Copyright Stevie Turner 2019
I have added 2 chapters, as Chapter 11 is not very long…
Chapter Eleven (you can find Chapter 10 here)
I’m awake. They’ve left me alone at last. I didn’t want that man’s hands on me. My head is on fire, and a tingling sensation runs from my eyes all the way down to my feet. It’s dark and I don’t know what’s going on, but I do feel very different. It’s strange though. Heat pulses up and down my body, and I cannot lie still. I wriggle about in the bed and try to get more comfortable.
“Mum?” I venture quietly. “Mum?”
The word comes out properly! I am aghast. I say the first thing that comes into my head.
“A wise old owl sat in an oak,
The more he heard, the less he spoke.”
Suddenly I don’t care that it’s night time and Mum’s asleep. I can talk again! I double check that I can understand myself…
“The more he spoke the less he heard.
Why can’t we be like that wise old bird?”
Mum used to say that nursery rhyme to me because I would never stop talking. Now I want to recite every single rhyme I can think of. I carry on talking to myself all through the night. I also now seem to have more control over my arms and legs. I feel inside the nappy. Why is there hair down there? Why wasn’t I aware of that before?
What has happened to me?
My first port of call after the bathroom is to see how Kieran has fared after his second healing session. I can hear none of his usual grunts and yells, and for him to be so quiet first thing in the morning is mighty strange.
I open his bedroom door. Sunlight filters through a crack in the curtain accentuating the yellowness of a vase of roses on the windowsill that I’d picked from the garden the previous day. Kieran looks at me, but it’s not with his usual sightless stare. His eyes follow me as I walk towards him, and then he smiles; it’s the first smile in 23 years.
“I want to get up.”
Mouth agape, I blink in disbelief and wonder momentarily if I’m dreaming. The roses’ heady scent pervades the room. My heart begins to pound – thump, thump, thump in my ears. I feel suddenly faint and stumble backwards towards Kieran’s wheelchair which stands in a corner of the room. I manage to sit in it and hurriedly put my head down towards the ground. The pleasant timbre of a masculine voice I do not recognise sounds a little louder in my ears.
“What are you doing, Mum?”
Slowly I raise my head. Kieran has already manoeuvred himself into a sitting position. He cranes his neck forward in an effort to make eye contact. Two enquiring brown eyes look me up and down.
“Your hair’s grey!”
Still shaky, I stand up and walk over to the bed, sit down beside him and wipe away tears, momentarily speechless. Reaching out I take Kieran’s hand in mine, but he snatches it away, throws off the bedclothes, and looks down at his body.
“I don’t want this on!”
He pulls at two tapes. A stench of ammonia mixes in with the aroma of rose petals as he rolls off the nappy and flings it in the air.
“I’m not a baby!”
The wet nappy falls with a thud on the carpet. His sheet will need changing now, but at this particular moment in time I don’t care. Kieran inspects his genitals with what seems to be a 7 year old’s curiosity, and then moves over to the edge of the bed that is furthest away from me. He tries to stand up, and I rush towards him.
“No, no, Kieran! You won’t be able to stand up for a while! Your legs are too weak!”
I manage to sit him back down on the sheet. He tries to stand again, and falls back down. I’m still in shock and disbelief when the doorbell rings.
“Sit still, Kieran! I’m going to see who’s at the door.”
Panting now, and with my mouth as dry as dust, I run and open the front door. At the last minute it occurs to me I’m still in my flimsy nightgown, and Bill looks away in embarrassment.
“Bill!” My voice croaks away higher than usual. “Come and see Kieran! You won’t believe what’s happened!”
I grab my coat from the hallstand and wrap it around my shoulders. Bill follows behind into the bedroom.
“Fucking hell, Connie!”
“You shouldn’t say that word!”
My man-child tosses away his pyjama top and sits there as naked as the day he was born.
“Bill, can you help me get him into the wheelchair please? I want to give him a shower. He’ll need help until his muscles are stronger.”
Bill looks as dumbfounded as I feel, and complies with my request before taking his leave. I wheel Kieran into the wet room, and he sits there shivering under the shower as I turn on the mixer tap.
“Boy, is your sister going to be surprised!”
Kieran looks up at me.
“Where’s Dad? Has he gone to work?”
My mind is already whirling with the morning’s events, and my son’s question tips me over the edge. I cannot stop a river of tears, which flow down my cheeks and merge into the soapsuds on Kieran’s head. I wipe my eyes on the sleeve of my nightdress.
“He… he’s not here at the moment.”
Perhaps he hasn’t heard me over the noise of the shower, but he doesn’t reply. I feel hot, thirsty, and in need of a shower. I would normally sit Kieran in a corner of the wet room while I have a wash, but now that he’s more aware I realise that things will have to change.
I manage to get him dried and dressed. I am sweating with the effort. I wheel him into the front room and position him by the patio doors with one of his feeder cups of tea.
“Drink this. I’m going to have a quick shower and then we can have something to eat. Don’t try and stand up. You can do that in the hoist after breakfast.”
“Eggs on toast?” Kieran looks up at me.
It was always his favourite food first thing in the morning. It seems his memory is intact; a seven-year-old’s memory in a thirty-year-old body. Once again I wonder if I’m sleepwalking, but my son, a grown man, is sitting in front of me as real as it’s possible to be. The front room carriage clock chimes the hour; ten o’clock. With a start I realise I have missed my usual Tuesday morning tea and scone with Mike at Sainsbury’s.
Chapter 13 on Friday …