Laila Flynn walked into Wildwoods Emergency Clinic wishing she had stopped by her apartment first. She had visited DeeAnn Bridges, her employee, every night since she was attacked at Laila’s shop.
And today is extra special, Laila thought. It was Saint Patrick’s Day and having to spend the holiday in the hospital had to be tough on the young Irish woman. Still, she should have changed out of the crimson jacket, top hat and stiletto ankle boots she wore to the Saint Patrick’s Day in Red party.
Every eye in the waiting room was on her. Laila was four-foot one, and her head was visual proof of the intellectual massiveness housed in her frontal lobe. She almost understood the half-concealed glances she often got from strangers—an unusually short, extra curvy woman with blazing-red hair seemed to attract people’s attention. Still, the blatant gawking annoyed her.
An older lady and a little girl holding a green cup stared particularly hard.
“Prettiest red Bratz ever,” the little girl said.
“Miranda!” The lady pulled on the girl’s sleeve, and the child dropped the cup.
Seeing that the little girl was about to cry, Laila smiled at the lady, and said, “It’s all right, ma’am,” before winking at the child. “I’ve heard those dolls are very pretty.” She picked up the cup and extended it towards the lady.
The girl reached for the cup, but the woman jerked her back by the arm.
“Mommy that hurt,” the little girl said, rubbing the spot.
The woman grabbed the girl by the shoulders. “What have I told you about staying away from strangers? Strange people are dangerous.”
“Your granny is right, sweetie.” Laila spoke to the child, but her smirk was fixed on the woman’s hard eyes. “You can’t tell what ugly things crawl around a person’s mind just by looking at her face. Sometimes…” She paused when she noticed blood on the girl’s arm.
The woman had scratched her. Girl and mother seemed to have missed it. The girl was giggling, while absentmindedly smearing the blood on the pale skin of her arm.
“Mommy is not my granny. I was a late surprise. Tell her, Mommy. Tell her I was a surprise.”
The woman opened her mouth, but closed it when Laila pulled a napkin out of her bag and pointed at the girl’s bleeding arm.
“Thank you,” the woman said, her voice shaky and her eyes wide. “I’m so very sorry. I wasn’t trying to—”
“Miss Flynn, I didn’t know you were here.”
Laila turned towards DeeAnn’s voice, glad to see she felt well enough to grin. “Only you can smile after being… so sick.” She was going to say stabbed, but the little girl was still looking at her. “I thought you were supposed to be here until Wednesday.”
“I was,” DeeAnn said, “but Mom went Irish on the doctors and of course they lost.”
Laila looked around, but didn’t see Mrs. Bridges. “Is she getting your stuff? I should go give her a hand.”
She put my things on a wheelchair and took them to the car.” DeeAnn rolled her eyes. “I got three miserable stitches, but Mom is treating me like I just had a heart replacement. She told me to wait in the room, but I’ll meet her outside and give her more reasons to fuss. She’ll like it.”
“All right,” Laila shook her head and laughed. “Let’s go wait. I’ll make sure to say how your behavior is breaking your poor mother’s heart, and you should be ashamed of yourself.” Out of the corner of her eye, Laila saw the woman nudge the little girl.
“Um, excuse me,” the little girl said. “Thanks so very much for the napkin, Miss.”
“You’re so very welcome.” Laila smiled at the suddenly shy child.
Mother and daughter smiled back at Laila.
As Laila and DeeAnn headed for the door, the little girl screamed, “Look, Mommy.” She sounded ecstatic. “I found a gold coin in my napkin. Lucky, lucky, lucky!”
written for Saint Patrick’s Day in Red;
please come back Friday,
to read “Red Gold over the Rainbow,”
which is the second part of this story
and my contribution to Oma Linda’s Hues of Oz