( in the hospital)
"Please!" Abby requested. When Autumn entered the ward, Cindy perched herself on the bed, crying. She looked so small and sick as her eyes were swollen from all the weeping. The doctor in the room did not dare to move closer to her but continued consoling her from a distance.
"Cindy..." In her soft and humble voice, Autumn called out to her. Hearing the familiar voice amidst the commotion, Cindy immediately stopped crying and turned to the door. Upon seeing Autumn's face, shock gripped her as she could not believe who was standing before her. She rubbed her eyes, leaped off the bed in one swift movement, ran forward and wrapped her arms around Autumn's legs.
Cindy whimpered, "Why did you abandon me, sister?"
Autumn didn't know whether to cry or to laugh at this question. She looked into Cindy's eyes while slowly bending down and said, "Cindy, I did not abandon you. You are the apple of your parents' eyes. I may not be able to stay with you forever, Cindy, but I promise you that I'll give you my personal number so that you can call me whenever you wish to see me. Okay?"
"I don't want to part with you..." Cindy cried harder this time.
Abby stood right outside the door in the hallway. Hearing Cindy break down, she wanted to enter the ward to comfort her, but Andy stopped her and said, "Don't worry. I think Miss Ye has the situation under control."
Andy knew his daughter had a mind of her own. He also knew that Cindy trusted Autumn and with that he did not worry at all.
Autumn was patiently consoling Cindy and within minutes Cindy calmed down. Autumn sat on the bed with Cindy in her arms. She then assumed a serious tone and asked, "Can you tell me why you refused to receive the injection?"
"I... am just scared of the needle..." Cindy whispered timidly.
Giving Cindy a disapproving glance, Autumn said, "You knew you would need an injection after eating seafood, then why did you run from home and request me to specifically take you to a restaurant serving seafood? Cindy, what you did is not right. Do you understand?"
Children at Cindy's age can distinguish between actions that are right and wrong. With that perspective, Autumn tried to reason with Cindy. Hearing Autumn's words, Cindy lowered her head and murmured, "I knew I was wrong, but I just couldn't help..."
Cindy felt that she'd been wronged.
She loved seafood so much, then why couldn't she enjoy it like other people do?
Why did she have to suffer an allergic reaction?
"See, you did something that wasn't good for you and now you must pay the price. After eating the seafood, you got rashes.
If you don't let the doctors administer the injection, you will not recover. What if your pretty face gets many scars from these rashes in the future?" Autumn bluffed.
After thinking about it for one long moment, Cindy rolled up her sleeve and stretched out her chubby arm as she closed her eyes and demanded, "Give me the injection."
The doctor gave Cindy the injection while trying to controlling his laughter. After the dreaded injection was over, Cindy jumped into Autumn's arms. Autumn held her tightly and patted her back to comfort her.
"Okay, the injection is done. She can be discharged shortly." The doctor said to Autumn, "If anything is wrong or you need any assistance, please press the button which is on the bedside."
"Alright." Autumn nodded. After the doctor left the ward, Cindy raised her head and glanced at Autumn, "Sister, I hope now I look prettier than before?"
"Yes, most definitely." Autumn smiled and in a serious tone proclaimed, "Cindy is the most beautiful kid in the world."
This made Cindy content. Soon after she fell asleep, Autumn got out of the ward quietly. She informed Abby and Andy, "Cindy is asleep."
"Thank you so very much!" With utmost sincerity Abby thanked her. Her daughter had never been so close to a stranger before. Maybe one reason was that Autumn looked very much like Abby.
There were times even Abby couldn't handle Cindy, but Autumn made it look easy.
"It is alright. Cindy is a wonderful child and I am very fond of her." Autumn spotted Sam in a distance. She waved at him and greeted him with a warm smile, "Sam."
Sam had reached the hospital earlier, but hadn't shown up in front of Autumn as there was nothing serious. He walked up to Autumn and asked, "Are you alright?"
"Yes, I am." Autumn answered and introduced Sam to the couple, "They are the parents of the girl. This is..."
"I know." Before Autumn could introduce Sam, Abby spoke up, "He must be your husband. You two seem like an ideal couple! Are you on your honeymoon in the Z City?"
Sam remained silent and so was Autumn in that moment as she was embarrassed by Abby's words. She tried to explain their relationship, "You misunderstood our relation. We are not..."
"We have been through the experience. We understand..." Abby again assumed that Autumn was just being shy, but Andy immediately realized something was wrong. He grabbed Abby by her hand and said, "It is getting late. Miss Autumn has stayed here for a long time. She must be tired. We should also check on Cindy now. Miss Autumn, thank you for coming!"
"You're right. I almost forgot. Miss Autumn, we are so sorry for what happened today. We..." Before Abby could finish her sentence, Andy dragged her into the ward and left Autumn and Sam in the hallway.
Autumn said, "Sam, I'm so sorry for bothering you. I thought they wanted to... I feel embarrassed for having called you here. I am sorry!"
"What a silly girl! You don't have to be so formal with me." Sam smiled and stretched out his hand, in an attempt to pat her head, but Autumn stepped back.
Sam was left rather awkward, but he recovered immediately and offered, "Well, let me drive you back."
"That is not necessary. I will take a taxi back." Autumn refused the request.
"Let's go." Sam grabbed Autumn's arm and adamantly said, "I'm going in your direction..."
"Going my way?" Autumn asked with a frown, "How did you know where I live?"
"I happened to see you when I checked in..." While Sam answered casually, Autumn felt a little strange, but she didn't ponder much on it. The hotel she was staying at was the best hotel in Z City. It was not surprising that Sam was staying in the same one.
Sam accompanied Autumn till they got to her room door. It was not until Sam left that Autumn felt a wave of relief wash over her. She cleaned herself up and went to bed.
Autumn was still worried about Cindy.
She got up early in the morning and grabbed some of the best dishes available from the hotel restaurant. As Cindy was allergic to seafood, Autumn cross checked with the chef to ensure there was no seafood in the dishes. She then went to the hospital with the packaged goodies.
After Autumn arrived at Cindy's ward, she was still fast asleep. Abby was also asleep at the bedside. Meanwhile, Andy was smoking at the hallway. Seeing Autumn, he snubbed out the cigarette and greeted her with a smile, "Good morning, Miss Autumn. Why did you trouble yourself and come here so early?"
"I woke up early in the morning. I am sure you did not rest, let alone sleep properly last night. I bought some food for you.
Please help yourself." Autumn spoke as she raised the plastic bag in her hand.
"Thank you, Miss Autumn." Andy accepted the generous offer. As he had not slept the previous night, he was indeed starving.
"Just call me Autumn, please. How is Cindy now?" Autumn was sincerely concerned about Cindy.
"The rashes have thankfully gone. The doctor said that she could be discharged last night itself. But Abby and I decided to spend the night in the hospital, just as a precautionary measure. We just want to make sure she is safe and sound when she leaves here."