Chapter 4 Young girl looks back
I locked the door, wedged the back of a chair firmly under the doorknob as a precaution, and then wiped myself down.
With a clean body, I slipped on a nightgown and crawled in next to Nonna.
I was hungry, but I didn’t feel safe leaving her alone. Room service would be too grandiose. So I suppressed my hunger and slept.
“Good night Nonna.”
The next morning I woke up hungry. Nonna was up earlier than me and was looking at my face.
“Good morning big sister.”
“Good morning Nonna. Shall we wash up with hot water together before we eat breakfast?”
The two of us entered the bathroom on the first floor and I washed Nonna with the provided soap. A full body check yielded no signs of abuse. That alone made me feel relieved.
I carefully wiped Nonna off with a towel and had her wear the clothes I bought yesterday on the way home.
Just as I thought to myself, (This girl doesn’t ask anything), Nonna muttered quietly while eating the hotel breakfast.
“Where is mother?”
“It looked like she couldn’t come. What kind of work does your mother do?”
“I do not know.”
“What would you do when you are alone?”
I thought she was an expressionless child, but maybe she grew up without the chance to express much. Her mother probably won’t return home anymore, and even if she does, I don’t think a person who once abandoned her child would take care of her. At least she wouldn’t starve in an orphanage.
“What would you do while your mother was around?”
“Did your mother always tell you to be quiet?”
(There are many unfortunate children like this. I shouldn’t involve myself any further. She’s such a poor thing but I can’t take care of a child.)
I told myself so.
Breakfast at the hotel consists of bread, milk, oranges cut in half, jam, butter, light soup with chopped vegetables, fried eggs and sausages.
Nonna was eating quietly. I ate silently too.
Nonna held my hand as we walked in silence to the guard station.
Along the way, I bought a ribbon with a color similar to Nonna’s blue-grey eyes at an accessories shop and tied it around her head. It looked like I was trying to cover up my guilt by buying her things, but Nonna’s face loosened up a little with happiness, so it was all right.
“Thank you, big sister.”
Nonna suddenly thanked me in front of the guard station.
I hesitated whether I should say that she should do her best at the orphanage, but I gave up. This kid must have already been doing her best all this time.
That’s why I stroked Nonna’s head without saying anything.
When we entered the guard station holding hands, a woman in her fifties was waiting.
“Ah, you’ve finally arrived. I’m the director of the South District Orphanage. I heard that you took care of this child last night, thank you very much.”
The woman took Nonna’s hand and said, “Let’s go.” Nonna staggered a little as she pulled her. Nonna turned to look back at me after taking a few steps. Her eyes … her eyes.
Nonna showed emotion for the first time.
“Wait! Please wait!”
“Yes? What is it?”
“Can I adopt her?”
That was probably not the first time the orphanage director heard something like that. She spoke her words smoothly.
“Adopt? I heard you just migrated to this country and live in a hotel. You don’t even have a guarantor, do you? I’m sorry, but I can’t leave children in your care. Some people pretend to adopt children and sell them off. Oh, of course, I’m not saying you would do that. But there are rules so I hope you understand.”
Everything the woman said was correct.
However, if I let go of the child here, I was sure I would regret it for years and decades to come, and I wouldn’t be able to forget those eyes.
“I have! I have a guarantor!”
Mr. Asher came to the guard station fairly quickly after being contacted by a guard personnel.
“I will be the guarantor for Ms. Victoria Sellers.”
“Oh, is that true? I’ll be at ease if the Commander acts as your guarantor. Then, Ms. Sellers, could you please sign the paperwork for the adoption procedure?”
I signed the documents that were handed to me as Victoria Sellers and adopted Nonna.
Nonna walked circles around the pond in the plaza and occasionally dipped her hand into the water. I watched over her as Mr. Asher and I had a conversation on the bench.
“Sorry for calling you while you were at work.”
“No, no. I’m relatively free today, and this child is an important Ashbury citizen. But why did you adopt her? You had just met her yesterday?”
Nonna turned and looked at us. I smiled and waved. Nonna waved back slightly without any expression on her face.
“I felt like her eyes were calling out ‘help me’. Maybe it’s just my imagination. But a long time ago, there was a girl who had the same eyes, and I thought she was the same. When I thought about it, your name came to mind. Thank you very much despite the sudden nature of this. It was very helpful that you accepted to be my guarantor.”
After a moment, Mr. Asher continued.
“Actually, I regretted it after I left your room last night.”
“I realized that you probably wouldn’t have left her alone to find something to eat. I figured you would have to go to bed hungry on your first night in our country. For some reason, I believed you would go to bed without even ordering room service. I should have at least sent something delicious over.”
Instinctively, I looked up at the tall man next to me.
He guessed so accurately that I almost thought he had seen it. He seems to be able to read people’s minds. As expected of the Second Knights’ Order Commander who protects the security of the royal capital.
“There’s no need for Mr. Commander to reflect. I didn’t think I should go out, and I didn’t feel like asking for room service. But your guess was completely right.”
I made a friendly face and smiled.
“Would you allow me to treat you to dinner tonight to ease my guilt? I want to thank you for your cooperation in arresting the snatch thief and for protecting our country’s abandoned children.”
I couldn’t help but chuckle at the man’s sincerity.
“If you are okay with Nonna coming along.”