About two hours after her parents had left, the doorbell rang. She woke up in a start. She had fallen asleep crying with her head on the sofa.
The doorbell rang again, this time twice and irritatingly longer. She ran to the door and found her best friend at the door.
“Hi Amber”, in a throaty voice.
“Aurelia – were you crying on your birthday? Why is this place so dark? Where are uncle and aunt?”, asked Amber in one breath and one of her hands stretched to switch on the lights.
“My parents decided that some wedding reception was more important than me. I fought with my boyfriend saying that I want to be with them and they …”, her voice trailed off. She needed water, she was parched.
They both walked to the kitchen in silence. Both got themselves a glass of water. Aurelia saw herself and was shocked to see her reflection with all the eye-liner spread the way her tears had gone an hour ago… She ran into the bathroom, washed her face, combed her hair and returned to the kitchen looking fresher. Amber re-enquired what happened.
Aurelia then mentioned all that happened with Aaron and her parents.
Amber then with her cheerfulness, smiled and said, “Come on, get ready, let’s go party girl!”
Aurelia was hesitant but gave in and decided to go and dress up. While she was getting ready, Amber called Aaron, her brother and told him to pick them up from Aurelia’s house. Aaron happily agreed without any questions.
About half hour later, they were waiting for Aaron in the living room. The phone rang, “Tring! Tring -tring!”, and both jumped with a start. Aurelia answered the phone.
“Hello, good evening.”
“Good evening. Am I speaking to Aurelia?”, came a firm male voice.
“Yes, may I know who I am speaking to?”
“I am Inspector Richard. Aurelia, are there any other elders staying with you?”, queried while fidgeting with telephone wires.
“No. My parents have gone out and only three of us stay here…but you can tell what the problem is Inspector.”, her voice showed concern. Amber sensed the concern and came closer to her.
“Is there anybody at home with you right now?”
“Inspector, please could you tell me what is going on? Or are you Aaron? Are you some kind of prankster?”, irritated.
Inspector Richard took a deep breath and just said “Aurelia,..” but the door bell rang. Aaron had arrived. Hearing the bell on the phone, he waited a few seconds more before he asked, “Don’t you have to answer the bell?”
“Inspector, if you are one, my best friend is with me and she has gone to answer the door. If you could tell me what you were about to say a little more quickly, I would be grateful as it is my birthday and I was hoping to have a party with my friends.” She completed the sentence and got extremely irritated with herself that she had revealed so much to a stranger who claimed was an inspector but didn’t seem to act like one.
Aaron and Amber had reached the living room . Both of them stood at her side…one on each side, neither liking the caller nor the expression on Aurelia’s face.
Inspector Richard sensing Aurelia’s irritation and with some relief that someone was with her , sighed yet again and said, “Aurelia,…I have some terrible news to tell you. ” He paused for a minute trying to find the right words to say…
Aurelia’s face started becoming pale and she slowly sat down. She knew well that she cannot take bad news standing. “Go on…”, is all she said.
“Your parents had an accident on the highway . ”
“What? Why? How? When? Where?…You are some prankster…I don’t believe you.”, tears were quickly welling up in her eyes. She could not hear anymore. She quickly held the phone towards Aaron.
Aaron got tensed but took the phone. Amber sat next to Aurelia.
Aaron said, “Sorry, but Aurelia just passed the phone to me. I am her friend, Aaron. May I know what happened?”
Inspector Richard now with a little more relief repeated that Aurelia’s parents had a terrible accident. He also mentioned that her mother died on-the-spot and her father was in an extremely critical condition in the hospital. Inspite of his critical condition, he keeps repeating “Aurelia, I am sorry!” .
Hearing the full story and after taking the address of the hospital from the Inspector, said “Inspector Richard, we shall reach there as soon as possible.”
“Aaron, please take my mobile number too,” replied the inspector and gave his phone number.
Aaron put the receiver down and looked at Aurelia.
Aurelia already knew the worst had happened and was in a shock. Aaron sat on her other side and told her the rest of the details and that they needed to get to the hospital. Aurelia stared straight on blank. Aaron, now looked at his sister and signed to her to nudge Aurelia.
Amber, shocked herself , got back into senses and literally shook Aurelia, but even that seem to have no effect on her. Then Aaron and Amber just got her up, took her to the car and drove to the hospital. Aaron ensured that he locked the door and Amber had taken a pair of clothes for Aurelia to change into when she comes into her senses.
On the way, Aaron asked Amber to call their parents and tell them to reach the hospital. “Tell them that we both are fine but we might need some help.”,he said. While Amber spoke on the phone, he added “Ask them to get some money”.
Every once in a while during the hour-long drive to the hospital, they nudged Aurelia and tried to get her back but in vain….