The beach was deserted, albeit just four people.
It was to be a rather different occasion in a culture where weddings were considered the grandest of celebrations among both native traditionalists and modern immigrants. No guests attended, except from the groom’s family; no bridesmaids, best man, aisle or even a minster – stripping the stereotype completely of all that one would consider part of a wedding, but this in itself had been carefully planned. Despite her childhood dreams of this day, in honesty there was no other way Rhea would rather get married.
But as she stepped towards her husband-to-be, she could not help but wonder what would happen if her parents had been there.
* * *
The man peeled the gloves off of his dry hands in disgust, trying with difficulty to avoid the sickening smell of silicone that accompanied such garments – imperative in hospitals these days.
Hospitals. Why did he always seem to end up in them? Of course, he carried more than double the qualifications any doctor held here; but then again, it was not his fault the staff were as cowardly as to refuse a dying man’s heart surgery!
He sighed and threw the gloves into the nearest bin, pressing the button on the sanitizer dispenser gingerly.
Not that he held any sympathy for the bloke. Perhaps if he had lost a few pounds in his youth this surgery would have been a lot easier, if it was needed at all. It did indeed still puzzle him why the management here did not simply realise that. Though he couldn’t really talk, in truth it puzzled him why he himself was still tolerated here. The population of Isla Paradiso despised difference, anomalies as a cat does water; and he, at least in most people’s eyes, was certainly both of those.
The hospital staff moved cautiously around him as if he were some horrible infectious disease, and it became hard to believe that he was once one of the most promising child stars in all of Isla Paradiso. The town’s darling little genius, his young mind nurtured and mentored since the day he first walked through the doors of elementary school all those many years ago.
“Doctor Agai? Is that really you?”
And this? This was no success.
He turned his head sternly, eyebrows furled towards the boy, concluding him to be one of the head surgeon’s newest assistants; another modern medical structure he could not understand. Why have incapable interns when one could afford a properly trained PA? “What does the old goat want now?”
The boy’s own thick eyebrows crossed across his forehead hidden slightly by the thick mop of carrot-coloured bright ginger hair, so much so that they were magnified in the fat lenses of his glasses, “er… What old goat, sir?”
“You do not carry a message?” the man’s olive eyes studied the young face in caution.
Ginger dropped his head and began fiddling with the hem of his lowly pink scrubs, “No, sir. My name’s Arthur, I recognised the face that’s all. Your high school papers are really amazing! I never would have looked at chromosomes that way-“
The doctor frowned and paced quickly away. Nobody had ever praised him of such works, and he took this as a bad sign.
“Sir!” Arthur called behind him, holding out one skinny arm in a pathetic attempt to slow him, “I would appreciate it if you would, I mean, if it’s alright with you, have a look at one of my papers? It would mean a lot. I just need to finish with Mrs Aegis, if you wouldn’t mind waiting.”
The man froze in his tracks.
Not so soon, surely?
Arthur took a few leery steps towards him, “Yes, Mr and Mrs Aegis. I’d said I’d help Doctor Kallis with the maternity exam, I’m sure they’d let you sit in. Nothing serious, just an ultrasound.”
He turned towards the youth, his eyes filled with possibilities. The temptation! Simply knowing they could be just down the stairs, after all this time…
No. The news he brought was already frightening enough, at least to most people it would be. It was too early, too early.