As she opened her eyes, blinking furiously from the bright overhead
lighting, Vera tried to take in her surroundings. The faded floral
curtains, dressing table laden with photographs of smiling faces and
small digital alarm clock had been replaced. Instead, half a dozen
beds, numerous vases of drooping flowers and white and blue clad
individuals paced up and down near were she lay. She lifted her head
from the flat, starched pillow and tried to make sense of what she was
seeing. A thin, plastic tube sprouting from out of her right forearm
prevented her from sitting upright. Following the route of the tube
with a bewildered expression, she was puzzled to see that it originated
from a suspended bag containing clear fluid.
The small hole in her arm, which permitted entry to the transparent
pipe, was bruised and angry, the tissue paper skin showing the obvious
difficulty it had taken to house the intravenous drip.
Vera sank back onto the uncomfortable pillow, breathing deeply.
As the fog cleared from her aching mind, she remembered that she was in
the hospital. The rhythmic stabs of pain pulsated from the pit of her
stomach and down her left hip, ending in a dull ache throughout her
thigh. Carefully moving back the thin course blanket, she stared at the
metal staples glued with congealed droplets of blood, which ran down
the top of her leg. Just looking at these monstrous tramlines, sent a
breath-taking bolt of agony through every nerve and muscle down the
left side of her body. With trembling hands, Vera replaced the blanket
and waited with a burning sob caught in her throat as the vicious,
painful throbbing relented.
She closed her eyes. In the bed on her left someone was coughing. To
her right a quivering female voice called out for a nurse. She lay like
that, ridged for many minutes, fearful of opening her eyes.
A hand touched her arm and she jerked. A young girl with a pair of
scissors protruding from a tiny pocket on her hip and a silver nurse's
watch drooping onto her left breast smiled down at her. Vera tried to
arrange her own dry lips into a smile.
"Hello Mrs.Brown. What are you doing back in here again then?" The
young nurse smiled again and Vera thought she vaguely recognised the
"I....fell again... I think," said Vera. She tried to reach into her
mind to find the memory of what exactly had happened but it was, for
the moment lost to her.
"You took a nasty tumble, and we had to fix your hip" Said the nurse.
Her name badge informed Vera that she was called Sally Jackson.
"That's two matching hips now..." Sally smiled again.
Vera looked blankly at the nurse. Two hips?
Sensing the patient's confusion, Sally mentally phrased the sentence
before she said it.
"Six months ago you fell and broke your RIGHT hip. Do you remember that
Vera felt a gentle tug in her fragile memory. Yes. She had fallen
before. But had she broken her hip? She couldn't quite remember. All
she did know was that her LEFT leg ached. She closed her eyes again to
ease the throbbing hammering behind them. She heard the nurse say
something else then she was left alone. (Apart from the coughing on her
left and the relentless wailing of the woman in the bed to her
Vera lay in the hospital bed. Flowery aromas drifted past her nostrils.
She tried to remember.
The two people stood motionless in the lift. As the red Digital's above
the door indicated that they had arrived on ward 32, the heavy silence
was shattered as the huge metal doors receded into the wall. With deep
intakes of breath, they left the confined space of the lift.
They both possessed similar profiles, same shaped nose, pale green eyes
and fair hair. As they headed towards the busy nurse's station, the
woman suddenly stopped abruptly and grabbed at her brother's arm. He
turned, shocked and looked into her face. Her eyes were wet and her
chin wobbled as the first sob tried to escape from her throat. He
gathered her into his leather clad arms and comforted her.
"Shhhh...Michelle, its alright. Shhhhh..." He let her cry, dampening
his shoulder for a while, before gently releasing her from his grip.
They stood, staring into each other's grim, sad faces. Nurses and
Doctors bustled about them, a baby wailed from somewhere down the
They walked, slowly, onto the ward. Familiar faces smiled at them, one
or two even acknowledged them by name, this was not the first, or even
the second time they had visited their mother here.
The glossy brochure, its cover showing three wrinkled, smiling faces
("High Field Manor Nursing Home" hovering above their heads) suddenly
felt hot and heavy in Gary's hand. As he approached bed 4 and saw the
sobbing, forlorn skeletal figure half hidden beneath the blanket, he
rolled up the brochure and put it inside his coat pocket. Michelle saw
this and gave him a questioning look.
"I think this can wait for a few days, don't you?" He pointed to the
crying old lady, their mother, across the room. Michelle nodded.
(Relieved) for she didn't think she had the strength today for the task
that needed to be done.
As Vera saw them approach her bed, a smile spreading across her
wrinkled cheeks, they both felt tears of sadness prickling behind their