There’s a tiny little TV in the corner of my room. The only channels it gets are the hospital announcements- usually just one little item about the next nurse to slip into my room and make sure I’m alright- and the local news. I can hear someone a few rooms down blasting cartoons and the person in the room across the hall chortling along to… an old soap opera, I think. I don’t know. Old-timey shows, or TV in general, were never my thing. Too many artificial laugh tracks and upholdings of the status quo.
It’s so disorienting seeing myself on the TV. Sitting on my bed with a reporter in my face, hamming up my emotions for the camera just like she told me to. Showing off my scrapes and bruises like they were wartime gashes. Twisting the menial into something macabre. Spilling all the secrets of the supposed abuse I suffered at the hands of Miralay- they spun the report like it was Miralay’s fault, like Mordern was responsible for everything. That part wasn’t true. Everything was going just fine up there until Amelia and I met.
But then, of course, it wouldn’t make as tantalizing of a story if it were just one lady snapping and going crazy.
Eponine’s mother walks in. I turn the TV off. Her eyes are so warm, so loving, like I were her own flesh and blood. She’s got a purse on her shoulder that she promptly swings off and opens, pulling out a plastic bag of mini muffins meant for me. I’m a twig, according to all the nurses I’ve seen. I need to eat more. I need to get my strength up.
“Where’s Eponine?” I whisper. “He was here with you last time.”
“Well, good morning to you too, Serlis!” She takes a seat on the chair next to my bed. “He’s at day camp right now. It’s his last day this year. He’ll be home by five, but I suspect he’ll be exhausted and just want to take a shower and go straight to bed.”
I pop one of the muffins into my mouth. It gives off a slightly sour tang- some fruit I haven’t yet learned to recognize by taste.
“I could give you his phone number if you like?”
I shake my head. The things I want to tell him I don’t want to potentially be wiretapped and leaked now that I’ve unwittingly thrown a cyber mob of angry people at Mordern overnight.
“No. It’s fine. I’ll get to see him all I want tomorrow. But… do you know when my father’s going to be here? He didn’t come yesterday.”
Eponine’s mother sighs. “He’s got some… personal issues to work through right now. He thought you were dead for almost a month. Do you know what kind of despair that gives a parent? We had to watch him very closely the first few days after Eponine came back. And now that he knows that you’re alive, he’s got to adjust all over again.”
“But… he’s my father! Wouldn’t my return make him happy? Wouldn’t he set down everything to rush to my side and welcome me back here?”
Maybe… Maybe he wants me back in my sleeping pod. Maybe he’d rather have me be probably dead on some far-off planet than deal with the fact that I’m here and alive and awake and his responsibility to raise. Maybe Father is too much of a coward to admit that he’s a father to a very problematic child or, hell, even a father at all!
Be fair, Liv. Maybe he’s just ashamed that he couldn’t protect you.
I’ll believe his apology when I hear it straight from his mouth.
“I’m sure he’s got his reasons. It was hard enough getting you in here without any documentation. I mean, the donations from people all over have been pouring in, but… there’s all the media attention he probably doesn’t want to be a part of-”
“Well, neither do I, and yet I’m still here.”
Not quite a fair comparison. I’m here because of minor injuries and because nobody in Heavestone thought themselves trustworthy enough to be responsible for my healthcare. Better to blame it on the hospital if something went wrong, right?
Better to blame it on Mordern?
Maybe Eponine was right all along. I don’t like this attention. Not one bit. I… kinda envy him. How living in Heavestone lets him disappear at will.
If only I could postpone all this media hoohah and deal with it when I’m older. Or never.
“Liv? Are you okay?”
I look up at her. Her eyes are full of concern. I don’t know whether I want people to stop worrying about me or if I’m secretly relishing the fact that someone actually cares for my wellbeing.
“I… I just miss my mother…” I sniff. I can’t cry right now. I don’t want Eponine’s mother to think I’m some sniveling little crybaby.
“Oh, honey…” She leans forward, puts her arms around me. I lean into her touch. Her clothes are warm. “I could never replace your mother, and I’m already married, but I’ll be your second mom, okay? You can come over to my house or call me anytime you need something. I’ll always be there for you.”
I hug her tighter, rest my head on her shoulder. “Thanks, Mrs. Westal.”