Pretty Pixie: being a journey in four parts for Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie, Tale Weaver #76 : Travel . . . Bus Journey
“Jemica?” The shaky voice sounded familiar, “It’s Sarafina.” My mind is clicking over – Gavin, an old ex and floating friend, hi wife. She disliked me, so something wasn’t right.
“It’s Gavin. He …”
Gavin had taken a bad fall; that and lack of oxygen caused brain damage; he had massive amounts of relearning to do. He also lost the last five or so years of his life, the years he’d fallen in love with and married Sarafina. He’d been in the hospital for awhile, with more time ahead.
“He keeps asking about you,” she almost spat. “His friends come by, but he wants to see you.” I wasn’t sure why. I was one of a string of women in his life. Certainly not the longest lasting, nor most important. But we’d stayed friends, in and out of each other’s lives. If it was five years ago to him, then he was just back from a bus trek, and I was packing up for heading west. We spent a mainly celibate week together, though he did suggest two nights before I left we relive old times . . .
Sarafina was still talking, repeating “So when will you get here? You can stay with us, I mean me. They don’t know when Gavin will be ready to go home.”
“I’ll check the bus schedules – and give you a call back,” I said, firing up the lap top. Somehow, going by the whole way by bus seemed appropriate. Gavin loved to buy “See the Country tickets for $99. and “see” just how far he could travel. Bring along his banjo, and his personality and he’d be everyone’s best bud.
With a quiver in her voice, she said, “Ok,” and hung up.
So 24 hours later, I was boarding the first of three buses. A 32 hour “ride” and I doubted my kazoo would make me buds with anyone. So, I counted telephone poles – 42 to a mile. Shifted buses, reading as the windows became lacy with snow and ice. Closing the latest Margret Maron, I stared at the snow remembering. An afternoon, early in our affair, when it took til early afternoon to be showered and full dressed. Our lust was like human pheromones back then. A pungent order only we could smell. It made leaving his apartment a difficult event.
The snow was thickly falling straight down in the windless air; the world hushed and barely visible. Our favourite all-day breakfast diner was still open, and we cut through our favourite cemetery. The headstones were grey wisps in the winter landscape. Then, a bright flash and a distinctive rolling boom vibrating our skin. Thunder snow. A sign, I suppose, of how things would go.
One night, he confessed he was attracted to another woman too, and what did I think. I said, “then have her.” And left his apartment. Only to return the next week to collect some miscellanea, and return his casserole dish – full of apple crisp. He met me at the door, my stuff in hand. “Why? I just dumped you,” he asked, looking at the dish. I shrugged my shoulders – “Let’s consider friends, ok. What do you think?,” took my belt, comb and hair band, and thumped down his stairs. He thought friends. I closed my eyes, dreaming of Gavin and I meeting for breakfast, or going to the 2nd run movie theater.
A miserable Sarafina met my bus. I was expecting to taxi it to the hospital. Even in a parka, she was a pixie – blond, tiny, perfect. I felt like a lumbering troll next to her. Gavin liked tiny women with luxurious long straight blond hair. I might be small, but not tiny, with unruly dark hair often chopped off just above my shoulders. Maybe that was Sarafina’s issue – where did I fit into his earlier harem.
“Gavin’s in rehab til this afternoon, so you can have a shower and change before visiting,” she informed me as I swung my bag into the back of their Mercedes SUV. Sarafina came from money, and had some high power job. Gavin loved his social work position, and didn’t drive much as I remembered. An SUV = kids to me.
Their house, a reno’d Victorian, looked out on the river and a small park. A room was ready for me. I really wanted to sleep, but my plans weren’t my own. I could hear Sarafina on the phone, just as I turned on the amazing shower, talking to a friend. “Yes, she’s here. Took the bus for God’s sake. Why he . . .”
I let the water sluice off her venom, and prepared myself. Although some memories weren’t impaired, his ability to read and write, dress himself, and other basis functions were disrupted. So was his logical thought patterns, and perceptions. Not at all unusual for his sort of injury, and he had the potential to relearn all of these. His personality could be altered. I’d researched as much as I had time for to know better what to expect when I spent time with Gavin.
We had the same icy ride to the hospital as to the house. So many questions I had, but each time, her response was short and clipped. So I stopped asking. The hospital was new – a recent edition to the River’s Edge community. Everyone acknowledged her from the parking staff, to the knot of doctors and interns on Gavin’s floor.
“He’ll be fussy – tired and frustrated,” she warned as she swung the door open and indicated I should enter first. Gavin looked so small and pinched in the bed. He was laying back, eyes closed. I only ever saw him without his metal rimmed glasses when he was in bed, and then I’d be there with him. “Not asleep,” he said slowly picking the words from what was left of his vocabulary.
“Hey Gavin,” I said approaching the bed. He fumbled on with his glasses. “Jemmy! You come.” I leaned down to gently hug him, and he kissed me full on the lips. “Meet nurse Sarafina,” he said. Then, in a conspiratorial whisper. “She spends time my room, think sweet on me. Pretty pixie she is.”
“Yes she is, Gavin. I’d go after that one.”
He worked his face into a smile. “Will.”