Angel Falling Softly

Chapter 30

Hard cases make bad law

Steven dropped Milada off at the main entrance to Deseret Children’s Hospital. “A friend of mine, her child is in the hospital,” she’d explained when she’d given him the directions.

“Do you want me to wait?”

“I have a ride,” she said, and sent him home.

The DCH lobby was a pleasant surprise. None of the grim, bleach-white, sterile spaciousness of the modern general hospital. It had a friendly, almost intimate, air about it, the walls finished in pink and purple and green pastels. The numerous donor plaques were stenciled in the shapes of toy blocks.

In the center of the lobby, a wishing pool, its blue tiles scattered with copper and silver coins, surrounded a wire-and-metal sculpture. A Child’s World it was titled, a collection of intricately designed Rube Goldberg contraptions: wheels and gears and engines and paddles and wings and sails, all commanded by their child pilots, small forms cast in patinated bronze.

Etched in gold leaf into the wall opposite were the words, “The Child First and Always.” And next to it a captioned black-and-white photograph of the original Deseret Hospital Board of Directors, dated July 17, 1882. All women, several of them wives of Brigham Young, two of them holding medical degrees from the Women’s Medical College in Philadelphia and the University of Michigan.

In the late nineteenth century, Milada understood, the most progressive social and political institutions on the American continent could be found in Utah among the Mormon polygamists. Go figure.

Milada took the elevator to the third floor. In the waiting room outside the bone marrow transplant unit was a surgical scrub basin. A sign instructed visitors to wash their hands before entering the unit. She stopped at the water fountain. She rinsed her mouth and spit the water into the basin. She stood at the sink and washed her hands and examined herself in the mirror.

You are out of your mind, said the needling voice in her head.

She shook the thought away.

You are out of your bloody mind.

She’d been out of her mind before. She knew what that was like. If there was any justice in this world, she would have hung until dead from the Tyburn gallows. Unlike Rakosi, she wouldn’t have had the courage to kill herself first.

Kammy’s going to catch you.

That brought her to a dead stop. Rachel’s question came back to her. What would your sister say? Kammy would be curious, but she would never go along. She had too many principles—where had she gotten them from?—and she took too many precautions. She used her connections to get fresh blood from the blood bank instead of picking up men. How did she end up so normal?

It was Zoë, who had too few principles and took too few precautions—Zoë who’d discovered the relationship between venom and allergies from a girl who was cured of her debilitating allergies after Zoë slept with her and took her blood. One of the odd side benefits of having a sexually adventurous sister.

And Michael? He would disapprove categorically. Give when you take; never infect; never tell. Those were the rules of the family. Never tell. She had crossed that line and crossed it with a woman bound to her not by money or power or fear but by compassion. Of all things. She’d paid the ferryman, and there was no shoreline in sight.

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