“We have found her, sir” one of them barks.
He is not speaking in English but, to my surprise, I do understand the words that are coming out of his mouth.
“I should just have gotten back when I had the chance,” I think to myself when I realize that, at least, ten soldiers are surrounding me.
Then they break the circle to let a kind looking old man in. And for a reason I can’t understand, I feel relief to see him as if my heart knew who he is, however, I don’t.
“Emilia, my child,” says the man on the verge of tears “What are you doing here? We’ve been looking for you for hours. I almost lost my mind. But it’s all good now. We’ve found you, my dear. My child,” he says and lovingly caress my cheek.
I don’t know how to respond. I just look at him trying to calm down my trembling body.
“My child, you’re shivering,” he says and then barks some orders to the men, who hand him a cloak immediately.
“Put this on, my child and let’s go home, mamma is worried sick about you.”
“Mamma is worried sick about me?” the question slips out of my mouth because in the “real world” my estranged parents have never really cared much about me.
“Of course, my child,” he says “your mamma, and I love our daughter so very much,” he says and hugs me and, to my surprise, I abandone myself to the unfamiliar sensation of protection.
I am his daughter, I think to myself. No, Emilia, you are not his daughter, he thinks you are, but you are not I remind myself.
“Emilia,” he says letting go of me “dawn will break soon, and the citizen will start filling this place,” he says while start walking.
“What’s this place?- I ask.
“Emilia, my child,” he says while smiling, “it’s true, you are a lucky girl. You have your own bath at home, but, at least, I’d expect you to know the public bath where your father conducts business and meets the most important in town” there is no judgment in his words just sweetness.
We step outside to find a magnificent carriage waiting for us.
The kind old man barks some more orders to the soldiers who have been following us all this time. And they all go to wherever they came from. Aware of our presence, the driver jumps off to the ground to help me get in the carriage. Once inside, the old man hugs me to keep me warm. I can’t help but fall asleep in his arms.
The midday sun wakes me up, and I feel dizzy.
“It was all a dream,” I think to myself. I sit up, trying to calm my head. And to my surprise, I’m wearing the tunic I was wearing in the dream.
It doesn’t make sense at all.
“My God, it was all real” I shout while a panic attack starts crawling up my chest strangling the air out me.
People come in running.
They are all wearing tunics similar to mine. A lady pushes her way in, but nobody seems to take offense.
She pulls me to her and starts rocking me from one side to another. The panic attack is slowly retrieving. The lady notices my calm breathe and slowly unties our hug.
“This always works like a charm,” she says while pulling my hair away from my face.
“Thanks,” I reply awkwardly.
And then I realize that all eyes are on me, twelve pairs of eyes, just staring. But then I see a familiar face standing next to me, my father, because I am his daughter, aren’t I?.