I had journeyed by bus to see an old friend and ex-lover, Gavin. He’d taken a bad fall, and after repeatedly asking for me, his wife, Sarafina, finally called. Sarafina didn’t like me – never sure why. It didn’t help that Gavin had lost those years when he fell in love with and married her when he injured his head. (See: pretty pixie: being a journey in 4 parts)
He thought she was a nurse “sweet” on him, a “pretty pixie,” as he said. Just the sort he was attracted to: tiny, perfect proportions; long, glossy blond hair. And there I was. the lumbering troll next to her. Small, but not tiny, unruly dark hair cut short for reasons I didn’t want to remember. I just never fit into Gavin’s harem. Our affair much shorter than our friendship.
“Sarafina, look tired. Go home. Jemmy here, now,” Gavin struggled to put his thoughts together. He awkwardly reached for me, “Need Jemmy. Always need Jemmy.”
Sarafina threw me a look I ducked in time not to have my head explore, turned and left without a word.
“Pretty pixie,” Gavin repeated. I held his hand and waited as he nodded in and out of a medication induced sleep. “Help me, Jemmy, hurts, so hard, don’t know, don’t remember, need you. Always need you.”
There it was again, “always.” So hard to reconcile with our various levels of relationship. But his mind was compacted and compartmentalized, it seemed. And I was a part he remembered. Something Sarafina had to come to terms with. I couldn’t wait that long – I made my decision. When Gavin was deeply sleeping, I gently let go of his hand. Went to the nurses station, and asked where I’d find the head of rehab.
She could see me at four. I skidded out into winter-city, found a café with views of the river and made notes. I understood Sarafina’s frustration at being relegated to nurse, and a woman she despised being elevated to saviour status. She wasn’t going to make me a member of the team necessary to help Gavin regain all he had lost. But . . .
This café was a lot like where Gavin and I met when I mis-lidded my coffee and spilt it everywhere first sip. Gavin got me paper towels, and a 2nd coffee, carefully adjusting the lid for me. Eventually, all road’s led to Gavin’s bed, even if I wasn’t a perfect pixie. Which made it all the stranger he said he always needed me. He seemed to do fine without me. Floating friendships are like that – pick up where we left off – then one of us would float away again.
The rehab director listened, asked questions, requested I put my proposal in writing. We agreed to meet next week, and she suggested a nice country inn B & B that offered special deals for longer term stays connected to the hospital. I took that as a tentative “yes” to my ideas.
I peeked in, expecting to see Sarafina, but only a sleeping Gavin was in the room. I gently kissed the top of his bandaged head good night, and went to catch a cab and run some errands.
Sarafina must have heard us pull up as she jerked the door open as I, laughing, gave the driver a tip. “Stand up comedy,” I called after him. She stared and sniffed at the pile of re-useable shopping bags scattered across the door yard. “We’re getting drunk, Sarafina, you and me. There’s vodka, gin, rum, limes, lemons, kiwis, fresh mint, tonic water, sparkling water . . .
“Stop! Gavin said you were a wild one and the wedding . . .” She would bring that up. “I have friends coming over.”
“Good, we’ll get them drunk, too. Are you going to help me or wait til your friends do?” I could snark just as well as she could. I piled bags on her pristine counter, pulling out the gin – “I’m having a g & t, you?” “Vodka – straight up.” She was in a mood.
“I think you should go tomorrow. Gavin needs to recover more recent memories, undergo extensive therapy; he’ll need a team of responsible helpers and volunteers,” she spouted, having downed the first vodka, and pouring the second. Her tone, body language, eyes, all said, “I can’t wait to get you out of here.”
“Oh, I’m leaving tomorrow,” I started as a smile slide across her face, “for that cute country inn up the road from the hospital.” The smile slide off. Her hand went for the vodka again.
“Doing volunteer work in the rehab center, a cheerleader of sorts for the brain injury folks. Folks like Gavin.” She almost spit her drink in my face, but managed to swallow it.
“Sarafina, why the hell do you hate me so much?” I figured after 3 quick vodkas, she might actually say. But I would have to wait. The door bell rang, then opened, “Sarafina, it’s Mindy and Callie . Are we early?”
Written for Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie Tale Weaver # 78 Waiting.