Once all of the children had a comfort item, it was time to pass those that remained to agitated adults. -- Anon Guest
Where there are disasters, there are the aftermaths. Wreckage and ruin are there, for certain, but the heart of it is always with the people. Sheltered in temporary structures. Huddled under blankets or hiding from the world. The bleeding and needing, the vacant-eyed ones who are broken on the inside... and the children.
There are so many pairs of arms available. Only so many who are free to comfort the young, upset, and distraught. When that supply is exhausted, all that can be offered in that place are objects of comfort. A blanket to help maintain temperature. The warm drink to rehydrate. The seemingly mandatory stuffed toy. The sad truth is that soft toys are a decent replacement for actual, living comfort, and they can be easily manufactured.
There aren't enough arms for those children. There aren't any at all for those full-grown. Emergency responders know that, once the children are seen to, the stuffed toys are also welcome in adult arms. Every species with tactile senses much prefers something soft and fluffy to touch.
Medik Brues patrolled the bunks of the waiting wounded, seeking out the quiet ones. You always had to watch the quiet ones. There were many among them who would not call attention to themselves and patiently, quietly, get into deep medical trouble and perhaps perish from self-unimportance. Some, they knew, would just find a bunk and sit there until someone could see to them. Brues was that someone, tonight.
There was just enough light to see by, not enough to disturb these patients' sleep. Brues would whisper apologies to anyone they woke in the process. One did not need an apology because they were still awake. They were sitting quietly and seemingly in good spirits, so Brues checked by them anyway. They had something in their arms, but it wasn't the mass-printed teddy bear of interesting hues.
Brues checked them for injuries and hidden killers, and in the process discovered that the patient's soft and fuzzy comfort object was an animal. A random cat was settled smugly in the patient's lap with the air of one who has found the best place to be. It was a quiet creature and even allowed Brues to pat it.
"You have a very good kitty," cooed Brues, chucking the little creature under its chin.
"Oh, this isn't my cat," said the patient. "I don't have one."
[Image (c) Can Stock Photo / budabar]
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