The Pearl Giver Ch4
By lisa h
As time went on I learned Amy was the product of an unremarkable short marriage. Her mother, Veronica Platt had an unexceptional pregnancy and produced a tiny baby who other than her continuing smallness excelled at nothing except being happy. Amy left school at sixteen and started working for the pub around the corner from her as a waitress, where the only thing that happened of note was her being age checked every time the restaurant was inspected.
Amy grew up being called Titch and Pixie and Elf and Midget and even Fairy. She adored the attention, developing a love for angel wings and tutus and begging her mother for dance lessons which Veronica could never afford. So at age ten Amy made up her own dance style and fashioned wings from old net curtains which she wore every moment she could for over a year until they fell apart. Then she made a new pair. While I knew Amy, she still did this. I think she’d wear the wings to the hospital, but she’d learned to keep some parts of her quirkiness private by then.
I’d taken her back home after her fifth cycle of her chemo. One more to go and the doctors would send her for a scan. I knew it wasn’t going to be brilliant news as her headaches hadn’t eased enough to make me think the meds were working. At least there hadn’t been any more seizures.
Nothing stopped Amy from smiling, laughing and dancing around her house, even with her veins full of chemo poison and her brain pounding away at her skull, and I wasn’t about to spoil her mood with my dark musings.
“I miss my hair,” she said as she turned circles in the living room.
As usual, her mother was absent and I had run out of ways of asking where the elusive Veronica was without getting the vague response of: Oh, you know, out. I decided I couldn’t be bothered to press the issue today.
“Want me to make a cup of tea for you before I go home?” I asked but didn’t wait for a reply, the routine had already been set, and I knew what was required of me.
“Oh, I’d love a cuppa. Three sugars, please.”
She disappeared upstairs, singing as she walked around the first floor. By the time I had her tea and ginger snap biscuits ready, Amy was back in the living room, wings and tutu on, turning circles once more. The new addition I hadn’t expected was the long blonde wig.
“This is what my hair used to be like,” she said spinning faster now, so the hair spun around with her. “There’s nothing like going to a fallow field and feeling the wind go through the hair. I miss that.” Amy moved her head with a particularly sharp flick and the wig flew off into the corner of the room. “But real hair doesn’t do that. Silly wig. Not good for much if you can’t trust it to stay in place.”
I thought about telling her they weren’t designed for the type of things she did, but there was no point. She’d pounced on the offending mess of hair and was already fitting it back on.
“Try more spin and less flick,” I said and put the tea and biscuits down.
“But that takes all the fun out of it.” She collapsed on the sofa, breathless. “Besides I’m too tired to do the dance justice. I’ll try again tomorrow.”
Night had come, and I realised she was staring past the open kitchen door and out the back window.
“What I should do is plant the back garden with wild flowers so I have my very own meadow to dance in. Shouldn’t be hard, I’ll scatter the seeds and see what grows.”
Amy had a peculiar eye colour, one I’d never seen on another person before. You could call them green, but really they were a pale olive colour rimmed with vibrant blue. And when she fixed you with her gaze, you knew immediately she was looking right inside your mind and into your soul. She did this to me now, and I found myself unable to maintain eye contact. I sipped at my tea and grabbed a ginger snap to nibble.
“You know how this all started?”
“How what started?” With Amy that could be the beginning of her telling me goodness knows what.
“This, me, the knowing of stuff.”
Now I was paying attention.
“It’s the things in my brain. You know, the tumours.” She tapped the side of her head. “One of them did it. It’s unlocked a talent. Maybe everyone can do it. People need to figure out how to get to it without the getting sick and maybe dying bit.”
I thought about her on the floor at Clatterbridge, seizing from the stress of trying to get Lorri to pay attention. She’d been right. Ella got Gabby to the hospital just before the two year old went into cardiac arrest. Gabby pulled through, but only because she’d been in the right place at the right time.
“I’ve got something called an oligodendroglioma.” She said it slowly, sound out each syllable individually. “It’s the one young people usually get.” She gave a wide grin before saying, “And as you can see, I am young people.” Amy reached out for a ginger snap and started munching.
Sitting quietly, I waited to see if she would start again.
“It’s here,” she finally said, tapping at her skull. “In the temporal lobe. The doc says I’m not really seeing the future or knowing stuff I have no right knowing. He says that’s where déjà vu happens, and that’s what’s happening. I’m having déjà vu. But that’s not what’s really happening, is it?”
Amy seemed to need some sort of confirmation from me. I’d seen enough over the past months, whatever it was that Amy did, it wasn’t déjà vu. She had a special gift. I nodded, my mouth full of biscuit.
“I found out I was sick because of the headaches. Oh, and this arm doesn’t work as well as it should.”
She waved her left arm at me, and I noticed for the first time that the limb had an almost emaciated, shrivelled look about it.
“Can’t do much with it, good thing I’m right handed. Anyway, doc sent me away for tests, and hey presto, I had a grade three tumour.” Amy paused and fixed me with her eyes. “That’s the worst one. Lucky me.” Her voice sounded flat, nearly emotionless. “And then they found out that it’s in an awkward position and they couldn’t operate.”
I reached over and took her hand in mine. She squeezed back, tears in her eyes. “I’m so sorry, Amy honey.” And for the first time since I had known Amy, she held onto me and wept.