Then there was the white hospital – bright lights – why was it that the whole world seemed to be offering this sharp light everywhere? Tall hospital doors.
Then coloured rooms – nursery rooms, ‘A Picture For Mummy’ papered rooms – little red chairs.
Then pale rooms again. Glass windows onto glass boxes, one of them containing Freddie. (Bernie and Freddie. Dad, did you do this name thing on purpose?) Little, more tiny that anything, more tiny than he should be. Hopelessly harmless and dependent – and compared to my natural insomnia, interestingly asleep.
I felt something. Wondered if it was love. Knew I had to keep away from this place.
“They don’t know how soon we will be able to take him home, Bernie.” Out of the passing, memoried images of this early time, those are the only words I can remember from the hospital.
At home, conversation, food. A meal at home – not fast food, or dinner party, or cheap improvisations, More conversation. Money, exams, we’re proud of you, do you remember so and so? Looking forward to you coming home this summer?
But it was too late by then. I knew I loved Freddie. It was the final decider, simple, a reality slithering towards me, and pinning my eyes with its own.
Sometime dad, I’ve got to tell you.
I declined help in tugging my bag up the stairs. I was the fittest person there. I left the open suitcase on my bed, bringing my life back into the old room, and started working my way down the winding stairs for coffee. I kept my feet on the wide side of each step, where there was still bare dark wood and my foot was smaller than the step. Me and my clumsiness, it took ankle acrobatics. What if I mis-stepped? What if dad, or Eleanor mis-stepped? How many times did the thought have to cross my mind? I reached the bottom, the wider steps. Dad was clinking plates, piling them into the kitchen. There was the mumble of passing conversation between the kitchen and the dining room. I wondered how other people could live like this, how cosy, how terrifying.
What if someone were to die?
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