Part 9 – Easter Morning - 2 comments

On Easter day I went to visit my mother. There weren’t usually a lot of visitors at St. Bernard’s, a little more perhaps on the holidays, but still not so many. If there had been, I probably wouldn’t have noticed David, lying on two chairs in the visitors room, looking asleep.

“David?” I said quietly. If he was asleep I didn’t want to wake him up. He opened his eyes immediately and looked up. He blinked his eyes a few times, confused, but then he sat slowly up.

“What are you doing here?” he asked in a rough voice and rubbed his eyes.

“I’m visiting my mother,” I said, rather surprised of the question. “What are you doing here?”

He looked at me for a few moments.

“Visiting,” he said, and kept looking at me. I looked back. He wasn’t going to tell me why he was there, and he was seeing if I would ask him any further. I smiled.

“You look like you’ve been here for a while,” I said as I noticed his hair and general appearance. He looked down.

“That’s a mild way to put it,” he said.

“Want to come with me to the cafeteria? They have good coffee there,” I asked. He looked at me again for a few moments.

“Sure,” he finally said and stood up slowly.

The cafeteria was on the top floor of the building. It had been recently added. There were a lot of windows so it was bright and cosy. We found a table in a quiet corner and sat down with our coffee. David looked more serious than usual. He didn’t say anything.

“And here I thought you were visiting me,” a woman said as she stopped by our table. She was skinny and pale, wearing a jogging suit and no shoes, just white socks. Her hair was cut in a boyish fashion. She had a white plastic band around her wrist. Although she looked rather sickly, she was smiling happily down on us. I smiled back.

“This is David, he’s a classmate, I found him lying around,” I said. “David, this is my mother.”

David looked surprised, but he managed to take the hand that was extended towards him and shake it. My mother sat down at the end of the table.

“Aren’t you a patient?” David asked. My mother nodded. “Are you allowed to come up here?”

“I get special permit when Nikki comes around,” mom said. “But they do make some precautions. No shoes.”

She lifted her feet up so he could see the socks.

“I take it you don’t mind being here, then.”

A shadow fell over my mother’s face.

“I don’t like leaving Nikki alone like this,” she said and looked at me with a sad face. I smiled and took her hand. “But she says this is better. I have to trust her judgement. I’m insane, you see, and she’s not.”

David seemed stunned by her honesty, but didn’t say anything. He kept drinking his coffee.

“So, how’s school?” my mother asked. I filled her in on everything, including the French tutoring and the dance. She asked about every detail, and I told her all I remembered. David said a few things too, but not much. He mostly looked out the window, like he did at school.

After half an hour a nurse came to us and told my mother she had to go now. My mother was always as happy to see me as she was sad to say goodbye. She hugged me tightly, told me not to do anything my aunt told me and stroke her fingers through a tangle in my hair. The nurse took a tight but gentle grip around her shoulders and led her away. She looked back on the verge of tears. I smiled reassuringly to her, and she smiled weakly back. Then she was gone.

My brave look completely disappeared as I fell down on my chair. I kept my eyes closed, but a few tears ran down my cheek.

“Here,” I heard David say. I opened my eyes. He was handing me a tissue. I took it gratefully and dried my eyes. Then I went to get another cup of strong coffee. I usually couldn’t stay after visiting, but having someone there with me made me feel more comfortable.

“She didn’t look very insane,” David said when he saw I had stopped crying. I laughed.

“You don’t know her,” I said. “Don’t get me wrong, she’s a lot better than when she came in, but she still isn’t her usual self. She likes laughing, but she didn’t laugh once. And she was always a little chubby. She likes eating good food. She almost looked like a skeleton when she came here first, so she’s getting better in that sense too, but the doctor tells me she still doesn’t eat much. The food here isn’t so good, I admit, but not bad either.”

David had his elbows on the table and his chin on his hands, looking thoughtful. I just sipped my coffee.

“What happened to her?” he finally asked.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Why is she here?”

He didn’t look at me. Just at the table, still very thoughtful.

“We don’t know what happened. That’s why she’s here.”

He looked at me with a questioning face. I looked at him back, seeing if he would ask me any more. He understood my expression. Why should I tell him if he didn’t even want to tell me what he was doing there? He looked at the table again.

“Getting anything good for dinner?” he asked casually as he stretched himself.

“Spaghetti,” I said with a frown. He blinked.

“On Easter day?” he asked surprised. I nodded.

“My aunt’s going to a dinner party. I’m not invited,” I said. “I wish I could stay here, have dinner with my mom, but it’s not allowed.”

“Yeah, I don’t get why they’re so strict on it,” David said, looking around the cafeteria. “They could at least let people bring some decent food over, even though they don’t eat it with them.”

We both looked at the food in the cafeteria. Although this wasn’t where the patients ate, it was most likely the same food. Everything looked strangely grey and a little nauseating.

David suddenly got to his feet.

“I’ve got to go,” he said. I sighed and drank the rest of my coffee.

“Yeah, me too,” I said and stood up also. We went out together.

“How’s your essay going?” I asked as we waited for the elevator. Mrs. Young had set us an essay in French over the holiday. He sighed.

“I haven’t started it yet,” he said heavily. I smiled and gave him a nudge with my elbow.

“Do I have to tie you down to make you study?!” I asked laughing. He smiled a small smile.

When we were saying goodbye outside he hesitated.

“You can come to us for dinner, if you want,” he said hurriedly, like he was afraid he wouldn’t be able to say it if he didn’t say it fast enough. Then he slowed down and smiled. “My mom’s famous for her lamb.”

I hesitated.

“Are you sure she wouldn’t mind?” I asked unsure. He nodded.

“She always makes enough to feed an army, and she likes you. My brothers do too, they think you’re funny,” he said and smiled. “Besides, she would never forgive me if I didn’t ask you, considering you’re planning to be alone.”

“OK,” I said decidedly. “When should I come over?”

“Dinner’s at seven, you can come whenever before that,” he said as he started to walk away. “And don’t worry about dressing yourself up. We’re very casual.”

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2 thoughts, but there's room for more

  1. Ingunn says:

    Ég held ég myndi hafa þetta á íslensku, nógu spennandi til þess. Geðveika móðirin er mjög flott atriði án þess að vera of alvarlegt.

  2. graceperla says:

    Takk Ingunn mín
    Með íslenskuna … ég á stundum í þeim vandræðum að ég fæ hugmynd og hún virkar einhvernveginn ekki í hausnum mínum nema á ensku. Veit ekki alveg af hverju, en vonandi fer ég að geta stjórnað þessu eitthvað betur með tímanum :)

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