Sarah Carmichael sat beside the hospital bed, wringing her handkerchief, tears dripping from sad eyes, landing silently on her crocodile skin handbag. It was a while before she was able to speak, her voice low and slow.
"When I got the phone call saying you had been found, I thought it was a hoax at first. There's been so many calls that were false sightings, but then the Officer put that felon on the line. He'd been found with you, but he was conscious and able to speak. Badly injured, but okay. Not half dead and unconscious like you Virginia. His condition is nowhere near as bad as yours. He hasn't said where Gavin is; it's possible he doesn't know. Michelle is in a ward downstairs, sedated and sleeping. She was so hysterical at the news, I really hope Gavin is found soon too."
Fresh tears poured forth as Sarah sobbed into an already sodden handkerchief. The nurse on duty in the intensive care ward heard the crying and brought a fresh box of tissues for Sarah. She patted her gently on the shoulder for a moment, asking was there anything she could get for her, anyone she could call?
Sarah shook her head wordlessly and the nurse, Carrie, left to get another jug of water for the room; Sarah would need to drink something soon, she'd been sitting beside the bed since just after midnight and it was now past ten in the morning. Carrie would watch and when Sarah drank some water, she would bring her a sandwich and some fruit. It was summer and there was fresh honeydew melon, grapes and strawberries down in the kitchens. After drying her eyes and face again, Sarah spoke once more to Virginia. "I remember the day you were born," she began. "The sweetest angel ever sent to Earth you were, with a smile that could melt a heart. I wasn't able to feed you, so bottles of formula were prepared at first, then another mother on the ward donated some of her breast milk for you and you thrived on that. We became friends, Michelle and I, and her baby boy, Gavin, became your best friend. We took turns singing a lullaby to you both each night as the sun went down."
Sarah sat up straighter and seemed to collect herself before going on.
"You and Gavin were fifteen when you disappeared. That felon in the Police Station has told how he coaxed you both into his car, said he could get you to the beach much faster than walking and you'd have time for sticky chicken wings and ice creams before taking the sunset photos you were planning on. I'll never know why you got into that car, you both knew the dangers. You could have run away." Sarah choked up a bit and sobbed new tears. "Anyway, here you are at last, it's been seven years and you've changed so much, but I'd know my angel anywhere, no matter how she looks now. I've brought your favourite baby toy," she said, placing a worn, stuffed bumble bee under one of Virginia's hands. "They've said you might not wake up, you're suffering malnutrition and have been using drugs. I see the needle tracks on your arms. I don't care about any of that, I just want you to wake up and see a face that loves you. And maybe you know what happened to Gavin and where he is." Carrie came back in and coaxed Sarah to drink some water, then left again to bring some food, after first checking the beeping machines surrounding Virginia. Returning with a sandwich and a plate of sliced fruits, Carrie tried to sound cheerful as she reminded Sarah there didn't seem to be any reason for Virginia not waking, perhaps her mind and body just needed time. "If I wheel in another bed, would you lie down and get some rest Mrs Carmichael?" she said. "Please, call me Sarah," she replied. "I don't think I could possibly sleep, but maybe a little lie down would be nice." "It's alright if you take a little nap," Carrie said. "I promise to wake you at the slightest change in Virginia. You can see she already has more colour in her cheeks."