The Free Soul

  Lillith sat upon the floor in the early morning light … with her back supported by soft cushions and the wall, her legs in a lotus position, her hands resting gently in her lap she looked as if she were asleep. Except for one thing. Her eyes, pure and emerald green, were open, yet they were distant and unseeing. She was here, yet not. Her body was physically present, but her soul was absent. 

 The teenager’s spirit was elsewhere. Where, nobody knew. Her parents had found her this way the previous evening. But they had not tried to move her. They did not have the heart to because of one small thing … her smile.

 It was a peaceful smile, a serene smile, a smile that was filled with joy, love, and light. It was a smile unlike any they had seen touch the face of their only child. It was in stark contrast to the frown of confusion, and the grimace of pain that normally marred the now serene features.

 Lillith, small and frail, had Multiple Sclerosis. It was a dread disease, not normally inflicted on one so young. The teenager had only been 14 when its insidious touch had enveloped her fragile form. What made it worse was the fact that not only had she developed the disease younger than most, she also had a particularly aggressive form of the disease as well.

 Her parents had taken her from doctor, to specialist, and to doctor again only to discover that their child had a disease for which there was no cure. It was a disease that would forever change the magical, fey child, which they had created out of the passionate love that they shared.

 And Lillith was a truly magical child indeed. She had been born with the gift of empathy, a gift that allowed her to share the most amazing bond with the animals around her. The six household cats would be with her when she woke, wait for her when she was at school, and call out in joy as soon as she returned. And it was not only the cats that reacted this way.

 Lillith had several wild birds that came at her call. They would fly down from the trees to perch on her hand. The cats would not touch these birds … in fact, at Lillith’s request, the cats had not ever killed a living thing. So it was a sight to see indeed when a stranger espied the pale wisp of a girl surrounded by cat and birds altogether at the same time.
Yet it was dolphins that the child loved most.

 Her room was a shrine to the beautiful water creature, which she had never seen in the flesh. They lived in the outback and had never in her entire life made their way to the coastline of this red and gold land. But Lillith was content … her room was filled with pictures and statues, stuffed toys, and jewelled trinkets, and each new acquisition was treasured above all things.

 Over the weeks and months though, the disease took its toll. It came and went with increasing regularity. Periods of remission grew shorter and less frequent as periods of pain and fear increased. And there was nothing that the parents could do.

 At the age of 17, Lillith had been forced to give up any dreams of going to university in the city. The disease had left her bladder weakened, caused her limbs to tremble violently, but what was worse was the way it had affected her ability to remember things and solve problems.

 At first the memory loss had been gradual, simple moments when the parents would watch their child fret over a misplaced pen, or ribbon, or book. Over time though, it had become not a pen, but a memory, not a book, but a day. Whole lessons so well learnt at school, would fade like the colors of the sunset.

  Lillith’s sharp, analytical mind became unfocused and confused, and a child that had topped her classed every year became a little less bright every day.

 Four years after being diagnosed, Lillith was partially crippled and spent much of her time in sad contemplation, or she had until in desperation her parents had done something that they knew deep in their hearts would help their daughter.

 They had taken the money that they had saved for Lillith to go to college with, packed up the car and taken their daughter across the country to a place called Monkey Mia, Shark Bay, a place where dolphins came to frolic amongst the humans that came.

 The dolphins had been coming to the small bay for years, and over time it had become a healing place … a place where sick and dying children were brought so that the dolphins could return some small measure of joy to lives that had been destroyed by illness.

 Lillith had been moved to tears when she discovered where here parents were taking her. It had been a dream of hers for years to swim with the dolphins … a dream that had come true.

 The dolphins of Shark Bay were the focus of much scientific research into their habits and lifestyle, their relationships and their feeding. It had been a place that Lillith had always wanted to go when she completed her studies and became a qualified marine biologist. That part of the dream would never come true.

 The parents had watched the face of their only child become animated as they had carried her down to the water. Her whole being had been tense with excitement and anticipation, but even that delight was overshadowed by what had transpired next. To others it had seemed that the dolphins had been waiting for her. They had come swimming close to the waters edge before Lillith had even reached the shoreline.

 And when Lillith had been carried out into the gentle swell, the dolphins had gathered, touching her, calling to her, it had been almost as if they were welcoming home one of there own. The teenage girl found herself loved in return by the very creatures that she loved her entire life.

 For the next week Lillith had been taken daily to the dolphins, and daily they would come to play and be just with her. People had called it a miracle. People had come to think of the teenager as a human child with the soul of a dolphin.
For the first time in years Lillith was free to laugh and smile again. The pain that had consumed her was blessedly absent for the whole duration of her stay.

 It had remained that way for nearly a month after their return to outback New South Wales. Lillith had been pain free for the longest spell in the last year. The parents could not believe the luck of it. They had their lovely, magical child back. But for how long? They wondered if it would last.
Sadly, it had not …

 One morning Lillith woke to find that she could no longer feel her legs. She had cried for hours, her parents crying with her. The disease had returned, this time it would never leave again.

 That had been three days ago. Lillith had died inside. The light left her eyes and the memories had started to drift from her mind once more.

 That was why the parents would not disturb their child. Despite the fact that they knew within their hearts that she would never ‘see’ them again … and they were right. Lillith died only moments later, surrounded by her purring cats, and still smiling that gentle, happy smile.

 And as the last breath slipped from the frail, still body, a baby dolphin slipped from its mother’s womb into the warm, salty waters of Shark Bay. The dolphins of Monkey Mia now numbered one more.

 A new baby had been born, and it had the soul of a girl who could now be free.