Molly Sunderland was floating. That was the only way she could describe the sensation. A soft cloud enveloped her in a cottony cocoon of warmth. She sensed rather than saw shapes surrounding her. The other forms nudged the cloud on which she rested and touched her with gentle fingers.
A tiny rhythmic plinking attracted her attention.
Angels and harps? Is this Heaven?
She tried to lift her arms to embrace the angels on their cloud, but her arms would not obey. Molly became aware of a dull thudding pain in her shoulder. She squeezed her eyes as tightly as she could and a single tear moistened the side of her face.
Molly felt cool fingers stroke her forehead.
“Open your eyes, sweetie. You can do it.” This came from an unfamiliar low female voice that sounded full of love and concern.
Jesus? No, it can’t be. ‘Cause Mommy said Jesus was the Son of God and boys aren’t girls.
Molly allowed her eyes to flutter open. A woman bent over her. Around the stranger’s neck was that thing the doctor used to listen to Molly’s heart and breathing when her mother took her in to visit him. She used to get a sucker from the doctor when she was good but lately he seemed to forget how much she liked candy. Now all he did was shake her hand and say, “I’ll see you in a few months, Molly.”
She was sure this woman would not have candy. Mommy said she should never accept candy from strangers anyway. That dull pain in her shoulder seemed to get a little stronger. She groaned as the stranger touched the spot where she hurt so much.
“I’m Nurse Stephanie.You’ve had surgery on your collarbone, Molly. You took quite a fall down those basement steps. Do you remember anything about it?” Nurse Stephanie looked at a machine which beeped almost in time to the throb in Molly’s shoulder. She adjusted a small dial on a tube which led underneath a white swatch of adhesive tape on the inside of Molly’s right elbow.
She shook her head no. “Where’s my Mommy?” Molly demanded. She fixed a pout on her lips and glared at the nurse.
“Your . . .?” The nurse frowned, then seemed to realize something and chuckled. “Oh, your family is waiting in the nurses’ area. I can go get them if you would like.”
Molly nodded. Nurse Stephanie left the room, her shoes squeaking on the tile. Molly let her gaze fall on the bedside table and a wicker basket of sunflowers. Their brown and golden heads bowed toward her.
Her mother poked her head around the hospital room door. A frown etched a deep furrow above her nose. She held a bright red and yellow striped bag, a tuft of creamy white tissue peeking from the top.
“The nurse said we could visit for a couple of minutes. How are you feeling?” She crossed to the bed and gave Molly a tiny kiss on the forehead. Molly’s sister Janie hesitated at the door, her arms hugging Oliver, a worn dark brown teddy bear.
“I want to go home.”
“That’s impossible. You’ve just come out of surgery and have to mend a little before you can leave the hospital.” Her mother crossed her arms.
“Who’ll take care of Rosie if I’m not there?” Molly shifted in bed. A sharp pain made her gasp.
“Your cat will be fine. I’ll feed her before I go to work and she can sleep on my bed.”
Molly glanced at the red and yellow bag. She felt her eyes begin to drift shut and struggled to stay awake. “Is that for me?”
In response, her mother removed a cloth-bodied doll with a calico dress and bonnet and held it up for her to see. The doll’s yellow yarn braids and blue eyes reminded Molly of herself.
“Her name is Patty and she’s going to keep you company.” Molly smiled as her mother tucked the doll underneath the white sheet beside her uninjured arm.
“Thanks,” she whispered and let her eyes close. She did not notice the light kiss on her cheek or her visitors as they left the room.
Molly was floating again. As she drifted on an especially soft cloud, she heard muffled voices.
“Mrs. Kleive, your mother, Mrs. Sunderland, will require round the clock care even after her collarbone mends. Perhaps a nursing facility?”
And Molly heard her mother begin to cry.
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