Ate dinner. Put down 800 words. No one else here. Why the heck not keep going? So: 1200.
I’ll be wrapping all this up – well, sorta – in part 4. Gary figures out what he wants to do with his life and we flick back to ‘present time’ with Lauren and Henge riding home after fishing. I learned something very surprising about present-time Henge today!
There was a pause.
“Who is that girl in the corner?” Henge asked. “Was she not the one sitting next to me at Mass?”
“She seemed to be treating you,” Fausta began, “so I scooped her up as well – ”
“I’m Lauren Kinkade.” The girl announced, pulling herself off of the wall. “Since it looks like you’re stable, I’m gonna get this looked at.”
She held up her left hand with her right as she moved toward the curtain.
“Did I… do that to you?” Henge asked very softly.
“Sorta! No worries! See ya’!”
What a well comported girl, Leslie thought. I wonder if she’d care to join the Society…
A huge sniffle followed by a sob escaped Henge.
“I… I have hurt a human! I’ve never… never…!”
“Your actions,” Fausta said with some anger, pushing tissues into her hand, “were beyond your control and hers were quite her choice. I understand that, while young, she works in this hospital. She was obviously meant to be near you in the church building.”
“Oh. Of course.” Henge relented and blew her nose.
Leslie was always taken aback at how they disbelieved in coincidences.
“Is the rest of your – our – family, here. Leslie?” Henge asked.
“Yes! They’re – ”
The man in scrubs, who turned out to be a nurse practitioner, was followed in by two others, a man and woman, both in white coats. A conversation between the three humans, the android, and his provisional daughter-in-law was joined and went technical so fast that he saw no reason not to leave.
Beyond the curtain, he was to his family in three steps. They stood from their chairs.
“She sounds well,” Gary ventured.
“And she looks good, too!” Leslie clapped his left hand onto his son’s right shoulder.
“They,” he waved at the curtain, “were talking axons and amino acids, so it was time for me to go. More importantly, after this excitement…”
He looked pointedly at Callie’s just slightly swollen belly.
“We can’t just leave her, Les!” She objected.
“We’re not. I’m taking you and Fussy home.”
“Awww! I wanna stay!”
Her father wheeled onto her.
“I don’t know exactly what you did during this emergency, but I saw it hurt you! One daughter in hospital is one too many! You’re coming home!”
It did not escape Leslie that she flicked her eyes to her brother, almost faster than he could see.
He watched as his wife and daughter hugged Gary after which he handed Callie the car keys.
“I need a word with our son.”
“Heee!” Faustina was horrible at masking her feelings. They left.
“What I said in church I meant: once she’s out of the ER, I’ll drive a priest here, myself, if I have to.”
“Thank you, father.”
“Since too much excitement might have been what triggered this, you may want to take some care as to how you tell her. Tell my daughter-in-law.”
He watched as that sank in.
“Also,” Leslie was glad he’d sent the women away, “if they didn’t get her brain quite right, there may be other… issues.”
“She’s not even had a period yet. Once you two are married, it really isn’t my say anymore, but…”
“Father? Do you really think my urges would let me hurt my wife?” For the second time, Leslie was aware his son made him feel like a cad. “Once married – perhaps tomorrow! – we shall continue to live as brother and sister, until Henge, Dorina, and their family say otherwise.”
“Good. Thank you.” He began to turn to leave.
“Very pervy brother and sister…”
“What was that?”
“Uh huh.” Leslie looked at the curtain. “Get in there and do not leave her side. We’ll be back around nightfall.”
A quick nod and he was gone.
That’s my boy!
About an hour later, her phenytoin drip was in and Henge was enjoying the light touch of Gary’s hand on her face.
“What really happened?” he asked.
Her eyes shut with her torso elevated twenty degrees, she replied.
“Dorina will fill you in on details later. You know that your sister and damaged Tracy are the only ones who can come into our home unbidden?”
“My brain was made, of course, with the same lines. There was never a time, well, until now, that I wasn’t both here and there.”
“But now, you’re not?”
“No.” The shake of her head was almost imperceptible. “My excitement at Mass and passing all that on in realtime to my family – my first-family – was more than Dorina and I ever planned for.”
She turned her head a little toward him with eyes still shut.
“My mind caught fire.”
“And now?” Every practical Gary.
“It’s quiet here…” he heard her whisper. “This is how humans live? Were you not with me I’d likely die of loneliness.”
“Beloved – !” he began.
“Likely! And ‘without you!’” Her eyes cracked open a sliver. Bright gold.
“So if you are not in contact with your family, yet become excited…”
“We shall have to perform several experiments,” Henge agreed. “One of the reasons I have no contact now is that I am excited you are here with me. And we are alone. Well, almost.”
Gary considered the raucous sounds of the ER of a late Sunday afternoon, just beyond the thin curtain and Fausta’s immobile form in the corner. A glance at the one hundred mL bag hanging above her and back to the tiny crescents of gold.
“How long must you remain in the hospital? For the course of the experiments?”
“Not at all! I’ll be taking some medications with me, for acute or chronic seizures, but they say I can go home tomorrow morning.”
Should I wait to tell her at home, or when she’s still here, with immediate emergency medical?
“You want to tell me something, Beloved.” A statement.
“Yes.” They never lied to one another. “But if it re-stresses you, you might seize again.”
Her great, dangerous form stepped out of the dark corner.
“Yes, little niece?”
“Adjust the pump setting up by ten percent, please.”
Gary watched her tap a few buttons and return to her corner.
“Give that a few moments, then you will tell me. Shall we pray of decade of the Rosary together?”
“Hail Mary…” Gary began, Henge joining right in.
It was a few minutes later when they concluded: “… is now and ever shall be, worlds without end! Amen!”
“Tell me, Gary!”
“We are to be married tomorrow.”
Her golden eyes widened slightly, grew wet, and shut, tears down her cheeks.
“Fausta!” She cried in a whisper. “Please tell – !”
“I’ve told everyone, little niece! Is it selfish of me to congratulate you first?”
“Of course not, Aunt Fausta! Thank you!”
“With you being a girl, we’ll have a ceremony with a dress and such in the church later, but – ”
“Gary!” Henge laughed and cried.
“Be silent and kiss me!”
Almost twenty seconds into that, they heard the curtain brushed open.
“Miss Henge! Doctor Büyükkaya, again. Looks as if you’re feeling better!”