Zera and the Green Man: Chapter 36

“I heard they’ve been camping outside all night,” Theodore said.

It was morning again, and he’d just returned from Los Angeles. They all stood at the hospital exit except for Zera, who sat in a wheelchair with a nurse at her side. They were waiting for Theodore to give the go-ahead to face the throng outside.

Hattie peered out the glass door over Theodore’s shoulder. “It’s going to be tough getting out of here. It’s like piranha infested waters.”

“It’s fine,” Zera said. “People should know the truth. We need to tell them.”

“Listen, Zera,” said Theodore, “let’s not say anything today. There’s a lot that’s going on. I’ll talk to you about it later.”

Zera, a little surprised, looked up at her uncle. His mental state was reflected in his crumpled clothes, the dark circles under his eyes, the thick razor stubble. She’d never seen someone so exhausted.

“It’ll be okay,” said Dan. “It’s just a crowd.”

“That’s an understatement,” whispered Hattie. “I’ve never seen anything like this.”

“We can handle it,” added Ben, trying to be upbeat.

Grandma Wren’s ancient face showed only curiosity.

The nurse moved into position behind Zera’s wheelchair. “We can call Security for an escort, Mr. Green.”

“It’s not necessary.” Theodore turned to Hattie, “Don’t worry, Hat, it’ll be fine.” To Zera he said, “You ready?”

“It’s weird to be in a wheelchair, but yeah, I guess so.”

“Hospital rules, honey,” said Hattie. “Once you get out the door, you can stand up and walk out of here.”

Cosmic Dan grasped one of the door’s metal bars. “I’d feel better if I spoke to them first. Be back in a sec.”

As he stepped through the door they heard the hum of activity turn into a clamor. Dan faced the swarm: reporters, television crews, photographers, and behind them all, a mob of onlookers.

The ruckus died down as all eyes studied him. Murmurs traveled through the crowd as they took in Cosmic Dan’s appearance: tall, thin, middle-aged, and good-looking. Cameras flashed. Then came shouting: “Where’s Theodore Green?” “When is he coming out?”

Dan raised one large hand in an appeal for silence and waited. The crowd quieted. “Theodore’s niece just came out of a coma yesterday,” he said calmly. “Both of them have lost a loved one. You’ll need to back off the sidewalk. Please.”

They obliged. Dan disappeared behind the doors, and a moment later the group stepped into the sun.

The crowd waited as Zera rose from the chair, blinking from the brightness. Ben went to her side and took her hand protectively. Cameras flashed as Theodore put his hand on her other shoulder and whispered, “It’ll be all right.”

The crowd closed in as Dan led the way to the parking lot. Reporters shouted. “Mr. Green, Mr. Green!”

Theodore glanced in the direction of one of the voices and its owner bellowed, “Can you tell us anything about your arrest?”

“No comment.”

“But what about the accusations, Mr. Green?” chirped a small woman with heavy makeup at Ben’s side. She directed a microphone toward Theodore’s face. “Was Void Corporation performing those horrible scientific experiments?”

“I’ve been advised not to make any statements.”

Zera looked up at her uncle questioningly but he didn’t meet her gaze. That comment was met with a dozen more questions as they worked their way through the crowd. Zera caught the smell of sweat from a few of the cameramen; they’d been out there for hours.

“What about Lily Gibbons? What is your relationship with her?” a woman asked.

“I’m not answering any questions,” said Theodore, his face flushed. “Not today. There’s been a death in our family — please, have some respect!”

As the group inched towards the parking lot, a reporter bulldozed his way toward them. He accidentally knocked into Cosmic Dan in an attempt to get closer to Zera, and Dan nearly fell. Behind Dan, a camerawoman trained her lens on the girl.

“For goodness sake, man!” said Dan. Ben’s hand tightened on Zera’s. She looked over to see that his other hand balled into a fist.

Hattie, behind them, whispered, “What a jerk!”

The young blond reporter ignored them both, directing his attention to Zera. “Miss Green,” he said, “I’ve been doing some research into your family, and legend has it that the Greens can talk with plants. How about you? Can you communicate with plants? Do they talk back?”

Zera stopped and looked at her uncle. Theodore nodded, indicating that it was okay to say something. But what? How could she explain the connection that she had discovered, one that had been passed down through generations of her family, a gift that had seemed to cause nothing but trouble, but had become more, so much more than she had ever imagined? She was still trying to figure it out. The Green Man, the Green Woman, what was her role in all this? What would happen next in her life?

She blurted out the truth. “Yes, I can talk with plants. And yes, they do talk back.”

The reporter’s mouth dropped open, and then twisted into a sneer of amusement. Something else dawned on Zera, a bigger truth. The Greens had something special, but she knew it wasn’t limited to them. She looked the reporter in the eye. “What I can do, everyone can do.”

Cameras flashed all around her. Snickers rippled through the crowd. Ben squeezed her hand in support.

Zera took a breath, slowly, mindfully. She scanned the faces in the crowd — some, like the reporter, seemed amused, some concerned, some doubtful. Amazingly, she didn’t feel self-conscious. Amid the feeding frenzy a peace filled her. Hattie and Grandma Wren were right. She was not alone. She had never been alone. No one was. She thought of those two twinkling stars in the night sky. Now they would be joined by the light and love of Nonny. They were with her, not out there, but close in her heart, always. The adventure of life would continue. As she took the next step toward the parking lot, she felt stronger than ever before.

THE END

<–Chapter 35

Published via US Represented by consent of the publisher:

Published by Greenwoman Publishing, LLC
P. O. Box 6587, Colorado Springs, Colorado, 80934-6587, U.S.A.

First published in the United States of America
Copyright © Sandra Knauf, 2013
All rights reserved

ISBN: 978-0-9897056-0-8 (paperback)
ISBN: 978-0-9897056-1-5 (ebook)

Cover drawing by Paul Spielman.
Cover photography by CanStockPhoto 11569383
Cover and interior design by Zora Knauf.

PUBLISHER’S NOTE

This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or living-dead, is entirely coincidental.