Prometheus had stolen fire from the heavens for the mortals below. Let them fend for themselves, Zeus believed but no, Prometheus sought to appease the aimless masses of humans who huddled in their mud and grass dwellings cold and miserable.
Zeus contemplated how best to employ his revenge. It could be quick; yes, that would be satisfying but what was the fun in that? No, he decided, better it be well-plotted and slowly unfolded; that was the way to get the maximum enjoyment for the situation. The mortals now possessed fire, light by which to brighten their earthly hovels and cook their meals. For that, Prometheus and the mortals must pay and pay dearly!
Of all the great things in heaven and on the mortal plain, women were at the top of the list for amusement and satisfaction. Nothing caught a man’s attention easier than a beautiful woman to warm his bed and grace his hearthside. So yes, he needed a woman. Not just any woman though, no, this one must be exquisite, possessing all the grace, charm and beauty that a man could desire.
So he conceived of such a woman and set about the creation of her. She could be the first mortal woman brought onto the heavenly plain. He commanded Hephaestus to mold from earth the first woman, a "beautiful evil" whose descendants would torment the race of men. After Hephaestus created her, Athena dressed her in a silvery gown, an embroidered veil, garlands and an ornate crown of gold and Aphrodite imbued her with breath-taking beauty. Her eyes were like the stars that twinkled in the sky and all that gazed into them would yearn to reach for the stars. She was called Pandora and when she first appeared before Gods and mortals, "wonder seized them" as they looked upon her.
Zeus gave her to Epimetheus who was Prometheus’ brother and with her came a beautiful jar that held all the evils of the world; pestilence, war, hatred, disease and death. But it also contained the greatest gift of all – hope. Pandora was warned to never open the jar lest the evils escape and desolation was free to roam the earth. Epimetheus was given the key to the jar and bade to never give it to Pandora. He swore his allegiance to Zeus, greatest of all Gods and took Pandora as his wife, to the envy of mortals and Gods alike for her beauty was such that all beings coveted it.
Zeus chuckled to himself; he knew that Pandora could never resist the curiosity about the jar and would one day open it, thus letting forth all the evil that would cover the earth. It was an amusing game to Zeus, but as days and then months went by he grew more impatient with Pandora for she did as she was told and did not open the jar.
This must be remedied; if she opened it she would be reviled as the woman who brought about the pain and suffering of humankind, forever known for her evil deed. Epimetheus would suffer the anger and hatred of the mortals as well and the revenge that Zeus desired would unfold exactly as he planned.
But Pandora resisted the jar...
Cassie woke up in an ambulance, the blare of the siren sounding excruciatingly painful in her ears. She opened her eyes and tried to look around her but a paramedic laid a gentle hand on her shoulder and said, “No, don’t try to move, okay?”
There was some kind of bulky binding around her neck; she really couldn’t move much if she tried. She was tempted to try, if for no other reason than to prove to herself that she could. But somewhere in her stunned brain she decided that discretion was the better part of valor and that perhaps the wisest thing to do was to just stay still.
She did look all around her though, what she could see without turning her head anyway. She had never been in an ambulance before and she was amazed at everything that was crammed into such a small space. Suddenly a thought came to her.
“Sarah, where is Sarah?” she asked.
“Sarah?” the paramedic who was listening to her heart murmured.
“Yes, Sarah! She was with me in the car.”
“Oh, she’s being taken to the hospital in another ambulance.”
A huge wave of relief washed over Cassie; Sarah was alive.
Okay Cass, Sarah is alive and so are you. So what happened?
She remembered the torrential rain, coming down in sheets across the roadway and slowing the car down to a mere creep, but still not being able to see well enough. A car had suddenly pulled in front of her and she had slammed on the brakes to avoid it. The next thing she knew she heard a screeching behind the car and then...well the next thing she remembered was now.
The ambulance slowed drastically; Cass wished that they would kill the howling siren too but that didn’t seem to be happening. Finally they stopped and the rear doors opened and then everything seemed to go into a fast-forward. She was being pulled out of the ambulance and was then surrounded by hospital staff. The gurney was rushed into the building with hospital staff running to keep up with it. Cassie heard another ambulance pull up as the hospital doors closed and hoped that it was Sarah. She had to know if she was okay.
She listened as the paramedics gave the nursing staff her vitals as she was wheeled into a room and a curtain was drawn around the group. They all worked together to get her moved onto a bed and she heard more people out in the hallway, probably bringing Sarah in.
"Sarah,” Cassie called out, hoping that her friend would answer.
"Is your name Sarah?” a nurse asked her?
“No, that’s my friend. I think they just brought her in. Can you find out if she is okay for me?”
The nurse smiled and told her, “Sure, but first things first. Can you tell me your name?”
“Cassie, uh Cassandra Banks. My friend is Sarah Marcus, you need to call her family!”
“We will, I promise. What about you, who can we call for you?”
Cassie was laying flat on her back, staring up into lights that seemed garishly bright. She wanted to lift her head to look around but the cervical collar prevented that from happening. She blinked, wishing she could shield her eyes and she realized that a few tears were slowly making their way down her cheeks.
"Can you dim those darn lights please? They’re blinding me!” Cassie told them. She tried to lift her arm to wipe away the tears and was prevented from doing that by a man who had just walked into the room.
“Hey, hold on there,” he told her and he laid her arm back down on bed beside her. “We don’t want you moving yet, not until we get you checked out!”
Cassie looked at him and her heart immediately skipped a beat. He had the most gorgeous hazel eyes she had ever seen. The face that they were in wasn’t too bad either she decided as she smiled at him. He seemed to be tall with a nice build, but then who could really tell in the baggy green scrubs he had on. His hair was graying, but Cassie could see that mixed in with the gray it was a beautiful rich brown. Long, sooty lashes framed the hazel eyes and while he wasn’t smiling now, tell-tale lines around his eyes and mouth made Cassie believe that he did smile often. She suddenly felt terribly self-conscious about how she must look and she felt a warm flush sweep up over her face.
“Ms. Banks? Ms. Banks?”
She finally recognized that the nurse was talking to her again. Cassie swallowed hard and tried to focus on what the nurse was saying.
“Ms. Banks? Who can we contact for you?”
"Uh, oh, uh, my- my parents, I guess.” Great Cass, you sound like an idiot!
She gave them her parent’s names and numbers and the nurse went to call them. The doctor was examining her legs, bending them and turning them slightly. “Ms. Banks, can you feel this?” he asked as he poked her foot with a probe of some kind.
“Uh, yes I can! You know, I was a dancer in school so you better watch out poking me like that, I have a mean kick!”
“I’ll keep that in mind,” he told her and smiled. It lit up his face and Cassie felt as if she could move mountains if it meant he would smile at her again.
Several more people came in and he started giving orders to them. She heard lots of things that she had only heard on TV shows, but she suddenly became aware that she was going to get to know them all first hand.
He was writing on a chart and stopped for a moment as he pursed his lips as if trying to decide on something. He tapped his pen on the chart for a moment and then began writing away again, so fast that it couldn’t be anything but a scribble.
“See, that’s why we can’t ever read a thing you doctors write – you practice speed writing!”
“Yeah, they teach us in med school, Speed Writing 101. It’s a popular course,” he laughed. For the first time he really looked at his patient as she lay on the bed. She was tiny, around 5’0 tall with soft red hair that was cut short and framed her beautiful face. Her eyes though, they made him catch his breath; they were the color of fresh spring grass, greener than any he had seen before and they were framed by eyelashes that seemed to be about a mile long, even without makeup he realized.
For a moment he felt mesmerized by her; he continued to look into her eyes and wondered what it would be like to get lost in them. Those thoughts were suddenly interrupted by a technician coming it to the room.
“Hi, Dr. Gorman, I’m here to take Ms. Banks down for her MRI.”
“Ah, good. And if you could push those results I’d appreciate it.” He looked at Cassie and again and added, “Well Ms. Banks, I’ll be seeing you in a bit.” With a final smile he headed out of the room, almost glad to escape. He didn’t know if he could be this woman’s doctor.
Dr. Georgio Gorman watched from the nurses’ station as they wheeled her out of the room and headed to the MRI lab. He frowned for a moment and then retreated to the doctors lounge area to ponder the chart of his new patient and make some notes.
He sat in one of the chairs and leaned back, putting his feet up on a desk and closed his eyes. He thought about Ms. Banks and knew that it would be better for them both if he passed the case on to another doctor. He felt drawn to her and that wouldn’t be good for either of them. He had to be able to keep a professional distance but he knew himself well enough to know that it would be hard this time.
Unfortunately, he was all too familiar with the symptoms of this problem. It wasn’t the first time he’d faced this dilemma.
Memories started flooding into his mind; it was 1994 and he was working in a small free clinic in Wichita part time. A nurse he had never worked with before entered the room and for a moment he caught his breath and then dropped the stethoscope he had been holding. He was actually glad of that, it gave him an excuse to bend over and grab it and hopefully give the blush that had swept across his face a chance to subside.
“Hi,” she said shyly. “I’m Belinda and I’ll be working with you today.”
Georgio nodded and said, “I’m Dr. Gorman, uh, Georgio Gorman actually. It’s nice to meet you.” He started checking the cupboards for supplies, although he knew it wasn’t necessary; the clinic manager kept everything well-stocked. But it was something to focus on besides her – Belinda.
He somehow knew that life would never be the same after he met her and he was right. Now lightning had struck again. What did he do about it?
Cassie looked around the MRI lab, as best she could anyway. All she could really see was a huge machine that had an opening like a gaping mouth.
Great, they’re gonna slide me in that thing like a piece of bread in a toaster!
On the way down to the lab Cassie had chatted a bit with her ‘driver’. His name was Griffin and he was a radiology tech. The cart whizzed along the corridors of the hospital at an almost frantic pace and Cassie joked about Griffin not giving her any time to sight see.
“What, you want to sight see all this?” he laughed. “Yeah, you missin’ some top sights, that’s for sure!” he chuckled as he pulled the gurney to a halt in front of a bank of elevators and pushed a button to call the elevator.
“You know, I feel fine,” Cass told him. “Uh, maybe a bit sore, but that’s to be expected I guess. I vaguely recall taking a flying tour of the inside of my car.” She frowned as she recalled that; she had put her seat belt on when they got in the car at the airport, remembered it distinctly. “I did have my seat belt on, what happened?”
“Don’t know Ms. Banks, but it must have come undone. The other one in the car with you, they had to cut her seat belt off to get her out of the car. Said there was a lot of blood…”
Cassie gasped as she heard him say that and then she let out a long breath. “Is she okay? I mean, have you heard anything about her?”
“I think they were talking about a head injury, but I don’t know for sure. She’ll probably be my next trip.”
The elevator bell ‘dinged’ and the door slide open. They waited for several people to move out of the elevator before Griffin slid the gurney in and pushed the button for the radiology floor.
They were quiet the rest of the trip as Cassie contemplated what was going on with Sarah. She tried to remember a bit more about the impact of the car, but it was all so shadowy. She thought she remembered the car going over an embankment and rolling down a hill. Yes, that was when her seat belt popped loose; she remembered it now. Maybe she hadn’t gotten it clicked on all the way, she wasn’t sure, but it had been on.
Sarah, she recalled Sarah screaming; or maybe it was me, she decided. The car had finally stopped rolling and came to an abrupt halt, right side up. Cassie was on the floor in the back seat; she could see Sarah any longer. She hadn’t heard her either and she thought she called out to her. She tried to reach up to grab the top of the seat so that she could pull herself up but she couldn’t make her arm move.
Oh God, I am paralyzed?
The thought scared her so much she fainted.
A few moments later Cassie opened her eyes and blinked several times trying to focus. Her heart was racing a bit but she felt like a fool, passing out. Griffin was waving smelling salts under her nose and calling her name.
“Ms. Banks, Ms. Banks – are you okay now? Are you in pain?”
“No, I’m fine, I just panicked for a moment is all. Sorry to scare you,” she told him, giving him a week smile.
Cassie tried balling her hands into fists and realized that she could; it was an enormous relief!
So, I’m NOT paralyzed but what is the problem?
Another tech came in and helped Griffin to move her onto the machine track; it would eventually move forward into the toaster slot Cass thought grimly. She shivered in anticipation; she was bit claustrophobic and didn’t like the thought of being in that machine for any length of time.
“Uh, how long does this thing take?” she inquired as they were examining her.
Griffin was looking at her hands and ears and asked, “Do you have any metal jewelry on that we can’t see?”
"So, where would that be…” and then she figured it out. Some people had piercings in places that most folks would never see. “No, no uh, nothing like that.” She blushed as she informed them, she couldn’t help it.
“Do you have any metal plates in your body or pins, from previous injuries?” he asked, going down a checklist. He carefully removed the surgical collar and set it aside.
“No, nothing, I told you.”
He smiled at her and stated, “We just have to make sure, Ms. Banks. Are you ready?”
"Yeah, I guess so, but how long does this take?” she asked again, trying to swallow down a bit of panic at being in that machine.
“Hmm, about half an hour; Dr. Gorman ordered a full body scan.” He made a couple more notations on the chart and then looked at her, frowning. “Ms. Banks, are you claustrophobic?”
“A – a little. I think more than anything I’m just nervous about everything that is happening.”
“Well, I can understand that!” he smiled. “But it will go pretty fast. Just close your eyes and try to relax; think about something happy!”
“Something happy?” she inquired, raising one eyebrow.
He smiled and shrugged, “Yeah, I know, easier said than done! Okay, now I’m going to be right over there, in that room monitoring everything; if you need me you just call out to me, okay?”
“You’ll be able to hear me?”
“Every single breath, alright? Let’s go!”
The track started to move into the machine and Cassie took a deep breath and blinked.
Okay, here we go Cassie. Gotta be a smoother ride than the last one you were on!
Georgio grabbed a quick cup of coffee as he went over the preliminary examination notes made by the paramedic crew at the injury site. He stirred four packs of sugar into the steaming black brew and grimaced when he took a sip. Well, at least it was hot he decided, if not good. He was used to the thick, black Turkish brew he used at home, just like the brew he grew up on.
Hot and sweet, that was how his Greek mother made her coffee. She had met his father in 1945, at the end of the Second World War. His father still laughed when he talked about meeting her and his mother still blushed! Someday, Georgio wanted to know the real story behind all that!
He tapped his pen on the desk as he read the report and pushed his reading glasses back up onto his nose. The paramedics indicated a traumatic spinal injury during their first examination and that concerned Georgio. He was an orthopedic doctor, specializing in traumatic spinal cord injuries, which is why he was called in to this case.
When he had examined Cassie, correction, MS. BANKS, he thought, when he had examined her she did have feeling in her legs and she could move her hands, both excellent signs. He sighed as he took another sip of the cooling coffee and put his pen down. He’d know more when the results from the MRI arrived. In the meantime he had a decision to make.
Copyright 2010 by Cynthia Hope Hodge
All rights reserved. You may not reproduce, or retransmit by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying, recording or by any other means without permission by the author.
Welcome to the opening chapter of Wishing on Stars - Cassie and Georgio's Story. Much like WMHD, this story is a labor of love, I'll admit it, I have fallen in love with Georgio! He's a complicated guy, but then let's face it, Cassie is a complicated girl so they are perfect together. Join them on their journey to discovering each other and love with a few kinks along the way!
I want to thank and acknowledge all the help my faithful golden retriever, otherwise known as Engbunny gave to me on this story. I couldn't do it without her. Also, another big thanks to Kristin, my medical consultant! Ladies, you both make what I do so much simpler and I am so very gratful for your support and diligence! Ain't nothing like an SOS!
Thanks so much for reading!