The Neverland Girl
A sneak peek!
...an excerpt from
Friends New & Old
Magic exists; sometimes in the laugh of a child, sometimes in the comforting hug of a friend, and always in the never ending reaches of our imaginations.
A solid sea of morning fog stubbornly filled every pocket of space, every nook and cranny, twisting and unfurling tentacles along each edge it crept over. With an impenetrable veil it shrouded the four staring faces of Big Ben as the bell inside the towering clock banged out commandingly over the rooftops of London, announcing the nine o’clock hour; though there was no sunlight to prove the day.
For just the blink of an eye, what seemed to be a shadow; the shadow of a boy, flitted across the clock’s northern face and then vanished. Of course it couldn’t have been anything of the kind. It was, after all, only fog.
Far above, heaven-bent steeples of churches and a forest of chimneys rose stalwart through their cloudy cloak, like monoliths in the ocean.
If someone were to fly low over the city, northward from the old clock and the winding river Thames, past Covent Garden and the British Museum, just a hop, skip, and a little jump from a pretty tree lined park with a thick carpet of grass, they would see a special place.
It was not special for any reason pertaining to the place itself, to be sure, but rather because of the inhabitants of it. It was a sanctuary of healing for little ones who didn’t feel well; a children’s hospital.
A single set of muffled footsteps echoed softly from the pavement in an even rhythm through the hush of weather, leading to the entrance of the hospital. The maker of those steps approached the door. It slid open, parting automatically in the center, bidding her welcome.
She stopped at the reception desk, her loose curls of dark auburn hair hanging damp upon the shoulders of her raincoat; her brown eyes warm, and her smile bright.
“Good morning. I’m here to see Dr. Joshua Macintosh.”
The receptionist smiled and nodded, indicating the area behind her. “Just take the lift.”
The woman walked through a strange pool of colorful light on the floor; a projection from the ceiling that showed water and fish in a big pond. As she walked over the floor and through the light, the projected water rippled and moved, and the fish swam around her feet. She smiled, thinking that children must love to play there.
The elevator doors slid open and she stepped inside with a chuckle over the fishes. She set the full canvas bag she had been carrying down beside her, lifted her hat from her head, tidied her hair, and then tucked her hat into her purse.
The elevator chimed. She picked up the bag and stepped out onto the fourth floor, looking up at the sign facing her. It read ‘Oncology’. The fourth floor of the children’s hospital was dedicated solely to children who had cancer, and were being treated for it.
After stopping at the welcome sink to give her hands a good washing, the woman went to the nurse’s station. A nurse who looked to be about the same age as her, somewhere in her mid-thirties, raised her eyes from her desk and smiled.
“Hello Abbie.” The woman greeted the nurse. They had met once before, and remembered each other.
“Well hello, Miss Passerine. How are you today?” Abbie gave her a light smile. The nurse was dressed in a crisp, clean, bright uniform.
“I’m fine, thank you.” The woman gave her a pleasant smile in return. “Please, call me Callie. Is Josh around?” she asked hopefully, “I told him I’d come by to drop off some books for the children and families.”
Abbie stood with a grateful smile. “Thank you so much for doing that, Callie. Every good thing around here helps, and sometimes the hours and days or weeks that go by are difficult for the children and their families to bear. It makes the time pass easier with something as delightful as those books you write. The children just love them. I’ll go see if Dr. Macintosh is free.”
Abbie disappeared and Callie sat in a nearby seat to wait. She had only come to the hospital one other time to donate some of the books she’d written and published. Usually she gave the books to her friend Joshua to take in to the hospital, but he’d been busy, so she’d decided to take them herself and save him the trip.
He came around the corner of a wall a few moments later, tall and solidly built, with a grin on his face and a stethoscope around his neck. His red hair was trimmed very short, and his light eyes were shining.
“Callie!” He beamed, hugging her. “The famous author dropping in to share her adventures in print!”
She laughed at him and returned the hug. “I’m glad to bring these in. Hopefully the kids and their parents will enjoy them.”
“Oh definitely! It’s always a treat to get some good books in here. All the ones you gave me before have found homes, and we needed some new ones.” He chuckled softly.
“I haven’t seen you in so long! I know you’ve been really busy here. Do you have time for a cup of coffee now, or should we take a raincheck?” Callie looked hopeful that it would work out just then.
“Actually, I’m in between rounds, so I do have a little bit of time. We could have coffee. I think the conversation will be better than the coffee, but it always is anyway, isn’t it!”
“That it is. Always.” Callie grinned back at him and was about to hand him the canvas bag of books she’d brought with her, when Abbie waved her hand at Josh from her desk.
“Dr. Macintosh, you have a call. It’s Dr. Fielding. He says it’s urgent.” She gave them both a sympathetic look.
Joshua sighed lightly. “Let me just grab that call really quickly. I’m sorry. I’ll be right back. Make yourself comfortable and we’ll pick this up in just a minute.”
He dashed off, and Callie smiled and sank down into the chair again.
The waiting area was small, though the space was wide open. The nurse’s station stood sentry in the middle of the room, with a big hall on either side of it. The walls were white, but covered in artworks of vibrant characters having fun and playing. The doors were each painted bright colors, adding a look of cheer to the place.
The telephone rang, and rang again, and Abbie spoke to different people as machines hummed and beeped from unseen corners all around.
Callie wondered what it would be like to work in a place such as that all day, each day. She was taking it in when another nurse came around the corner, entering the space from the recesses of the hallway to Callie’s right.
The nurse was pushing a little girl in a wheelchair. The girl was a slight, small thing, bundled up in a soft fuzzy blue blanket.
Callie noticed right away that she had no hair, and a sudden realization made her heart catch in her chest. The girl was a cancer patient.
Curling her hands together in front of her mouth, the girl smiled shyly, and as her big brown eyes met Callie’s, everything else around the two of them seemed to become still and grow silent.
Callie could not hear the phones or the conversations, the beeping and humming machines, or any of the noises filling the room. There was only the magic of a moment shared with a sweet child, and an unspoken connection between them.
To read the rest of this chapter and the book, pick up your copy of The Neverland Girl here, on Amazon, or in any bookstore!