“It’s the story of my life!” she said very theatrically. She was squatting on top of a bench; her arms were wrapped around her legs and her head was leaning onto her knees. Considering she just had an accident, I thought she was portraying a good body posture, very flexible, looking healthy.
“You just had an accident “I was trying to calm her down, “and it’s very normal to feel dizzy and upset.” I was right beside her on the same bench, settled with my legs down to the floor, holding a book I was reading.
She looked up, staring at a poster on the wall, and then she began laughing hysterically. It was a picture of a mature woman, before and after having a face lift.
“Why is this poster so funny?” I demanded a reply, I really wanted to know; I was bored, my book was not interesting and I had been sitting on that same bench for one hour already, watching people arriving and leaving, looking around for some exciting commotion.
She refrained from answering. Instead, she changed her mad laughter into a weep and then into a wail. She nearly began howling but she run out of air and started coughing, bending completely forward, her head down between her knees.
Tears were cascading down her face. She was very loud, making everyone look at her, but she did not care. There were people in the corridor, sitting on benches, waiting for their turn to the emergency room to be seen by a doctor. They stared aimlessly, untouched by her dramatic cry as they were too absorbed into their own pain.
“You have been inside already, right?” I asked her. “What did the doctor say?”
“They want me to have a full body x-ray and I don’t want to.” It was hard to understand what she was blubbering out.
“Breath, take deep breaths,” I whispered to her as I leaned closer and patted her back. “What exactly happened to you?”
She looked at me with puffy red eyes, wiped the tears off her face with her sleeve and sat upright, putting her feet down on the floor,
“I was nearly hit by a car as I was about to cross the road and as I fell back, I hit my head against the curb. The car did not even touch me, it’s a simple fall, nothing happened, why do they want me to have a full body x-ray? It’s not healthy! The damage of X-ray is worse than the bang in my head! Stupid stupid doctors!” The last bit about the doctors she screamed out in a deafening pitch and then finished with a sigh and leaned backwards, resting her head on my shoulder, breathing heavily. I wrapped my arm around her and even though I had never met her before, I did not mind. She was all alone, very sad, a bit funny, I thought, with her way of not caring that all the people in the waiting room were staring at her.
“I got an idea,” I said with eyes bright and shiny. “Listen; tell them that you are pregnant! Pregnant women can’t have x-ray! They will have to do what you want!”
At that moment a nurse with a clip board came out and called out a name- “Rachel Levinson?”
“That’s me,” she whispered into my ear, her head still resting on my shoulder. I looked at the nurse and signaled with my finger for her to come closer. “What’s the matter?” she said with a pretend care. “Why is she crying?”
“She does not want to have the x-ray because she thinks she is pregnant, “I answered for her.
“Oh, ok,” the nurse said and paused and then there was a moment of silence. “Come inside please, we will take a urine sample from you and check!”
“I don’t need to pee now,” Rachel told the nurse; a little smile of cheekiness was showing on her face. She thought she was being clever.
“We only need a drop that would be enough: surely you can release a little bit out of your bladder?” although the nurse finished her line with a question mark, I thought she was stating a fact and not really asking Rachel for her opinion.
I released my arm of her shoulder and Rachel Levinson got up and followed the nurse. She looked back at me with huge open eyes, like saying, what am I going to do?
Ten minutes later, Rachel came out smiling and sat by me. “What am I going to do now when they find out I am not pregnant?”
“Why are you smiling, “again I could not resist asking.
“I am smiling because I feel weird; I can just get up, walk out of here and leave; what will they do, chase me and tie me up? Yet I feel as if I need to stay here and sort it out with them. I don’t feel like running away, although I want to go home too. Something is holding me here and I don’t know what it is, so I think it is funny. That’s it, simple.”
She took a cigarette out of her bag. “Have you got a lighter?” she asked me.
“You can’t smoke here in a hospital! And anyway, remember, you are pregnant!”
We both started laughing, me quietly, she like a donkey.
She was looking at the poster again, still braying; only now it sounded as if the donkey was going to break its harness and abscond.
“What is so funny?” I had to ask.
“You know, my mother has a face lift every day. She uses cello tape. She has perfected this method of hers. She sticks a bit of it to each cheek and pulls it back behind her ears. Her hair is never tied up so it can fall forward and conceal some of the cello tape. Then she uses make up; Lots of make up to mask the tape. Amazing ahh?”
My mouth opened up wide. I did not know what to say.
“My dad was in hospital and my mum went to visit him, all done up, high heels, fashionable clothes, her daily face lift was all fixed up; She walked into his room and the nurse who was there, very warmly said to my dad – oh dear, your lovely daughter has just come to visit you, isn’t it nice? My dad nearly chocked; all the machines started blipping and they had to call the doctors.” Rachel Levinson was laughing again, abruptly stopping and added with a hint of sadness, “she never went back to visit him again and my dad became very bitter. It was more important for her to look young and beautiful than to visit her husband, can you believe it? She bends over backwards to please me as a mother but as a wife she sucks. It seems she has bitten off more than she can chew.”
I was struggling to find a reply. Perhaps there was no need. A door opened and a male nurse stepped out with a clip board in his hand. He walked straight to us, well to Rachel really, but I felt close to her, like I shared the burden of her life already and I only just met her. We both leaned forward, being attentive to what he was about to say.
“Yes!” we both said it together and laughed.
“You are both Rachel Levinson?”
“No, no, it’s just me. I don’t know her name. What’s your name love?” she turned to me with a grin.
“Oh, I am Hanna. Hanna Williams. Nice to meet you!” and I stretched my arm for a hand shake. She laughed and shook my hand violently.
“I am Rachel Levinson, as you already know.” She bowed elegantly.
“If you ladies care to calm down and be quiet, maybe I will be able to talk to you now?” he was looking straight into Rachel’s eyes. She stopped laughing as if a sharp knife sliced her voice. I went silent too. There was a dead moment there, frightening and full of anticipation.
Now he was beginning to smile and a little laughter escaped his lips. “You should look at your selves, he said, you look like two kids who were told off and they don’t know what to do, what to say and where to go.”
He took a deep breath; a short gap of nothingness entered our silence.
Well, I was thinking, is he going to talk or just stare?
“Rachel Levinson, you can go home now. Take it easy, look after yourself and have a happy life!” he bleated all this out fast and turned around to walk off. Rachel got up, run after him and held him by his shirt.
What is wrong, why are you letting me go just like this when you were so insistent before that I should do full body x-ray?”
The nurse turned around, looked at her grip on his shirt and Rachel let go immediately.
“Congratulations lady! You were right, now go home and rest. You both need it”!
“I don’t need rest,” I told him as I caught up with Rachel and was standing right by her. “I am only waiting for someone else, I am not a patient and I have only just met this lady”
He looked at me with amazement. “I did not mean both of you madam, I meant this lady, Rachel Levinson and her baby. She said she was pregnant right? Well she was right!”