Part 2 of the Unloved series :). For those who haven’t read part one: this is the link:
Celine wiped the blood off Ishamel’s knee and put on an anti-septic ointment.
He looked up at her, his eyes big and brown.
“Thank you..miss.” He said shyly.
She ruffled the hair of the six year old boy.
“Now run along, you”, She said gruffly. Ishmael was their landlord’s son. He was forever following her around like a puppy, a fact that both distressed and amused her.
Rafael said she had that trait…she could make people want to be with her, she had an air of warmth and complete self – assurance. Perhaps Ishmael missed his mother, who had passed away last year due to a miscarriage. It had been a messy business, she recollected, when it had happened. Ishmael had locked himself up in his room and it was Celine, who had coaxed him out and wiped his tears.
Since that day Ishmael’s love and devotion were towards her and her only.
She saw him skip towards the local playground, or what remained of it and felt a pang.
“Get a grip on yourself!”, She muttered to herself. She was feeling the rise of restlessness in her again. She didn’t want to be in one place for too long. No, she couldn’t. The longer you were somewhere, the greater were the chances of people depending on you. And she knew she would let them down. It was time to leave.
Richard, her ‘boss’ stared at her angrily,”Your request is denied. This will be your third transfer in four years. We cannot keep on accommodating these requests. How can you even want to leave at a time like this? You know how short we are on medical staff? You can leave now.”
Celine stared at him, her mouth falling open. She’d rarely seen Richard lose his cool. She picked up her transfer application and silently walked out.
“Good!” Rafael emerged from another room and watched her walk out. He sat down on a stool and offered Richard a cigarette.
“If you’d said yes, she would have run away again. Its about time that she stays and accepts reality.”
Richard ran a hand through his hair, frustrated. “I don’t get it…why? She is one of the best medical personnel we have…she obviously loves what she does…so why?”
Rafael was silent for a minute.
“I’ll tell you. But this stays between the two of us.”
Richard nodded, his eyes somber.
“Celine wasn’t always this…serious. She was an heiress – to a fortune. She was your typical girl next door, a cheerleader, a straight-a student. She married her high – school sweetheart and had two kids.”
Richard’s eyes widened in surprise. Married? Children? Who would have known!
“She got married quite young…she was barely out of college. Well…one day the family had gone out for a Christmas dinner. On the way back, they had an accident. Celine was driving. Apparently she was slightly intoxicated and she crashed into another car, the driver was drunk. Everyone, including the other driver…well…everyone died. She was the sole survivor.”
Richard let out a deep sigh. ” So she blames herself for it?”
Rafael nodded,”Yes, to this very day. She hasn’t forgiven herself. That very day, she lost everything. And now, whenever she feels she is getting too attached to something, she bolts. That’s why i told you, the transfer application would find its way to your desk soon.”
Richard snorted,”There’s no way in hell I’m going to allow that. What about you? Can’t you make her stay? What if she threatens to resign? I will have to concede then.”
Rafael smiled ruefully,”I wish, but no, she has a mind of her own. But I have a feeling she will.”
He got up, a glint in his eye.
That night, she came to him.
Her kisses were softer than usual, they took their time; exploring each other, teasing, touching, caressing.
Afterwards, she turned towards him and ran her hands gently through his hair. He closed his eyes.
” Uh – huh?” She whispered, tracing the outline of his jaw with her fingers.
” I had a word with Richard today.”
She froze and stared at him. “About what?”
He pretended not to notice her expression,”Well he told me that they are planning to open a hospital here. And he wants you to be the head nurse.”
He sneaked a look at her. She looked completely taken aback.
“This place has borne the brunt of too many wars and natural calamities. We managed to collect funds through one long, hard year of fundraising. The question is, would you be up for such a task? It will take a lot of time and effort. But you would help a lot of people. I think you would be brilliant at it.”
Celine looked away. It was true. She would be good at it. She knew how to take charge. She also knew what Rafael was up to.
She shot him an angry look.
Rafael smiled,”Well, think over it.”
He turned around and switched off the light.
Celine woke up early the next day. The sun had not even risen then. She walked back to her room. She paced up and down impatient and then opened her suitcase.
“Where is it!” She opened the other suitcase and threw out her clothes one by one…till she found it..a red notebook. Taking a deep breath, she opened it. There was a photograph of her family. Thomas and Jeffery, her two beautiful boys and Frank…the love of her life. She felt a tear roll down her cheek. It had been seven years but the pain was still extremely raw.
She heard a knock on her door.
“Go away! ” She snapped.
She heard a slight sob and turned around alarmed. She thought it was Rafael. But she saw Ishmael’s little figure dart outside.
She put her book down. “Goddamn it.”
She walked downstairs, he was sitting on the bottom-most stair, holding a bunch of wild sunflowers in his hands.
” Hey…” she said softly, sitting down next to him.
He looked up at her,” Sorry to disturb you. I got…I got …” he held out the flowers, he had tied them together with an old rope. But it was the most beautiful bouquet that she had ever received.
” Thank you…they…” She felt a lump in her throat and to her dismay she had tears in her eyes. Perfect time to have a meltdown. In front of a kid.
Ishmael looked at Celine’s tears and took her hand in his, “Don’t worry miss. Ishmael will protect you.”
He said it in a matter-of-fact voice.
Celine laughed, her vision slightly blurred. ” Why thank you Ishmael, but I am not scared, I’m just happy because I love the flowers.” She kissed him on his forehead and walked back up, his small hand entwined with hers.
Maybe, she would stay. For just a little longer though.