Easy As Falling Off A Bike.
I awoke with a start, I was stiff and everything hurt for a minute. I had fallen asleep at the computer, leaning on the desk. I probably had a straight line down the side of my face, or the indentation of the back of my hand on my cheek. I bent down with difficulty and retrieved the mouse from the floor, its fall had probably woken me up.
The clock said seven thirty. Actually that was a lie, the clock said, "tick tick tick" ad nauseum, but its hands were pointing to seven and six, which I read as seven thirty. I made some tea and ate some cereal, noting I needed more corn flakes and milk.
Simon would be here in twelve hours. "What? Oh shit!" I began to tidy up in a frenzy. I switched on the washing machine, changing my bedding then vacuumed as it churned the dirt out of the clothes. I polished the dining room suite and sideboard, now there was that clean smell of lavender everywhere.
At eleven I stopped and making myself a coffee, I rang the hospital. Apparently he had been restless in the night but was sleeping peacefully now. I suspect they whacked him full of sedatives. I would go to see him after lunch and chatter away to him, then come home and bake some bread for Simon as well as make a meal. I fancied some fresh trout, and there was a good fish counter in Morrison's supermarket.
I went and showered, after checking the washing on the line, some of it was nearly dry in the breeze and sunshine. It was a lovely day for October. Coming down, I had a quick lunch and ironed what was dry of the stuff which needed to be ironed. I'm lazy, only doing what absolutely needs to be done.
At the hospital, I sat next to Daddy and talked his ears off. I kissed him and he smiled but without opening his eyes. Several times I stroked his cheek or squeezed his hand, and thought I got some response. Maybe I was imagining it, I didn't know. Running out of things to talk about, I read him an article from one of the magazines I had bought him previously. He lay quietly. I needed to go to the loo and went off to the visitors' one near the cafeteria. It took me probably ten minutes to return to the ward, I was horrified to see two nurses at his bedside apparently trying to subdue him, he was threshing about like mad.
"What's happening?" I called rushing to his bed.
"He got agitated when you left."
"Okay, let me speak to him," I saw him relax and move his head about as if trying to locate me from the sound of my voice. "It's okay Daddy, I'm here now, I only went off to the toilet." He sighed and relaxed completely. I kissed him and sat back down chattering again for half an hour or so, by which time I think he was fast asleep.
I kissed him again and told him I would be back the next day, that I wouldn't abandon him, but had things to do myself. He seemed to sleep peacefully. I spoke with the nurses who confirmed that he had been agitated or restless in the night but had relaxed a little when they said I would come to see him. I asked what they had said, and they replied they had used my name, which seemed to have done the trick.
"Have they diagnosed anything else about the stroke?" I asked.
"Not yet, he's making a little progress and the physios have been in to try and keep his arms and legs working," offered the sister.
"What about a scan?"
"That's for the doctor to decide."
"Who do I speak to?"
"Dr Mitchell is the one in charge of the Stroke Unit."
"Do you have an email address for him?"
The sister called the office who supplied her with one, which she gave to me. I thanked her and set off for Morrisons and the trout. It was obviously the right choice because they were playing some of the music of the Schubert quintet, 'The Trout' on the car radio as I drove from the hospital.
Friday in the traffic and then the long queues at the checkouts of supermarkets, does little for my temper, which was fraying by the time I got home.
I opened the wine to let it breathe, the bread machine was making lovely aromas as I sat in the kitchen and drank my tea. Then after descaling the fish under water, a tip my mother taught me, run a knife against the scales but hold the fish under water in the sink or you get covered in the scales. I popped the two trout into the oven with butter and mushrooms and a sprinkling of tarragon and garlic. Then I scrubbed the new potatoes and baby carrots and prepared the broccoli florets.
For the sweet, I bought some Greek yoghurt and fresh raspberries and after crushing the raspberries mixed them into the yoghurt, then left the ensuing pink mess in the fridge. It tasted okay and if he didn't like it, I'd finish it for brekkies tomorrow. He'd have to make do with cereal or toast.
I assumed we would sleep together, but again with a promise of no hanky panky. If we did, then it would be in the spare room, which had a double bed, my bedroom was only a single and I couldn't contemplate sleeping with someone in my parent's room. That would be gross to me, neither did I fancy sharing a single bed with someone of Simon's size.
The dinner was nearly cooked when I saw the Saab draw into the drive, I'd pulled my car over enough for him to be able to get in as well. I checked my hair and make up in the hall mirror, having given myself a quick squirt of Opium, a few minutes before. I looked reasonably tidy.
The doorbell rang and my heart rate doubled. I opened the door and stood before me was a suitcase! Talk about anticlimax!
"Oh hi sweety pie," he said walking back from the car. He hugged and kissed me on the doorstep. For a moment I thought we were making a spectacle of ourselves, then I thought, 'what the hell!' and got into the welcoming ritual, well and truly.
He sniffed my neck and said, "Cor that bread smells good."
"What!" I exclaimed almost speechless.
"That bread, it smells wonderful. Something else smells good too. I am positively famished."
"I hope you like trout," I said holding his hand after getting him and his bag inside the door.
"Are we talking fish or is this some revelation you are about to make?"
"What?" the puzzled look on my face was self explanatory.
"Well, it could mean one of three things. One, we have fish for dinner, two, you like the Schubert thingy and three, you were talking about yourself in a self deprecating way."
"What?" I goldfished. I processed what he said and then hit him.
After all that we had a super dinner, which turned out quite well. Even the 'haemorrhage special' dessert was enjoyed, so I'd have to have cereal for breakfast. We drank all my bottle of wine and half of his. Then fell asleep together on the couch in the lounge watching the flames of the 'log effect' gas fire. Life just doesn't get any better I thought as I drifted off into my alcohol assisted slumber.
We woke up laughing when I fell off the couch some hour and a half later. I only just made it to the toilet I was giggling so much. Then Simon had to go and I made some coffee. We sat down and he ate some of my fresh baked bread with different cheeses. He had a smile on his face like the cat who got the cream. The warm feeling I got from simply watching him enjoy himself was indescribable, except to say it began with a tingling in my tummy and spread up through my abdomen to include my chest and head, the hairs on my neck finally standing up.
"Well are we sleeping together, or do I wear my Harry Potter pyjamas?"
"You have pjs with Harry Potter on them?" I asked aghast.
"Yep, courtesy of Stella."
Who else? I thought but said nothing. "Same rules as before. You can look but not touch!"
"Hang on, last time it was I could touch but not.."
"Below the belt," I added.
"Okay," he sighed and I led him up the stairs to the spare room.
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