Authors: S.E. Myers
Her vision still blurry she could see small shadows to the right of her bed. “Can you help me? I can’t seem to sit up.” She heard the sharp intake of breath and then something that sounded like the reverse sound a balloon makes when it was popped.
Ryleigh tried to sit up one more time. She felt an intense pain wrack her body from her toes to her head and lost consciousness.
She was dreaming. He had pale blue skin and white eyes. As he watched her she could feel him penetrating her soul. She caught his glance with hers and he smiled baring his razor sharp teeth.
Her skin started to tingle and blue flame erupted coating her in purple hues. She opened her mouth to scream but no sound came out.
“Ryleigh,” she heard. “Ryleigh, you need to wake up,” the gentle voice coaxed her. Ryleigh opened her eyes and realized they didn’t burn. It was dark as if night. Her blurred vision cleared and she turned toward the voice.
“Mom?” Ryleigh asked. Her eyes started to focus and a nurse was releasing the blood pressure cuff from Ryleigh’s arm, “No sweetie, I am your nurse Carol.”
“Carol?” Ryleigh was confused. Her head was pounding and she continued to feel pain travelling through her body in places she couldn’t imagine. All she wanted were her parents, “Where is my mom?”
“I’ll have the doctor come in just a minute,” Carol said as she adjusted Ryleigh’s IV line and walked out the room. Ryleigh’s stomach sank and she could feel her heart pounding through her chest. She tried to remember where she was and what she was doing. She knew she was in the hospital but she couldn’t remember why. Ryleigh’s confusion reflected on the furiously beeping heart monitor.
A distinguished gentleman walked into her room preceded by Carol the nurse. “I’m Dr. Scarborough, Ryleigh.” His bright eyes reflected kindness and Ryleigh didn’t feel an ounce of threat. Dr. Scarborough walked to her bedside and grabbed her wrist measuring her pulse. “Well, it sounds like your heart is working.”
Ryleigh looked up at him with confusion, “Wh-What is going on?”
Dr. Scarborough looked her in the eyes and gently asked, “What is the last thing you remember?” Ryleigh closed her eyes and attempted to remember the events as they unfolded from her memory.
“I remember my mom, dad, and I were on our way to Yosemite. We were taking a vacation before the beginning of the school year. It was my birthday and this was a birthday present to me because I like camping.” The doctor nodded as she talked. Ryleigh opened her eyes suddenly. “Where’s my mom?” she asked in a panic. “Where’s my dad?” she started to get up out of bed. Dr. Scarborough and Carol grabbed her arms.
“Ryleigh, just breathe!” the doctor ordered. But Ryleigh couldn’t breathe. Her heart felt as if it were going to burst from her chest. A sickening feeling continued to grow in the pit of her stomach. “Where are my mom and dad?” Ryleigh started to scream. “NURSE!” the doctor yelled.
Carol grabbed a syringe and pushed it into her IV.
She was dreaming again. “Ryleigh,” she heard whispered as she turned around examining where she was. She could feel him near her because her skin started to tingle again.
She wasn’t sure where she was. A cave maybe? Crystals lined the walls sparkling like a disco ball illuminating a path before her. She heard her name again on the breeze as she continued forward.
An acidic smell permeated her nostrils. The smell of sulfur and sandalwood invaded her senses. Normally she would be repulsed; however, it intrigued her pulling her deeper into the cave.
Rounding a corner she caught a glimpse of pale blue skin. “Wait! Who’s there?” she asked stopping and standing still. She looked down at herself and she was in her hospital gown. Suddenly conscious of how naked she was she started to shiver in a nonexistent breeze.
“Who are you? What do you want?” She asked more forcefully. An almost non-existent voice answered her. “You know who I am.”
“I don’t. Tell me why I am here. Please?” she begged.
He stepped out of the shadows before her sending Ryleigh into a terrified state. Her skin started to crawl as his eyes bore through her.
“Don’t be scared,” he said to her moving closer. Ryleigh couldn’t move even if she wanted to. It was as if her body was frozen by his gaze.
He was the most gorgeous creature she had ever seen in her life. At first his skin appeared to be pale blue but it became more translucent the closer he got to her. His hair was an absence of all color but it was his eyes that drew her in. They seemed to match his hair color but she started to notice the violet and blue hue to the color. His pupils dilated with each step he took towards her. She wanted to scream and run away but she was too enthralled with this creature in front of her. His gaze bore into her and she couldn’t look away. “Remember,” was all he uttered.
With that, memories came flooding back to her. She remembered the accident. She remembered her mother screaming for her father and Ryleigh in the background. She remembered the car flipping over and over and over again. She remembered the pain from being impaled upon twisted metal from the accident. And she remembered him. He was there helping her and soothing her until the ambulance arrived. But he wasn’t just soothing her.
Ryleigh grabbed her stomach remembering the pain she felt. Feeling as if her insides were on fire and she couldn’t breathe. Before she asked anything further, her vision went back to black.
Ryleigh woke in her hospital room. She lay still for a moment remembering the dream she just had and the visions of the accident. Feeling a lump beginning to form in her throat she swallowed it back down – hard. Although the emotions were raw and on edge - now was not the time for tears.
Reaching for the nurses call button connected to the bed, Ryleigh felt the urgent need to relieve her bladder. A pleasant female tone crackled over the intercom, “I’ll be right there.”
“Thank you,” Ryleigh croaked realizing how thirsty she was. She sat up examining her surroundings. The first thing she noticed was the bouquets of flowers and balloons intruding almost all of the vacant space. A giant poster board hung on the wall beside her bed wishing her to get well soon by her classmates. She felt an immense sense of appreciation and an overwhelming sadness.
A plump nurse walked in the room wheeling in a blood pressure cuff and metal tray with a pitcher and a cup. Ryleigh immediately felt grateful for her having the prompting to bring in something that she desperately needed. But urgent needs took precedence.
“Okay sweetie, how can I help you,” the nurse asked with her soft brown curls bobbing as she wrapped the cuff around Ryleigh’s arm. “I really – really need to use the restroom,” Ryleigh implored. The nurse looked at her with understanding and immediately took off the cuff. “Oh, okay, let me help you down.” The nurse escorted Ryleigh to the restroom making sure her legs were stable enough before letting her go on her own.
Still connected to the IV, Ryleigh had to wheel the contraption in with her.
Once done, the nurse brought her back to the bed where a cup of water with a straw was waiting for her. Ryleigh grabbed for the cup and the nurse cleared her throat, “You will want to take small sips at first or you will be sick.” Ryleigh looked a little confused.
“Your stomach will not be used to the fluids and bounce it right back up.”
Ryleigh nodded and took a small sip. The cold fluid was a welcome relief to her throat that felt as if it were the Sahara itself. “The doctor will be in momentarily, okay hon.” Ryleigh nodded with understanding and leaned back into her bed.
Feelings a washed Ryleigh as she remembered being told about her parents. She just lay in the bed absorbing how she felt not knowing what was going to happen to her once she got out of the hospital.
Dr. Scarborough entered the room and Ryleigh’s stomach began to tighten. He smiled as he saw her but she could see in his eyes it was an act. “So, how are you doing today?”
Ryleigh answered, “I’m okay I guess. I can walk and I am not feeling much pain.”
Dr. Scarborough looked down Ryleigh’s chart and then back at her. “Ryleigh, do you remember what happened?” Ryleigh felt a knot in her throat too big to talk through but somehow found the sound to choke out, “Yes,” solemnly. The doctor approached Ryleigh kind heartedly and grabbed her hand. “I know that this is very difficult for you. The loss of a parent is extremely hard, even on those this young, but you are healthy and alive. And, you also do have family that is here waiting to meet you.” Wiping away an escaped tear, Ryleigh looked up at Dr. Scarborough.
“I have family here? I didn’t even know that I had family that existed.”
She didn’t have any other family that she could remember.
She never had family holidays or gatherings anywhere but with her parents and on top of that, she was an only child. Her father and mother never talked about their parents or even any brothers or sisters for that matter. Ryleigh just couldn’t remember her parents ever even having friends over to the house.
Dr. Scarborough looked towards the door, “You can come in now.” As soon as “you” spilled from his lips -- in swooped a woman who looked nothing like Ryleigh would imagine anyone in her family to look like. She was wearing a blush colored couture suit with open toed sling backs. Her blonde hair was done up in a French twist and her eyes were so violet they were almost a translucent color. Tall, thin, and amazingly beautiful. She was nothing like Ryleigh had ever seen in real life.
“Ryleigh!” the woman exclaimed in a highly refined British accent, “I can’t believe it’s you!” They drew in close, smelling of lavender and sandalwood sparking a distant memory in Ryleigh’s brain.
“I’m sorry - but I don’t know who you are,” Ryleigh gasped as the woman embraced her in a loving hug.
“I am so sorry,” the woman said, “My name is Vera. I am your aunt.” Ryleigh looked stunned.
“My aunt? I didn’t even know my father had a sister,” Ryleigh questioned.
“I know darling, but I am here now and I am going to take care of you. You are going to stay with me and get out of this dreadful hospital.”
Ryleigh wasn’t sure what to make of this but she knew that she did not want to go back to her home that would remind her of her parents. Her memories lived there and that was something she could not deal with at this moment. She choked out an “Ok” and her aunt looked pleased.
Dr. Scarborough advised Ryleigh that she only needed a few more days in the hospital just to make sure. Aunt Vera fussed saying that she had stayed long enough and she would speak with the hospital administrator if he didn’t allow Ryleigh to leave. Dr. Scarborough looked a little surprised but acquiesced just the same. Aunt Vera always got her way and would never take “No” for an answer.
She turned smugly to Ryleigh and said,” Now dear, let’s get you to your new home.”
A new life… and new beginning?
Her new home. Ryleigh couldn’t believe what she was looking at. Aunt Vera was not just beautiful, but, she was rich as her outfit indicated. And she just wasn’t rich. She was extremely wealthy. Rich beyond Ryleigh’s wildest imaginations. Ryleigh couldn’t believe the size of her house.
Vera’s home was replicated to look like a castle. She was a fan of renaissance Europe, medieval knights, and chivalry. It showed inside and outside of her home. Outside the brick work and masonry were completed with exquisite attention to detail. Arched doors and corners to the home built to look like watch towers. Large two-story windows etched with stained glass artwork. The front door custom built to seem as if it were thick wood and wrought iron was used in detail.
Ryleigh stood in the foyer half in disbelief as she marveled at the marble flooring. Her eyes continued to drink in her surroundings mesmerized by all in front of her. Never in a million years would she ever have imagined herself in a place like this. It made her a tad uncomfortable and placed her well beyond her own comfort zone.
Vera’s butler, Siegfried, stood in the entryway. He turned clearing his throat, “Miss Ryleigh, this way to your room please.” His direction was given as dryly as Ryleigh imagined a butler of this stature would say to her. As she followed Siegfried, she noticed that for as old as he appeared, his countenance did not betray his age.
Ryleigh followed him up the stairs. She knew she would have more time to explore her surroundings – eventually. She was grateful to be out of the hospital and longed for a normal bed.
Siegfried led her upstairs to her room and as she entered could feel her jaw drop open. Her room could have fit into the one she was standing in at least three times over. The bed in the center of the room was twice the size of her old bed and covered by a pumpkin colored chiffon canopy that flowed like a waterfall over each of the bed posts. The furniture intentionally placed around the room enhanced the dynamics and brought it together. Tones of rich mahogany matched the fall color scheme of reds and orange with the surrounding fabrics and throw pillows. Ryleigh’s favorite colors were a deep red and burnt orange; they made her feel safe and warm inside. Her room at home was decorated in the same colors and she loved it. Having a room decorated similar provided a little peace inside and helped to not feel so foreign.