Walking down the corridors of the Gemini, Samantha held her mother’s hand with her right and clutched her most precious possession, the doll she had gotten for her birthday, to her chest with the other. As the two journeyed towards the ship’s hospice ward, Samantha noticed a lot of the people wearing a black armband with a series of red dots running along the center of it. The child looked away from the metallic corridors of her home and to her mother’s own left arm and saw that same band there. “Mommy, why are so many people wearing that armband?”
“Why don’t I have one?”
With a sorrowful smile, Casandra answered, “You’re far too young to be worried about the meaning of these armbands. Now let’s keep going, we have to hurry darling.”
Samantha nodded as her mother stood up and continued their journey to the ship’s hospice ward so they could visit the Matriarch, but the child didn’t understand what that meant. She was just happy to be exploring her home with her mother. It was rare that they spent this much time together and Samantha was reveling in the joy that came with it.
When they reached the hospice ward, Cassandra halted once again and knelt down to look Samantha in the eyes. She then took a breath to settle her nerves and with great gentleness she spoke clearly, “We have to go in and speak with the Helena.”
“Okay mommy,” Samantha said gripping her mother’s hand even tighter.
Casandra smiled and gently squeezed her daughter’s hand in return as she led Samantha into the ward. They walked through a couple of halls until they reached a room with attentive guards. They straightened up and put their hands up commanding Cassandra and Samantha to stop. Once they did the lead guard respectfully demanded, “The child will have to stay here, Casandra.”
Cassandra put her free hand on her hip and tried to object, “She should…”
But the guard interrupted her, “It’s the doctor’s orders.” The guard kept his eyes locked upon Cassandra’s, and Samantha could see the regret that was behind his unrelenting decree.
Samantha was very fond of the Matriarch and wanted to see her, so she looked up to her mother with sorrow dripping from her eyes as she asked, “Mom?”
Seeing the sorrow building in her daughter’s eyes, Cassandra once again went to a knee, but this time she kissed Samantha’s forehead before she answered her daughter’s plea. “I’m sorry little one, but you will have to wait out here for me. I promise we will go somewhere afterward, okay?”
Samantha didn’t understand why she wasn’t allowed to go see the Matriarch, but she looked down at the floor and answered her mother, “I guess so mommy.”
“Thank you, Samantha.” Her mother kissed her forehead once more before she stood and followed the guards into the Matriarch’s private room.
While no one was watching Samantha doubled back deciding to explore the rest of the ward. It wasn’t a large area of the ship, but there were lots of rooms, most were shut, but as she wandered the halls of the hospice ward, she finally came to an open door, so she peeked inside. An elderly woman was laying in the room’s single bio chamber. Samantha stood there looking at the woman until she noticed the child and spoke with a labored effort. “Who are you?”
“My name’s Samantha, what’s your?”
The woman propped herself up a little as she looked at Samantha before answering, “That’s a pretty name, child. Mine is Lucia.”
“That’s pretty too.”
“What are you holding?”
Samantha looked down to the doll in her arm for a moment before she looked back up into Lucia’s pale blue eyes. “It’s my friend, Kristy.”
“That’s another beautiful name, Samantha.” Lucia offered a wry smile as she added, “Is she, my new doctor?”
Samantha laughed as she entered the room holding up her doll in front of her saying, “No, Kristy is my doll.”
With a widening smile, Lucia answered, “I can see that now Samantha.”
Samantha looked around the room before asking, “Where are your family and friends?”
Lucia’s smile dampened slightly answering the child’s innocent question. “I don’t have any family anymore.”
“That’s so sad, but what about friends?”
“There’ll all gone too, Samantha.”
The child walked right up to the woman, “I’m so sorry Lucia.” Samantha looked down at her doll and then back up to Lucia. She lifted Kristy to the edge of the bio chamber offering, “You know I could leave Kristy here with you. She’s a great friend and a perfect listener.”
Lucia smiled at Samantha, “Samantha I couldn’t take your friend from you.”
Samantha placed Kristy next to Lucia saying, “It’s okay, Kristy doesn’t mind, and everyone needs a friend.”
“Which is why I couldn’t take Kristy from you.”
“Please take Kristy, I don’t want my friend to be alone here.”
Lucia smiled a warm and endearing smile, but Samantha didn’t understand why tears were flowing down the elderly woman’s cheek. “What’s wrong? Did I say something wrong?”
“No, Samantha, what you said was perfect.”
“But you’re crying.”
“They are tears of joy, you’ve given me something greater than you will ever know,” Lucia said with love and thanks woven throughout her words.
Samantha smiled as she heard her mother calling for her. She looked up and told Lucia, “I’ll be back tomorrow if I can.”
Lucia hugged Kristy as she spoke to Samantha gently, “Go I’m sure your mother is worried about you.”
Samantha looked away from Lucia for a moment, but she quickly went to her tiptoes and hugged Lucia as she whispered, “I’ll see you again.”
“Thank you,” Lucia whispered as Samantha turned and ran to find her mother.