By Nadia Kingsley
WHEN I open my eyes all I can see are textured squares of white.
But if I move my eyes to the left there is a human form – which, after a little effort on my part, transforms into Jennifer.
She is sitting in a grey stackable chair next to the bed.
She is looking intently at her nails.
Not with fingers outstretched, as one would if one was admiring them, but with palm up and fingers flexed ready for her to chew on them.
A dirty habit I’ve attempted to cure her of – ever since she was a child.
She turns her left wrist over and looks at her watch, stifles a yawn, then looks up at me.
Her eyes widen.
She looks across the room, past me. “Guys! She’s still with… Look at Granny – her eyes are open!”
A shadow by the window rushes forward and leans right over me. I smell nicotine and know it’s my aptly named grandson Ash. The body jostling for room behind him must be his sister May.
I attempt a smile.
They lean in. They both look tired, strained.
I think Maybe if I actually turn my face to the wall…
I think How hard can this be?
Jennifer is speaking: “ It’s alright, Mum. We’re here for you. We…”
There’s a pause as she sobs, poor girl:
“We love you. Mum. But it’s time to follow the light.”
I think For goodness sake, Jen. What claptrap! Even from you.
Then I feel bad because it’s quite extraordinary she is even in the hospital.
And to keep her two offspring from bickering… Minor miracle. Yes, she’s doing really well.
I shut my eyes again and hold my breath.
Maybe this time?
I mean I must be hanging on by a single thread by now?
And that triggers a memory – when May’s baby tooth was just hanging there, but she wouldn’t let me yank it – just fiddled with it with her tongue. I remember her saying, with that temporary lisp, that there was a time for everything and who was she to rush it?
I open my eyes again.
Jennifer leans forwards, then looks over to the others: “Gran’s trying to say something.”
Looks at me: “What is it Mum? What is it?”
I smile again, properly this time, squeeze one of her fingers: “Shall we have a game of I Spy? We haven’t played it in such an age, and we may be in for a bit of a wait…”
“Great idea Gran” says Ash, sitting up, and looking round the room. “Can I go first?”
We all say yes.
Ash recites the rhyme, looks around and then says “G” – and well, as we all start guessing: glass, glove, gown, granny – that’s when I …
© Nadia Kingsley 2016