It was the one trip that she could only afford to stop by and had asked Michael specifically to be left alone in the car while she did this. They had already packed and were leaving early in the morning so they had an ample amount of time to burn before they flew off. The Bentley grinds to a halt and Michael stares at Harriet taking her hand in his.
"This seems so ironic…" Harriet mumbles.
"He would've been proud either way with what you had become…"
"You mean a monster? No, if he was still alive and told him he would've just have laughed at me. He could never take anything serious. You're right though," she sighs and Michael leans towards her kissing her on the forehead.
"You're my daughter now. I'm proud. You sure you don't want me to come with you?" he asks politely. He loved her and she knew it but right now she couldn't deal with it. She wanted to remember the father she knew before he had died when she was twelve. This was his birthday and she wanted to come back to see him one last time.
"Here, I got you some flowers to take for him. That might cheer him up a bit," he reaches to the backseat and produces a small bouquet of purple lilies, irises and some lilac lisianthus. Irises were his favourite, they reminded him so much of when he first met her mother, colourful and expressive to the very end.
"Thanks," she leans forward and kisses him on the cheek.
"Take as much time as you want and I'll be here if you need me at all."
She opens the door and welcomed the coldnesscreeping upon her lifeless body. She was dead and she was visiting the dead. There was something quite wrong with that idea. Perhaps he still haunted his grave and would greet her just like he did when she was younger. She steps out of the car and ties the ruby silk scarf around her throat. What difference it made she couldn't feel, she thought to herself. She glides towards the entrance of St. Mary's hospital as a patient wheeled out of the front door, half asleep from the all the fuss of hospital. The smells of the place overcome her almost knocking her back from the stench of spirits, disinfectant and cleaning agents that mixed with boiled cabbage that seemed to choke the very air. She went to the desk as a short black woman peers up from the computer screen, "Hello, what can I do for you, sweetie?"
"I'm looking for…someone…" Harriet stutters.
"What's his name sweetheart?" the woman replies with a heart felt smile. She looks so pale, she thought.
"Jeffrey…Jeffrey Fetching…is he still here?" the woman plays around with the computer punching in thelettersand a name his blips onto the screen.
"I believe he is, but he's still in a coma. This can't be right. The computer says he's been here for ten years. I'm amazed we haven't accidentally checked him out for dead," she looks across to Harriet who bites her lip nervously and nods. That wasn't funny thought, she said silently to herself.
"I know…" she sighs,"...do you know which room he's in? It's his birthday today and I'm going away later this morning. I doubt he gets a lot of visitors, so do you mind if I can stay in there alone?"
"Certainly, just fill in this form, hon. He's should be in room 27B on the second floor. Just come back down if you want anything at all or need someone's service," she hands Harriet a tainted yellow sheet.
"Are you kin to him then, darling'?"
"I'm his daughter…"
The secretary shivers slightly feeling that there was perhaps something wrong with the child. It was something about her presence or aura. She looked cold but lost at the same time and when she went to look at her again from the computer screen she was already gone.
"Hi, Dad," she switches on the lights and all the greeted her was the rasping from breathing machine that pumped air into her corpse like father. His face was still charred from the fire that almost killed him on that dreadful night on New Years Eve. The only thing that responded to her was the beeping of the machines that flashed the comatose man's details across their screens. The story of how he nearly died ran through her brain tugging at her heart. Well, whatever passes by as a heart, she thought.
Teenagers had been mucking around drinking, possibly smoking hash, doing drugs and then somewhere in between…someone dropped a cigarette on the alcohol soaked carpet. Only the ones that were semi-conscious and had the instincts to get out were saved. However, only one person was sane that night, and that was the little twelve year old sister to one of the teenage drugged boys that lay unconscious underneath the dining table. She called the emergency services immediately and nearly died while trying to drag the others out. They called her brave. It was her father who tried to save her but it cost his own to save the little girl. It was too late though. The fire was thick and raped the furniture licking eagerly at the old decrepit house with its hot burning tongues. Just as he edged towards choking girl who had been cornered in the living room, a beam hit him. It managed to whack him across the point where his neck and spinal chord connected, almost severing it with a hefty weight. If he did wake up he would be paralysed, which in a way was a blessing, if one can call it.
"Happy Birthday Dad," she shows the flowers to her Dad whose expression remained the same in his emotionless sleep.
"They're you're favourite, lilies and irises. My friend got them especially for you. I'm sorry that I haven't visited for a while but a lot has changed, even me. I may not feel like the same daughter to you but I am," she sat against the bed and swept away a blonde ringlet that hung around his eyes and kisses him fully on the lips.
"I've missed you," her voice was shaking at the image of him now.
"I thought a lot about you recently… and the family. I'm glad that you haven't given up on us yet but I can't stand to see you like this," a tear rolls down her cheek as she hugs him laying her cheek against his. This was what she wanted. She tried to listen for a response such as the twitch of his finger or anything like a slight hum but nothing. The cardiac machine beeped slowly in response.
"Please…please wake up someday. Promise me that you'll come back. If there's one last person I want to know that I'm alive, it's you," she sobs into the pillow rocking the whole bed with her crying and then stops to look at the stains she'd made.
There was a knock at the door and a petite Asian woman enters holding a small bath of water and sponge.
"I am sorry to interrupt…" she says with a thick eastern accent,"…I need to do Mr Fetching's weekly bath…"
"Don't worry about it, I was just about to leave but if you want I can help you…" she hesitates.
"I'm his daughter by the way," she wipes the tinted tears hastily on her jumper and shakes the Asian's hand. The woman almost jumps from the coldness of her skin.
"Sorry…I'm prone to the cold. It's a condition I have you see," she smiles carefully so not to scare her and stares at the nurse's badge.
"Heena…that is how you say your name?" she nods and squints slightly as she looks across at the bloodstains on the pillow.
"Are you sure you're his daughter?" Heena raises an eyebrow.
"Why of course. I use to come here when I was a child with my mother. You might remember her. She used to work here…"
"I only came here last year. I apologise. It's just that we've had a few visitors recently. Mostly lawyers, doctors and even some government people visiting" she says flatly while resting the bath tub next to the bed.
"Why's that?" Harriet asks worriedly.
"It was something to do with how long he's been under this comatose. I don't understand the whole thing but if I understand correctly…it was something to do with beds. My goodness, you and you're country. If you were in India…" she tries to lift 's top nightgown off with her short stature while Harriet stares at her semi-naked father. She was slightly hypnotised by the woman's voice and not really noticing her father's fleshy but muscled body.
"…you would have to wait much longer. Sometimes it would take about a full three months or four to see a doctor. That was if they were around of course. Oh my…yes," she nods and quickly forgets Harriet as she lays a towel underneath his body and begins to sponge him.
"But I guess we all have to sympathise and take a level of understanding of each others culture. It doesn't matter to me if I am an asylum seeker, that doesn't make any difference in whom I am. If you think about it, this bed business is more of a factory scheme. Just like where I use to work in India. Always…fuss, fuss, fuss…never really care or pay attention to the object or thing. So when you get someone who comes back claiming there's a malfunction you notice you're carelessness. It's the same with people here, too much prejudice. Never really take the time to poke around with real details. We just categorise them …" she trails off noticing that she had been rambling to a total stranger.
"What did you use to work as?" Harriet was intrigued by the woman and her story so she sat down to watch her work.
"It feels like a long time ago but really it has been five years since I worked making pots and vases. You wouldn't believe the pay we had…" she smiles thoughtfully but then chokes back on her words. Why was she saying all of this to her? She wipes around his legs and then takes his foot to wash.
"What happened to your Father, girl?" she points towards him.
"He was a fire-fighter..." she says glumly as though it would serve as the entire story in which the nurse nods.
"Your Father must have been a very brave strong man then. I can see it in that from his hands and arms, I always wondered what profession he did," there was a silence as she finished off washing the other leg and begins to wash his back and stomach. She looked proudly at her work satisfied with the cleanliness of her job and hefts him up trying to put the nightdress back on. Harriet drifts over to her side tohelp her support him in which Heena almost leaps at the sudden closeness.
"I'm just helping. Thank you for looking after him…."
"My pleasure young one," she beams, "…if he ever wakes up I'll tell him that you were here."
"Thank you." Harriet glances at the flowers in her hand.
"Don't worry, I'll put them in a vase for you," Heena says and takes them from her as Harriet thanks her with a hug taking her by surprise for the second time.
"I have to leave now…" she quickly pecks a kiss on her father's head and turns towards the door.
"Please, could you also tell him that…I'm alive, he needs to tell this to my mum," she shoots another glance to Heena and her Dad before leaving the room. Heena was left with the slumbering semi-dead man and just when she was washing his face his eyes started to flicker open. Heena screamed.
"You alright?" Michael asks as Harriet opens the car door but she ignores him as she buries her head into her lap crying.
"I just saw my Dad, what do you think? Ah, I'm sorry, it's just that I can't help being so emotional. It's been so long since I've taken a visit," Michael nods and takes her into his arms.
"Come now, we're going off to Venice, I'm sure that'll cheer you up. It'll be another adventure for you. Well, if you put this whole thing into perspective, it kind of is…" he strokes her hair and kisses her lightly on the head to comfort her.
"It's not …it's not just that…" she sobs again drawing back to find a tissue in the glove compartment.
"I was really close with my Dad when we were younger and realized that if he ever does wake up, I can never visit him again. God, I hate being so emotional, it makes me feel so weak," she wipes the tears away and looks into the mirror to see her bloody complexion tinted by the pink tears.
"No, it's good you have emotions. Most vampires despair and loose themselves very quickly. It's what makes us still human. Aw, come here," Michael takes out a silk navy blue handkerchief and dries her tears as she laughs slightly.
"So, you don't think I'm weak?" she takes the handkerchief and blows her nose.
"Aurora…I've never thought you as a weak, even when you were human you were never weak," he shakes his head and stares down at the breaks.
"You can express what you like, feel or hear without much trouble. You're stronger than a lot of ones I've sired in the past…" his voice trails off as Harriet looks at him with wide eyes.
"Not that I've had many though…they all tended to die when they realized their nature. I've had some that relished in the Nature of Blood to the point where they become complete predators forgetting themselves along the way and their morality. Vampires like that give us a bad name, and you know that," he pats her fondly on the shoulder.
"Come on…we better drive off to the airport and book in. We need the best seats – and at the back preferably. Just think of it from this perspective. When you're father wakes up, he won't remember you as you are now but what you were and still are to me. A fun, annoying, hyper, witty, talented girl and a dedicated daughter and he'll remember all those visits while he slept. Girl, be thankful for who you are and not what you are."
Michael turned the key and looks behind his shoulder before revving out of the space and then noticed something. It wasn't the car itself behind him, it wasthe person. He hadn't seen them for quite a while and with good reason. Yet there they were, bumper to bumper, drinking coffee and staring intently at the pair. He cursed out loudly.
"What's wrong?" Harriet asks worriedly.
"Crap…she can't be...why is she here?How could I have been so stupid!" he punches the steering wheel.
"Calm down, woah…jeeze…cool it!" she pushes him back into the seat as he curses some more, shouting at the ceiling.
"What is it?" Whatever it was, it had to be bad, he seldom ever lost his cool like this.
"It's my ex-girlfriend…."he says between clenched teeth while rubbing his temples. He was absolutely furious with himself for not noticing the green Riley Elf behind them. He had seen it enough to know it was hers, that compact little 70s vintage car that couldn't fit a suitcase or poodle if it tried. Cursing again he looks around to look at the red haired woman behind them to check if it was her. Yes, she had those pointy elfish ears alright and was still wearing the black studded choker he had given her.
"So? I don't see the problem here. Just ignore her and we can get out of here. Put on your sunglasses," she demands and whips out a pair from the glove compartment.
"You don't understand…" he whimpers and accept them, "…she's a Hunter…"