Another nice morning smiled at London. I went to open the curtains, unleashing the light into my room, when it hit me how unsuccessful I was being.
Far from crying, curling into a ball of sorrow and waiting for nobody to come, I held the deep breath I had taken, and, having released my negative thoughts, strode down to breakfast, eating with my head up, whilst the mind beneath its shell turning like clockwork still.
I was in London, the bustling, thriving capital of England. And I had some money to do what I wished. Surely, then, it would be an idea to explore this city? Especially if it had once had the footsteps of my mother woven in with it. It was only after my routine preparation to leave (I couldn’t clean my teeth before I had eaten, of course), that I remembered my one contact, the one person who had met my mother at her weakest.
I left that room as soon as I could. My backpack had not been touched since I had tucked my file back into it at the end of the previous evening, not daring to let it lie in anybody’s path in my room. Who knew who had access to the entire hotel? I dreaded to think of what sort of guests, despite the elegance of hotel, had made their bed for the night in the same hallway as I.
My wits still trying to untangle the figments of dreams that remained, I did not see when the gum-chewing desk-holder stepped in my path in the foyer.
“Yellow pages,” she grunted.
“Do you have the ‘Yellow Pages’ directory you said you’d return? Other customers want it too, you know.”
“Sure,” I muttered. “I’ll just go and fetch it.”
“Make sure you do.”
Damn. As I traipsed back upstairs, I thought of the ways that I could avoid a confrontation with her. Running wouldn’t do; besides, I had nowhere to run to, and I had made The Admiral my base. Talking wouldn’t work either. Her clenched teeth had said all. Besides, I wasn’t ready to have my time wasted by the likes of her. As an addition, I had hoped that the directory, not missing from the likes of The Admiral’s staff bookshelves, would have stayed as my pillow for me to pour over each evening. I had little idea of what I would need to search in the expanse of London next.
So, when I returned to the check-in desk, it was fair to say that my mood was falling to a low.
“You’re lucky that I’m not charging,” the woman said, snatching from my hands before they became even fully out-stretched.
“I’m sorry, but I thought I’d-”
“There’s no point in having a phone-book permanently by your side. It’s ours and we claim the right to it. We also have that right to fine you-”
“All right. I get it,” I cried. “You have it now. Can I just go?”
The girl gave me no such joy. She edged nearer, her eyes glinting. It was only when her face protruded into mine so far that I could smell the mint on her breath that she jerked to a halt.
“Look,” she hissed, “I don’t know who you think you are, turning up here with any parental supervision, yeah, or what it is that you’re doing here, but-”
The sound of a throat being cleared cut the girl off. She jerked back away from me to eye the man who had gestured. His clean-cut suit and bourgeois air announced him as the manager of The Admiral. Eyebrows were raised between the two instead of voices, before the desk-girl pulled a smile onto her face.
“Have a lovely day,” she chirped whilst her eyes told of a very different opinion as to where she wanted my day to head. I held eye-contact with her until I had skirted my way out of the hotel’s front doors.
I dearly hoped I wouldn’t see her again.
This time, though the cab I had selected for my journey through London Town was air-conditioned and the driver certainly seemed friendlier, my heart was not able to remain content. I must have fidgeted the entire time, but, on the other hand, I didn’t want to release myself into the confusion of the brick-built L again. It was only when I had finally reached the hospital that I told myself to calm down, using an idea I had seen on TV once about relaxation and irritation being incompatible. My shoulders slipped down, all tenseness fading, and, once again, my breathing slowed to a controllable pace.
Think about the Doctor. He will be the one to set this problem straight.
However, angst was not an easy thing to let go of. With a dismal sigh, I felt the pricks of my shoulder-pain returning.
I charged up to the reception, today empty in the blank of the morning.
“Can you tell Ian Aquilus that Miss Brooks is here to see him? It’s pretty urgent.”
The receptionist froze mid-type, her sincerity enough for me to tell that it was the same woman.
“It’s his day off today,” the receptionist drawled.
“What?” I cried. “But he didn’t mention that to me.”
The woman’s eyes swivelled down to my level.
“Evidently he didn’t think it necessary to point out. You did disturb him. Now, Miss Brooks, do you want me to book you in for an appointment?” She eyed my figure, as if her curiosity wanted some medical reason for me to be present in the hospital two days in a row.
“Is there a way- would I-?”
“No, Miss Brooks. Even the doctor has some private time to himself.”
“Can you just tell him- when he returns- that Lily called? Please. He can find me at The Admiral Hotel, room 208.”
The receptionist’s reaction was the same as it had always been. She sighed.
“Fine, if I must. Now, please…” And she shooed me away again.
With the same dark glare in her direction that I had also given to the girl behind the desk of The Admiral, I stormed away. Now there was not even a doctor to compose me. And I was given nothing.
I began to leave, thoughts, catacoustic, clouding my mind with their own vengeance. I didn’t want to let my fists curl up again, but there they were, as a scowl painted my face.
That was, until another minute occurrence distracted me. It was the shout, actually, that drew my body back in the direction of the wards. A young boy- no more than five, I assumed- and his mother were making their way from the maze of the ground-floor rooms. Child-care. And the red marks that spread themselves across the boy’s face indicated that he was in the midst of his chicken pox phase.
I didn’t know, then, what had actually drawn me to the boy. It was as if fate was playing a game with me again. The boy clutched something in his hands, a blot amongst the monotonic grey of his chosen outfit, and it was this he waved as in an argument why the little shop was the most important part of the hospital, all revenue aside. A second more, perhaps a step forward, though in that time, I had forgotten the weight of my body, and I had identified the shape of a soft toy.
I laughed a little at the toy. My spirits lightened and I went to turn away, finding my path blocked by a wide man who promptly attempted to waddle out my way but still found himself in the midst of my path once more. With a roll of the eyes, I began to skirt around him, a path that, frankly, brought me back round into a circle.
Returning my gaze to the boy, I found that we were closer, a bare two metres. As I made the observation, I realised that I had overlooked one thing about the toy. A cute stuffed bear there. My eyes pulled sharply back to the miserable boy, still begging his mother to explore that gift-shop.
Then I did a double-take. My mind had wondered, but now empiricism was wiser. I knew my eyes could not deceive me. It would not do for my brain to tell me that my eyes were fools, for a child and her Bluey are not parted so easily.