The reunion between the twins and Julie had to be postponed until after Julie woke up. We didn’t want them to get their hopes up in the event that Julie didn’t make it. In all truth, they were just starting to come back around after Ben and I had to break the news that Julie had died in Waskaganish 29 days ago.
We had kept the news that she was alive and found her way back to us from them until Julie was 100% ready to deal with their reactions. And I didn’t think to even prepare them at all on the long walk to the Infirmary. I guess we thought the surprise would be something nice for them. To see her alive and well and waiting to give them a big hug.
Of course they had heard throughout the ship that someone named Julie had been brought aboard but at their young age, it never occurred to them to make the connection. In their mind’s eye, Julie was dead. It was simple and final.
As I brought them into the Infirmary, they stopped dead once they saw her, their small hands closing so firmly around mine, I was sure that I was going to have permanent marks from their tiny fingers. They became frozen little statues. Frozen little statues that started to scream as if the world was ending. In their minds Julie was dead and seeing her now walking toward them must have made them think she was one of the Undead. The look of terror on their faces was awful and the panic and terror in the room was palpable. If they could have run, I’m sure they would have.
Julie stopped her approach and spoke to them quietly, explaining to them that she hadn’t died in Waskaganish, of how she had travelled a very long way with some new friends to find them again. I don’t know how they managed to hear her over their own screams but the screaming stopped the moment that she started speaking. Maybe deep in their souls they knew that the Undead couldn’t speak.
You could see them consider what she had said as she patiently waited to find out their verdict. Long minutes passed as they both stood there on either side of me, their little hands gripped so tightly in mine. Liam was the first to relax his and his shoes made the tell-tale thump, thump sound of rubber on carpet as he ran into Julie’s outstretched arms. She held him for long moments, her eyes never leaving Lily’s face. It had been 29 days since she had last held the twins and she had missed them more than anyone could ever know.
It took Liam extricating himself from the embrace of Julie’s arms and physically going over to Lily to make her understand that Julie wasn’t Undead. It must have been some telepathic connection that the twins have because they didn’t need to speak. Liam just hugged Lily, placing his cheek against hers. When he let her go, Lily launched herself across the room and into Julie’s arms nearly knocking the two of them over in the process. Liam hung back for a few seconds, allowing Lily the same private moment that he had received and then he was on them. The three of them became a giggling mass of love. I don’t have any other way to describe it.
Ben had stitched up Julie’s shoulder earlier that day so she was technically free to wander around the ship and check things out. What she really wanted to do was find Jane and make sure that everything was okay with the girl. She had left her with Eduardo and Polly, knowing that they were as used to her as she was to them.
She found them all in the Mess Hall cleaning up after the midday meal. The look on Jane’s face when she saw Julie spoke to her attachment to her. You could tell she was unsure of what she should do; her job at that moment was clearing tables but she desperately wanted to go to Julie. Seeing the confusion in her eyes, Julie went to her instead, with Lily and Liam in tow. It was the moment of truth. How would Jane react to the twins?
Julie was surprised by the hug that Jane gave her as it almost knocked her over. She was even more surprised that the girl was careful not to jar the area where she had bitten her 29 days earlier. The girl looked down at Lily and Liam who were shyly regarding her from behind Julie’s legs. In her eyes a new level of recognition awakened and she bent down holding up both of her palms in the internationally recognizable symbol of the “high five”. Lily and Liam scrambled out from behind Julie and landed the double palm smacks with precision, the three dissolving in a fit of laughter. Things were going to be fine. Jane would fit in perfectly and in time she would hopefully start to speak.
Sitting down for a moment to watch the children play a game of “Stella, Ella, Olla”, the ship started to feel weird, almost as if it was trying to change direction and go from forward to backward all at the same time. An alarm sounded and Javier’s voice came over the loudspeaker instructing all of us to brace for a potential impact.
Everyone sat down on the floor against the wall, thinking that was the safest place in case something were to happen. But nothing could have prepared us for what happened next.
The ship came to a shuddering and lurching stop throwing everyone and everything around. The sound was enormous. That’s the only way I can think to describe it. I’ve heard mortar rounds hitting close by and roadside bombs being triggered next to Humvees I’ve been in, but it was all paled in comparison to the sound the ship made today.
From what Javier can tell it looks like we struck another ship that sunk in the moderately shallow water off the coast. It probably wasn’t the best place for us to have been sailing but we had wanted to stay close to the shore to miss some of the stronger currents that might have taken us further out into the ocean. Besides, we were looking for a place to fuel up if we could find one. Now we stuck on a sunken ship and we had no way of knowing what kind of damage our ship had sustained.
I’ll keep you updated as I know more. Let’s just hope we don’t end up with more bad news.