© 2007, Duane Ertle
Published with the author’s full permission. All rights reserved.
Run, Julie, Run
The topsoil, it having been loosened by five days continual rain, became supersaturated. It could no longer support the weight of itself and remain in place. A large segment of Coal Ridge Hill began sliding slowly toward Willow Creek three hundred feet below, gaining speed as it plunged unimpeded downward. Willow Creek had quickly changed from being a placid flowing stream into becoming a long series of descending rapids.
Julie watched in amazement as the earth beside the outcrop where she stood began sliding past. Her attention had been initially drawn to the movement by a long sssssh sound as the earth first loosened and began moving. That was immediately replaced by grinding and snapping sounds as deep grown, large roots gave way, and sliding rocks and boulders began reducing everything to their lowest possible size. One-quarter of the ridge, much of it covered with large pine trees, slid into Willow Creek in a transfixing moment of time. As the mass fell downward and then slid across the narrow valley, Willow Creek was bottled up and its flow ceased. The rapids vanished, collapsing as though being deflated, into the creek bed. Julie realized the torrents of water flowing off the conglomerate of many hills would soon form into becoming a lake behind the newly created earthen dam. Once the blocked water found a source of release, a fatal wall of water, trees, boulders, and mud would sweep down the precipitous, narrow valley obliterating buildings, life and her world.
Knowing the disaster waiting for those below, she began fast-pacing herself while running along the top of the ridge. Being a quarter-mile away from home, Julie knew hers was a race against that of the intrigues of time as it competed against her will that demanding others should live. Could it be done? If she were to lose, others would pay off the debt.
Pent up, swirling waters continued their fast-pace action within the dictates of the passing moments, gorging away the soft earth that lay around the edges of the earthen dam and then at the obstructions contained in it. Minutes later and Julie could feel the vibrating earth, as the feared transformation of destruction began taking place. Willow Creek blockage gave-way in one instant, tumbling over and over itself. Its raging broad mass in form of a fifteen-foot tall wall of water mixed with grinding rocks, trees, and brown mud had been released. Down the increasing narrow valley it went with a deep, mournful roar announcing its presence, sounding much like half-dozen old time freight trains lumbering along together.
Shortly thereafter Julie found the downward trail, where at the top she accidentally fell in the heavy, slippery mud. A large patch, with her in its center, began sliding downward along the muddy trail, it holding her tight within its sticky mass. They entered into the valley opening together. The flood had passed. Its speed coupled with waters that had greatly risen, because of the valley becoming narrower the farther the waters traveled, this along with the tumbling mass, had done as she expected. A cruel giant of nature had taken an eraser and rubbed out all objects along the valley bottom, leaving the bare starting of another drawing of its own. One that consisted largely of mud covering everything, boulders and exposed bed rock. Struggling to her feet and looking further down along Willow Creek, she hoped for a sign of the five familiar houses among which she had spent the largest part of her life. There was only a long, endless stretch of brown, it all having the same color of that in which she was standing.
Even the entrance to their small mine, on the side of the opposite hill, had been vandalized by a fluke of nature, it having been stuffed shut by a large Pine tree being forced root-first into its opening. It appeared to Julie at that moment as being a tree shorn of almost all its branches, freshly painted with mud, growing in the wrong direction out the side of their hill.
Whether due to weakness because of her continued, forced running, or perhaps it was shock setting in, Julie found she was having a difficult time in getting enough air while breathing. Bending over, she took as deep a breath as possible, then fell headfirst into the thick, brown ooze. Had she been on level ground Julie possibly would have been suffocated. Providentially, because standing on an incline, when she fell, her body rolled far enough to her left that an airway was left open and she would live.
Minutes later, when on television floodwaters were seen spilling outward onto farmland in shape of an alluvial fan, someone remembered there was a small mining settlement along Willow Creek deep in the hills. Upon their being notified, men of the State Police Helicopter Rescue Squad immediately started out, first locating the valley and then flying high above in order to locate any buildings. They followed the newly formed, wide, brown road through the hills. A drizzle of rain still fell, but the low floating clouds that often filled these valleys at this time of year with their graying obscurity were, thankfully, above those searching for indications of life.
The chopper sped ever upward, watching for signs of a settlement all the way up to where they found the denuded side of Coal Ridge Hill and saw where the washed-out landslide had formed the flood into existence. Understanding what had caused the disaster, and having seen no sign of buildings, they began their return trip. They rapidly descended along the valley heading back the way they had come. The co-pilot, ever alert, when they were near the location where the small community had once existed, pointed downward saying that there was what appeared to be the form of a person near the yet fast flowing stream. The large helicopter was skillfully banked and the ponderous machine soon came to a gentle halt, settling next to where Julie lay. Two Search and Rescue men jumped out and began their immediate examination for life signs. Unable to find a visible life threatening condition about the yet living person, they hurried the mud-covered girl to the waiting, dry warmth of the helicopter. Lifting off, taking a last, careful, circling look about the area where the girl had been found, the machine rose high above the hills, moving into the lowering gray clouds, and as if by magic hurried them all in the right direction, toward the hospital twenty minutes away.
Upon touching down in front of the emergency entrance, a doctor and two nurses immediately hurried to the helicopter and assisted in lowering the unconscious form onto a gurney. Julie was firmly held in place as the trio hurried her through a wide, open sliding door and into an examination room.
Warm water coming from a short hose having a showerhead on it copiously flowed over Julie as it cleansed the heavy mud away, while at the same time the nurses removed her clothes and washed her clean. Brown water soaked the gurney and began liberally spattering the clothing of them all, but that was ignored. Housekeeping was called, and they worked at containing the mess. Julie’s long, mud filled hair was last to be cleansed. Water and mud began spreading over the just cleaned floor once again, but there were neither angry words nor resentment. They were each doing their part in order to help save the precious life of a young girl, evidently alone in the world with no one to care for her but them.
The doctor in charge was surprised that her lungs were clear. He supposed she had just barely escaped drowning, having had lived through a valley filled with torrents of water and that she was a lone survivor, but this was abstract information. He needed present facts concerning internal problems and broken bones. Things not understood at present would be sorted out later and discussed in detail to the mutual benefit of all.
Julie having been wiped dry and dressed in a hospital gown was laid on a clean gurney and wheeled off to X-ray, where bruised impact points were looked at for possible fractures. Then it was off to Intensive Care where she would be watched and her vital signs monitored twenty-four hours a day.
Julie’s first thought upon her consciousness beginning to return was her right arm hurt. She didn’t open her eyes immediately to see why, realizing at that same moment the soft, slow, steady beeping in multiple locations about her indicated she was in a high-tech area. A feminine voice paged a distant doctor; Julie knew she had been right. Turning her head slightly to the right, she saw an IV tube taped to the inside of her elbow. She had no understanding of how it was that she was in a hospital. Her memory opened up back no further than to where she had seen that everything in their valley had been swept away by the Willow Creek flood. Now reality was beginning up once again, but with her lying in a hospital bed, having no recollection as to how she had arrived.
There was nothing Julie could do but to wait and see what would happen. The large clock on the wall at the far end of the room said 1900, meaning it was 7:00 PM. She had slept through at least one day. Closing her eyes, Julie recalled the final moments of her previous consciousness. There had been the wide, brown strip of barren ground where five houses had stood, and the splashing of Willow Creek near her. While thinking of the loss, darkness crept in again and Julie slept.
Julie Becomes Jane
Julie knew the nurse was speaking to her. Awareness was being forced upon her consciousness by means of a crushed ammonia capsule. Its released, deep penetrating vapor was inhaled and Julie moved her head to the side in order to escape the acidic effect of it. At the same time she opened her eyes.
“Sweetheart,” said the lovely, young nurse, whom Julie saw by means of glancing at her name tag to be Dr. Jess, “it’s time to wake up.”
The doctor, leaning over the side of the bed, began looking closely into her eyes by means of a small light. Julie realized she was looking to determine if one pupil was dilated to a larger size than the other. If one were, it would indicate a possible concussion.
“Dr. Chandler, take a look at this and tell me what you think,” said Dr. Jess to no one Julie could see. A minute later and an elderly doctor, thin, and quick of movement, moved to the other side of where Julie lay, and began his own examination.
“What color are this girl’s eyes?” Dr. Jess asked.
“Evidently, black,” he responded in a quick, imperious manner.
“Look again, more closely.”
Dr. Chandler took a light out of his smock; similar to the one Dr. Jess was using, and fixed his attention on Julie’s Iris. “Unusual,” was his response after a few moments of silence.
“Without use of my light, I couldn’t determine the difference between the pupil and iris,” remarked Dr. Jess, looking up from her examination of Julie’s eyes then to her associate.
“I had no idea a person’s pupil could be so dark,” Dr. Chandler remarked while turning off his light.
I’d like to know the lineage of this girl,” remarked Dr. Jess aloud, mostly to herself while transferring her attention once again wholly to Julie’s physical condition. I wonder if her eye coloring has particular hereditary meaning?”
“The study of phrenology has been debunked,” replied Dr. Chandler, looking over at his associate. “Because this girl has an unusual blue iris means only they are unusual. Nothing else.”
Ignoring the comment of Dr. Chandler, Dr. Jess clicked off her own small pen light and put it back in her smock. “What is your name, sweetheart?” Dr. Jess asked while looking intently at the young girl. Julie made no reply, nor gave any that indication she heard the question.
“Do you know what I am asking?” Dr. Jess inquired patiently while watching closely.
“Do you hurt somewhere?” Still there was no response. Julie appeared to Dr. Jess as though she might be a person unable to hear or speak.
“Are you hungry,” continued Dr. Jess. Still Julie did not respond.
“We need to put a name on your chart, Honey, or we’ll have to list you as Jane Doe.” She watched Julie’s features for change before standing erect again. Nothing. There being nothing physically wrong with her they could find, the IV was removed and Dr. Jess ordered that she be taken to a private room next to Recovery, where a nurse would often look in. Upon being settled in her new bed, the back of it was raised and her first meal was brought in. Julie picked at it a few minutes, then turned her head aside and went back to sleep.
Julie remained in the hospital four days. During that time she gave no indication that she understood what was spoken, other than she would do what was asked of her. On the second day of her stay Dr. Jess asked if she would like to take a tour of their complex. Having assumed that she would, Dr. Jess knowing what a young girl would like to wear, gave Julie two new changes of clothes.
Once dressed in a new outfit, Julie looked at her slender self in a full-length mirror that was attached to the back of the door to her room. Tall as Dr. Jess, her waist-length, soft, black hair tumbled about her both front and back. Her dark, wide-open eyes contrasted in a rather severe manner with her ivory skin. Her feminine form was covered by a white blouse having a rising, oversized collar that framed her young patrician features; the bottom of which was tucked inside black jeans having a narrow black belt. The attire ended with white socks and tennis shoes. Julie noted there was no room for a smile on her youthful appearing full lips. There was no room in her heart either.
Pushing the door back against the wall, she stood before Dr. Jess, hands clasp together, hanging down in front. The doctor smiled at the unusually pretty girl and taking a hand, the two started down the long, green hallway to visit the first of many different departments.
When Dr. Jess and Julie entered a new department the free nurses would frequently give Julie a long hug and exclaim how they wished they were as beautiful as she was. Julie would look directly at the speaker, but never showed any other indication that she heard what was said. At times her silent behavior would lead someone to tell a short joke. Those present would smile or lightly laugh while watching Julie to see if there was evidence of enjoyment. None. It was questioned whether Julie might speak a language other than English, and those who knew another language would say hello to her in one they were familiar, but there was no response.
“Thanks for the welcome,” said Dr. Jess to those at the nurse’s surgical station they were visiting, in response to Julie being introduced to them. “We’ll take a quick look inside the ‘surg’ room and then be on our way.”
“They’re in session,” said the Head Nurse.
“It’s OK, we won’t disturb them,” responded Dr. Jess, and she and Julie dressed themselves in the required surgical clothing needed to enter an active operating room. Once ready, Dr. Jess turned toward the double doors and slowly, quietly pushed a door far enough open so they might enter apart from making any distracting noise.
A team of doctors and nurses were working on a patient having a surgical operation on the midsection. The brilliant, intense, white light above them exposed much of the stomach and intestines. Dr. Jess was curious how the sight before them might affect the normal stoic calm of Julie. She showed no aversion to what they were seeing, even though the patient was only a few feet away.
Both noticed at the same moment that the anesthetist was beginning to quickly cycle his attention from a monitor to his left, to controls below it, then to the patient, where he was sitting beside the person’s head. Dr. Jess was surprised. Their anesthetist had recently returned from training for the new, top of the line equipment and there should have been no confusion at all. Whatever was causing the problem, the patient showed indications of regaining consciousness. If the patient were to awaken and begin thrashing about because of intense pain – a person could only guess what might happen.
Knowing a violent scene might suddenly erupt, Dr. Jess began pulling Julie away, but instead of submitting to the request as normal, she sharply pulled her hand from Dr. Jess, and took a quick step forward to where the patient lay. Reaching out, Julie placed a hand over each temple, then gently pushed inward and held that position a moment.
The medical team didn’t know what had happened or who had done what, due to everyone being dressed the same and their faces being concealed behind a mask. Their interest was only in the sudden dropping heartbeat rate and the patient becoming relaxed.
Seeing that the patient had suddenly entered into a deep state of unconsciousness, the anesthetist looked up at Julie as she was taking a step back to where Dr. Jess stood, who was watching in rapt attention at what had just transpired. Though masked, Dr. Jess realized it was Dr. Chandler having the problem. His grey eyes passed a glance from Julie to her. The two doctors’ attention was wholly fixed on each other a brief moment before Dr. Chandler returned to his equipment. Dr. Jess knew he hadn’t been trained on their new system and didn’t belong there, and he knew she knew. For the sake of a few extra dollars he had likely made an arrangement with Linda, the trained anesthetist, so he could submit a charge for his part in an operation.
Dr. Jess switched her attention from what might have been a serious problem to Julie. How could the silent girl beside her, now watching the abdominal operation with apparent interest, place a patient in the beginnings of pain distress into a profound sleep by an act of her will?
She gently pulled Julie toward the double doors. They returned to where they had suited up, took off their scrubs, threw them in the laundry hamper and then began walking back toward Julie’s room.
“If you hadn’t helped Dr. Chandler, that patient would have become conscious,” began Dr. Jess. “Do you know what would have happened then?” She looked at Julie who was looking straight ahead, showing no emotion, no indication existed that she had been spoken to. The direction of airflow through the building was moving against them at that moment. Though light in flow, it was still sufficient to separate individual strands of Julie’s hair, causing them to partially float behind her. They seemed to Dr. Jess the only indicator of a life within.
“Could you show me how to do that?” Dr. Jess continued.
A few minutes later they reached Julie’s room, and Dr. Jess went in with her; sitting at the foot of her bed she wondered what to say.
“We still don’t have a name for your chart. Young girls entering our hospital having no name are listed as Jane Doe,” Dr. Jess began, wishing Julie would say something.
“Sweetheart, I don’t know what we can do to help you, and I don’t know who will be able to help when you have to leave.” Julie was standing by the open door intently watching Dr. Jess as she spoke, giving appearance by her attention that she understood what was being said. “We have no way of knowing your real name or where any of your relatives live if you won’t tell us, so for the time being I am going to call you Jane.” Julie, now to be called Jane, said nothing.
“I’m usually known only as Jess. People leave the doctor part off and I like it that way. It makes relationships friendlier.” She rose up from the bed, gave Jane’s hand a slight squeeze and left.
During the next two days Jess was with the new Jane much as possible. When on duty at the hospital she took Jane with her to lunch and with her on breaks. The hospital staff knew Jess was assuming responsibility, which was unusual, it being unadvisable for a physician to become attached to a patient. Social Services would be informed when Jane was to be released and they would have charge of her from then on.
The afternoon of the fourth day, after having shared lunch together, Jess and Jane were walking past surgery. Jess was considering how she would deal with having to part with Jane, when an unwelcome voice greeted her.
“Well, well,” said Dr. Chandler as they approached from opposite directions, “It’s Dr. Jess and her impaired friend.”
“Clarify that!” demanded Jess.
“You were there. You saw how this emotionally stressed girl reached over and tried to yank the mask from my patient,” he finished, looking from Jess to glaring at Jane.
The charge against Jane was so opposite to what really happened, Jess was stunned to silence while considering the words spoken, and mused during a brief passing second if Dr. Chandler could actually have meant them.
Recovering from her amazement Jess replied, “I was there! You almost lost your patient! If it hadn’t been for Jane, you would be swimming around in a lawsuit.”
“If I hadn’t pushed your china doll away from tearing the mask off my patient, it is you who would be sued for bringing her in an active operating room. I saved you and the hospital both from a major lawsuit and what do I get? Lies and grief because of this discarded ward of yours.”
“Linda has told you what you did wrong in your settings, hasn’t she?” responded Jess while looking directly at Dr. Chandler.
“Wrong! That equipment is so simple to operate even your kiddy-friend could do it,” he said with a mock smile at Jane. “It doesn’t matter about your wayward shadow now; Social Services will have her before long.”
Jess realized while listening to Dr. Chandler that he would have to be mentally unbalanced to think and speak as he was. The realization passing through her mind at that moment was that he feared being exposed for his mistake, so he was on the offensive. Instead of him having to prove he was in the right, Jess would have to prove him wrong, which thing was more difficult to do, especially when there were no direct witnesses to the event other than the three of them. Jess, not knowing if Jane could, or would repeat the feat of forcing a person into a deep sleep again, could not count on her to validate the claim that she had saved that operation. . It was possible her Jane could be an autistic girl having no sense of self-preservation.
“What have you told Dad?” Jess demanded.
“The truth,” Dr. Chandler responded. A look of contempt expressed itself on his countenance. He appeared to have complete confidence in his pre-emptive action to discredit Jess and her new ward.
“I have rounds to make, which thing you don’t seem to have time for any longer,” Doctor Chandler finished. Stepping aside the two of them he continued down the hallway.
“Better to be hated well, than despised casually,” thought Jess to herself as she considered Dr. Chandler’s provoking remarks. She glanced at Jane standing beside her, emotionally unmoved by the conversation. What would happen to her now, Dr. Jess wondered? If given to Social Services, Dr. Chandler being a physician would have direct access to her. Would he seek a perverted vengeance, or find a way to force Jane into showing him how to make a person fall into a deep sleep by an apparent act of the will?
“Sweetheart,” began Jess, while yet watching Jane, “Would you mind having a new parent?”
“Come on,” Jess said, her mind having been made up. “We have a lot to do today,” and they headed for her Dad’s office.
Jane Becomes a Child
Jess immediately went to her father and explained everything that had happened in the operating room with Doctor Chandler. She began from the beginning of them entering, how the operation did not affect Jane, and then how that Jane had saved the patient from consciousness. Jess then informed her Dad that she wanted to adopt Jane as her own daughter. Her father, being Chief of Surgery, was distressed and intensely interested in the actions and words of Doctor Chandler. Acting as an anesthetist without being qualified was a direct breach of rules – one that could merit termination. At the same instant, though, he was very interested in his daughter’s thoughts concerning Jane’s adoption, and the report of what Jane, apparently, was able to do in forcing a person to become unconscious. Jess and her Dad agreed to explore Jane’s ability later on, but the present day’s schedule constrained them to separate.
Leaving his office, the two stopped at Admitting, where Jess signed Jane out. She listed herself as being the guardian and assumed the expense of Jane’s staying in the hospital. Then they headed to Jess’s car.
Her expansive bungalow was only a five-minute drive from work. During that drive Jess had little time to form an ongoing plan of what she should do, other than to begin an immediate adoption process that would thwart Dr. Chandler were he to want to gain control of Jane.
Pulling next to the curb in front of her stylish brick house, it was but a short distance beyond the pedestrian sidewalk to the front door; which when entering through a person found themselves in an expansive, open-aired, twenty-five by twenty-five foot family room. This is where Jess spent most of her time when not at the hospital.
To the right of the door was a long, scarred oak table, having six chairs about it, which had survived through two preceding generations of her family. This, through the years, had caught her keys, books, and papers when she came through the door. Even though Jess tried to keep it free of clutter, it often held books and binders being recycled according to the immediate needs of the hospital.
To the left, halfway along the wall, were stacked multiple shelves, six feet in height that contained most of the books Jess and her parents, and her grandparents had used while in medical school. Then, further along the same wall were two, long knick-knack shelves containing small items she had collected through the years. Above her collection of personal artifacts was a seven-foot long mural showing the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius with the city of Pompeii in the foreground.
The wall directly across from Jess and Jane, had a door in the center of it leading into her wide, two stall garage. To the left of this door was an exercise machine, and to the right a brown, leather, wrap-around couch forming a large “L” in the far right corner. End tables at either end the couch held white porcelain lamps having tan lampshades. The far wall on the right side of the family room was half-room in length. On the other side of that wall was a large bedroom. The space to the far right of where they stood was an open kitchen, separated from the family room by a counter having four bar stools spread out along its length.
Down the hallway, across from the kitchen was the bathroom, it having but one door for an entrance. Then at the very end of the house, on the same side of the hallway, was Jess’s bedroom. It was large enough for her queen sized bed and two antique dressers along the wall on either side of it and still having room to spare. Her room also contained a large entertainment center along with her omni-present computer system that kept her world in order. Across from hers was another equally sized bedroom, one which would become Jane’s.
The first thing Jess did upon entering the family room, after she and Jane had looked about it, was to throw the car keys on the table, then go immediately to the kitchen counter where, over it her antique family telephone hung on the wall. She dialed an old schoolmate who was now an attorney.
“Mark,” she began immediately upon contacting him, “I need a special kind of favor.”
“Ask away,” he responded, knowing with whom it was he was speaking.
“I want to adopt a young, Jane Doe, perhaps just in her teens. I need the paper work to begin today.”
“Dr. Jess, is this you?” he asked, amazed at what he was hearing.
“I really need you to make this happen, Mark.”
“Be there in Twenty minutes, Jess,” responded her friend.
“Thanks. It means a lot, bye.”
While waiting for her friend, she turned to Jane who was yet standing by the door, her hands clasp together in front of her as was her favorite manner of standing while waiting. “I want to show you your room,” Jess said after walking to her, taking her hand, and then leading her to the ample bedroom across from her own.
“This is it,” she said as they entered. Jane moved closer to where Jess stopped and looked at the light-beige room having a lighter colored carpet. A queen-sized bed was against the far wall from where they entered, the foot of which stretched toward the center of the room. A white satin bedspread covered it, and there were matching satin pillows. On either side of the bed were lamp stands having small lamps with pink, frilly lampshades. Along the right wall was a very long, tall dresser having many different sized drawers. Along the wall on the opposite side of the room was another long dresser having a mirror running its entire length. This had tall, light-green, porcelain lamps toward each end with matching lampshades. The door to her room swung open to the right, leaving plenty of room for a vanity that was centered along the left wall. Jess snapped on the wall light. Recessed lighting along the ceiling illuminated the room with indirect softness. This feature had been installed throughout the entire house except in the kitchen and bathroom which used florescent lighting.
Exiting Jane’s room, Jess showed her the bathroom, then her own bedroom and how the entertainment center worked. Next, Jane was shown where things were found in the kitchen, and how to use the microwave and dishwasher. They had been finished but a few minutes when Mark rang the doorbell.
“Where is the lucky girl,” he asked while entering.
“Thanks for coming right away,” said Jess as she took Mark’s hand in both of hers. “I realize how busy you are.” She turned from looking at her friend to the kitchen area where Julie stood at the end of the counter, her relaxed hands clasp together in front.
Mark said nothing while approaching Jane. Stopping directly in front of her, he was surprised that she openly continued watching him so directly and did not avert her gaze.
“This is Jane, Mark,” said Jess who had followed him, and now stood beside him. “She doesn’t speak or show emotion.”
Looking away from Jane, Mark turned his attention back to his lifelong friend. “Why?” he asked, and Jess began at the very beginning of what she knew about Jane to the present. She dwelt on her fear of what Dr. Chandler might do to force Jane to tell him how a person could be made to fall into a profound sleep. Jess concluded by saying she must have immediate legal right as being her guardian until she could be officially adopted.
Mark turned and faced Jane again. She was an uncommonly beautiful young girl, evidently alone in the world and possessing a secret that someone within the medical world would seek to learn by any means.
“This one is on me Jess,” Mark said as he opened his portfolio. Taking out the necessary forms, he began filling out the legal description for a Jane Doe. He stopped for a moment and called a Judge he knew to be sure Jess could have immediate guardianship. Shortly thereafter, as he was taking different angle pictures of Jane, the doorbell rang.
“Dr. Jess?” began a matronly woman as she stepped uninvited into the room. “I’m from the Child Welfare Agency. We have been informed you have a young girl here that belongs to us.”
“I have no idea what you are talking about,” responded Jess.
“You signed out a Jane Doe from the hospital. She belongs to us.”
“My name is Mark Drew,” said the young lawyer while approaching the social worker, extending his hand in welcome, which was ignored. “Dr. Jess has retained me to file for custody of the girl in question. Legal papers have been filled out and I have contacted Judge Thompson concerning the court authorizing it. Within twenty minutes of leaving here, Jane Doe shall be the legal ward of Dr. Jess.”
“May I speak with her?” the matronly woman asked, realizing there was nothing further she could do unless there was child abuse of some kind.
Jess indicated permission with her left hand as she gestured toward Jane, who was standing by the kitchen counter yet, her hands clasp together in front of her, watching. Jess grabbed Mark by his arm and pulled him in the direction of Jane, letting him know his presence was needed.
The social worker went directly to Jane with an outstretched hand and a big smile. Jane did not move nor indicate she was aware of the woman other than watching her in her own direct manner.
“What is wrong with this girl?” demanded the woman, thinking she may have been drugged.
“She has never spoken a word,” responded Jess. “I don’t know if it is due to autism, traumatic stress or if she is physically unable to speak. Also, she does not emotionally respond to any stimulus,” she finished.
The social worker looked from Jane to Jess, then back to Jane where she looked steadily into her unwavering gaze.
“Is this true?” she asked Mark, turning her attention on him.
“I’d suggest you check the hospital records. They are the official record of her treatment and condition.”
“I don’t know what’s behind the report we received, but a Doctor Chandler inferred there was something wrong with this Jane Doe being taken from the hospital and we should take immediate possession. I am going to look this Dr. Chandler up and have him explain while in front of the Hospital Director why he has involved the Child Welfare Agency in this case.
“And as for you, Honey,” she said to Jess while smiling briefly, “bless you. I see so much grief every day; you’ll never know the light you have put into my life this day, and how much I appreciate what you are doing.
“And you don’t have to hurry about filing those papers, Mr. Drew.” she remarked while hurrying to the door, letting herself out.
“Oh, Mark, I’m so glad!” said Jess. “What if we had not filed for custody of Jane, and that woman had come in and forced Jane to go with her, and what would I have done if you were not here?”
“It’s been a privilege, Jess. You’re a real sweetheart, and I have nothing but the greatest admiration for you,” he finished. Picking up his portfolio and camera, Mark headed toward the door. “If you ever have time for yourself, give me a call. I’d like to treat you and your new daughter to the biggest steaks in town,” he said smiling, while closing the door.
Jess, happy as could be, turned toward her new ward, feeling very protective of her.
“Thank you,” remarked Jane as Jess moved toward her.
Jess stopped breathing and moving in the same instant. She gazed at the unmoving Jane as though she were a marble statue that had spoken. Her mind raced to accept that her Jane was able to speak.
“I wasn’t sure if you could speak or not, sweetheart” began Jess as she gained control of her thinking, and moved closer.
“Will you talk with me, Jane,” Jess asked, hoping she would not spoil Jane’s willingness to communicate with her.
“Yes,” responded Jane, still unsmiling.
“What is your real name?” Jess asked.
“Julie,” Jane responded.
“I’ll call you Julie then,” responded Jess as she took both of Julie’s hands in her own. The thought flashed through her mind that she must leave her immediate stress thoughts relating to Julie alone. They could be gone through at another time. “Might you be interested in an early supper now and a late night snack later?” Jess asked casually as possible, knowing that eating together was a good medium for intimate conversation.
Being in agreement, formal places were set on the long table by the front door instead of on the kitchen counter, as way of celebrating this, their first-time event. Jess was naturally excited about actually having a daughter to rear, and having properly prepared for the anticipated onslaught of Doctor Chandler, who evidently wanted Julie for himself. Events had conspired to act together for their good. While preparing supper Jess talked about how the house seemed to creak in a strong wind when it came from the south due to a large elm branch that rubbed against the eave; the way the heat did not hold constant in her oven, and other homey things in general. She was interested that Julie understood there was no requirement to enter into conversation unless she desired.
Julie enjoyed what was prepared. Instead of picking at her food as in the hospital, she ate heartily as a young person should. Worn out, Jess, having had little sleep as often happens with physicians, began having difficulty in staying awake. Although it was the last thing she wanted to do, she had to rest. Julie would have to be left to her own resources for a short while.
“I’m totally exhausted,” began Jess after the dishes were stacked away in the dishwasher and being washed, “and have to get some sleep. I still have to fill in the references from the New Grey’s Anatomy for the handouts that are on the table, but we were in such a hurry today that I didn’t bring the book home with me. Perhaps I can find a nurse that will look them up later.” Jess remarked absently, aloud to herself, while turning toward her bedroom.
“I’m going to take a quick shower and lay down for an hour, Julie. There are some interesting old things on the shelves, along with the books that belonged to my grandparents. You might be interested in them. Whatever you find to do, you are welcome to it,” finished Jess as she continued toward her bedroom to get clean clothes.
Minutes later, wearing her favorite robe, Jess glanced in the large family room to see what Julie had found. She was sitting at the table by the door, evidently helping Jess by filling in the Grey’s Anatomy references that were to be handed out to the new interns.
The first reaction of Jess was to ask Julie to leave them alone, but immediately she decided against it. Julie had enough problems in her world. If she was willing to reach out and help her, then whatever she did would be appreciated. Jess entered the bathroom and adjusted the water temperature warm as possible before entering. After a hot shower she set the alarm for an hour of rest, then settled under the covers and instantly fell asleep.
Later, wearing a chic dark blue suit for her meeting, Jess sought out Julie to learn what she had found interesting. Julie was curled up on the davenport. On the floor beside her was the open sewing basket that had belonged to her grandmother. Something inside had attracted her attention.
Hurrying to Julie’s room, Jess grabbed up a blanket and pillow then hurried back. She carefully laid the blanket over the sleeping girl, then lifting her head a little said, “Lift your head a little, sweetheart. You’ll have a sore neck if you don’t have a pillow.” Julie doing as asked, the pillow was tucked firmly in place. Then Jess lightly kissed her ward for the first time. Standing erect, she took a brief look about the house to be sure everything was in order. Taking her keys and papers off the table, she made certain the door was locked, and then headed for the hospital. Jess expected to be gone for no more than an hour, wanting to return before Julie awakened.
As usual, Jess was just on time as she entered the conference room. “Would you please make ten copies of these, Janet?” she asked a nurse standing by to assist in the intern’s tour. She handed Janet the handouts and then introduced herself to the young doctors who were eager to learn about their new world where they would be spending the next two years of their lives.
More than an hour later, being excused from a few remaining interns that wanted to chat with her, Jess picked up the original handout from off the lectern. Copies of it had been made and handed out to everyone. Not having an idea what Julie had written, she would have to explain the circumstances concerning what was written later. Jess took the handout, along with the New Grey’s Anatomy, and headed to her Dad’s office to say hello, and then drove home to check on Julie.
Julie was sitting at the table in a chair closest to the door doing needlepoint. She had found a one-foot square piece of white, heavy material and was busy forming a border of green lace. The blanket and pillow had been put away. Evidently neatness was a character trait of Julie, for which Jess was thankful.
Laying her keys, papers and book on the table, Jess pulled out the chair nearest Julie and sat down, paying close attention to what she was doing. Julie worked rapidly. She had done needlepoint before.
“Very nice,” Jess remarked while rising up and moving to the light switch, turning on the lights in advance of the darkening evening. “I planned on being home before you woke up, but with so many new interns and all their questions about getting settled in, I was running late. Then I had to stop by and tell Dad your real name. Sorry I wasn’t here when you woke up.”
Immediately Julie laid the embroidery work on the table, rose up from her chair and embraced Jess, then placing a hand on either side of her face, gently held it while looking deeply into her eyes. Jess did not move. She had no idea what Julie’s actions meant.
Releasing her hands, Julie sat down again without saying a word and continued her work.
Jess returned to her chair. To cover up her confusion of thought she began looking at the first page of the handout papers to see what Julie had written as footnotes.
Her neat, flowing style of Victorian writing covered the bottom of all three papers. The references consisted of page and paragraph numbers, along with illustration references.
“She certainly has an active imagination,” thought Jess while glancing over at Julie, then looking up the first of the references. Jess was amazed to find that Julie had actually guessed a right answer on the first one. Even the illustration figure was correct.
Jess glanced at Julie again; pleased and amazed that she had gotten it right. Then she looked up the second reference. That one was right also! Then Jess looked up the next and next. Every reference on every paper was correct!
“Sweetheart,” began Jess while staring intently at Julie, placing her right hand gently on her left wrist so she might have her immediate attention, “How did you do this?”
Silence. Julie stopped her work. She and Jess looked across the narrow space separating them. “I suppose Julie thinks the answer is obvious. She wrote it, so why answer?” thought Jess in a moment of reflection.
Jess pressed on. “In order to reference this handout, you would need to have memorized the entire Gray’s Anatomy perfectly. Have you done that, Julie?” she asked, trying to think of another way it could be done, while considering what it would mean if she had actually memorized the entire volume.
“Yes,” responded Julie, yet looking at Jess. Her soft voice having slowness to it, something akin to what a person might find in the Deep South where time is measured by different events and not so much by the clock. Julie gave no indication if she was pleased or not by the revelation.
“On page 222, how does it begin?” asked Jess.
“Gliding movement is the most simple kind of motion,” began Julie, when Jess stopped her. Jess randomly flipped a bunch of pages and asked, “How does page 386 begin?”
“The Teres major is a thick but somewhat flattened muscle.” started Julie, when Jess stopped her again. “And the last paragraph of the same page, how does that begin?” she asked.
“The deep fascia of the arm is continuous with that covering the Deltoid,” there Jess stopped her once again. Flipping more pages, she asked Julie, “On page seven-hundred fifty-seven there is an illustration, what is it of?”
“Figure four-hundred seven is that of a diagram showing the composition of a peripheral nerve-trunk,” responded Julie with no hesitation.
“This is impossible,” said Julie aloud to herself. She began again, “When did you learn this?”
“In the hospital,” Julie responded.
“You were only there four days!” said Jess in amazement, “how could you possibly memorize this entire book of more than a thousand pages in four days?”
Nothing. Jess glanced from Grey’s Anatomy to Julie and back again to the book, unable to believe what she had witnessed It had taken her years and years and she still had much to learn from the book she held.
Thinking a moment, Jess continued, “Will you show me how long it takes for you to memorize a page?” and she slid the open book along the table to her. Julie laid her needlepoint down and adjusted the book in front of her. She looked at each page a few seconds, then up at Jess.
“That is how fast you memorize a page?” Jess remarked in disbelief. “Will you do that once more, sweetheart?” asked Jess. “I’d like to time this.”
Looking once more at the Grey’s Anatomy, Julie focused her attention four seconds on each page. “Four seconds to memorize a page.” said Jess to herself after having timed Julie. “Is it possible?” and she rose up and went to her bedroom for her calculator.
Returning back to the table, Jess noted the book was closed and pushed back to where she had been sitting. Julie had returned to working on the needlepoint. It, obviously, was of greater interest to her than Grey’s Anatomy.
“Did you memorize the entire book at one time?” Jess asked, wondering if a continual concentration of that many pages at one time were possible.
“Yes,” Julie responded, looking up from her work for a moment, and over at Jess.
“Memorizing a single page in four seconds means you committed the entire Grey’s Anatomy to memory in little over an hour,” remarked Jess incredulously. She watched the unassuming young girl beside her, totally absorbed in her needlework.
Jess went to the phone and called the hospital, “Dad, I know it’s getting late, but could you possibly stop by for a short while? I think it’s an emergency.” Jess had seldom ever asked her Dad for anything in recent years. Her request brought prompt response.
It was less than ten minutes when her father rang the doorbell while walking in at the same time. Julie was still sitting at the end of the table doing needlepoint and Jess was sitting where she had been earlier, absently turning pages in Grey’s Anatomy, amazed that a person could memorize page after page of detail information so quickly and perfectly.
“Dad,” she began after briefly embracing him, “there is something you must see,” and she pulled a chair from further down the table next to where hers was. “Sit in my chair, Dad, and I’ll sit next to you,” she said, and Jess permitted her Dad to sit next to the table, each facing close to Julie.
“These are the surgical handouts for the interns. I mentioned to Julie earlier I had forgotten to bring the New Grey’s Anatomy home and I would have to do the footnotes later. I saw Julie working on the papers before taking a shower and let her help. Take a moment and see what a fine job she did,” Jess ended, looking from her Dad to Julie, who had glanced up from her work to watch.
Not understanding why his daughter made the unusual request, but believing the reason probably lay in encouraging Julie, he skipped through the references using the Grey’s Anatomy.
“Julie did a perfect job,” he announced, smiling, looking at the lovely young girl watching him. “It couldn’t have been done better.”
“I didn’t have Grey’s Anatomy to work with, Dad, and neither did Julie.” Jess watched her Dad’s smile fade to a blank expression due to the meaning of her words being lost somewhere in the confusion of his thinking.
“Then how was it done?” he asked finally, turning his attention from Julie to his daughter.
“Julie memorized the entire Grey’s Anatomy while in the hospital! She knows everything written in that book perfectly, and she memorized it all in just over an hour,” finished Jess, glancing from her Dad to Julie and back again.
Her Dad involuntarily expelled his breath, like a person does on a hot day when they wish to punctuate their meaning of hot by use of the term “whew” before they begin speaking. He wasn’t sure if his daughter was serious or not.
“Start anywhere in the book, Dad, and ask Julie to quote any paragraph from any page, or ask about the illustrations,” Jess suggested.
Her Dad looked from his daughter back to Julie, and then opened up Grey’s Anatomy. “Page fifty-seven, Julie, do you know how it begins?”
“It starts in the middle of a long sentence begun on the previous page,” Julie responded instantly, “the pharyngeal spine, for the attachment of the tendinous raphe and Superior constrictor,” and here Jess asked Julie if she understood what she was saying.
“Yes,” responded Julie.”
“Amazing,” responded Jess’s Dad.
“Ask something else, Dad. It’s fascinating listening to her quote Grey the way we would our ABCs.”
Julie quoted long paragraphs perfectly, and when asked about an illustration, she understood that perfectly also. Being asked to describe the heart, a figure which was on page four-hundred seventy-nine, Julie turned the intern handout over, and using Jess’s pen, perfectly reproduced the heart as seen in the illustration, even to the exact size and with all the detail.
Neither Jess nor her Dad spoke while Julie did the drawing. It was mesmerizing to watch the illustration come rapidly into existence with no apparent effort on Julie’s part.
“What else are you able to do that we don’t know about?” Jess asked of Julie with all seriousness.
“Were you taught to draw like that, Julie, or is it something you always knew how to do?” asked Jess’s father. He had absolutely no reference in all his years of education of ever hearing about anyone like Julie.
“It begins with the second act of learning,” Julie replied.
“Then you had to learn to draw like this?” asked Jess’s father.
“Julie doesn’t do well on questions you ask if you already know the answer,” responded Jess, quickly speaking up in Julie’s defense.
“Julie, what is the first act of learning,” asked Jess’s Dad.
“Action,” responded Julie evenly.
All the while she had been answering questions of the two doctors her demeanor was unchanged and her voice remained soft, unhurried, and clear. Jess wondered if the loss of everything she had known and loved had in some manner stripped her of a natural part of humanity. “Poor Julie,” thought Jess to herself, “she’s become a flower of the desert.”
“How did you learn to memorize so precisely, or could you always do that?” asked Jess’s Dad, now fascinated in learning what Julie understood.
“Learning is done according to action, art, acceptance, attending and attitude,” responded Julie, her attention fixed on Jess’s father.
“Is this something your parents taught you, are there others who learn the same way?”
“Dad,” spoke up Jess instantly before Julie was able to respond, “now is not the time to bring up her family!”
Realizing what he had done, and how personal questions concerning her family would bring forth tragic, unwanted thoughts, he immediately reached over and laid a hand on Julie’s. “I’m very sorry, Julie. I should have been more thoughtful.”
As with Jess earlier, Julie leaned forward to where she could briefly embrace Jess’s Dad, then held his face momentarily between her hands while looking closely in his eyes. A few seconds later she withdrew her hands and returned to her former sitting position.
Jess’s father looked at his daughter in a questioning manner, not knowing what to say about what had just happened.
“Earlier when I remarked to Julie that I regretted being late in returning home, she did the same,” said Jess as if in answer to the unspoken question.
“Is what you have just done, Julie, part of one person forgiving another?” Jess’s father asked.
“Yes,” responded Julie, her long, black hair, instead of hanging down behind as normal, had fallen as a fine gossamer tent all about her face while leaning forward to embrace Jess’s father; it being so long, ends of it lay in her lap. She continued looking at Jess’s father while removing it from in front of her.
“When you forgive a person, do you always embrace them and look directly at them?” he continued.
“Yes,” Julie replied.”
“Is there a reason for holding a person’s face between your hands?”
“To share acceptance.”
“You do this so the person being forgiven knows they are forgiven?” suggested Jess’s Dad, seeking to gain understanding of how Julie thought.
“No, the person is forgiven by words. It is to share acceptance,” responded Julie.”
Jess and her father looked at each other for a brief second, then back at Julie who was yet looking at Jess’s Dad.
“Acceptance was one of the words you used in your being educated. Is that right, Julie?” he asked.
“The acceptance you share with others in forgiving, is it by any chance also needful in your learning?” he asked; thoroughly confused but willing to take a guess as how the five points of learning might relate.
“Did you have to accept Grey’s Anatomy when you memorized it?” asked Jess, who had been closely following what Julie and her Dad were saying; thinking that memorizing must be a part of learning.
“Yes,” responded Julie, changing her unwavering gaze from Jess’s Dad to his daughter.
Taking a moment to form her next question, Jess continued, “Julie, when you accept a book, and when you forgive a person, is there anything they must to in order to be accepted?”
“If I were to open a dictionary and read the definition of accept, would that be the same definition you are using?” Jess’s Dad asked.
“It may be that the literal word definition is the same, but acceptance is, apparently, something that Julie actively does.
“Fine, Dad. How do I accept a door or a tree?” responded Jess.
“Do you accept a tree differently than a door, or are they same?” asked Jess’s Dad.
“They are separate.”
“Is everything you look at accepted by itself?” he continued.
“Jess, what if everything Julie sees is accepted, or consciously looked at? What if when Julie looks at a door, she sees an individual, specific door? A particular glass door is different from all other glass doors, and a wood door different from all others. In her thinking they may not fit into a one-word common category, as we lump them together as being all a one-kind-of-a-thing.”
“Is what Dad has said true, Julie?”
“Why do you have to accept them, sweetheart, the same as a person?” continued Jess.
“To attend,” Julie responded, now watching Jess.
A Changed Doctor
“Just when I think I’m getting somewhere the wheels come off,” said Jess to herself, as she slid the handout paper in her Dad’s direction having the five words of learning written on the back of it. “These are the words Julie gave us. After accept is attend. Anyway, we seem to be going in the right direction.”
“Attend probably isn’t wholly what we think of as attending either,” said Jess’s Dad in a reflective manner, as he thought of what a further meaning of what the word might mean to Julie. He glanced at the words on the list, then to the waiting young girl.
“Julie,” he began, “Can what you attend also do the same?”
“Is everything and everyone able to attend?”
“Have you attended Jess or me?” he asked
“Was it when you held my face and looked directly at me?”
“Did I attend you?” Jess’s Dad continued, trying to find the basis of what Julie was saying, surmising she was speaking of a particular, distinct action that had to be isolated entirely by itself in order for it to be understood.
“Then, you are able to know when you are being attended?”
“Julie, how would I know if I were attended?”
There was silence while Julie watched Jess’s Dad struggle through his thinking.
“I want to accept and attend, Julie,” he continued, “what do I have to do?”
“Accept, and then attend,” was her even response.
“First, I am going to accept you, Julie according to how the dictionary defines the meaning,” and Jess’s Dad focused all his attention on her. It was evident to Jess some long seconds later that the attend part was also an action and that her Dad had accomplished it without having needed be said. The gaze of Julie and Jess’s Dad was unwavering. Jess, yet watching them after the first minute feared Julie had bewitched him.
“Dad,” began Jess while touching him on the arm in order gain his attention and to break the trance they were in.
“It’s OK, Jess. I understand what Julie means when she accepts a person. It’s a personal, continuing action.”
Jess thought they looked like lovers totally enamored one with another. The only problem was that one was a young girl perhaps in her early teens and the other an old doctor in his early sixties.
“Jess, after all these years, I understand something in a totally new way,” began her Dad as he looked away from Julie and directly at her.
“I am so thankful you are my daughter,” he said while turning to embrace his daughter tenderly.
“All these years I’ve been looking at you as just a girl, and not as I should have, Jess, as my own daughter. I haven’t accepted you for what you, alone, are,” and for an unknown reason when he held her face between his hands and looked closely at her while speaking, the act was something that matched the words perfectly. That act, though, was so much a part of what Julie would have done, and something so totally unexpected from her Dad, that father and daughter laughed together about a same thing for the first time that Jess could recall. Glancing for an instant at Julie, Jess saw she was smiling at the happiness of father and daughter.
“It appears,” began Jess’s Dad while turning in his chair to a more comfortable position while continuing to speak about Julie’s manner of being educated, “that Julie continuously accepts everything as new. I have no idea what this does to a person’s thinking, but it may train the mind to absorb a continual flow of information. Instead of the mind coasting, everything is continually being examined.
“Her ability to accept from childhood has, evidently, allowed Julie to memorize a book with the same ease that we listen to music or watch a TV program. Apparently she does it all the time with everything about her, so memorizing Grey’s Anatomy is just passing part of her normal day,” he concluded.
“But, what happened between you and Julie, Dad? You may not realize it, but you have just had a complete personality transplant.”
“If I tell you Jess, you may not believe me.”
“After what I’ve seen, Dad, I’d believe anything.”
“Well, when I accepted Julie, I knew I was being accepted too, but that isn’t all, Jess. I could feel Julie’s mind inside mine as a distinct presence,” he finished, yet looking at his daughter who was staring from him to Julie and back again.
“Dad, this is way too esoteric for me. If any other person in the world would have told me what you just said, I’d say they were first in line as shrink bait.”
Turning her attention to Julie, Jess asked, amazed at the prospect of it, “Sweetheart, can you read people’s thoughts?”
“According to Dad, there was some manner in which he sensed your presence within himself. How is that possible?” asked Jess who was at a loss to rationally explain current events.
“It is each person accepting alone,” said Julie in her patient, soft style speech,
“So, Dad, when you and Julie had accepted one another and then began attending, what were you expecting?”
“Nothing. I realized Julie’s presence within my thinking in manner, but had no idea what exactly it was, other than I was pleased that I had openly accepted her and she had accepted me.”
“OK, I want to try,” said Jess as she fixed all her attention on Julie, who in turn was looking watching her. Jess accepted Julie as well as she knew how. After a minute had gone by though, there was nothing. Jess tried attending, or searching for a normally unperceived reality while looking at Julie; still there was nothing.
“I give up,” said Jess, looking away from Julie to her Dad, frustrated with herself. My inability to accept and attend has left me more interested in the late night snack that I promised Julie than another round of disappointment.” Jess rose up and headed for the kitchen area.
“Nothing for me, Jess,” responded her Dad as he also rose up to leave. Waiting a minute more as he watched his daughter busy with her work, he continued, “Wouldn’t it be nice having a 1948 silver, Jaguar Roadster Convertible to drive around during these oncoming, warm summer months?” he asked his daughter in an offhand manner.
Jess stopped what she was doing and looked steadily at her Dad, seeking to determine if he was serious or not. “Those are the old fashion kind of cars that a person has to manually shift all the time, aren’t they?”
“You would love it Jess. Those old cars are works of art. They have long sweeping lines, and the one I’m thinking of, someone put a leaping Jaguar on it as a hood ornament.”
“I could grind a pound of coffee in the morning and then a pound of gears later on the way to work,” Jess remarked, smiling at the new generosity of her Dad, who in the past had seldom bought anything that was not necessary.
“Well, I have to go back to the office, Jess. I wish I could stay longer,” and he went to his daughter and gave her a long embrace, then kissed her on the cheek.
“Promise that you won’t look for a favorite tree to have as a second daughter.” remarked Jess, smiling up at her father who began to broadly smile at her remark, “Trees are low maintenance and you might like it better than me.”
“You, really, have missed a concept somewhere,” he responded as he turned from Jess and went to where Julie sat. She was holding her needlepoint as though ready to begin working, but was watching Jess and her Dad.
“You are a strange treasure, Julie,” said Jess’s Dad. “I’m grateful to you for what I’ve learned.” Then, smiling, he held her face between his hands a few moments, looking intently at her before turning to the door and leaving.
Jess, looking across the distance to her ward, asked Julie if she would mind eating at the kitchen counter. She explained that deep tiredness was catching up to her. She had to have some serious sleep before going back to work early in the morning. Julie laid her needlepoint on the table and went to Jess’s assistance.
In the morning Julie got up the same time as Jess and shared the work of making breakfast. While eating at the counter once again, Jess made a passing remark that she woke up in the night wondering about her inability to accept Julie. Jess shared with her that having been so tired during their previous discussion, and finding it difficult to concentrate, she thought that perhaps the understanding of Julie’s education process could be sorted out successfully after her leaving work at noon. If that were satisfactory with Julie, they would do that and afterward spend the day doing whatever Julie wished.
Breakfast finished, ready to leave for work, Jess stood by the door; Julie was beside her to see her off. “I’m thankful you have become part of Dad and my lives, and I love …” And there Jess stopped while looking at the young girl she hoped to have become her daughter, “And I love you,” she continued.
“Julie, is to love a person what you mean when you accept someone?” asked Jess, feeling she suddenly had an insight into Julie’s root meaning of the word accept.
“No,” responded Julie while watching Jess closely.
“It isn’t?” said Jess disappointed
“To Accept is one thing only, not part of something. I accept what I do not love as well as what I do.”
“For a minute I thought I had it figured out, Honey. Why this has become such a problem for me I have no idea. If we start at the beginning it’ll probably make more sense. Right now, I have to run or I’ll be late. You know how to use my pager, use it if anything comes up. I’ll be back soon as possible,” and Jess hurried out.
Hours later, when she was finally done for the day, Jess in approaching her house found a long, convertible, silver, sports-car sitting in her usual parking spot. She noted while walking past it on way to the front door that it had what appeared to be a chrome, leaping Leopard, or perhaps it was a Jaguar, as a hood ornament.
Entering the spacious family room, Jess noted that her father and Julie were sitting where they had been the previous evening. He looked up briefly as she entered. Jess tossed her keys toward the center of the table away from where they appeared to be inspecting Julie’s needlework.
A moment later and Jess’s Dad turned his full attention toward his daughter who had stopped by his chair, being also interested in the work Julie had done. Her Dad, started to reach out toward her but Jess pulled quickly away saying, “Don’t touch me Dad; I just got out of surgery and these scrubs are filthy. I didn’t know you’d be here so I hurried home,” she finished, while backing up and then heading for a shower.
“How long till we have the honor of your presence?” her Dad asked as he watched her hurry along.
“I’m taking a long, hot shower. Then I’m going to soak in the tub.”
“How about me taking Julie for a ride in your new car?” responded her Dad.
There were a few moments of silence before Jess came out of her bedroom wearing her favorite Terrycloth robe. “I know who you bought that car for,” she replied, smiling at him. “Go ahead, give me at least an hour. And don’t you dare let Julie drive that thing, Dad. I believe you would do almost anything for your new granddaughter. Both of you be good,” she admonished briefly, waving a good-bye in their direction as she closed the bathroom door.
An hour later and the front door opened slowly. Jess’s Dad stuck his head inside to look around and determine whether his daughter was up and awake or not. He understood how much a few extra hours of additional quiet rest meant to a physician.
“Are you expecting someone other than me,” Jess asked, smiling at her Dad who was trying to be quiet. Rising from the davenport on the opposite side of the room she moved in his direction.
“If you had been asleep, we would have returned later,” he responded while opening the door wide enough so that Julie could precede him, while at the same time carrying two large boxes that were bound by decorative bows.
“I stopped to buy Julie a few new things. She said I shouldn’t do it without checking with you, but I persuaded her that you were my most favorite daughter and I could get away with almost anything.”
“How is it that Julie is able to get you to part with all that money you’ve hoarded over the years without even asking?” Jess asked in a mocking tone. She was very happy for both of them. A bond of attachment had formed between the young and old that was obviously beneficial to each.
Julie looked happy for once. Her normal, stoic appearance had softened, and her choice of dress had changed too. She was wearing a woman’s dark blue business suit, having a light cream-colored blouse beneath it. Her long, soft, dark hair fell about her shoulders and down the front in a very attractive manner. The darkness surrounding her face, her very dark eyes, and natural youthful lips caused Jess to enjoy looking at her in an admiring manner. Her young daughter-to-be looked to be almost eighteen or twenty years of age.
“Dad!” exclaimed Jess, “I do believe Julie may be illegal!” Her Dad’s eyes opened wide as he looked from Jess to Julie and back again to his daughter for an explanation.
“Julie can’t go out looking like that. She’ll start a riot. It will be Helen of Troy all over again,” remarked Jess, yet looking at Julie and feeling very contented with her.
“Your mother was beautiful like that too, Jess. She was very sweet to be with and my consolation in life. When she died the best part of everything left with her,” and her Dad looked from his daughter to Julie who was yet standing just inside the front door holding the two boxes. Jess’s Dad would have taken them but he was carrying two large bags.
“Let’s put this stuff on your bed, Julie,” suggested Jess, as she considered the two of them. The simple delight of buying Julie things she liked was a further transformation of Jess’s Dad. Everything was, apparently, no longer to be just surgery and life at the hospital.
“I would like to take Julie to the Children’s Ward today,” Jess’s Dad remarked as he set his bags on the end of the bed.
“Is there a particular reason”? she asked.
“It’s just something Julie would like to do.” Jess knew it was a normal desire for a young girl to want to be around children and learn what they could for the sake of their own future family.
“That’ll work out just right. The interns don’t know it yet, but I am going to hand out weekly schedules and tell them they have the next three days off to prepare for their next two years with us. The meeting is at three o: clock. It’ll take just a few minutes.
“Perhaps Julie would go with us. I could make a few opening remarks about how fortunate they are to be working with you, and perhaps even introduce Julie as my granddaughter.
Jess lightly shook her head in amazement as she considered her Dad and then at Julie standing beside him. It was the first time in a long while that Jess could remember that he had taken a personal interest in what she was doing.
“Julie, would you start from the beginning and tell us the manner of education?” Jess asked while they moved along from Julie’s bedroom into the family room.
Glancing up at Jess’s Dad and then back to Jess, Julie moved toward what had become her place at the large table.
“I know you like sitting by Julie, Dad,” began Jess as she sat in the chair closest to her by the table, “but so do I. If you don’t mind, I need to be the student having her attention this time.”
Once they were seated and facing Julie as before, Jess began, “You gave us a list of words by which you were taught. The words I have written down are, action, art, accept, attend, and attitude. Is this the right order?”
“I’m not good at abstract thinking,” began Jess. “All the tests I’ve had to pass were straight up and down, black and white kind of answers that I had to learn by heart. It appears there is further meaning to words that you use beyond how Dad and I understand them. Because of this, would you condense your manner of having been taught to as few ideas as possible so I can understand their meanings in the simplest terms? This is important to me, Honey, so do your best.”
“There is something of my education that I cannot tell you,” began Julie in her soft, slow manner of speech. “I say this so there is no mistrust between us now or in the future. I love both of you and deeply appreciate the open respect that exists between us, also that you have allowed me in your lives as being part of your family. What I do not tell you does not directly relate to that of learning, but what shall be learned. Should there be a time in the future when you understand what that is, remember that I accepted each of you, and left myself open to you.”
There was silence as Jess and her Dad mentally digested what Julie said. She had recently put a person into a deep sleep by an apparent act of her will, then memorized a thousand pages of technical work perfectly in just over an hour. Lastly, her understanding of one person being able to accept another had, with amazing results, transformed Jess’s Dad into becoming a new, caring kind of person. This same young girl, now to become her own daughter, sitting immediately in front of them, had directly stated that there was an unknown end value to that which they might learn that she would not teach them of. Because of the way Julie spoke of the mysterious knowledge, it sounded as though it were something dark and forbidden; knowledge capable of destroying the one who possessed it.
“In the normal course of events,” began Julie, after having focused her attention for a moment on her father as though he should know to respond to what Julie just said, but finding nothing, she continued, “I would wonder why I was here, and if there might not be something at the hospital I could be doing. Even though your warning seems ominous, if you are willing to share your life with me, I am willing to give my best shot at understanding it.
“So, if it is satisfactory with you, sweetheart, I would like you to begin at the very beginning, with the first word and why that word is there; then go to the next, right on down the line.
Glancing from Jess to her Dad, Julie began word after word to go through the list of learning, explaining words and their meanings. “Action is necessary in the first months of life. It is how the mind accepts the limitations of the physical world.
“Forces we take for granted, that must exist in our thinking, are values formed as being absolute physical law. These dominate everything during the early months of a new life. Self-weight, because of gravity, is understood as being ever present as are breathing and our normal senses. Objects soft and hard are recognized and are added to this reality, along with the consequence of movement when near them. It is this early reality of action that becomes a primary part of subconscious thought, always referred to. There are but few concepts to be learned in the first months of living. These, though, are so basic to all future existence; the Creator ordained that as the mind develops so do these concepts develop along with it as being part of the person’s thought process itself, even though it is not rationalized.
“Art is the transition language by which we begin understanding physical reality. It is a conscious implanting in our thinking of an exact meaning of what a cube, sphere and other geometric forms are. By learning how each one, exactly, is supposed to appear, when there is any deviation from form seen it is recognized immediately. Learning to draw each of these designs perfectly teaches the mind geometric reality, and how to form exact, complex structures by spatial comparison. The basis of all learning is the ability to compare. Art forms reality recognition and object comparison, similar as found in the learning of an infant by action.
“Action, and the first part of art, form the first segment of learning and are continuously reinforced. Action being the learning of reality through ongoing life experiences, and art being an individual’s open life composition that enables others to attend them.
“The second segment of learning also has two parts. It begins with accepting and passes on to attending.” At this point Julie briefly smiled at Jess, knowing that these were the words she had been struggling with. “It begins with the ongoing learning of the language of art. Art is the common reality among all people and needs no person to teach its obvious meaning as pertaining to reality. It is a language not of words, but of minds. It is as basic to sight as music is to hearing.
“Acceptance is to see what you look at with no thoughts about what it might be, other than what it is. When a young person learns to accept a cup or pencil, they are taught to draw exactly what it was that they accepted, just as they see it in their thinking. Later, a game is made of accepting by allowing many children to see the same object for a short period of time, beginning for a minute and then reducing the time of accepting little by little down to a second, after which time each must reproduce what they have accepted exactly as it was seen by them. If the exercise is kept as a game, the pictures may be compared and they will begin correcting their own accepting. In a short while they are able to recall at a later date exactly, once again, what they accepted even though they do not see it again. As the complexity of objects increases, the mind begins accepting with greater ease and detail. The Creator gave mankind an amazing gift in granting that each have a mind of their very own. It is as though this gift has been given to each person being completely unformed, waiting for the individual to structure it into doing as they require.
“The second part is when a person is taught to attend. In attending, what is attended is first accepted. The priorities formed by each person search for the reality of what is seen. It is this time of transition learning that is most important in educating a child, and is the most time consuming for the parent. At this period a person realizes why God created families with a mother. It is the mother, who spending so much time with her child that understands natural strengths and weaknesses and begin correcting and establishing what they wish their child to become. King Solomon said to train up a child in the way he should go, and when he became old the adult would not depart from it. This is true also of the mind.
“Attending is not only to what is seen. It is words and music as well. I am my own mother in a very real sense,” continued Julie while mentally putting together concepts that would express a further understanding of what the word attending meant. “She presented life as being the most precious value of our short existence, which thing I am always attending. All else remains in the background as not being as important as life itself. I attended most other things only as knowledge.
“Seeking to understand the ‘how and why’ of attitude often has no explanation. Unless forced to do what I would not, what I am is what I have most desired to become. Whether I acknowledge that or not, it is still true. The sum of my attention combined with resolution has formed my attitude, which is the third part of education.
“I exhibit attitude in everything I do. It is the sum total of myself, should a person see my character in all aspects of life. Resolution is able to change attitude but in doing this values of attending may change. It causes loss of perception due to the mind no longer focusing clearly by a single standard what is attended; but that can be overcome. The attitude that most desired is, one correct attitude all time.
“Embracing you when having sorrow or regret in which I am involved is what my personality attends. Afterward I want to know we are accepting, so I am interested how you see me.”
“But, why don’t I accept and attend the way you and Dad do?” asked Jess, still exasperated at her lack of understanding.
“People accept and attend according to their own learning. What you accept and attend is not the same as your Dad or me. I have left myself open to you to accept and attend. If you accept me as a daughter, you will not attend me the same as your Dad.”
Then Jess asked, “Julie, how old were you on your last birthday?”
“Thirteen,” she answered.
“Thirteen,” Jess repeated the number to herself, “Dad, why is it that I have the feeling as though I want to adopt a mother that has three or four earned doctorates instead of a young girl?” she asked while turning to look directly at him.
Julie the Surgeon
“The feature of your education that interests me most is the value placed on art and it’s use in training a child’s mind to perceive reality,” said Jess’s Dad.
Julie responded, “If a person is gifted in music, languages, or other disciplines, the learning of acceptance forms a perception of reality they will base their thoughts against as having universal value.”
“I believe my mind has become a flubbery, plastic sponge that is retaining nothing, Julie,” said Jess. “It isn’t absorbing what it should. I know what you have said, but these ideas need to soak in somehow and become my own thinking. If it’s OK with Dad, would you mind if we were to go over the second segment again later? As it is, for a long while now I’ll have something to wake me up in the middle of night that I can think about,” Jess finished, smiling at the strange, unassuming girl she so admired.
“Whenever you want to discuss Julie’s education, it’s fine with me. Just give me a call so I can listen too,” Jess’s Dad remarked.
“Good. Now, if we are to spend any amount of time in pediatrics, we need to be going,” remarked Jess as she looked away from Julie to her Dad in order to gain conformation.
“I have to stop by the office first,” responded her Dad. Try the Jaguar, Jess. It’s a lot of fun and easy to get used to,” and he placed the key beside her on the table; taking her car key he hurried out the door.
Jess, seeing how chic Julie looked in her new blue suit, thought it would be fun if they dressed in like colored suits and then drove to the hospital in a classic style, old-time sports car. She decided to wear her same color suit that matched Julie’s.
“The suits are similar,” remarked Jess to herself as she considered her image in the large bathroom mirror a few minutes later, and compared it mentally to how Julie appeared, “but if I were to ask the mirror on the wall, ‘who is fairest of all?’ I know which of us would come in first.” Turning away, Jess hurried to where Julie stood waiting by the door, she glanced appreciably at her, picked up the key from off the table and led the way out.
Once seated in the car, Jess was thankful to see the shift pattern on the shift knob. Pushing in the clutch, she started the engine, shifted into first gear, and then let the clutch out. Immediately the car lurched forward and stalled.
“I hate these things,” she said aloud to anyone who might have an interest in such matters. “I should have known this would happen,” Jess continued. “I can’t even get this thing going far enough so I can grind up the next gear,” she continued, frustrated because she expected to be at the hospital without delay.
“Julie,” she began, looking up from the apparently guilty shift knob to where the key was, “here’s the key to your car. It’s yours. When you’re old enough to drive, Dad will have to show you how to make it go. I’m going to call a taxi.”
Ten minutes later they were seated in the back of a speeding taxi. While driving past the emergency room in order to get to the main hospital entrance, Jess saw what looked like her own car hooked up to a wrecker. When the taxi was alongside the car, Jess saw that it had a crystal sphere hanging from the rear view mirror just as in her car.
“Stop, stop!” she shouted at the driver. Paying him as they got out, Jess hurried to a nearby police officer that was sitting in his patrol car filling out an accident report.
“That’s my car,” Jess stated to the officer whose window was down.
“You’ll have to make arrangements with the wrecker company, lady. Once a car is hooked up we have nothing more to do with it,” he stated, looking up for just a moment from what he was doing.
“That’s not my concern,” Jess continued, “my Dad was driving it, and I want to know what happened to him!”
“Took him to emergency. His face was banged up a bit from hitting the steering wheel or something,” he responded evenly while continuing his report.
Jess and Julie hurried toward the hospital Emergency Room before the conversation could go any further.
“Where’s Dad,” Jess demanded of the physician on duty as she entered Emergency.
“Been to X-ray, probably in surgery,” he responded.
“What’s the problem?” she asked, impatient to see for herself what may have happened.
“Lower left jaw, Jess. Fracture of the ramus and pretty severe contusion in the temporal area.”
“Thanks, Jim,” she responded as she and Julie hurried toward surgery. Arriving at the nursing station, Jess asked if her Dad were in yet.
“Just wheeled him in. Sorry it was your Dad, Jess,” the nurse responded.
Not bothering to suit up, Jess went through the operating room doors followed by Julie. They went directly to where the brilliant operating room light shined on her Dad, who was stretched out on the operating table. The brilliant light exposed his features in an unrealistic manner. His eyes were partially open, but there was no indication of awareness other than his taking a deep breath. Jess glanced at the surgeon in charge, about to ask his operating procedure once the anesthetist arrived. Jess saw the surgeon in charge was Dr. Chandler!
Looking at her Dad with his lopsided jaw and swollen face, Jess didn’t know how to respond to doctor Chandler being the surgeon. He was openly antagonistic toward herself and Julie, and probably in his own vengeful way, at her Dad also.
“What do you think, Julie?” she asked, glancing at her realizing, as no one else in the room, that Julie’s unusual learning made it possible that she understood more medically than all of them together.
Moving so she came between Dr. Chandler and Jess’s Dad, Julie slowly, gently placed her hands on ether temple and rested them there for a moment. Soon his eyes were completely closed and his breathing regular. “He can be healed,” Julie responded without looking away from where her hands yet remained.
Then, standing and turning so she looked directly at doctor Chandler, never removing her gaze from him, Julie said, “You have to leave.” It was a statement that the force of her personality gave which left doctor Chandler no opening but to do as ordered.
He glanced at Jess who said nothing, but was obviously waiting for him to comply with what Julie had said. Tearing off his gloves, mask, and cap he threw them on the floor and banged his way through the double surgery room doors, never saying a word.
Two interns were also present and suited up, as well as was the operating room nurse. They looked from one to the other, not having any idea of what was happening. A young girl, thought by the hospital staff to have severe learning problems, had just spoken for the first time that they knew of and told the operating surgeon to get out of the operating room. And the hospital’s chief surgeon’s daughter, also a physician, had supported her. Now the Chief Surgeon lay on the operating table with no one knowing what to do.
To the nurse, Julie said while glancing over at her, “Turn off the light, please,” and it was immediately turned off. Leaning slightly over a little more than before, Julie placed both hands at the top of the patient’s head, then imperceptibly began moving them downward.
Jess was surprised as the others at what Julie was doing. She had expected her to suit up and do something like what would be found in an Operating Procedures book. Not knowing what was being done, yet realizing whatever Julie was doing likely required a lot of concentration, Jess said to the operating room nurse, “Gretchen, I don’t want any pagers or cell phones going off near your station, and have your intercom turned off. When the anesthetist arrives, tell her she can leave and I’ll cover the charge. No one else is to enter unless one of us comes out and asks,” Jess finished while intently watching what Julie was doing, occasionally glancing at her face to be sure she felt secure in her actions.
“Yes, doctor Jess,” the nurse responded immediately, while heading to perform her task. “May I return?” she asked while passing by. Jess nodded affirmative and continued watching a thirteen-year old begin performing a kind of surgery none of them had seen before.
Ten minutes later and silence pervaded in and about the operating room. Gretchen had returned and she as the others watched in wonder as an obvious healing change appeared. Julie’s hands were half way down the patient’s face. Ahead of them at one time had been a swollen contusion in the upper temporal region. After the slow passage of Julie’s hands it was gone.
Fifteen minutes after having begun, Julie was to the swollen, lopsided jaw. The observers, yet breathing shallow as possible, watched intently to see how she was going to solve the now major surgical problem.
Julie began to hum very softly. Jess had no idea if it was to focus her thoughts by sound, or if she were seeking to reassure her unconscious Dad in some manner that things were going to turn out right. It was a low, single note without variation. Julie would stop for a minute and then begin again.
Twenty minutes later and the jaw swelling was gone, Julie’s hands resting on the patient’s jaw appeared to be moving toward the location where the remus fracture should meet and match. The interns moved closer, as did the operating room nurse and Jess.
Twenty-five minutes after having begun, Julie’s hands were resting on the lower jaw of what appeared to be that of a normal, healthy male. She asked the interns, while not looking away from what she was doing, if any fractures showed up in the pelvic area due to seat belt restraint. Being told there were none, Julie removed her hands and stood up. Everyone but Julie let out a long pent-up breath of air.
“Should he go to recovery?” asked an intern. Jess touched Julie’s arm, to gain her attention for an answer.
“He is healed,” Julie responded looking away from the patient to the intern. “If he sleeps a few hours he will awaken having no pain.”
“Gretchen, will you bring us a warm blanket and a pillow, and have someone bring his clothes from emergency to your station.” Jess requested. “If Dad is going to sleep anyway, have communications put back to normal, but I don’t want anyone disturbing us.”
“Yes, Doctor,” she responded, hurrying to fulfill her orders once again.
“May we remain?” asked an intern of Julie while removing his gloves, mask, and cap that had been unneeded. They were in a remarkable theatre of operation and wanted to watch it to the very end.
In her usual, searching manner she looked from one to the other. “Yes,” Julie responded.
The intern asking permission to remain hurried to the waiting room and returned with a comfortable chair for each Jess and Julie. Both being emotionally weary, gladly accepted the offer.
“Thank you,” responded Julie in her warm, comfortable manner of slow speech, while beginning to smile. The other intern watching Julie wished he had thought of the chairs first. There being no more individual chairs available, the young interns jumped up on a nearby gurney and began the two hour vigil.
“You are Dr. Andrew, is that right?” Jess asked the intern who had brought them the chairs.
“Yes,” he responded, pleased that she remembered his name.
“The first weekly schedule for interns should be on the conference room podium. It becomes active one week from today. Till that time everyone is free for three days. Will you please have Janet post that as a notice on the door? I won’t be there.”
Dr. Andrew immediately left to do as Jess requested. He soon returned with a schedule for his friend. Then jumping up on the gurney again, they continued waiting.
At the end of two hours Julie rose up and looked down at Jess’s sleeping Dad. She laid her hands on either temple and held them there. He opened his eyes, looking straight ahead. The first thing he recognized was Julie, who was leaning partially over him, her long hair framing her lovely face, falling round about him also, ending somewhere out of his sight. At the edge of his field of sight he saw Jess watching him. Wondering at the strange event, he looked about and saw Gretchen and two interns, and realized he was on the operating table in his own operating room.
“Why am I here?” he demanded of his daughter as he swung his head slowly back in her direction.
“You were in a car accident, Dad,” she responded while smiling in a comforting manner, “and Julie has put you back together.”
He looked up at Julie again, then back to Jess. “What was the damage?” he requested.
“Severe contusion left temporal area, and a broken left remus,” replied Jess.
He felt his upper left temporal area and then put both hands to his face. There was no pain and no swelling he could feel. When he worked his jaw there was no hesitancy in its function.
Had he not awakened on the operating table in his own operating room, he would have laughed at them. “I feel fine,” he responded lamely, realizing something unusual must have happened, but having no reference as to how he had gotten where he was, he was at a total loss as to how to argue his present position.
“Trust me, Dad, you weren’t feeling fine a while ago. Wait till you see your X-rays. But not now. We’re taking you home where we can watch you for a few days.” continued Jess while taking up a bag, “Here are your clothes. We’ll wait for you at the nurse’s station,” and everyone turned to leave. The same intern that had thought of bringing Jess and Julie comfortable chairs in which to sit hurried to return them.
“Do you see what the attitude of that young man is doing for him?” Julie asked Jess as he hurried through the double doors carrying the chairs. “It is making him a great doctor. He attends more about serving than to be served.”
Jess was suddenly interested in Julie’s understanding of Dr. Andrew’s actions. It was a perfect example of a person having a desirable attitude, that was of benefit to the person having it, because of what they attended. In that instant part of what Julie had taught her began making sense. She saw and understood a person becoming what they truly attended.
Because Jess and Julie were conversing outside the operating room, the nurses did not interrupt to offer condolences. A few minutes later when they saw Jess’s Dad come out of surgery having no apparent injuries, the attendants at the station came near having open-mouth lockjaw. The hospital’s Chief Surgeon, having his daughter on one side and Julie on the other, walked out of surgery.
Jess’s Dad took a month vacation beginning that day, and so did Jess. He was installed in Julie’s other guest room, even though he protested well as possible to the two he loved most that he was perfectly healed. He was at a loss as how not to do what Julie desired, especially once he had seen his X-rays. Knowing that she had a medical ability he did not understand, when she asked that he lie down and rest that is what he did.
He stayed with them two weeks, during which time he grew to appreciate his daughter more and more, spending long hours with her, telling of the interesting places and things he and her mother had seen, and about interesting surgical cases he had worked on. Often he would glance to where Julie sat, filling in detail on her new needlework, becoming more and more drawn to her quiet demeanor as the days passed.
Mid-morning of the first day of the third week of their vacation, Jess was bringing her new car home to show her Dad and Julie. They were going to spend time together at the ocean, and she wanted to drive. When Jess pulled up to park in her normal spot, there sat the old Jaguar with her Dad sitting in the passenger side. Julie was coming out of the house. She hurried to where Jess’s Dad sat and handed him a bag.
Jess quickly went to the Jaguar to find out why it was out of her garage, and why her Dad was sitting in the passenger side of it as though Julie were going to drive. She knelt beside the low car so she could look directly at her Dad while speaking with him.
“What is going on, Dad?” she asked.
“We have invited our minister and a young attorney that my daughter likes especially well to join us at the ocean. Julie and I are to be married on the beach this evening during the sunset. Your bags are all packed and sitting just inside the door. When the attorney arrives to go with you, his name escapes me but I think you’ll recognize him – have Mark carry your things out. Attorneys don’t get much exercise in their line of work. Julie said your friend is buying steak dinners later, so don’t be late.” her Dad finished.
Jess looked at her Dad, not believing what she heard. It was a joke. It had to be. She waited for him to broadly smile showing that all the while he was teasing her. He didn’t.
“There is something wrong, Dad. Did you say marry Julie? Dad, Julie is uncommonly beautiful, but she is thirteen and you are over sixty. Do you have any idea of what you are saying? If you marry Julie today, tomorrow you will be in jail! Julie is thirteen Dad,” Jess ended, too amazed to think.
“It’s worked out just right, Jess. Julie will be fourteen February twenty-ninth,” he stated, as though an added year would make a great difference.
“If she turns sixteen February twenty-ninth it won’t …” and then Jess stood straight up, looking directly into the eyes of Julie who was standing beside her, listening to their conversation. Jess began, “That means you are …”
“Yes, sweetheart, I am,” responded Julie, putting her hands to either side of Jess’s face, looking intently at her. A few seconds later her hands slid downward as though she regretted having to leave. Turning away she hurried to the drivers side of the Jaguar, slid in and started the engine. The two of them briefly looked up at Jess and smiled. Julie put it into first and drove off, shifting into the next gear a moment later as would a race car driver.
Sasindu Jayasri is an Engineering student at Faculty of Engineering, University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka.