Beep… Beep… Beep…
This was the only sound that comforted me at the moment. The beeping of a machine that indicated my daughter's heartbeat. It was too slow. I knew it was.
I hadn't taken my eyes off of her since they'd wheeled me in. She's so tiny that I could literally see her heart thumping frantically in her chest.
I hadn't even had the chance to hold her. As soon as she'd been born they'd taken her away. I'd never seen doctors run before. Even on those hospital shows where they're wheeling people in from a helicopter, there's never anything faster than a jog. But they were running with her. But during all the chaos, all the shouting and metal clanging and feet pounding there was one thing that stuck with me. It was the lack of noise from her, she hadn't even cried.
I was the only person in this intensive care room. My little angel lying on her back in the incubator with a dozen wires and tubes attached to her tiny little body. There weren't even any of those rubber glove wholes in the sides of the clear plastic box. There was no way for me to touch her.
John had been speaking with the doctors for as long as I can remember. But I didn't want to hear what they said. I didn't want to listen to what they had to say. Not when my fragile baby was lying here alone, helpless. I wish there was a way that I could save her. I'd do anything…
"Hello, baby girl."
The softly spoken words made me jump. I hadn't heard the door swing open and I certainly hadn't heard it swing shut. I turned my head to find the source of the voice but instead of seeing a kind looking nurse as I expected, I saw her.
I had no clue who she was but I distinctly remember wondering how someone could have such a soft expression when everything about her just screamed… darkness.
From her dark complexion and hair to the utter blackness of her eyes. After the word darkness had vanished from my head the next word that came to the front of my mind was beautiful. There was no questioning it; this girl was so beautiful it was almost unnatural.
She hadn't even glanced at me; all of her attention was focused on my baby as she walked up to her and gazed down at her with the same expression that appeared softer than a cloud.
"How are you doing, angel?" she spoke to her quietly, before snapping her fingers and creating a flame which she held up to the cigarette that had suddenly appeared in her mouth.
"Hey! Don't smoke in here! My daughter's ill!" I screeched as she took a huge drag of the stick in her mouth. She shouldn't be smoking anyway; she couldn't be much older than seventeen as it was, what would her parents think?
Her eyes snapped to me then, as if noticing me for the first time. Her mouth opened and the smoke she's just inhaled came oozing lazily out.
"It won't make much difference now." She spoke in a matter of fact tone. "She's got about five minutes left, ten at most." She informed me, but got rid of the cigarette anyway. Don't ask me how she did it, she just crushed it in her palm and it was gone.
She turned back to the incubator, her expression changing back to one of adoration. Why was she looking at my baby like that? Wait, what did she mean five or ten minutes left? Who was this girl?
"Listen whoever you are; I really think it's time you leave. You aren't supposed to be here." I tried to sound as strong as possible, but it was hard when I was so scared beyond measure. I glanced at the door to see if anyone had heard my screech from earlier.
All I could see through the window was a man with a platinum blonde Mohawk pacing back and forth in front of the door. His hair was a shocking colour in contrast to his dark complexion.
"It looks a little cramped in there, doesn't it baby?" my attention snapped back to the girl who was cooing at my daughter.
I was about to tell her to leave again when she lifted the lid up to the incubator. "Hey! Stop it!" I yelled trying to wheel towards them, but my wheels seemed to be jammed.
I could do nothing but watch in panic as she reached into the little box and extracted my baby, the various wires and tubes seemingly melting away from her until the tiny baby was cradled in the stranger's arms. The mysterious girl now appeared to be glowing as she smiled down at my daughter.
"Isn't that better? You're so beautiful Britt-Britt." The girl cooed, swaying gently back and forth as her arms cushioned the little girl. She bent forward and pressed the tip of her nose to the baby's head before breathing in deeply, dark eyelashes tickling my daughters head as the girls eyes closed.
"What did you just call her?" I asked, I wasn't sure why this question seemed so important compared to all of the others floating around in my head but this was the one that tumbled out of my mouth as I watched this strange girl hum a soft melody to my daughter.
"Britt-Britt – short for Brittany, that's her name isn't it." It wasn't a question.
"We haven't named her yet." I croaked out.
"No. You're foolishly waiting for her to die as a nobody, nameless. But you were going to name her Brittany, weren't you. Before the accident." She didn't take her eyes off of Brittany as she said this. She was right; we were going to name her that before she was born prematurely after the car accident, before her life hung so frailly in the balance.
The memory of the car crash came back to me in a flash. We were driving along a seemingly empty, narrow road when – out of nowhere – a white dog the size of a wolf shot out in front of the car, causing John to swerve and me to go into early labour. Three months early.
"How do you know about the car crash?" Seriously, who was this girl holding my daughter before I had even got the chance?
"It had to be done. I had to get here before they did. Besides, you wouldn't agree to my deal if she wasn't in danger." She still wasn't looking at me; it was starting to freak me out. How could someone look at a baby with so much love and adoration when it had nothing to do with them?
"What deal?" I was suspicious to say the least.
"Let's cut to the chase, Susan." How did she know my name? "Brittany is going to die in about two minutes. If you want to save her then you'll have to promise me that once the clock reaches midnight on her seventeenth birthday that you'll give her to me."
"What? Why would I do that? Why do you want her?" I couldn't believe this.
"Because she belongs to me. You'll have her for the first seventeen years of her life because I want her to grow up in a well adjusted family and I don't want her to know me until the time is right. But after that, she's mine. You'll have to make your decision soon. Have her for seventeen years, or not at all."
She was directly in front of me now, stood towering over me, urging me to give her an answer. She couldn't be serious. But was if she was? I couldn't risk losing my daughter. It was obvious that she was on deaths door. Could I willingly watch her die?
"Okay. I accept the terms of your offer." I was looking straight into her eyes and watched as they filled with utter joy at my words.
She nodded in acknowledgment of my acceptance. I watched as she slowly walked back to the incubator with my peaceful baby still tucked away in her arms. She held her for a moment, smiling, before slowing tilting her head down towards my daughter.
I couldn't move as I saw her lips press softly against the parted ones of my fragile baby. There was a light, starting off as a shallow glow and then turning into a blinding white light resonating from where their lips met. Then as soon as it started, it had ended again but both were left glowing.
Then, as gently as she'd been picked up, the now glowing little girl was placed down, by a smiling young girl, who looked just as innocent as the baby she was smiling down upon.
The doors opened then, but when I looked it wasn't to find a concerned doctor coming to check out what the commotion was, but the same boy with the platinum Mohawk who I had seen earlier, his expression was hard. He walked up to the girl and held his hand out to her. I couldn't see what it was that was exchanged but I saw the girl gently place it into the incubator next to Brittany before caressing her cheek softly with the back of her hand.
"That's her, Puck. Isn't she amazing?" the girl's voice was dreamy as she spoke to the boy stood next to her. His stoic mask of indifference softened into a smile as he too looked down at Brittany. His only answer to the girl was to place his hand on her shoulder and squeeze it before slinking back to the door, completely ignoring me.
I looked back at the girl in time to see her bend down and whisper something next to a tiny baby ear. She then straightened and closed the lid to the incubator.
"Bye, my little Britt-Britt."
And then she was gone and I could move and the next thing I knew I was directly next to my daughter. It was like nothing had changed. The wires had returned, her heart was still thumping away and she looked as peaceful as ever.
I would have been able to convince myself that nothing had happened if it wasn't for the little cuddly toy that Brittany was clutching with her small fist. The tag said: To my Brittany, Love Santana x.
Upon closer inspection of the toy my heart stopped. There it was, linking two awful incidents together in an unbreakable bond. My daughter was innocently lying there cuddled up to a white fluffy wolf…
And then she began to cry.