wanted was for the pain to stop, for the lights exploding in my brain to go off so I could die quickly, but nothing happened. I resigned myself to wait for the next act of my destiny when suddenly a pleasant fragrance enveloped me and I felt a cool breath of air blown softly on my forehead. Someone got me up from wet floor. Am I saved? Is the nightmare over?
I could not open my eyes. I was too weak and cold, but when I snuggled as close as I could to the warm body that supported me, the breath that I’d felt on my head ceased. I heard a gravelly voice in my ear. I did not understand what he said, but the tone of his voice gave me hope that I had a guardian angel watching over me after all. Perhaps I was wrong when I thought that nobody cared about me, but I’d lost my ability to think clearly.
When I regained consciousness, I realized that my surroundings had completely changed. Instead of the dark woods, I saw white walls and a strong light streaming through partially open blinds, converging on a wide corridor. I was lying on a bed, protected from the cold by a thick woolen blanket.
Somebody else was there in the shadows... a man, but I couldn’t clearly see his face. Whether he was young or old, it was difficult to know. Straining my eyes, I noticed he was wearing a lab coat. He sat close to the bed rail, examining a document on his clipboard. On the opposite side of my bed was a monitor displaying some kind of graphic on the screen, constantly emitting monotonous beeps.
I craned my neck, attempting to see him, but when I tried move, my numb arms protested. My whole body felt tense. Some twinges alerted me to something around my finger and something else I had noticed before—a needle inserted under the skin of my wrist, connected to an intravenous tube and plastic bag filled with colorless liquid that hung from a metal stand.
My movement got his attention. He raised his head, then got up from his chair and stood near my headboard. The light from the hallway enabled me to see him. I could see that he was young and very good-looking! His smooth hairstyle looked like little fish scales adorning a breathtakingly handsome face. He reminded me of Greek and Roman sculptures I had seen. Is he a doctor? He looks more like a young warrior.
His eyeglasses had broad black stems with a rectangular wine-colored detail on the hinges. The elegant glasses and the asymmetrical cut of his hairline gave him a serious, yet modern look, perfectly framing his face and softening the primitive vibration that radiated from him.
The photochromic lenses partially hid his eyes so that I couldn’t see their color. I guessed they were blue, but I was able see the glow that emanated from them. His were the eyes of a man who had authority—a shrewd, experienced man with mysterious eyes that seemed to peer inside me. I had a vague feeling that I knew him from somewhere, though in fact I had never seen him before—of that I am sure because he had a face too remarkable to be forgotten.
“Who are you?” My whispered words scratched my parched throat.
Saying nothing, he pulled away.
Wow! Though slim, he had the body of an athlete—broad shoulders and narrow hips. He appeared to be quite tall. From my prone position, my angle of vision made it impossible to venture a guess, but I concluded that he was about 6-foot 3-inches.
He picked up the water jug sitting on the bedside table and slowly filled one of the cups. He seemed completely oblivious to my inspection, but when he turned to offer me the water, seeing his face made me realize that maybe he was more aware of it than I thought.
Suddenly nervous, I choked. Damn! I was certain that my face had turned bright red. Surely he must have realized the effect he had on me—a blushing girl whose only real experience with a male had been a few kisses exchanged behind the school gymnasium. Even then I thought that it wasn’t much, but I was a silly teenager, who had no basis for comparison.
Much of my education had come from watching television, but I knew perfectly well that no movie could help me understand what I was now feeling. The strength that radiated from him, the impact of his gaze simultaneously intimidated and attracted me. I was confused. I felt an irrational need to be cuddled and comforted by this stranger, as if only he had power to soothe me, while at the same time I wanted to run away!
To my surprise and horror, he unceremoniously put his arm behind my head and then suggestively placed the cup in front of my lips. Oh my...for one crazy moment, I thought he knew what was going on in my head. He looked slightly amused as he waited for me to take a sip of water. Mmmm...maybe he knows!
I realized how thirsty I was, so even though I felt flustered by the nearness of him, I greedily drank the water he offered to me.
“Slow down.” His voice was deep, slightly hoarse, and gave me goose bumps. Oh God, I’m going to choke again.
After relieving my thirst, my voice was more steady. “You haven’t answered my question.”
He smiled a dazzling smile—one capable of stopping a herd of stampeding rhinos. At that moment, I felt like a rhino. Only after returning the cup to the bedside table, did he finally speak.
“I didn’t? I’m Adrian. I’m on duty this week. I’m here to take care of you, Melissa.” His comment sparked my need to clarify my situation.
Adrian gently pressed me back against my pillow and stepped around to check the IV apparatus.
“Be quiet,” he said, holding the small clamp that regulated the fluid’s passage through the tubing and into my vein. Only then did I notice he was wearing surgical gloves. “It’s not good for you to be nervous. You don’t remember what happened?” His tone seemed somewhat speculative.
I felt a weakness creeping over me and my head started to spin. “I can’t...I can’t remember anything since I left the orphanage.”
“Orphanage? Well, you’ll have plenty of time to remember when you are fully recovered. You had early pneumonia, two broken ribs, and had suffered a concussion, as well as a few bruises on your face and your body, but they will disappear soon.”
Automatically, I lifted my free hand and touched a small bandage covering part of my forehead. I opened and shut my mouth, yearning to ask for more information, but vertigo overcame me. I felt myself slipping back into unconsciousness wondering, What did they put in that serum? I was aware that I needed to confront him, but I couldn’t seem to organize my thoughts.
“How do you know my name?”
He gave a soft, throaty chuckle that seemed to say much without clarifying anything! I shuddered as if that sound had permeated every nerve ending in my body. Is it possible to feel caressed by a voice?
“You had identification documents with you when they found you, Melissa Baker. Now, you need to rest.”
by Felicia Jensen have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes