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|Maria (standard:other, 911 words)|
|Author: rmarston||Added: Aug 06 2010||Views/Reads: 2596/0||Story 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 married..so 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. Tweet
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