“What do you mean ‘the little time she was properly in labour’?”
Dr. Aquilus sighed. For a minute, I thought he was being unwilling to tell me.
“Your mother was ill when she arrived. She had thought that she’d get better before your birth, but there had been complications. We had known that already, going on the scans sent down from another hospital, now burnt down; what we hadn’t anticipated was that the illness would provide more complications in your birth. An early labour had been anticipated by none around you.
“Your mother was too weak to continue her part of the labour. With each contraction, she became more feverish. I had to step in and announce that she herself could not go ahead with the birth. Instead, I had to perform an emergency caesarean, and, due to her orders, in was performed in the room she remained. If there’s one thing your mother certainly was, it was crazy. That and very lucky. I handed you over to her when she had recovered, and she knew how close we had come to losing you both. That’s how I became the I of Lily.”
He paused, rubbing his thumb across his lips. I reckoned that it was not only my throat that was dry.
“I didn’t keep track of you, Lily, I’m sorry. I should have. Maybe then I would have understood that you had been given away. Her words, at your birth, did not make me understand the situation, even if it was your name that alerted me to keep your file close at hand.
“I guess it’s fair time to give it back to you, isn’t it?”
“The rules…” I muttered.
“Forget the rules,” the Dr replied. “You are a special case.”
He swung his chair around, reaching under the desk. I heard a click, and stared at the compartment that slid to meet my hands, concealed in the front of the desk.
“I’ve kept it safe. I’m afraid there’s not much there, but I hope you’ll be able to garner something from your file. We’ve both been deceptive and I am sorry.”
I shook my head, letting my hair whip maddeningly around my face.
“Don’t apologise. I…” And there, I shrugged, nothing what little else to add to his true words.
Dr. Aquilus’ fingers lingered over the folder, as if he would be shocked to touch it. Instead, they seemed to twitch and, after a minute, I realised that he was gesturing.
“Take it. It is yours, after all.”
Gratefully, I obliged with a nod of the head. My cheeks burnt with a giddy combination of thankfulness and embarrassment.
As I sat for a minute, watching the typed outline of printed letters- Lily Highclere- holding my treasure finally deep within my hands, I heard the Dr fidget. He was giving me time, but it would never be time enough.
“You’d better make a move out of here. It is after general public hours, so either
injure yourself, or let me take you down and out!”
I, the puppet, rose at his movement, and the Dr took me by the elbow again, leading me out of his office as we meandered around the many files.
We walked in silence along that narrow white corridor that I had paced so much this day; even birth had taken a moment away to leave the two of us to our own thoughts. Out of the corner of my eye, I watched the Dr, but I didn’t dare make a sound. In his opinion- and mine was thought of the same- we had exhausted the information about my mother, and all that was left were those pieces within the brown folder I held tightly in my paws.
Eventually, we were taking the route down the metal stairs again. I glimpsed, briefly on my descent, a sign that labelled the way to the Helipad in bold green font. When it was only my footfalls that were left clanging their way down, myself having been distracted by the ‘décor’, the doctor waited. I could no longer see his secretary-receptionist at the desk, but I guessed that the man was still being cautious of security that remained ‘after hours’ in the building. And he was doing this for my sake. It rocked me to think that I might be that important, and not just in my own mindset. Finally, a smug expression found its way onto my face.
Dr. Aquilus turned to me, muttering something about the front door and its being open during all twenty-four hours, through which I’d easily be able to slink. He shook my hand, a grin sweeping onto his face.
“Thank you, Doctor, for helping me when you did. I don’t know what I’d have done…” I added to the brisk handshake.
“It was my pleasure, Lily. I’m sorry there isn’t more I can tell you about, but that little story of the day of your birth. If you need anything, never be afraid to ask for me. My place is here, but it is also your place. That one constant, I think you’d like to believe.”
“I- yes, I guess so,” I remarked.
With a final smile, he whipped himself around in the opposite direction, hurrying away up the stairs quicker than I’d ever thought he would.
So, I stood alone, watching the automatic doors as they would attempt to part me from the gloom outside. Yet, it was not gloom, rather, but the colours of my future, seeping from the outside in, where the sky was painted with stars.
I prepared myself to see what my life might be.