Chapter 3: The Dawn
The following morning, River was upset with herself for not getting the “Non Disclosure Agreement” signed by Lucca. Now he was free to speak about the strange woman he found in the forest. He just left so quickly and it was without warning. One minute she spoke of her story and her husband and the next he was gone. She remembered he said he wanted to return. She would have him sign it then, hopefully he did return.
The thought of him returning was conflicting to River, she knew the risks. If they were caught they would be in serious trouble. But she would be even more so. The government would probably investigate her whole life and that included her late husband- who he was, that he had lived a lie, and they had married. She thought that maybe he would forget about her, maybe get too scared to say anything once he went back to normal life.
The thought of never seeing Lucca again, however, made her feel sadness. The sadness intensified when she thought of living in this home alone for the rest of her life. Lucca was not the first person she had seen since winter began, she still had to go to town for supplies and to visit her sister and brother. But it had been the first person in a long time that did not judge her for her old ways or make her feel outcasted.
The day was not as bright as thick gray clouds hung low over the coast. River decided it would be best to get out of the house and walk to the nearby beach. The day might be gloomy but the sea always provided her comfort. She loved living where she did, the forest and ocean meeting in a heavy battle. The trees are always searching for more land while the ocean's waves wash it away. It was beautifully chaotic. The emerald of the trees and the blue of the ocean reflected the beauty of nature.
She could see remnants of the old world littered in the forest as she walked a path from her front door down to the hidden sandy beaches. Those that lived long ago once ran out of space, damaging the now returning forests. They built on top of everything trying to gain more and more space for the ever-increasing population.
In today’s world at birth, you were given a randomized life. You followed your parents in whether you lived during the day or the night, but this life you were given from day one told you how many children you could have, when you could start having children (if any), when you could get married, and whether or not you would go to college. I had been fairly lucky. I had been chosen to go to college, to have 2 children, and to start in my early 30’s. I had to petition to change my marriage age because I had originally been scheduled for marriage at 32. But I wanted Alex earlier than that, so I petitioned to change my marrying age to 20. I was granted my request.
Alex had told her that in the olden days, there was no limit to anything. Only for drinking and smoking- the ancients couldn’t do that until they were 21 years old. But due to the clogged cities and towns, the old world committees agreed there needed to be limits.
She wondered how different life would have been then, able to choose to love whomever you want, choosing to live your life how you wanted.As she reached the waves she could hear the calls of seagulls- at one time almost extinct- in the distance. She took a few deep breaths and filled her lungs with the salty morning air. River sat on a large piece of driftwood and watched as the waves rolled in and backed out, she wasn’t sure how long she sat.
Lucca had been unable to get River out of his mind. Since he left her home just a night and a half ago, he had reels of their encounters spinning through his mind constantly. He tried going back to living a normal life upon his return. He found his Haloglass and slipped it onto his head and followed up on the hundreds of missed communications he had missed. Notifications had spilled in, almost overwhelming of all the friends and family that had tried to reach out. He told no one of the strange woman in the forest and instead said he had been lost until a Night Warden found him and returned him to his vehicle.
He went to a party on the first night of his return and the once fun-filled glamorous evening full of booze, drugs, women, and dancing suddenly turned sour to Lucca. He left early blaming exhaustion for the reason of his disinterest. Once he returned home he took off the Haloglass and left it on the counter of the tiny kitchen. He laid on his bed staring at the small city that lit the night sky up from the panoramic window of his bedroom. Even though people had been regulated, the population still packed the small town.
He had been chosen to go to college, marry by 25, and have 1 child. He had matched with his wife who had the same future as him. He remembered laying in this same bed with her, his wife the most kind person he had ever met. Arabelle was beautiful for a Night Crawler, she had deep black hair which was almost blue, her midnight black eyes were large and full of life, and she had skin like a pearl.
They got married at 22 and she had been told that she was scheduled to have children in her late 20’s. We waited patiently as her 27th birthday came and then tried to have our child as soon as we could, but then she was 28, and then she was 29. It seemed that no matter what we did, we couldn’t get pregnant. We went to specialists and to thousands of doctors appointments- and yet, no amount of pills or shots helped her obtain our dream.
Days before her cut off, her 30th birthday we found out she was pregnant! The joy on Arabelle’s face was contagious and I was so happy! A baby that we had always wanted, the only one we could have! A physical representation of us.
Arabelle was 18 weeks along when she had the anatomy scan, we knew it was a little boy but this was standard practice. Plus it was our first chance seeing our little boy in the new 5D technology where we would be able to see inside of him to make sure everything was developing correctly. I was going to meet her there as I had to work at the law office that day.
As I walked from my office building to the hovertrain, my hologlass rang. I answered, expecting my wife on the other side. “Sir?” I heard a male voice say.
“I’m sorry?” I couldn’t comprehend the male voice on the other side of Arabelle’s hologlass. “Who is this?” I ask him.
“Sir, this is Lieutenant Brown of the Lincoln City police department. Your wife was in an accident and she is currently at the Rosewood Hospital.” I received a GPS location and an accident report to my hologlass. They must have had many people deny that it could be their loved ones so they automatically send out reports.
“No, that’s impossible. Arabelle is on her way to hospital. You must be confused sir.” I press this scenario onto the cop on the hologlass with me. There was no way it could be Arabelle, she was safe, our baby was safe.
I received an image in my hologlass on a woman that was nearly unrecognizable. Her black hair had been singed by a fire, black smoke streaked her white skin like wet snakes, old blood was caked around her mouth and nose, a cut around her forehead still had fresh blood pumping from it. The bruises distorted her face as did the unnatural angle of her neck.
“No!” I screamed. I fell to my knees on the station of the hovertrain. “No!”I screamed again. I don’t remember much after that. I blacked out and found myself in the same hospital as my now dead wife, but in a different wing. I got up and started pulling wires from my arms and face, alarms began to ring and nurses flooded my room.
I couldn’t hear their words, I couldn’t understand their pleas, I needed to find Arabelle. They had given me a medication that calmed me down and made me sleepy again. Only remembering the sound of alarms and nurses yelling as I once again fell to my knees and collapsed. I woke again, the sun was shining and my eyes were pierced by its offending rays. I closed my eyes again, making myself sleep to forget the pain and to forget the cause of the pain.
A nurse shook my shoulder and her eyes held sadness and pity. She was silent but laid a blue teddy bear on my chest. It was heavy like it felt a few pounds heavier than a normal stuffed bear. “For your son.” She patted the bear on my chest and walked out of the room. Realization hit me like a tornado, fast and ripping me to shreds. My son was gone too, I had not considered his little forfeited life because of his mother’s unfortunate demise. Tears leaked from the corner of my eyes and flooded the pillow beneath my head.
The grief of my loss had me gone again, this time my heart breaking entirely into thousands of small pieces. When I had awoken again it was two o’clock in the evening and a nurse was in my room, checking my vitals. I realized she was only a bot and not a human nurse like the one who had been in earlier. “Where is my wife?” I asked the robotic nurse.
She cocked her head and studied me a moment, “She is in the morgue, level one of the hospital, locker number #548.” She smiled a pretty smile like her words were the best news I could have heard that day, “Your son is also in the morgue, level one of the hospital, locker number #549,” She blinked, turned robotically, and left me in my misery.
An hour later another nurse, a human this time came into my room with a wheelchair. “Come Mr. Savino, it’s time to identify your wife.” I transferred myself into the wheelchair, my IVs coming with me, they must have put some anti-anxiety medication in me because I did not feel the dread I thought I would. The weighted blue bear in my lap.
It felt like miles had past and thousands of overhead lights had flickered past my head as I braced myself to see my wife. The last image I had of her was burned into my brain, I could see her limp form on the street as blood crusted across her face. We finally turned into a white room guarded by silver metal doors. I saw thousands of big metal drawers, realizing that bodies filled those drawers.
Two drawers had been pulled prematurely and two beds were settled at the end of the long white room. One had a body shaped lump underneath a white sheet, while the second table had a little indistinguishable lump under its white sheet. No one said a word as the doctor pulled the white sheet back on my wife’s face, she had been cleaned up and the gash across her face had been sewn closed. That woman looked like Arabelle but not quite, the woman was lifeless and cold. Not the beautiful warm soul that was his wife. I would have cried at the sight of my beautiful wife, but all the tears had been spent. I only nodded my head in confirmation that the body laid in front of me was Arabelle.
The doctor asked if I wanted to see my son. He warned he was very underdeveloped at only 18 weeks along. I nodded again. I watched as he pulled the second sheet back. My son was so little, only a pound, his skin was translucent and you could see his blue veins as they stretched across his little body. But he has thin, black hair so dark it almost had a blue hue under the lights, just like his beautiful mother. My heart shattered into a million pieces. “My son, my little love. Papa loves you very much.” I took a gentle finger and touched the fine downy of his hair.
Would you like to name him?” The nurse asked me. I hadn’t thought of that. This little baby had no name. We had discussed a few names but we thought we had time to choose. Arabelle had wanted to name him “Arin” after her brother who had passed as a child from a freak accident. And have him take my middle name.
“His name will be Arin Prescott Savino.” My voice cracked, dry tears clogging my throat. My heart felt like its beats were slow and thick with mud. “My beautiful baby boy.” I kissed my index finger and brushed it across a very fragile cheek.
I got up from my wheelchair and the nurse and doctor tried to pull me back. “I want to kiss my wife goodbye.” Their grips loosened and the nurse nodded and helped me collect the wires and nonsense that dripped around me. I stood next to Arabelle’s side and put my hand on her cheek.
She was cold, her skin felt like ice. Her lips were slightly blue but I couldn’t leave her without one last kiss. “I’m sorry baby. I’m so sorry.” I leaned down and kissed her forehead. I leaned further and whispered into her ear. “His name is Arin Prescott. He looks perfect. You did a good job baby. I love you to the moon and back.” I kissed Arabelle one last time, wishing that my life would leak into her and bring her back.