“Miss Brooks! Will you kindly explain what on Earth you are doing?”
I swallowed. There was no mistaking the anger in the Dr’s eyes, even if his voice had been dressed calm.
“I- I need the file…” I said, my mind suddenly wiped of all good excuses.
“You’ve broken into my office.”
“Yeah, pretty resourceful.” I chuckled nervously. “Please, Doctor. You don’t know how important this is to me.”
“And you don’t seem to understand how important the laws of my job are, Miss Brooks. The answer is still no. This time resounding. Security, please escort this young lady out of the building.” The two other men stepped forward, beside me in one stride. The Dr continued to stare in my direction, adding, “I don’t want to see you in this branch of the London District Hospitals community again.”
“But what if-”
A hand went to my shoulder, shoving me forward. The guards moved with their pushing me, and we three, one block, found our way out of the office.
I was stuck.
And, being marched away, I found myself staring back at the nameplate on the door of the Dr’s office.
“You delivered me!”
“I beg your pardon?” The Dr hadn’t expected me to talk, clearly.
Still being shunted forward, I cleared my throat.
“My name…isn’t Maria Brooks. It’s Lily. Lily Highclere. It’s not the file in itself that I want, but the information it might lead me to. Please, Doctor, I am begging-”
“Stop,” he whispered. I felt the burly security guards stumble to a halt.
Dr. Aquilus turned to me, his eyes wide and ghostly innocent.
“Lily, in the flesh. Ah, Lily. I should have known this day would come. I didn’t think it would be so soon, however.”
I lent further towards Dr. Aquilus, inspecting the excitement that jumped about in his eyes too.
“You’ll help me?”
“I’ll try,” he muttered, before turning back the security. “It’s okay; I can handle her from here.”
He took my arm as the guards marched away in-sync, guiding us both back down the way we had come, back to his office. At the door, I traced the letters of the nameplate, rich gold in the light.
“So you did deliver me?”
“I wasn’t head paediatrician back then, but I liked to take an interest in all the women who came through those doors. Yes, I was there when everything happened.
“She said that she’d take the ‘I’ from my name to remember the man who saved her. I didn’t realise what she meant by ‘take’ until we were given the name for your file, along with the remark ‘London, Ian.’ I couldn’t make heads or tails of her remark to me, but when I looked down, it made sense. L, I. She had managed to make a name from the places.”
“Yes, she did that,” I added.Now I have to hunt for them all. The words never reached my lips, but I felt the weight of them all the same.
The Dr. gestured and we sequentially sat in the chairs we had occupied earlier in the day. He placed his elbows onto the desk again, resting his head on his fists. We ignored the mess of files behind us.
I couldn’t stop the torrent of excitement that rose in my chest; I imitated Dr. Aquilus’ action, tilting my head to him.
“So, what was my mother like?”
“Ah, Lily. That I cannot say. Elusive, for one thing. I saw her once before the birth, and once when I passed her tiny baby back to her. You were two months premature, you know. Your mother said that she had to leave her family rather unexpectedly.”
“Her family…?” I faltered. Was I not the first of my mother’s children?
“I presume she meant parents, but her words were ambiguous, to say the least.”
“What was she like? I mean, do you remember any specific…?”
“Aside from her lack of clear intentions? Your mother was pretty, I remember thinking so, but she refused to let many nurses see her. That’s why I was there. It was one midwife, now deceased, and me who were to deal with ‘the mysterious lady’, as the other staff called her.
“She had been escorted in via the helipad-”
“You have a helipad?” I asked, craning my neck upwards, despite the ceilings in the way.
“Yes, Lily. It was so she could, ironically, be inconspicuous. We receive patients via the helipad frequently, though not usually expectant mothers. Another thing I remember about your mother was her helper- accomplice, if you like- burly, like a guard. They had both worn sunglasses that concealed their eyes; the woman only took them off when she was sure that it was just we three in the maternity room.”
“That man. Was he…?” The words caught in my throat.
“No, Lily,” Dr. Aquilus said, his voice climbing a slight crescendo. “For the little time she was properly in labour, your mother gave us instructions. ‘Don’t let her believe that my aid is the father.’ He was gone, out through the front door, by then anyway.”
I sat, thinking, my mind trying to absorb the gigabytes of information being sent my way. It was the little details that detained me.