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Maria (standard:other, 911 words)
Author: rmarstonAdded: Aug 06 2010Views/Reads: 2788/0Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
“Where is Maria?”, he repeated, as one of the ladies approached him nervously. Her expression could not be masked as she fixed her eyes on his. “She was taken to the hospital this morning…she fell…she has not yet regained consciousness…we tried to send

Maria – Part 1 

The children were excited. His visits to the orphanage were special
occasions for them which they treasured.There were so many good things 
to eat, such wonderful music and, always, pretty packages for everyone 
each time he came. And “Papa”, as they called him, came often, as he 
had promised, though now he came alone. This home was once his own, a 
rambling old country mansion nestled in a secluded setting well away 
from the town, surrounded by wildflower-dotted fields and groves of 
shade trees – an ideal place for small children to play, as he and his 
wife had decided long ago. When she died he donated everything, as he 
told her he would, to be used as a replacement for the crumbling 
orphanage in the midst of the poorest part of town. The dedicated staff 
and thirty young orphans moved into their spacious location with tears 
and smiles expressing their unbounded gratitude for the generosity of 
Mr. Edwin Miller..”Papa”. Tonight, as he fondly observed the children 
gathered in the large sitting room: shy Timothy in his secure spot by 
the head matron, Nellie; Annie, close beside the piano she loved to 
hear someone play; Scottie and Billy, side by side, inseparable as 
usual, he became aware that one was not here. “Where is Maria?” Of all 
the children, Papa Miller and his wife had felt drawn to this tiny girl 
since their first visit years ago. A sturdy blond-haired lively child 
of Russian descent with teasing eyes that twinkled, yet held a secret 
sadness that troubled them, all at the same time. She had won their 
hearts immediately with her open friendliness and exuberance. English 
was gradually replacing Russian words but not her accent which charmed 
those who heard it. “Where is Maria?”, he repeated, as one of the 
ladies approached him nervously. Her expression could not be masked as 
she fixed her eyes on his. “She was taken to the hospital this 
morning...she fell...she has not yet regained consciousness...we tried 
to send you a message...” He spoke quickly then. “Pauline, what 
hospital is she in?” At the name, he nodded. He knew it well. Less than 
three years ago his wife had died there. 

The receptionist greeted him warmly, respectfully. Though his
contributions were always given without fanfare or publicity most of 
the staff as well as the administration knew of them. His caring nature 
was endearing in it's modesty. At her call an attendant came to lead 
him to the children's ward. Before they went in she informed him that 
someone was there at the moment but he might enter if he chose. Two 
individuals stood by the bed where Maria lay. One, a nurse, spoke 
quietly to the other, a woman, who listened though never taking her 
eyes off the still figure before her. Turning, the nurse recognized Mr. 
Miller at once and reiterated for his benefit what she had been 
saying.She confirmed that the doctors at this time were making a 
guarded statement. The situation seemed critical but slight signs 
indicated some reason to hope. He shifted his gaze to the woman. He 
noted the clean, but very worn, almost threadbare, clothing, her tired, 
pale appearance. ‘Mr. Miller,” the nurse said at last, “I think you 
should know that this is Maria's mother.” The woman reached out her 
hand. “I am Elena. I know you. You do not know me but that is as it 
should be. I gave Maria to your home because I could not care for her 
no more..I am not well. I should be not seeing her again I know but 
your people are so good, they called me. Please do not be angry with 
them.” The sadness in her eyes caused him to assure her he could never 
be angry, that he would have been if they hadn't. Something about her 
sadness reminded him of the same look in Maria's eyes. He wanted to 
speak to the office manager, he told her, but would like to talk with 
her later. Would she be willing to accompany him to a nearby restaurant 
where they might eat something?  It was past dinner hour and she must 
be as hungry as he? She agreed readily, as he thought she would. By the 
end of their meal sometime later he felt his suspicions were correct. 
despite her anxiety at the hospital, and her obvious efforts to show 
polite restraint, she ate as though famished, catching herself in 
embarrassment several times to apologize for her lack of manners. A 
rare smile enhanced the strong nobility of her face. She had once been 
very attractive, he thought. She confirmed this unknowingly when she 
divulged the events that brought her to this country from Russia. Her 
beauty so attracted a young soldier stationed there that he persuaded 
her to return to America with him. They were she thought.. 
in a ceremony that proved invalid later. When Maria was born he left 
her. Abruptly she rose to her feet. “I must go now, I think. I have 
taken too much of your time. If I don't see you again, I want to thank 
you for this kindness.” He let her go, choosing not to offer her a 
ride, fairly certain she lived in the shabby apartment building not far 
from the hospital. However, he intended they would see one another 
again...there was Maria. after all, and there was more to Elena's story 
he wanted to know.


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