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The sun was about to set, and Rainie had just finished talking with Ariel. They had developed a sisterly bond within a few hours and this amazed Ariel. She never had a real sibling.
“So I’ll see you tomorrow right Ariel?” asked a spunky Rainie. She had driven Ariel to the police station to meet Joe.
“mm” Ariel hummed signaling an OK as she got herself out of the car.
“Good! Ok, I’ll let you go now. OH, and tell Joe that he’s not off the hook yet!”
“haha, sure Rainie whatever you say. I’ll see you tomorrow then, bye.”
She stepped on the firm ground, realizing what will happen next; everything from this moment on will change her perception of the past and the future. As she opened the doors all she could hear were phones ringing off the hooks, criminals arguing and police officers reasoning.
Ariel, spotting an officer asked him “Um…excuse me but do you know…” but was interrupted.
“Sorry ma’am but I can’t help you right now, maybe you can ask another officer,” he said rushed.
“I just need to know where Lieutenant Joe Cheng is.”
“Oh, he’s just down in the office to your right. Just go down that hall,” he replied nicely.
She heads down a barely lit hall and finally see’s a door on her right that read “Private Room.” Timidly opening the door, Ariel peer’s her head in to see the Joe working quietly by himself on one of the computers.
“What are you doing?” she asks him, while tapping his shoulder.
“Oh Ariel, you finally came. What took you so long?”
“Rainie wanted to talk,” she explained as she took a seat by him.
“You guys talk about Mike?” he asked.
“A little, but we mainly talked about our families; she told me about her parents, her siblings, her cousins and her extended family and so on. I talked about my mom.”
“Yeah she can talk,” he joked. “You ready to see the articles?”
“mm,” she nodded.
Looking through her dad’s obituaries sent shivers down her spine. Never in her life would she be imagining herself doing this. Finally she had a sense of her father’s life before her birth.
“So he was a carpenter?” she asked Joe.
“Apparently. He was your town’s carpenter. Exceptionally reliable, they said. But then again, he was very kept to himself. So was your mother,” he reasoned.
“He died two years into my birth…” Ariel realized.
“Yeah…Oh! Speaking of Birth…” he said as he segued off the topic. “I found your birth certificate”
She had never seen this document in her life, and now Ariel held in her hands the only piece of family heirloom she owned.
“This…is MY birth certificate?” she asked. She was too shocked to comprehend anything.
“Yeah, that’s how we knew that this man was indeed your father.”
She looked at the document carefully. Her tiny foot prints were angelic and the certificate itself was beautiful.
“Can I see all the articles?” she asked.
“Yeah,” he said handing her a newspaper clipping of her father’s death which also had an old photo of him as well.
“Is…” she started.
“Yeah, that’s your father. Looks just like you,” he said smiling.
She smiled too. Just as the clock stuck 12:00, they headed back to Joe’s place and reviewed the documents even more. They tried to find a clue into the hidden treasure her father left her. However, since they didn’t find anymore articles, they were stuck at a stalemate.
“UGH! Man I’m tired,” Joe yawned. “What time is it?”
Joe looks at his watch and blinks his eyes to see if what he saw was real.
“4:52 am!!!!” he said to himself. “Dang, I have read this article so many times my…” he started to say to Ariel but realized she had been fast asleep on the couch.
“Quitter,” he joked.
He decided to let Ariel take his bed, so he slowly began to lift her off, when things started to get messy.
“Whoa! What has this girl been eating?! Ugh, my back is going go out before it had a chance to stay in…oof,” he groaned.
Slowly he paced back and forth, dangling Ariel’s body in his arms in hopes to keep her from hitting her head on the wall. He placed her on the bed and pulled the covers over her.
“Never…again…” he said out of breathe.
As he began to leave, Ariel accidentally took hold of his right arm and pulled him into the bed. She held his arm close to her as she slept on her left side. Now her back faced him.
Desperately trying to free his arm he pokes Ariel on the shoulders and whispers, “Ariel…pssst! Ariel! Wake up…you’re holding my hand and I can’t let go.”
She only held on tighter, gripping her hand to his and pulling it closer to her chest.
“Ariel…” he whispered louder. “I don’t think my hand belongs there.”
Suddenly he hears a small whimper.
“Are the dogs outside again,” he asks himself.
The whimper quickens and he can feel Ariel’s breathe quicken as well.
“Ariel. Is that you?” he whispers again.
The whimper slows into heavy breathing and she places his hand on her cheek.
“Oh…crap! Ariel! Tell me you’re not drooling on me!”
Her breathing now was inconsistent and she kept shivering.
“Ariel…are you crying?” he asked. He turns to see her face and tears were streaming down into the pillow.
“M-mom…” she said quietly.
“What?” he asked her.
“M-mom…come back to me…please? It’s too hard…” she said in between her tears and sniffling.
“Ariel…” he whispered trying to wake her up again.
“Don’t leave again,” she cried again. This time she held his hand with both hands.
Joe thought to himself that maybe perhaps she goes through this often; thinking about her mother. Her mother was her only source of family other than Mike. She barely knew her father, so what was the point of calling him family.
“Ariel…” he whispered again.
“Don’t leave again. Please. Please,” she said again in her sleep.
Sighing, Joe lets Ariel hold his hand through the night as he slept by her side. Slowly realizing how uncomfortable it was to on his back and stomach, he finally chose to sleep on his side holding onto Ariel.
“Ugh, if only I had my hand…” he began to say to himself just before Ariel let go of his hand.
Thinking that perhaps he was free, Joe decides to sleep on the couch. He didn’t want to scare Ariel when she woke up. However, that didn’t go over so well. Just as he slid his arm off her, she turned on her right side and held onto his waist, making them sleep face to face.
“Eek…oh no…” he said disappointed.
Ariel was now holding onto him as tight as she could, not afraid of letting go. She cried a little on his shirt and slowly fell asleep again.
“Ariel? If you wake up screaming because you see me sleeping with you…” he tried to reason with himself but found a glitch in his logic. It wasn’t her fault.
Finding himself utterly defenseless, Joe just shakes his head lightly and holds Ariel in his arms as they both slept.
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