The Girl With Kaleidoscope Eyes
It was thirty years ago, but I can still remember the very first time I saw her like it was only yesterday. I doubt I will ever be able to forget. It was the greatest moment of my life, although at the time, it was probably the scariest. It was the first time I had ever seen anyone get shot. But when I saw those bullets just bounce right off her, I thought she was Superman.
I know now, of course, that she was not invincible.
The day started out as any other. It was just me and my father, as it usually was, and we were at the bank. It was the first stop on his list of errands; it also turned out to be our last.
The bank wasn't as crowded as it usually was in the mornings, there were only two people in line when we walked in. My father was holding my hand. I was only ten years old, I still enjoyed holding hands with him. I wasn't really paying much attention. My focus was on the lollipop bucket that was by each teller window, silently choosing which color I wanted. That was always my treat for coming to the bank. So when the doors opened behind us, I didn't pay it any mind. Surely just another customer.
I was wrong.
I got knocked into my father as two men shoved me aside when they barged past the line. They were dressed all in black, wore ski masks, and were both toting guns.
“Everybody stay still and shut up!” One of the men yelled at the top of his lungs. Both men were so huge, I was positive they must have been professional wrestlers or body-builders. In hindsight, they probably weren't that big, but to my very young eyes, they might as well have been giants. Now, I had also never seen a gun before in my life, I mean a real gun, and my eyes nearly bugged out at the sight. They were petrifying. I remember thinking they looked much heavier and deadlier than they looked on TV cartoons. Not even to this day could I tell you what kind of guns they were; that is something I still know nothing about, but I did know that all guns were deadly. Thus all guns should be feared.
My father grabbed me by the shoulders and pushed me behind him. He kept one of his hands on my shoulder, pressing me into the backside of his hip. I clutched his belt, my face buried into the side of his shirt, where I could peek around him and see what was happening. My father was my hero, still is, and I had never seen him scared before, but I could feel how tense his body was. I could see his hand shaking.
Someone screamed. A lady by the pitch of it. Immediately, one of the robbers yelled, “Shut up!” And that was the end of the screaming.
Meanwhile, the second robber had made his way over to one of the teller windows. The robber threw a bag in the teller's face, lifted his gun so she could clearly see it, and demanded, “Fill it up, lady.” I saw the woman's hands shaking as she grabbed some money and began putting it in the bag. Her eyes looked close to tears. She kept her head down; I'm sure she was deliberately trying not to look at the gun that was not even a foot away from her. I felt bad for her. I wonder if she ever worked in a bank again after that...
That was the moment when she stepped in, and my entire life changed.
Everyone turned to look as one of the doors opened, and a small girl strolled in. My jaw involuntarily dropped as I watched her walk into the lobby. I don't think I was the only one who had that reaction, judging by the complete silence that filled the bank. It was like time froze, no one moved, not even the robbers. We were all staring at the little girl.
She looked about my age at the time, maybe a little younger. She was thin, stick thin, and I couldn't help but wonder if she had eaten anything in the last few days. Her hair was the darkest shade of black I had ever seen, or have ever seen since, and had a bouncy curl to it that fell to her slim shoulders. It would have been pretty if it hadn't been so tangled. Her skin had what seemed like a pink hue to it. At first I thought it was just the effect of the bank's lights, but I learned later that her skin was indeed pink. But even all these features took a backseat to the girl's eyes. There was no white sclera, no colorful iris ring around a black pupil. Instead, her eyes were just bottomless pools, and that morning in the bank, they happened to be pools of a dark orange color, like burnt caramel.
Then reality came crashing back as one of the robbers shattered the stunned silence. “Don't move!” He yelled at the little girl.
I saw her jump at the sudden noise, her head spun to look at the man. She stared at him for a second, then decided to walk towards him. My eyes widened as I watched her approach the armed robber. I heard someone else gasp.
The robber swiveled his gun and took aim at the girl. “Stop! Don't take another step, midget. I won't hesitate to shoot a child,” he threatened. I felt my father's hand tighten on my shoulder and he pushed me further behind him, but I still stretched to see around him. I think everyone in the bank took a collective breath in, holding it as we watched the big gun pointed at the small girl. Even the second robber, still at the teller window, was staring at the girl.
She did stop. Everyone released their breath.
Apparently not liking how the situation was playing out, the second robber turned back to the teller, snatched the bag from her, and made his way over to his partner. “Let's go,” he murmured, his eyes warily on the child.
Just when his partner was about to agree, the girl started walking towards them again. I could see both robbers' eyes widen through the eye holes in their face masks. The first robber raised his gun again. “You little sonova-” he started, then pulled the trigger on his gun. Point blank shot.
A chorus of “No!” arose from everyone inside the bank, but it was snuffed out by the deafening sound of the gunshot. It was a sound that, seemingly by magic, had the ability to drown out any other sound in the vicinity. It demanded its own spotlight.
I have to admit, I didn't actually see anything that first time. I had my face stuffed into my father's back, my eyes shut tight, my teeth clenched, and my fingers wrapped in a death grip around his belt.
Everything was silent for a moment after the shot. Then I heard, and felt, my father gasp. His wasn't the only one I heard. Only after he whispered, “Oh my God,” did I take my head from out of his back and peek around to look.
My jaw dropped for the second time that morning as I found the little girl standing like nothing had happened. He must have missed, was my first thought. But he was maybe a yard away from her, there was no way he could have missed. The girl was looking down at the ground by her feet. I followed her gaze and saw what she was looking at. A bullet.
“What the Hell?” The shooter said in disbelief, for once not yelling. I glanced over at them. Both men were standing shoulder-to-shoulder, staring dumbly at the girl.
The one still holding the bag of money grabbed at the other's arm. “Let's go,” he suggested quietly, but in the silence, everyone could hear him.
But his partner had crossed from disbelief to rage, as if the girl not being dead by his bullet was a personal slight. He shrugged off his partner's hand. “No. She's going to Hell!” He screamed as he released a hail of bullets, keeping his finger on the trigger and emptying the clip upon the child.
Screams again accompanied the gunshots. I didn't bury my face this time, I didn't even close my eyes. Instead I watched, with my eyes wide open, as the bullets flew at her, hit her, and simply fell to the ground at her feet. She didn't even flinch. I glanced up at her face and saw that she looked just as confused as the rest of us, maybe even more so. Her head was cocked to the side, like a curious puppy, as she stared down at the bullets scattered on the ground.
Then I heard the robber with the bag of money talk to his partner. “Let's go. Forget that freak. We gotta go!” He grabbed the other man's arm and dragged him past the girl, giving her a wide berth, and they both fled out the doors with their guns and money in tow.
I noticed one of the bank employees ran over to a desk and pressed something underneath the desk. I'm sure it was their panic button.
Everyone else's attention remained on the bulletproof girl. “How did she do that?” Someone asked. That question sparked an outbreak of suspicious murmurs and nervous whispers.
“Everyone please stay calm.” The man who had pressed the button under the desk walked into the middle of the lobby. “I've contacted the police and they'll be here shortly. Now, we can't force anyone to stay, but it's highly encouraged you do so because the police will want to talk to as many people as they can to get a detailed description of the situation and the robbers,” he announced.
“What about her?” A man questioned, clearly referring to the little girl.
“She could be dangerous...”
“Did you see the way the bullets just bounced off her?”
“The girl is a demon!”
A chorus of questions and remarks erupted, fingers pointed at the girl. If I learned anything that day, it's that people fear what they don't understand. The mutterings quickly grew into an aggressive mob. I watched the girl as she looked around at the crowd, and as she did so, our eyes met. I noticed her eyes had gotten darker, almost black now.
“Dad,” I tugged on my father's arm, but my eyes never left the girl. “Dad,” I repeated, “we need to help her.” My father looked down at me, glanced at the girl, then back to me. I stared up at him. His mouth was open, like he wanted to say something, but nothing came out. I don't think he knew what to say.
Then I heard a pattering of quick feet. “She's running away!” A woman yelled.
I whipped my head back around and saw the girl reach the doors and run out of the bank, looking an awful lot like the two robbers that had just fled seconds prior.
“Someone stop her!” A man shouted.
“No! Let her go!” A woman argued.
“She's someone else's problem now,” someone muttered.
There were more words from more people, a mixture of fear and relief, but I wasn't going to let her go off alone when she was clearly lost and scared. Something was pulling me after the girl, and kids are pretty good at acting on impulse. I'm still thankful for that to this very day.
I didn't look back at my father; I didn't tell him what I was thinking. He would have tried to stop me, but he must have had some kind of idea what was going on, because his reaction was quicker than I would have thought possible. I sprinted out of the bank after the girl. I could hear my father's heavier footsteps behind me almost immediately. I hesitated only for a second after escaping the bank, searching for which direction the girl went in, and when I spotted her, I took off again at top speed. My father was now beside me, his long legs easily catching up with my own, but he didn't stop me.
She was on the sidewalk of the main street, staring out at the cars speeding past. I was terrified she was going to step out into the road. I wasn't too eager to see if she was car-proof, too.
“Hey!” I reached out and grabbed her arm as we got within range. She turned around and stared at me. Her eyes were lighter again, more orange, and they seemed to be getting lighter by the second.
“Woah,” I awed, staring at her eyes. They were so pretty despite the unorthodoxy of them. “Are you okay?” I asked.
She cocked her head again. It was a gesture I would become familiar with.
“It's okay. We're friends,” I gestured towards my father beside me, then smiled. “My name's Nicole.”
I felt my father's hand on my shoulder. I glanced up at him. “I don't think she can understand you, sweetheart.” He knelt down beside me and his handsome eyes turned to the girl. She looked over at him. “Do you understand English?” He asked, speaking slowly. His eyes searched her own, which were now as orange as a pumpkin. Her silence was our answer.
Then she reached up with one hand and gently touched my father's cheek. She brushed her pink fingers against the stubble. Her eyes shone even brighter.
I laughed. “I think she likes you, Dad.”
As her hand fell away from his face, he looked over at me. I looked into his eyes and knew what was coming. “Nicole...”
Before he could say anything further, I interjected. “Dad, we can't leave her. She's lost. And she doesn't understand what anyone's saying.”
The girl coughed. It alarmed both of us, but it seemed to surprise herself even more. Her eyes grew wider and she looked down at herself. I'll admit, I was amused at first, but if I knew what that cough meant at the time, I wouldn't have been laughing.
Then the sirens came roaring down the road and two police cars swerved into the bank's parking lot. All three of us watched as a police officer hopped out of each car and rushed into the bank side-by-side. I looked over at my father. “Dad, we gotta go, and she needs to come with us.”
I could tell by his face that my father was conflicted. I think he knew as well as I did that the girl needed help, but he was also wondering how we were supposed to help. The girl didn't understand a word we were saying.
So I forced his hand. I reached over and took hold of the girl's hand. Her skin was like a baby's, it was so smooth. “Come on, Dad. I know you feel it, too. We have to help her.” I glanced at her, her orange eyes were staring at our entwined hands. I smiled. I met my father's gaze; he had an argument on his lips, I could tell, but he was biting it back. “Let's go home.” I gently squeezed her hand and started towards the parking lot, leading her along. She followed willingly enough. After a few seconds, I heard my father follow as well. We skirted around the two police cars in the middle of the parking lot and got into my father's car. I helped the girl into our car and buckled her in for safety.
“I can't believe we're doing this...” I heard my father muttering to himself as he pulled out of the parking lot and onto the main road.
I was still holding the girl's hand as we sat together in the back seat. She was staring out the window, leaning so close it that her forehead was nearly touching the glass. I was struck with an idea and glanced up at my father in the front. “Dad, we need to give her a name.”
His eyes glanced to me in the rear-view mirror. “I'm sure she already has a name, honey,” he replied patiently.
“Sure,” I shrugged, “she probably does, but until we learn it, we gotta have some name to call her, right?”
He paused, then sighed. “And what did you have in mind?” He asked.
I thought about it for a moment. In truth, I didn't have anything in mind. I glanced over at the girl beside me, searching for inspiration. As if sensing my eyes on her, she turned away from the window and met my gaze. I smiled as I saw her eyes were now more yellow than orange. Then a line from a Beatles song came to me – the girl with kaleidoscope eyes.
“How about Lucy?” I saw her lips curl upward into a small smile at the sound of the name. Her eyes seemed to brighten, but that might have just been my imagination. I laughed. “I think she likes it,” I rejoiced.
My father nodded. “Lucy it is, then,” he approved as the car turned into our driveway. He parked the car, killed the engine, then leaned back in the seat. I crawled forward between the driver and passenger seats. He turned his head so we were face-to-face.
“It's okay, Dad. We did the right thing.” I put my hand on his shoulder.
He closed his eyes, nodded, and sighed. “Yeah, I think so, too, baby. I just wish I knew how to help her.”
“You'll figure it out. You're smart,” I replied. He opened his eyes and we shared a smile. I was reminded how much I absolutely adored my father.
As we all got out of the car, Lucy coughed again. She glanced at me, as if she didn't understand why her body was doing that. I simply shrugged, coughing was no big deal, and with her hand in mine, I led her into the house.
My father was waiting by the doorway. When we stepped in, he knelt down before us. He looked first to Lucy. “You're safe here with us. We're going to help you.” He smiled, but I could see the uncertainty in his eyes. We both knew the words wouldn't mean anything to Lucy, but hopefully the message was conveyed. Then he turned those soft eyes on me and I could see some of the doubt run away. “Why don't you show her around the house? Give her a proper tour. I'm going to make a quick call to your Aunt Maria.”
“Can I ask why?” I raised an eyebrow.
“Believe it or not, she's smarter than me. She might be able to help us out,” he answered, then quickly added, “And if you ever tell her I said that, I'll deny it till the day I die.” He pointed a finger at me and narrowed his eyes.
I giggled. Aunt Maria was my father's older sister. I have no doubt that she would agree that she was smarter than my father, but I don't know if I could believe anyone was smarter than him. Even Aunt Maria. “Secret's safe,” I agreed. My father winked at me, then got up and walked away to make his phone call.
I turned back to Lucy. I saw her eyes were orange again as she turned to me. I nodded toward the staircase. “Come on, we'll start our tour upstairs.” I took her around our small house. I had a running commentary, as any good tour guide does. It's too bad she didn't understand any of it...
The tour ended in the kitchen. Let's face it, I was hungry; I figured she might have been, too. I walked her over to the round kitchen table and pulled a chair out for her. “You can sit.” I gestured to the chair. She just looked at me with orange eyes. I sighed, pulled out my own chair, and sat. Then I gestured for Lucy to do the same. “Sit,” I repeated.
She stared at me for a moment, long enough for me to think she still didn't understand, but just as I opened my mouth to talk again, she stepped toward her chair and sat down. “Yes! Good!” I nodded eagerly as she looked over at me for approval.
I stood up to grab some food for us. Out of the corner of my eyes, I saw Lucy begin to stand up, too. I spun around and put my hands up in a halting sign. “No. You stay.” I pointed at the chair. “Stay. Sit,” I commanded. She looked at me, then ever so slowly, sunk back down into the chair. I nodded again. “Good, good. Stay there now, I'll grab the food.” I slowly backed away from the table, keeping my hands up as if I could hold her in place with my mind. She kept her eyes on me, watching intently with those big, orange peepers.
I had to break eye contact as I got the food. I didn't know what she liked, so I just grabbed a smorgasbord of everything within reach. I went back to the table with my arms full of goodies and spread them across the tabletop. There were chips, candy, yogurt, apples, carrots, crackers, and more. Her eyes were now on all the food. I sat down beside her.
She glanced at me. I smiled. “It's food. You eat it. Here, try some.” I pushed some of it towards her. Again she looked at it, then back to me and cocked her head in that puppy way of hers.
“Food,” I repeated, picking up a carrot. “Fah-ooh-duh,” I enunciated, then took a bite. She watched me chew with great interest. I picked up another carrot and handed it to her. She took it, stared at it, then glanced at me. I remember even now how clearly that carrot matched her eyes.
“Fah-ooh-duh,” she mimicked me pretty well, actually. My eyes widened in amazement and I laughed out loud. Then she took a bite out of the carrot, as she had seen me do. As she chewed, I watched with awe as her eyes shifted from orange to yellow to a very light shade of pink before going back to yellow. When she finished chewing and swallowed, she smiled.
“Good, right?” I chuckled. “I can see you like carrots.” I pushed some more her way. She glanced at me, as if asking permission. I nodded. Immediately, she grabbed another carrot and popped it into her mouth like a pro. She happily munched away.
I thought she might like to try something else, so I grabbed one of the chocolate candy bars and offered it to her. She looked at it curiously. “Go ahead, try it,” I encouraged.
She glanced at me. “Fah-ooh-duh?” She spoke slowly, questioning.
I nodded. Lucy grabbed it and took a bite. Her face instantly contorted in disgust and her eyes changed to a dark shade of green. She stuck out her tongue and scraped the rest of it out of her mouth.
I laughed. “Okay, no chocolate. Noted.” I handed her another carrot. It seemed safe to stick with those. Her eyes shifted back to yellow as she took the carrot and gobbled it up.
I glanced up as my father walked into the kitchen to join us. Lucy looked up at him, did that little half smile of hers, coughed, then ate another carrot. I saw my father smile at her. She did have a certain charm about her. Then he turned his attention on me. “Aunt Maria will be stopping by shortly,” he informed.
“Yay!” I exclaimed. “Uncle Henry and Peter, too?” I asked. Peter is my older cousin.
“I don't know,” my father mused, “but probably.” He shrugged, then nodded toward the food on the table. “I see you got her to eat something, huh?” I like to think he sounded impressed.
I nodded. “She likes carrots.” I glanced at Lucy and grinned as she returned my gaze. “Don't give her chocolate, though.” I turned back to my father. “Wasn't a fan,” I chuckled.
My father pulled a chair out and sat with us. Lucy's bright yellow eyes were on him. She pushed a carrot towards him. “Fah-ooh-duh,” she offered.
His mouth dropped open and an amazed laugh escaped. “Thank you.” He took the carrot, and stole a glance at me. I was grinning like a proud momma.
Lucy coughed again, a string of them this time. My dad stood up. “I'll get some water.” He walked toward the sink and came back with a pitcher of water and three cups. He went to work pouring a cup for each of us. I saw Lucy watching him closely, her eyes were back to orange. My father slid two cups along the table, one to me and one to Lucy. She leaned forward a little and stared curiously into the cup. My father and I watched her. I don't know about my father, but I was thinking she surely must know what water was. You couldn't live without the stuff!
Cautiously, she brought her hand over the cup and slowly lowered a single finger into her cup. I knew exactly when her skin touched the water because a small, but audible, gasp came out. Her eyes got bigger and brighter. She looked up, first at my father, then at me.
I couldn't help but laugh. “It's water. You drink it.” I grabbed my water and showed her by taking a sip. She cocked her head as she watched me, then she returned her gaze to her own cup.
She grabbed her cup in her small hands and copied what she saw me do. She brought it up to her lips and tilted it until the water reached her mouth. I saw her swallow, then pull the cup away. She licked her lips, seemed to think about it for a second, then her eyes lightened to yellow. She brought the cup back up and drained it.
I smirked and turned to my father. “It's exhausting taking care of someone,” I commented.
He raised an eyebrow. “It is, isn't it?” He gave me a wink.
About twenty minutes later, Aunt Maria showed up with Uncle Henry and Peter trotting in behind her. My aunt was a small woman. At age twelve, Peter was already taller than his mother. Uncle Henry stood a good foot taller than his wife. We welcomed everyone in, hugs all around, and lots of talking over one another. I noticed Lucy was kind of hiding in the background, but she watched everything with a careful eye. My father and I brought everyone into the kitchen to meet her.
Aunt Maria stepped forward first. “Hello, Lucy. My name is Maria.” She offered her hand out to Lucy for a handshake. Lucy looked at her outstretched hand; her eyes once more a burnt orange. She cocked her head slightly.
“Whoa! What's wrong with her eyes?” Peter asked from behind his mother.
“Peter,” Uncle Henry warned with a disapproving glance and a quick shake of his head.
“What? Look at them!” He defended, pointing. Aunt Maria and Uncle Henry frowned at him.
My father leaned down towards his nephew. “Just wait, they change color, too.” Peter glanced up at him in disbelief. My father just smirked and nodded.
Meanwhile, my aunt still had her hand out, watching the young girl. Lucy looked from her hand, to her face, to me. I stepped up next to her, took her hand and guided it to my aunt's. I showed her how to position her hand, then Aunt Maria took it from there as she put her hand in Lucy's and pumped up and down. “Nice to meet you, Lucy,” she greeted, though she already knew that the girl didn't understand English.
As her hand fell back to her side, Lucy's eyes melted into a pale yellow. Mellow yellow.
“Holy crap,” Peter gasped.
Lucy had another coughing attack. I glanced at my father, who was watching her with some concern. Her coughing was becoming more frequent, and sounded like it was getting worse.
Uncle Henry leaned toward my father. “Is she okay?” He asked, his eyes on the girl.
“I don't know,” my father admitted. “She's been coughing more and more.” He glanced at my aunt, who met his gaze. They had almost identical hazel eyes.
“Sounds sick to me,” Peter put in his two cents.
Aunt Maria turned on him. “You're not helping here. Scram, kiddo, and take your cousin with you, huh? Go play outside for a while,” she suggested.
“Can Lucy come with us?” I asked, instinctively reaching out for her hand.
“Of course.” My father nodded with an encouraging smile. Peter grabbed a soccer ball from the closet that we could kick around. Lucy and I followed him out; Uncle Henry tousled my hair in affection as I slipped by. Lucy stuck by me, and I showed her how to kick the ball. Once she got the hang of it, she started to have some real fun, her eyes a bright yellow that out-shined the sun. She had to pause only once in a while when she had to cough.
I could see my father, aunt, and uncle watching us from the window. I saw their mouths moving, but obviously couldn't hear what they were saying. After what felt like only a few minutes, my father called us all inside again.
“What's up?” Peter asked. I think he saw something in his parents' faces that made him ask the question. Everyone looked so serious.
“We're going to take Lucy to the doctor, get her checked out,” Aunt Maria answered.
“I'm coming, too! I won't leave Lucy,” I argued, prepared for a fight.
“Don't worry,” my dad replied, “everyone's coming. Let's go!” He ushered everyone outside. Aunt Maria's car was parked next to my father's.
“Should we take two cars?” Uncle Henry asked.
“No.” My father and Aunt Maria answered at the same time as they walked past everyone. Sometimes they're so similar it's scary.
“Tight fit,” Uncle Henry whistled. “So, who's riding in the trunk?” Peter and I simultaneously pointed at each other, which made my uncle laugh.
Aunt Maria opened the driver's door of her car, pulled something out, and threw it to my father. Then she walked over to my father's car and opened one of the back doors. “Henry, you're in front with Matt. I'm small, I'll go in the back with the kiddos,” she instructed.
My father walked over to me and Lucy. I saw now that Aunt Maria had passed him a pair of sunglasses. He knelt down and placed them on Lucy, hiding her big, colorful eyes. She reached up and felt the glasses, but didn't try to take them off. Honestly, I thought they looked really good on her. My father nodded. “Just for a little extra protection while in public.”
We all piled inside, and I couldn't help but feel like we were in a clown car. Lucy sat basically on top of me, Aunt Maria was in the middle, and Peter was squished on her other side. Surprisingly, we didn't hear a word of complaint from my cousin. The drive wasn't long, but boy, it sure felt like it was.
Our family doctor was actually a childhood friend of my father and aunt. Apparently, while we were outside, Aunt Maria had called him and asked if they could come by with a special case. He agreed to help out and examine Lucy on his lunch break.
We barged into the reception area like a herd of buffalo. Aunt Maria walked up to one of the receptionists. They spoke for a moment, then I saw the receptionist get up and disappear down a hallway. Aunt Maria, meanwhile, turned back to us and gave a thumbs up. The rest of us sat down in the chairs and waited.
It wasn't a long wait before I saw a handsome man step out of a doorway on the side of the receptionist area and walk into the lobby. Doctor Alan. Like I said, he was our family doctor, I had gone to him ever since I could remember. I knew he was younger than my aunt, but older than my father. He had golden hair, blue eyes, and a dazzling smile complete with dimples. I am not going to lie, I had a huge crush on Dr. Alan.
He walked up to my aunt, gave her a hug, and shook hands with my uncle and father. He glanced down and gave a wink at me and Peter. I saw his eyes linger on Lucy for a moment. Her skin had gotten a little paler, but it was still more pink than normal. “Hello, everyone. It's so nice to see you all. Come on into my office and we can chat.” He gestured to where he had come from. We followed him back through the doorway; he led us down a short hallway and showed us into a room off the corner. It was a nice office, had a large wooden desk with three chairs in total, one for him and two on the other side for patients.
He closed the door behind us. “I apologize if it's a little cramped. It's a small office to be holding this many people,” he spoke as he walked over to his desk. He leaned back against the front of it, his hands gripping the edge.
“Thank you again for doing this, Alan. We really appreciate you taking your lunch break to help us,” Aunt Maria remarked.
Dr. Alan favored her with an amused smirk. “You were sounding a little desperate on the phone, Maria. So,” he clapped his hands together, “what can I help you with?”
As if on cue, Lucy started coughing. The doctor turned towards her. “I think I've found our patient,” he declared, but before he could say or do anything further, my father interrupted.
“Alan.” He stepped in front of Lucy, looking austere. “I need you to listen to me for a minute.” The doctor was looking at him, and I saw his expression change from curiosity to concern. “You're a smart man, and you're going to figure out pretty quickly that this is no ordinary little girl. We know she's special. We are the only ones that know, and we plan to keep it that way. Absolutely no one can know about her. Do you understand, Alan?”
The doctor was silent for a moment. I could see his eyes searching my father, trying to decide if he was being serious or not. Finally, he must have concluded it was real because he nodded. “Alright, Matt, I understand you. I won't say anything.”
“Wonderful,” Aunt Maria chimed in from behind everyone, “now if you are done frightening our good doctor, can we please get to helping Lucy?” She asked, as if reprimanding a child. My father stepped aside, allowing the doctor a clear path to the girl. She coughed and looked to me.
I smiled at her. “It's okay, Dr. Alan's going to help you.” I leaned over and took off her sunglasses.
“Woah,” Dr. Alan gasped he saw her eyes for the first time. Lucy turned to look at him with orange eyes. “Is she...wearing contacts?” He asked.
“No.” Everyone answered in unison.
“Um...okay...” He pushed off from his desk, bit his lip for a second, then nodded. “Okay, why don't you take a seat, Lucy?” He pushed one of the chairs over to her and gestured with a smile. I have to say, I was impressed with his ability to look and sound so calm, like he didn't just see a girl with big, orange eyes.
Lucy, however, just cocked her head as she continued to stare at him. He raised an expectant eyebrow. I smirked. “Sorry, Dr. Alan, she doesn't understand English. We don't actually know what language she speaks,” I shrugged. “But allow me to help.” I grabbed the second chair and pushed it next to the first, then sat down. I looked up at Lucy and patted the cushion on the chair next to me. She understood and sat down.
I saw the doctor grin. He gave me a grateful nod, then reached behind himself and grabbed the stethoscope sprawled on his desk. “Okay, let's start with the simple stuff first, shall we? I'm just going to listen to your heart, Lucy.” I think it must have been automatic for him to explain what he was doing, even though he now knew she couldn't understand him.
My father and Uncle Henry stood nearby, leaning against the wall. Aunt Maria and Peter had taken a seat in the doctor's chair on the other side of the desk. Peter was sitting on his mother's lap. My chair was right next to Lucy's. Everyone watched as Dr. Alan placed the earpieces in his ears and moved the chest piece toward Lucy. Lucy's eyes never left him as he placed the diaphragm against her chest. I saw his eyes narrow slightly as he moved the chest piece around a few times, pausing and listening. His brow furrowed as he removed the stethoscope from her.
He pursed his lips for a moment, turned his dazzling blue eyes on me, and held up the instrument. “May I?” He asked.
I nodded. “Go for it.”
He brought the stethoscope over and placed the diaphragm on my chest. He listened only for a moment before nodding and taking out the earpieces. “Thank you.” He smiled at me as he looped the stethoscope around his neck. He took a step back and leaned up against the desk again, half sitting on it.
“Well,” he started, crossing his arms, “I must confess, I had no idea why you felt the need to warn me beforehand, or why you looked so serious about it, but I believe I'm beginning to understand.” He glanced at my father. “You told me that she was no ordinary girl. I'm willing to bet that was an understatement.” He paused as he looked around the room. “This little girl has no heartbeat.” He glanced at Lucy. “It's quite extraordinary, actually.”
I gaped, and I doubt I was the only one.
“What?” My father and aunt asked in tandem.
“Cool,” Peter whispered, but everyone could hear him.
“Are you sure?” Aunt Maria asked, ignoring her son's comment.
The doctor turned to her. “You're welcome to take a listen, Maria, but there's nothing to hear.”
“But...how is that possible?” Uncle Henry questioned.
Dr. Alan shook his head. “I don't know. I was hoping you could tell me.” His eyes moved from Uncle Henry to my father. “Who is this girl, Matt? Where did she come from?”
Me and my father exchanged a glance. He sighed. “Truth is, Alan, we don't know much about her ourselves.” He then told everyone the entire story, starting at the bank with Lucy's appearance and apparent invulnerability, up to the decision to call Dr. Alan.
“She's bulletproof, too?!” Peter awed. “That's awesome!” I couldn't help but grin.
My father continued, still talking to the doctor. “I'm sorry to drag you into this, Alan, truly, but I didn't know what else to do,” he confessed. “And her cough was starting to worry us.”
Lucy coughed again and the room went silent. She looked around the room with wide, orange eyes. Then she caught sight of something that made her eyes shift to a lavender color. She leaned toward the desk, past the doctor, and picked up an orange pencil. She brought it up to her face, observed it for a moment, then turned to me. Her lavender eyes were beautiful and hopeful. “Fah-ooh-duh?” She asked eagerly.
I heard a few gasps; nobody except for me and my father had heard her talk before. I shook my head. “No, not food.” I took the pencil from her just in case she didn't understand and wanted to take a bite. It must have looked like a carrot to her. When I took it away, I saw her eyes change again, this time into a light blue. It tugged at my heart strings. “Hold on, Lucy, I'll try to find you some food,” I assured her with a quick pat on her shoulder.
I turned toward the doctor, who had been watching us with an amused smile. “Dr. Alan, do you have any food around that Lucy can snack on? Even just something small? Preferably not chocolate, though.”
He nodded. “I think I can help you out.” He pushed himself up from the desk. He glanced at my father as he made his way to the door. “Care to join me, Matt?” Though it was posed as a question, everyone in the room knew it was a command. My father nodded and followed him out of the room. Dr. Alan closed the door behind them. Still to this day, I don't truthfully know what was said between the two men once that door closed.
As we waited, the rest of us made small talk. My aunt and uncle asked me how school was going. The typical questions. Lucy coughed again, and we could all tell it was getting worse. She didn't look surprised anymore, but I thought it looked almost painful for her now. It still makes me cringe to think about it. I remember just feeling so utterly helpless.
After a few minutes, my father and Dr. Alan returned. The doctor stepped over to me and Lucy and held out his hand. “We had some of these in the waiting room. Hope it's enough.” In his outstretched palm were two blue lollipops.
I smiled and took the pops. “It's perfect, thank you.” I unwrapped one for Lucy and handed it to her. “Food,” I told her.
Her eyes shined bright yellow as she took the lollipop from me. I opened my own and showed her how to lick it; I didn't want her to choke on it if she tried to swallow the entire thing. She watched me, then did the same to her pop. My eyes widened as I saw her tongue. It was a grassy green color, and it was forked! The doctor must have seen it, too, because I could hear him stifle a gasp. But when I saw her eyes flash a bright pink, then settle back to yellow as she kept licking, I couldn't help but laugh. At least she liked it. I glanced at the doctor and saw him smiling, too.
“So what do we do now?” Aunt Maria asked.
“Well, I'd like to try to get a little more information on our unique friend. I think I'll start by checking her temperature,” Dr. Alan answered. He walked around to the other side of his desk and pulled out one of the drawers. He rummaged around for only a moment, then pulled out a thermometer. He walked back around and knelt before Lucy's chair. It looked like he was going to propose.
“Alright, Lucy, can you open your mouth for me, please?” He was a quick learner, because after he asked, he then opened his mouth to show her what he wanted her to do. Lucy stared at him for a moment, then offered her lollipop to the doctor.
Everyone in the room laughed. It must have startled Lucy because she looked around at everyone with bright orange eyes.
“You are a very sweet, thoughtful girl, Lucy,” Dr. Alan praised. Lucy turned back to him.
“Here, I'll take that for now, Lucy. Then I'll give it back to you.” I reached over and gently took the lollipop from her hand. When she looked at me, I smiled to let her know everything was okay. She did her half-smile back.
“Alright, let's try that again,” Dr. Alan drew her attention back to him. He threw me a quick, grateful wink. I swear my heart fluttered out of my chest. “Open wide,” he instructed as he demonstrated what he wanted her to do again. This time, she nailed it. She mirrored Dr. Alan and opened her mouth. There was her green, forked tongue again.
The doctor smiled. “Good, very good,” he praised. He held up the thermometer and tucked it under her strange tongue as best he could. Gently, he placed a hand under her chin and lifted it up so her mouth closed over the thermometer. “You're doing great, Lucy.”
I don't know about everyone else, but I found myself holding my breath while we waited in silence. When the thermometer beeped, Dr. Alan let his hand fall from under her chin. He slid the thermometer out and studied the result. I saw his eyebrows rise, then he chuckled.
“What is it?” I asked. Even at that age, I knew the magic number was ninety-eight point six degrees.
His beautiful eyes fell on me. “Your friend is full of surprises.” Then he glanced up at my father. “Her temperature is sixty-eight degrees. Fahrenheit,” he clarified.
“Sixty-eight?” Uncle Henry repeated in disbelief.
“That can't be right,” Aunt Maria frowned. “Are you sure it's not upside down?”
Alan held up the thermometer. “You're welcome to take a look, Maria, but I assure you I'm reading it correctly. It's sixty-eight.” This time, my aunt took the doctor up on his offer and reached over and snatched the thermometer from his hand. She read it and frowned, but remained silent. I saw Dr. Alan smirk.
“So, what does that mean?” My father asked. He sounded tired.
The doctor met his gaze. “It means she is cold-blooded.” He looked back down at Lucy. “She's truly remarkable.”
“Cold-blooded?” I think my father was trying to wrap his head around the idea.
“You can check if you want, but I can tell you that the temperature in this room right now is sixty-eight degrees,” Dr. Alan explained.
Lucy had the longest coughing attack yet. I glanced around and saw everyone watching with concern. When the coughing stopped, Lucy looked to me. I tried to smile. I gave her back her lollipop, which she happily took and licked. I glanced at the doctor; he was watching her closely.
Before I could, Uncle Henry asked the question that was on my lips. “What are you thinking, Alan?”
The doctor glanced at Uncle Henry, then took a survey of the room and saw everyone was looking at him. He pursed his lips. “From all that I have seen and heard, this young girl has color-changing eyes with no pupils or iris, pink skin, a green, forked tongue, no heartbeat, is cold-blooded, and is apparently invulnerable to bullets shot from point-blank range. Forgive me, but I don't think it's out of the question, nor do I think I'm the only one to consider, that Lucy here may not be of this Earth.”
“Are you talking aliens, Alan?” Uncle Henry asked.
“Are you telling me that it hasn't crossed your mind, Henry?” The doctor raised an eyebrow.
Uncle Henry sighed. “I don't know what to think at this point.”
“Dad-” I began to turn around to talk to my father, but was interrupted by Lucy's coughing. It racked her body. She brought her hand up to cover her mouth. It was the first time I had seen her do that, and it worried me. When the coughing finally subsided and she lowered her hand, she stared at her palm. I glanced to see what caught her attention, and my heart dropped and shattered like glass on pavement.
“Dr. Alan, help,” I pleaded as I took Lucy's hand in my own. There was bright green liquid spattered on her palm. Immediately, Dr. Alan was on his knees in front of Lucy's chair. The next second, my father also dropped to a knee beside the doctor.
“May I?” Dr. Alan asked as he reached for Lucy's hand that I was holding. I let him take her hand, and as mine fell away, my father's hand was there to catch it. He gave it a quick squeeze. The doctor held Lucy's hand in his own, studying the liquid. He glanced up and noticed there was a spattering of the green liquid on her lips as well. Gently, he brought one hand up to her lips. “It's okay, you're doing fine,” he whispered as he observed around her mouth, then back to her palm.
“What is it?” My father asked, also staring at her palm. It looked like green Gatorade to me.
The doctor frowned. “If I had to guess, I'd say it's the equivalent of our blood,” he answered, still holding her hand. He glanced around the room, his gaze lingered on me and my father. “If it's true that she's not from this planet, then it's possible that she may be getting sick from the atmosphere itself.”
“What do you mean, Alan?” Aunt Maria asked.
The doctor explained, “If she isn't attuned to it, our atmospheric structure of hydrogen and oxygen and nitrogen could be poisonous to her system. The longer she is here, breathing it in, the sicker she is going to get.” His voice was somber, regretful.
“But...if that's true...” I couldn't bring myself to finish the sentence out loud. If it was true, then there would be no way we could help Lucy. If the very air made her sick, we wouldn't be able to save her. I felt my father squeeze my hand again. I looked to him. “What do we do?” I asked.
He looked sad. “I don't know, sweetheart,” he confessed.
Before anyone else could speak, there was a knock at the door. It startled me. I had forgotten there was a world outside that office. The doctor stood up. “Excuse me for a moment,” he apologized as he made his way to the door. He opened it just wide enough to fit his body through, blocking any view of Lucy.
“Sorry to interrupt, Alan,” I heard a female voice on the other side of the door, “but there are some men asking to see you.” There was a small pause. “They said they're from the government. They look serious.” She sounded nervous.
“Okay,” Dr. Alan mused. He glanced back at us for a quick second, then turned back to his visitor. “I'm sorry to ask this of you, Ariel, but I need you to stall them a little for me. Tell them I'm with a patient right now, but I'll be out after to speak with them. Okay?”
“Okay,” I heard her agree.
“Good. Thank you, Ariel.” He closed the door and turned back to us.
Before he could say anything, my father cut him off. “Alan, what's the government doing here? Are they here for Lucy?”
Dr. Alan's blue eyes focused on my father. “I don't know for sure, Matt, but I certainly don't have any prior business with the government. Do they know about her? Do they know that you're here?” He asked.
My father frowned. “I'm sure word of a bulletproof little girl got around after the bank robbery, and everyone at the bank knows me. If they told the authorities that I went after the girl, they would know to look for my car. And we took my car here...” he was thinking out loud, trying to work it out.
“What would the government want with Lucy?” I questioned my father.
He shrugged. “She's something new, something different, something literally bulletproof. I'm sure they want to study her.” He frowned. “I don't think we can let them have her, though. She's just a little girl, and they would turn her into some kind of...science experiment.”
“Down with the government!” Peter thrust his fist into the air.
“Peter,” Aunt Maria and Uncle Henry warned in sync.
Lucy coughed again, and again she raised her hand to cover her mouth. More of her green “blood” speckled her lips and hand when she took it away.
“What do we do?” I asked. “I don't want them to take Lucy away.” I looked to my father.
“Don't worry,” he took my hand, “they're not going to take her from us.”
Uncle Henry stepped forward. “But that still leaves the question of what do we do?”
“Ladies and gentlemen,” Dr. Alan spoke up, “I think we need to make a run for it.”
Aunt Maria looked to the doctor. “Is there a back door out of here?” She asked. I think everyone had silently agreed that we had to keep Lucy with us and away from the government.
“There is.” Dr. Alan nodded. “Follow me.” Everyone got up. I took Lucy's hand in my own, making sure to grab the one without her blood on it. The doctor opened the door and we all followed him out. We went the opposite way of which we came in, further down the hallway. It was closed off from the lobby, so no one could see us sneak away. At the end of the hall was a stairwell. We all descended down, two-by-two, to the first floor.
The doctor stopped in front of the door and turned around. “Somebody has to go out first and see if the coast is clear. If they are indeed here for you and Lucy, they may have guards posted by the exits, in case you try to make an escape,” Dr. Alan explained. I was impressed he had thought of it, because it certainly hadn't entered my mind. I saw him look to my aunt and uncle. “It'll have to be one of you. They'll be looking for me, Lucy, or Matt and his daughter.”
Aunt Maria and Uncle Henry exchanged glances. “Rock, paper, scissors?” Aunt Maria asked with a raised eyebrow. I knew she was competitive, but I wondered if this was something she would want to win.
Uncle Henry waved his hand. “No need, my dear, I'll go.” Dr. Alan stepped aside from the door so Uncle Henry could leave.
Lucy started coughing again. It was bad, a long string of them that sounded like she was hacking up a lung. I helped her down so she could sit on the bottom step. I rubbed her back. “It's okay. You're okay, Lucy,” I whispered into her ear, hoping the soothing sound would convey the message. She brought her hand up and wiped away at the green on her lips. I could feel tears starting in my eyes. She was dying. We all knew it. I wanted to punch a hole through the wall; I hated feeling so helpless, watching the closest thing I ever had to a sister slowly dying.
Before I even saw him move, my father was on his knee in front of me and Lucy. He took one of my hands in his right and one of Lucy's hands in his left.
Then the door opened, and we all turned to look. Uncle Henry had come back. He shook his head. “Alan was right. There are guards at every door.” His report was met with silence.
I looked around. Everyone looked defeated, heads hung low. I couldn't hold back my tears any longer as my eyes met my father's. “It's not fair,” I cried. The cold tears ran races down my cheeks.
My father shook his head. “No, it's not. I'm sorry, honey. I'm so sorry.” He leaned forward and kissed my forehead. Then he turned to Lucy. “And Lucy, you deserve so much better. I'm sorry,” he spoke, knowing full well she couldn't understand the words. He leaned forward and kissed her forehead, too.
I saw her eyes change to a beautiful pink, and I knew she understood what the kiss meant. I smiled as more tears streamed down my cheeks. She quickly brought her hand up as she coughed again.
“I could try to distract the guards,” Dr. Alan offered. “I can let them question me, but I don't know if it would be enough to get you all out.” He looked sorrowful. “And I don't know how much longer our friend here truly has.”
As if in response, Lucy coughed again, spitting up more blood. She didn't look good. Her pink skin had become very pale, nearly translucent. As I stared at her through blurry, tear-filled eyes, I couldn't help but think this was not the right place for her to die – in a cold stairwell hiding from the government. It was as my father had said, she deserved so much better.
Lucy turned to me, and our eyes met. “You're my sister, Lucy. I love you. Never forget that.” I nearly choked on the last words as I cried.
For what would be the last time, I saw her eyes change to orange and her head cocked to the side as she reached up to my cheek and gently touched the tears running down them. Her lip curled up in a small smile. Her eyes flashed a bright pink. Then she coughed, and I saw her eyes dim. She laid her head on my shoulder and closed her eyes.
To this day, we still don't quite know how or when it truly ended. There was no heartbeat to go off of, but her kaleidoscope eyes never opened again after that. She had passed away. My heart is still broken. She was my sister, and I love her endlessly.