Tap, tap, tap…

At an agitated pace, her fingers drummed on the steering wheel as Grace contemplated the large entrance of the hospital. The glass sliding doors were slightly hidden from view by a neat row of pillars supporting the awning. Behind the structure she knew as the welcoming area, the hospital ascended. In that immense building, on one of those floors, behind one of those windows, was the reason for her visit.

Tap, tap, tap…

Each tap of her nails on the leather sounded like a roll of thunder on a clear spring afternoon. She should never have come here. Mangi had only called to say where he was and what had happened. His call had been purely informational, not an invitation. To her surprise, she completely understood his behaviour. Ever since he had moved to Ceres with his girlfriend, she hadn’t exactly made a huge effort to reconnect and try to restore their old trust. It would have all been different if he hadn’t walked out on her the third time, together with their father, no less. Mangi couldn’t expect her to be flexible about the emotional wounds from her youth he had reopened. It would take a lot of time and hard work before they would find each other again. For now, it seemed that they were stumbling in the dark calling out, “Marco Polo” without ever hearing an echo.

Breathing out audibly, she let her fingers slip off the steering wheel. Though she and Mangi weren’t the traditional brother and sister, she had very much acted her part as a caring and loyal sister after he had called. After some initial hesitation, she had left Max’s office (where she had been waiting for the detective to come back from a crime scene) and headed for the parking lot. She frowned as she thought about how annoyed he would be once he found out she had pinched his keys. On a scale of one to ten, he’d score a nine, perhaps even a ten. She had seen him fuss about his car before. The only times she had seen him more agitated was when either she or his son was in danger.

Eventually, because her eyes were starting to water from all the strained staring at the sliding doors, she looked away. She willed herself to pull herself together. Without allowing any second thoughts to invade her mind, she grabbed her bag and scarf and climbed out of the car. Inwardly groaning because of her hesitance, she firmly clutched her bag and set off towards the sliding doors with a purposeful stride. Never, not once, had she backed down from a fight before. This time would be no different.

Tap, tap, tap…

The rhythmic clacking of her heels was first muffled by the pavement, next intensified by the hospital flooring. She held her head up high, her eyes focused on an unknown point in the distance, as she strode through the doors and down a corridor. After checking what floor she had to be on, she got into the lift and rode up to the fifth. She was met by the sight of a man pacing around, surrounded by what appeared to be relatives. An agonising scream sounded from a nearby ward resulting in a nurse ushering the pacing man inside. She fought the urge to roll her eyes, and set off towards a room further down the corridor. The moment she laid eyes on six rows of wiggling blue and pink bundles, she was frozen in place.

Babies…an entire ward full of babies. Some a day old, others close to a week. The only thing separating her from a room full of a small human litter she didn’t know how to handle was a large window. Once the initial shock wore off, she tentatively raised her hand, intending on tapping softly against the glass. She halted herself. Tapping the glass reminded her of the “Do not disturb the animals” signs at the zoo, and it wasn’t like the baby she was looking for would jump up, wave, and call out her name.


Tell us: What do you think will happen next?