Flash Fiction Friday – August 5, 2011, 2011
“You look tired,” Lila said.
“I am. I want to go home,” Ray said.
“Not yet Dad, Dr. Sanchez said four more days, at least.”
“They shaved my head, drilled in it, and left a hole. Look at me.”
“You look like a holy man on a pilgrimage.”
“Didn’t you hear me? They drilled a big hole in my head, and shaved it.”
“But they took out the tumor.”
“I want to go home, take a shower, sleep in my own bed, and go to the bathroom. Make
them take this tube out of me, and take this smelly bag away. It smells, I smell. My
scalp itches. I think there are bugs crawling around on my head. Do I have bugs?”
“You don’t have bugs on your head.”
“I can feel them all over my head—it itches. Will you check, please?”
“OK, I’ll look.”
“Why is my head tingling?”
“Because they drilled a hole in your head, remember?”
“How could I forget, I look like a holy man now. A smelly holy man with a big hole in his
head with bugs, lots of bugs.”
“At least you still have your sense of humor, Dad.”
“Lila, help me up. I want to go to the bathroom. Call the nurse and have them take this tube out of me.”
“Not yet. Dr. Sanchez said after physical therapy and you’ve walked up and down the hall a few times then they’ll take it out.”
“When is that going to happen?”
“Tomorrow, today you rest.”
“I can walk now, I’ll show you. Untie the straps so I can get up.”
“You’re not tied down. The after effect of the morphine is making your thoughts fuzzy.
“And the bugs?”
“Yes, and the bugs.”
“And feeling like a magnet is holding me hostage on this bed?”
“Yes, it’s the morphine. It’s why you are loopy.”
“Not the tumor?”
“No more tumor, only drugs.”
“Bring me some water. My tongue is growing fungus. My lips are cracked and peeling
away. What’s wrong with my lips? They’re sticking to my teeth.”
“Here, let me rub some Chap Stick on your lips. Better?”
“I’m thirsty, bring me some water.”
“No water yet.”
“But my throat, it’s like cut glass down there, when I swallow it’s bringing up the blood; it tastes like copper.”
“You can have ice chips. Suck on these for while, and you’ll feel better.”
“Thanks honey. I still want to go home, take a shower, and use the toilet.”
“I know Dad.”
“I think God is giving me a second chance.”
She didn’t want to have this conversation. He’s all she ever had, but sometimes she’d joke after two glasses of wine that had she a choice she rather have been a foster kid.
“Dad, you need to rest.”
“Lila, I might not wake up. I want…”
“Later, there is time aplenty for words.”
“I owe you more than words, I want to try…”
“Dad, I…I can’t say what you want to hear, not now, not yet, maybe not ever, I’m not
ready. I’m here now, and will stay with you, that is all I can promise now. Rest.”
Lila sat with her Dad until he fell asleep before sneaking into the bathroom. She unzipped her jeans and slid them down her almost solid thighs, sat on the cold toilet seat, and folded her body in half until her face was flush with her open palms that were resting on the tops of her knees. She let loose what she had been fighting so hard to keep contain—her composure.
With one exhale, it burst. She sobbed. Her tears bypassed trickling, and slipped through her fingers. She watched them dodging two day’s worth stubble on her legs traveling without interruption until reaching the tops of her black and white striped socks before disappearing into the plush cotton.
Even though she had finished crying, she remained folded in half. It was restful, womb like. The tears had dried, but the tops of her knees and fingers were still warm from the tears. She thought about what Dr. Sanchez had said. “If it goes as I expect, Ray has a good chance of full recovery. Still there are no guarantees.”
After a while, she peered through the space between her fingers and took visual inventory of the floor. Everything was white except the grey grout, and a small portion of pipes behind the toilet. For a few seconds, she considered praying. A bad idea—she had given up faith for Lent. No point in giving God three more reasons to strike her dead; praying, which might turn his ambiguity into wrath, the sudden surge of compassion for her father she had hoped would pull through, and there was that glowing red heart she had tattooed on her right butt cheek.
“Lila, where are you?”
“Coming Dad.” She stood up, pulled her jeans over her curvy hips, zipped them up and took stock of her reflection in the mirror. He wouldn’t notice the missing eyeliner she cried away, and turned to leave her temporary sanctuary with her composure securely in place.
“Lila what do you think?”
“Nine lives, you have eight left.”
“God will have expectations.”
“And now you’re a Holy man with a hole in his head, with a second chance.”