Ellie was curled up hugging her knees into her chest basking in the warmth of her own body. This was something she liked to do at times like this. It was comforting. It was like a hug she could give herself whenever she needed it. There was no limit to how often and never a bad time for it. This warmth was always relevant.
She had felt it happen long before it did, but now she couldn’t hide from it. She has watched it happen with her own eyes. He had gone. The man she loved most in all the Worlds had slipped out from behind his soft green eyes and vanished forever. Her father was dead.
These last few days had been long and painful for her, but she had learned more than it was possible to count. She had seen her life mapped out like stars in the back of his fading eyes and felt his love stronger than the waves on the Gold Coast; the ones that pull at your ankles and try desperately to hold onto you and sweep you off your feet. She was drowning in it, but it felt liberating and vital – never choking or strangling. Her lungs were full of breath from it. Fit to burst. She couldn’t stem the rising tide of the “I love you” that welled inside her. So it crashed out and filled every corner of this empty room. “I love you”. The tears came like a flood. The rain lashed at the windows and whipped around the bare-winter trees.
“Come on, love” came the softest voice from the softest of people. Isabelle. The doctor who had treated him like he was whole, even when he had been in pieces was now trying to put Ellie back together too. “There comes a time when everybody has to go and we have to learn to let them,” she said, placing a gentle hand on the back of Ellie’s neck. Ellie exploded like a spring, threw her arms around the young woman and sobbed,
“It just feels so cold, without him. I can’t imagine the sun shall ever rise again or that chocolate could ever taste sweet.”
“Oh now, my love” Isabelle chuckled warmly, “we can put that one to the test right away. The Sun might have to wait ‘til morning. I’m afraid” She slipped a hand into the pocket of her perfectly white coat and withdrew a small square of chocolate. She had performed it like a magic trick and the square likewise disappeared. Of course, it did taste sweet and Ellie was soon chomping another piece. Maybe the sun would rise tomorrow after all, she thought.
The sun did rise that day and all the days that followed the long winter months in the City. Isabelle had kindly offered to care for Ellie, since there was no one else. Her bosses had been understanding and made her schedule lighter, but their patience was wearing thin and the Hospital was busier than ever.
More and more often Ellie was forced to spend her time alone and she got rather good at cooking Spaghetti Bolognese for herself. That Christmas, Isabelle had bought her an Italian cookbook, in an effort to broaden Ellie’s palette and Ellie began to consider herself the ‘Queen of Risotto’. All this fun had helped keep her mind off the death of her father and teach her to be a little more independent at the same time. After all, Isabelle could not be sure how long she would be able to care for Ellie before losing her job. She had a life of her own to get back to. This was never meant to be permanent, but Ellie’s estranged uncle had proven difficult to find.