//H A P P Y B I R T H D A Y
They search every cracked and dusty corner of the hospital, but the mother is nowhere to be found. Instead, the head nurse finds a folded slip of paper tucked behind a pillow in the young woman’s empty bed, still warm and unkempt, as if she had simply went for the bathroom. The nurse turns it over in her fingers before splitting it open with her thumbs to read the note:
“her father wanted her to be named Valkyrie”
The nurse folds it back into place somberly. Though it filled her chest with the same chill as the April rain beating on the windows, it was to be expected, maybe even celebrated. Though they tried (God they tried) to raise their children right, in this neighborhood, on this hot and crowded planet, young mothers often found their daughters slipping through their fingers, destined for the gutters, the brothels, and for the particularly headstrong ones, the gangs and merc groups. The head nurse walks down the hall, the lights flickering above her, to let the other nurses know that the mother was truly gone.
One nurse, a small, dark-skinned woman, rocks the orphan in her arms, but stops when her superior walks in with a face like melted wax.
“You weren’t able to find Hannah, were you?”
She shook her head. “She left this behind.” The young nurse balances the child on her hip as she inspects the note.
“Valkyrie Shepard,” she mumbles. “It’s quite a mouthful.”
“We’ll have to call CPS once she’s cleared to go,” the head nurse says, shaking her head. “It’s a shame. She’s such a beautiful baby.”
“Beautiful and strong,” the younger nurse coos, looking into the child’s big brown eyes. “And I’m sure she’ll stay that way.”