'Where am I?', the little girl wonders as she stumbles through the empty halls, which are painted in the same pristine white as her dress. Within her mind, echoes of screams and cries resound and she cowers in pain, as a few people hastily come running, pushing a stretcher, yelling things she cannot seem to understand.
They whiz past her, almost running her over with the stretcher.
She opens her mouth to scream, but nobody seems to care and as they disappear in the distance, so does every other sound except for the monotone buzzing of the lighting.
'What happened to me?', shoots through the mind of the little girl, as she looks at her tiny, pale hands, when a voice makes her jump, but even though she tries, she cannot make a sound.
"Are you lost, little girl?", the voice asks. It is a hoarse, but gentle voice.
The girl turns around and looks into the face of an elderly man, on whose skin life has left its traces. His eyes are filled with a sad kindness, the IV at his side softly dripping a clear liquid into his veins.
'Who are you?', the girl means to ask. She can feel her mouth moving, but the expression of the man remains unchanged and, unlike the hasty steps earlier, which disrupted the silence, she cannot hear a sound.
The old man tilts his head, as the little girl frantically tries to make a sound, uncertain as to what is happening. She remembers voices, she knows the words, but they just won't come out.
The man asks, "You cannot speak?"
Tears appear in the eyes of the girl, as the terrible truth becomes a fact for the little girl and she can only shake her head in agreement.
The eyes of the man grow sad, before he asks, "Say, where are your parents? Are they patients here? Where did you come from?"
The little girl scratches her head, pondering the question and startles as she realizes, that she doesn't know.
In fact, she cannot recall anything ever since opening her eyes to the glaring lights of these empty corridors.
The old man coughs, making the little girl jump again, as she's ripped from her thoughts.
"Sorry, sorry...I'm telling you, it won't be the cancer that kills me, but these stupid medicaments. So...what's your name?"
'Name? My...name...?', the girl wonders, as a name surfaces from the back of her mind. Christina.
She tries to speak it, but once again, no sound escapes her lips.
The man smiles and says, "Look at me...back in my days, I was able to read lips. If you go slow, maybe I'll be able to do it again."
Christina looks at the old man and repeats the name slowly.
"Christina? Is that your name?", the old man asks.
Christina nods enthusiastically, forgetting for a moment, that, even though she remembered her name, she still doesn't know where she is or where she came from.
She continues speaking in a rapid fashion, shooting questions at the old man, who tries to tell her to slow down repeatedly, but Christina just won't stop.
Suddenly however, a nurse comes out of nowhere and says, "Mr. Graham! There you are! You had us worried sick! The doctor told you to stay in bed, for heaven's sake!"
"Nonsense, if I can't even take a walk any more, what's the point for me to still be alive?!, Mr. Graham asks the nurse in an angry tone.
He then continues, "Also, what's this little girl doing on the corridor at this late hour?!"
The nurse looks to the spot where Mr. Graham is pointing and then says, "Little...girl? Oh right...yes...I'll take care of her in a moment. Now you go back to your room. You need to rest."
"Why do I get the feeling that you don't believe me...?", Mr. Graham asks suspiciously.
"Oh, of course I believe you. But now go to bed."
The nurse shoos Mr. Graham away, while Christina is frantically trying to get her attention. But to no avail. The nurse just turns around, mumbling something about, "I didn't know that his meds caused hallucinations...poor old man."
'I'm not a hallucination!', Christina screams at the back of the nurse, but once again, her voice fails to resound and silence returns as the nurse walked away.
'Why...why is she ignoring me?', Christina wonders, as a peculiar sound reaches her ear.
It is very distant and very faint, but at the same time also feels familiar and warm.
It's the chime of a small bell...many small bells in fact, who are all avidly chiming in the rhythm of hasty steps.
An angry voice booms through the silence, as a female voice shouts, "Samantha, come back here this instant!"
Another female voice, far younger, shouts back, "Try and make me!"
Christina follows the noise of the happy steps and watches a little girl playing tag with a grown woman. The woman has bags under her eyes and her moves are sluggish, while the child seems to be full of energy.
Eventually however, the woman grabs the child and slaps her so hard, that one of the bells on the dress of the little girl falls off and rolls away.
"You...you hit me!", the little girl exclaims with tears in her eyes.
"Yes, I did.", the woman huffs. "Grandmother is dying and this is neither the time nor the place to be playing your little games. Now go back into the room and behave if you don't want to be hit again, you hear me?!"
"...yes, mother.", Samantha replies timidly and then they walk off, not taking notice of Christina's presence at all.
Christina considers following them, but decides against it. She didn't want anything to do with that terrible and tired woman. Instead, she walks over to the small bell that had fallen and picks it up. As she touches it, the small bell chimes to the touch. A wonderful sound, which disturbs the monotonous silence all around her.
She fastens the bell to her clothes and jumps and dances, making the bell chime with every move of her.
'Now...', she thinks, 'even without my voice, nobody will be able to ignore me any more.'