Sunday, February 5, 2017

Found Objects 2

Continued from Found Objects

A tiny hand clutched hers when she came round. The smell and taste of disinfectant in her system and the shine on pale green walls rendered her more confused than ever.  The small ward echoed with beeps and clicks and the beige folds in the curtain separating her bed from another were unfamiliar and threatening, something from a distant memory but she wasn't sure what.

"Hi Grandma, are you poorly?"

The tiny voice was more familiar but not quite recognisable, as were the concerned faces of her son and daughter, towering above her bed, almost hovering as harbingers yet clearly worried. She felt as small as the hand that held hers.

"Hello Alice." Another voice entered the space.

She turned her head to see the young Intern reading from his notes. His face expressionless, his tone monotonous. He turned his attention to the couple beside her bed as the little boy squeezed tighter and smiled at her.

 "She was very lucky," he began, his demeanour almost reprimanding.  "Thankfully a neighbour heard the dog barking and sounded the alarm.  We don't know how long she was unconscious. I'm advised that she was clinically dead but revived by Paramedics at the scene.  As a result, she's a little confused. She has a contusion on her skull and has experienced a cereberovascular event. She's currently also suffering dysphasia,  has paralysis on the left side which may or may not resolve. She also is showing signs of amnesia, probably due to the head trauma."

 The two adults that she barely recognised were nodding in accordance, soaking up his words, assessing his prognosis but to Alice, it looked like they were ashamed. The woman placed her hand over her mouth to muffle her emotions.

"The first few days are crucial," continued the Intern. "She'll be visited by a Speech Pathologist, a Physiotherapist and monitored four-hourly. But you also need to do your part to enable a full recovery."

"She needs to be reminded of who she is and engaged in conversation frequently to help with her articulation. Perhaps you could bring in photographs or objects that are familiar to her and talk about them, what the meant to her, reinforce her memory. Long term memories are generally the first to return, something from her past would be appropriate."

Again the adults nodded in deference to the medico's authority. The Intern patted Alice's arm in a sign of faux empathy and swiftly exited.

"We have to go Mum," the woman said. "Do what the doctor tells you and we'll be back tomorrow, promise."

She looked into the woman's eyes with an inkling of remembrance but wasn't sure who she was. Her daughter? Her daughter-in-law? Some stranger who had mistaken her for a parent?
The man was already heading towards the door without saying a word.

She tried to mouth "Who are you?" but the words spilled out differently and her nonsense "Ninety-nine, father," landed on her daughter's ears and evoked tears.

"Tomorrow Mum. You'll feel a little better tomorrow."

The woman sighed and kissed Alice's forehead.  Alice felt something familiar about her touch and smell. The little hand disengaged and waved as he cornered the bed, his other hand clasped tight by a well dressed woman who did not look back as she disappeared behind the curtain folds.

Alice gazed at the ceiling and a slightly flickering strip light that made her blink more frequently than she had before. The tubes in her nose made her sneeze but she couldn't raise her left arm to stem the spittle.  A nurse entered with a tissue and assisted.

"There you go luv, I'll leave these here for you. Might have a bit of trouble with that left arm so use your right. The physio will be here in a couple of hours. Would you like a cup of tea?"

She nodded, her throat was parched. She tried to say 'Thank you' without adding 'Ninety-nine father," but it didn't work. The nurse seemed unfazed.

"That's alright luv, It'll come with time," and she too slipped behind the folds.

Folds that brought back a first memory. Folds that now reminded her of those drawn slowly across the casket at funerals. Folds that enveloped as it slipped behind into the Chapel crematorium. She couldn't remember where she'd seen them, only that she'd seen them often.

"Here you are luvvy," chirped an orderly as he set down the cup and saucer. He helped her sit up with firm yet gentle arms, plumped up the pillows and offered her a sip through a straw.

"You'll be alright, you're a lucky girl Alice, a very lucky soul. Just a few more moments and you might not be with us here now. Just think, you'll be up and around in no time. You'll probably look at the world a little differently now that you've got a second chance eh?"

Alice, syphoned the luke-warm tea and rejected the plain biscuit. The orderly too, then disappeared behind the folds, leaving her to assess her survival. Her mind was active even if it was a little befuddled, all she could remember was a tattoo she wished she'd had.

Muse 2 - A Little Death is Good for the Soul
Posted for 10th Daughter of Memory - 8th River of Mnemosyne Challenge


Saturday, February 4, 2017

Found Objects

She'd wondered about it many times. Living alone in an enclave of frightened neighbours, the gates electronically controlled, people peering through lace curtained windows at unfamiliar cars - What would happen if she died, alone!

"I could be dead for days before anyone finds me!" she'd lamented to her kids. They were now grown with wives and children of their own. Rarely seen, rarely contacted other than the odd phone call or message. It had been a constant fear since she'd gone beyond her 70's.

There was no reason to believe anything would happen. She was frail but healthy. She had a panic button in the bathroom and a remote to carry round in the event of an emergency. She'd only used it once when she fell from the second stair and sprained her ankle. Help came . . .eventually. It gave her some solace, but not much.

She had a frame. Since her knee had been replaced, it had been pain free but even harder to traverse those stairs. It was inflexible which is why for an hour, twice a day, she would watch television and use a mini cycle to increase it's reach. Which is why, she'd hired a Zimmer frame temporarily to help her get around. The instability was palpable and her recovery slow. She should have had the surgery done 10 years earlier if only the surgeons had been cooperative and she hadn't been so afraid of convalescing. They wanted to put her into assisted living but she wasn't that unfit. Her curled hair, now white made her look a little mad and her rather random selection of poorly matched clothes might have been a little unorthodox but she knew she wasn't crazy.

She'd become forgetful.  Years of trying to learn a language, mastering sudoku, trying to be alert and forcing memories had only been slightly successful. She still couldn't remember what day it was or where she was supposed to be at any given time without a calendar reminder or a phone call. She lost things, all sorts of things. For one, the remote panic control. Her rubber gloves. That other slipper. She could have her glasses on her head whilst searching for them, her mobile phone in her hand whilst forgetting where she'd left it. She'd left the garage door open overnight then panicked realising that anyone could have entered during her broken slumber, but she knew that wasn't really true. Nobody would come, nobody ever did.

She'd always intended to get a tattoo. A specific tattoo with a specific message. She'd banged on about it for years but never managed to pluck up the courage to be inked. She wasn't afraid of dying. She was afraid of living. That's why she'd chosen this little Villa in it's enclave of fear. All her neighbours were the same. Quiet, unobtrusive. Never waved, never spoke. That's why electronic gates and high walls formed a virtually impenetrable fortress around her. She knew once 'in' she was safe. She also knew once 'in', she was vulnerable to not being found.

As she limped across the lounge room to grab the TV remote control, her brain exploded. She felt weak, sweaty and her hand couldn't grasp the oversized item, bought specifically to help with arthritic hands. She could see the red and green buttons jumping at her - stop then go, in focus, then blurred. She could feel the vertigo take over as she gripped the frame tightly with both hands, leaning her now frail and atrophied body against it, her knees weakening but not prepared to bend. There was nobody to talk to, nobody to help, and where was that damned remote panic button. She began to speak. Not in an ordered fashion but words jumbled like letters newly collected from a Scrabble board and randomly placed in their little rack.

As she glanced upward, pins and needles stabbed relentlessly at her wizened hands. She caught a glimpse of the wedding photo on the mantle. Her voice quivering with fear she asked the handsome man holding her hand for help but the words exiting her mouth made no sense. They'd been so clear in her head but had got lost between brain and mouth. The handsome face smiled back at her giving cold comfort as she slipped.

Her eyes moved rapidly. She felt the aluminium frame beneath her wobble and loose it's footing, only helping her lose hers. She fell. A long, slow fall, the room dashing sideways in a blur of diagonally lined colour.  No-one saw her hit her head on the coffee table as a small spew of red stained the rug. No-one heard her plea for help although she wasn't even sure the words had been anywhere but inside her mind.  As she and her tiny frame covered the ground in a stupor of confusion and a stab of pain, she was sentient enough to realise this would only kill her if she wasn't found. She began to wish that perhaps that would be better and how she should have followed through with the long forgotten intention to have that tattoo. As she lost consciousness she gazed at the inside of her wrist and imagined it there. "Do Not Resucitate".

Muse 1 - Covering the Ground with Great Intentions
Posted for 10th Daughter of Memory - 8th River of Mnemosyne Challenge 
Continued in Found Objects 2