The Separation Chapter Three to Chapter Five

THREE

        

Once again he sat next to her bed, watching her bandaged head and freaky machines hissing and sighing and bleeping away in her room – the monitors. The tubes and ventilator and needles in her veins, all called life support. He watched her usually moist lips, ever fascinating in their mauve tinge against her autumn colouring, now chapped and lifeless. He placed a gentle palm pressed to her aubergine cheek – the colour he had left on her when he’d hit her on Saturday night, sending her crashing against the wall behind her in the room at Salt Lick Lodge. A weekend that had been meant to be a happy and significant family safari with wild animals had created one animal wilder than all the rest of them: himself. At the time, that blackout moment when he was convinced that his daughter was actually…

Oh. Had his wife’s face muscles just moved? Or was it his imagination? Her eyes seemed, for a couple of pulses, to imperceptibly quiver. Then nothing again. Christ, it was getting so that he hardly knew what he was all about – around her. As if he involuntarily shifted into insane gearing – intermittently. Maybe his hand hurt her bruised cheek. In the four days the swelling had gone down on the cheek, the colour darker. He lifted his palm off the cheek and rested it on a shoulder. Thank God the cheek was the only other injury she’d incurred.

The nightmare film of Saturday night hardly left him in peace. Especially when he was finally alone in bed and couldn’t give a fuck about defences and putting on shows for his equally tortured children. Villa Stjärnblomma was small in comparison to their other properties, but twenty rooms, ten of them en suite, with seven bathrooms plus an entire park offered enough niches for him. He could weep in his pillow half the night. Curse purple streaks. Hit, tear and break things that wouldn’t be too audiovisual for the children and get them even more insecure…

So maybe he never really lets his defences down, after all.

The children. Despite Patricia’s diplomacy, you just couldn’t hoodwink Gudinna’s children. Especially not the five-year-old twins: “Admiral” Leif Frederik Maximilian and  “Generalissimo” Davin Philip Enos. They’d get you on your back foot before you spell your own initials out loud.

As soon as Patricia explained (bless her once again for being his bulwark where the children were concerned – he’d never paid enough attention to details to learn motherhood) that they couldn’t visit their mother in ICU because she was “still sleeping so deeply she wouldn’t know you’re there, darlings”, Leif had ignored her. He’d turned to his father and asked, “Pappa, is Mamma going to be roots like Mor-mor when she was put in the hole in the ground?”

It was such a blow from his five-year-old that he staggered inwardly to keep his shield intact and steady enough to glance off the burning arrow of his self-anger. “Of course not, Admiral. Mamma’s only sleeping off a very, very bad headache. The more she sleeps the more she’ll get better and the headache will go away.” But Drs Phillip Dumas and Fabian Ziegler and the consultant physician Albert Camus have an entire encyclopaedia ranging from A as in anorexia to V as in ventriculostomy. And the length it would take sweet old Mamma to wake up from her sleep is, according to the doctors, Wait & See.

“You won’t let somebody put her in the box and bury…”

Christ bloody Jesus.

He’d taken both twins in his arms. “Nobody will, Generalissimo. I won’t let anybody do that. Now, go and see what we brought back for you from town, hm?” He’d pecked on their hair to hide his face from them.

Then escaped to the study to pour it all out. Other times it was some bathroom or the galleries upstairs with his collection to hide the union of his nose and eyes in watering. Or when it was her – his Celestial Holiness – breaking down from the devastating questions of her fellow siblings, he took Loyana up to her room and grieved with her till she fell asleep. At least Loyana knew what was going on so that he didn’t have to explain why his nose and eyes had turned to fountains. His two older boys Larson Jan, ten, and Thorsten Solomon Bertil, half a year younger, actually worried him more. Because they said less. He had to pay particular attention to their body language to gauge what was going on inside them. Teasing and pet names had suddenly turned into causes of the sulks rather than communicating affection or intimacy.

He remembered Monday evening when he went in to Thor’s room to say goodnight and found him in his “workshop” which was annexed to his bedroom, consumed with pulling apart and comparing huge model ships. He had five of them in his collection: the Norwegian training barque Christian Radich, the Danish square rigged Georg Stage, the Swedish Navy’s ketch Gladen, the Italian Marina Militare full rigger Amerigo Vespucci and the German Navy barque Gorch Fock. All around him were pulled apart, being pulled apart or already put together again aircraft, food mixers, radios, cars, toasters, TV sets, the lot. The workshop was roughly twice the child’s bedroom where these would never fit.

Thor was known as “Machinery Lord” in the family. From the time he was three he watched the mechanics who repaired the Lindqvist Transexperts (K) Ltd vehicles with fascination, then he was soon pulling the engines apart and putting them together again with the mechanics’ assistance. He was always fiddling with his "machinery", lost to the rest of the world for hours on end.

He’d hesitated at the door, that Monday evening. Thor hadn’t heard him enter since he’d come in through the child’s bedroom.

“Hello there, Machinery Lord. Not yet bedtime, I suppose?”

Thor was wedged between exact scale models of Gorch Fock and Amerigo Vespucci, both at least a yard high, studying the rigged masts, sails, jibs and Gorch’s albatross figurehead. He looked up to his father, blond curls bouncing as he tossed them off his eyes, natural Baltic-Nilote tan the same burnished gold shade of his hair in the light of the room. The same colour circled his pupils, completely blocking the irises without dots or green specks as in Loyana’s more amber-green eyes. If it wasn’t for the jeans and pale blue Six Million Dollar Man T-shirt the boy had on (Lee Majors as the bionic man Steve Austin in some improbable action), Thor would look like a living golden statue of cupid, Erik had thought.

The boy brought his nine-year-old shoulders to his ears and dropped them as if whatever he’d been looking for was not to be found in his Pappa’s six-foot-four frame nor his remark on bedtime. The boy had no word, no sound, not even a sigh. He had turned his attention back to his three-masted German Navy’s barque and its albatross.

Red alert, Erik had bled invisibly, all artilleries off in unison. But at least let me take some of the bullets for you, my precious child. How would Mamma cope here, for this was definitely not a primary development, there was something of a personal character in the gesture. What would Mamma do – hug, or leave the room? He’d dropped on the floor next to Thor, crossed his legs like a Buddha and waited for whatever would hit him. Perhaps his son was only on troop inspection.

Don’t bloody cry, old lad. Just don’t. Jesus. He’d suppressed a sniff.

Eras went by.

Then, “Do you think the Gladen would have won against these two,” the boy finally pointed alternately at models of the Swedish Navy’s training ketch, the German barque and the Italian Naval Academy’s Vespucci, “if the race was based specifically on speed and seaworthiness, Pappa?”

Erik nearly let the dam burst with relief. And who else but his Thorsten Solomon Bertil Lindqvist would come up with words as precise as specifically and seaworthiness at age nine? Loyana, who had pet or nicknames for every family member, called Thor Thistle-Bert, a corruption of his three first names put together. But sometimes she deliberately said Thistle-Butt with emphasis when her brother came up with his smart arse technical knowledge.

Thor was now referring to this year’s 1978 Northern Waters Tall Ships Race which the Gladen had just won. The ketch had won the Cutty Sark Tall Ships Trophy because it had stood by to help the German Meteor whose forestay had broken, waited till another ship arrived to tow the Meteor to port, and then continued the race. After all, the aim of the Tall Ships Race, which is held every two years, was to promote international understanding, friendship and goodwill amongst the young people taking part. Thor was an ardent fan of the gathering of these sailing ships normally engaged in the training of youngsters aged 16 to 25, in their native waters.

Eyes glistening, he’d un-Buddha-ed himself and crawled on all fours to his son, who stood on his knees. Pappa sat back on the floor and held out his arms to his son. Thor sat on Pappa’s lap, back to chest, and leaned his head on him.

“Well,” Erik began, one arm wrapped around Thor closely against him, the other hand stroking the boy’s golden curls rhythmically from forehead to crown. “As you know there’re other prizes for the winning ships, precious, and the Cutty Sark Trophy is awarded to the ship judged to have done the most towards international understanding during the race. Gladen is a Class B1 schooner as…”

“As opposed to the square riggers,” Thor lifted a hand to indicate. “I know.”

And so they’d sat on the floor talking about the Northern Waters race that had been 1978’s main race from Gothenburg, round the Fair Isle off Scotland and then back to the Oslofjord, a distance of 840 nautical miles; about Cutty Sark, the merchant vessel, that had had been used for ferrying tea out of China, gold out of California and Australia, until the opening of the Suez Canal put an end to the clipper era. All the Lindqvist children loved sailing, but only Thor was as passionate about the sport as his father was.

Finally the boy fell asleep on his lap and he’d carried him to bed, hoping that the child would dream of the Swedish Navy's destroyer HMS Visborg, where the King of Sweden started the Northern Waters race, rather than whether Mamma would sleep forever and become roots.

That had been Monday evening. Then yesterday, in the study alone after unloading the children on Patricia following another sleep-and-roots episode, he’d wiped his eyes and blown his nose. He’d reached out on the bookshelf and pulled out two books: Biblos, Khira’s mother’s Bible in Dholuo, the Luo language, and a book her mother had given her as a present: Luo Kitgi gi Timbegi by Paul Mboya. This was the Luo equivalent of the Torah.  In it Mboya had written everything about Luo centuries-old customs and traditions: from what plants and animals to eat over marriage rites and rituals to avoid inbreeding or diseases; to central governance; to medicine men á la Witchdoctor Wach who had influenced (perhaps inadvertently) his marriage to Khira in that unique wedding in Luoland; to how to bury the dead of all ages and social status. Mboya was a visionary to preserve all these in modern writing. The young generation of Luoland – and he knew this only too well from his own wife who had been bent on modernity so much so that she found nothing worthwhile in her own people’s civilisation – were turning to western ways with heart and soul.

Mor-mor had bought the book for her daughter when Leif had asked his Mor-mor why she and their Mamma called the children grandfather or grandmother although they were neither old nor had any children of their own yet. Erik remembered how Mor-mor had explained it all to the children in the sandbox back at the mansion in Nairobi.

 The dear lady had picked up a stick and used it to draw a giant tree that filled the entire box, its roots exposed, then industriously explained to the children how the roots not only kept the tree upright but also gathered and conveyed nourishment to the trunk, boughs, branches, twigs, leaves and blossoms. The roots were the buried "dead" forebears who "rose" again along the tree trunk to live once more as boughs, branches, twigs, leaves and blossoms. Mor-mor told the children that they were the blossom part of the forebears, their parents and grandparents the leaves and twigs, and their great-grandparents the branches, and so on. And when any family member died, they were buried and became the roots again and began nourishing the tree afresh, forever part of the composite whole that was infinitely regenerative, recycling itself life after life after life. She had concluded, hugging Davin, her favourite, whom she’d always called Enos (Khira’s father who died before Khira was born), "So now you see why you're grandfather, grandmother, and mother and father - because you've already been. If you wait to be called grandfather, grandmother, mother or father only after you've had children of your own, then what happens if you don't get blessed with any children?”

He and Gudinna had both been flabbergasted. That’s when Mor-mor discovered that her daughter, who had completely adopted to the modern “European high society” world from the time she was sent to a British missionary boarding school, had no idea of her own roots. Had in fact deliberately avoided them with incomprehensible charity. Hence Luo Kitgi gi Timbegi as a present to Khira. Old Gudinna had religiously read the book and explained most of it to him through the years. But he, who prided himself on being self-sufficient, an autodidact who taught himself all he knew even while labouring in harbours at age eighteen, loading and unloading stinking fish, later starting an entire business kingdom and hiring the boys with degrees to work for him the way he wanted them to work for him, he – of all people – had never learned Dholuo, his wife’s native tongue, to be able to read Mboya’s book. To be able to have knowledge of what barks and roots and leaves were used in Luoland for what kinds of diseases, rites, rituals and ceremonies. To be able to grasp the Luo spirituality well enough to now be of help to his children who – he now realised – had soaked all this up in the blood coursing through their veins and the upbringing they’d had from their mother. Whereas he’d believed he was the best of fathers, he’d failed to see that the best of fathers had to also be something of a mother.

He now felt like a dictionary with half the words explained but wrongly spelt.

Leif and Davin had not only remembered their Mor-mor’s teaching in the sandbox, but also her funeral of two years ago in Luoland. Their questions still seared his vitals, making him feel totally bereft; the poor lambs had no idea that he was the one who had sent their mother to the “sleep” and the death they now feared might follow and take her, too, away from them.

His Gudinna, who was the best of mothers as well as a father to them.

The Saturday night horrors had come back to him full force after this incidence. And he’d promised that he’d never let anybody put her in a box and then lower the box into a hole in the ground.

But he was far from sure that he’d be able to prevent such a thing when it came to it.

He came back to the hear and now. No twitches on her face muscles. Perhaps he’d only imagined it.

“Gudinna,” he whispered, warm wetness on his cheeks. “I think I’m losing it altogether.” And, in all genuineness, he wanted to add, “Help me!”

But instead he held his breath, counted to fifteen, then retreated back into the past again, silently apologising to her for the state he was in that was rendering him a complete moron.

He closed his eyes, to facilitate the voyage back, away from her lifeless body before him.

He started closer, when, alone in the study on Tuesday, he’d put the books back on the shelf, dropped on a chair like he was all skin half full of disjointed bones, hid his face in his hands and once again relived how he’d hit his wife in seconds of blind fury and complete blackout, with their daughter, his Celestial Holiness, lying dead in the room.

Well, he’d absolutely believed Loyana was dead.

 

 

FOUR

Dr Derek Mills had come into the room in Salt Lick Lodge to find him going berserk and still reading Loyana’s diary where the child had noted down every bit of procedure she had gone through in the “initiation into womanhood” out in Luoland by (as he believed at the time) a bunch of female occultists that Mamma had convinced Loyana was for the child’s own good.

He remembered in real time, third person. As if he was cringing away from it all, distancing his sane self from the beast that had attacked his Gudinna.

"Derek, hurry up! The bloody savages have poisoned her!"

And when Dr Mills, whom Erik now strongly believed to be no more than a vet for the hippos, asked what poison it was, Erik screamed, "How the bloody hell would I know? The Stone Age savages filled her up with it out in the fucking bush! Just save my precious baby for me, will you? They even made her drink her own blood!" The way he said this last sentence, one could not blame Dr Mills for conjuring up a scene where the savages tapped a whole mug-full of the child's blood by sucking it out with reed straws stuck in her jugular vein, and then making her drink it back again

And perhaps that's how Erik envisaged it as well

Erik had known Dr Mills over years, for the man often used Lindqvist-Wilkinson Charters’ light aircraft to get to patients out in the far reaches of the country where there were neither roads nor rail. Or getting a tourist who had fallen seriously ill at the lodges out to Mombasa or Nairobi for treatment. The L-W Charters also operated regular tourist safari flights to game reserves as far down as the Victoria Falls or up to the Egyptian and Sudanese pyramid

The doctor was taking Loyana's temperature and pulse and measuring her blood pressure with the usual cool calm of doctors in any crises. He said, "To save her, Erik, I have to know what she took and when. I’m not God, my dear chap, I’m a...

"Then get the son of a bitch in here to save her!"

Erik looked at Loyana who had turned a greenish-white, as if somebody had rubbed her with fresh crushed spinach, her naturally dark scarlet lips turning bluish-purple. "What's Hilton running here as lodges, for God's sake, a temporary camp for Livingstone and his fucking porters?" He took a swig straight from the neck of the bottle of whisky… pacing like a caged angry lion. "And why is my baby vomiting all that blood, Derek? What does that imply, for God’s sake? What the hell is going on here?"

The doctor explained something about the possible corrosion of the stomach lining.

"Then do something about it, Derek! Where the hell did you study medicine?"

Khira twined her hands at the back of her head, her arms pressed over her ears tightly, trying to block out Erik’s demented voice, going out of her mind herself for having driven her own beloved one completely insane. And she was helpless in knowing how to soothe him, save him from insanity. Some deity she was!

Mills said with the patience of a saint, "Erik, at the moment there's nothing I can do for her, really. I don't know how the properties of a chemical drug would react to the properties of the barks, roots and herbs that the girl was given. We need proper medical analysis, equipment and team. It isn’t as if she took some liquid detergent ten minutes ago so that all I have to do is give her a stomach pump, Erik. It’s all in her bloodstream now. I’m desperately sorry, old lad, but...” Mills ended with a shrug. He then proceeded to suggest they should not waste any more time and should get the vehicles ready and drive back to Taita Hills Lodge, seven miles away, where the airstrip was, and wait for help to arrive.

 Erik nodded, putting his bottle on the dressing table. "And what poison did those savage witches feed my baby?

The doctor looked first at Khira who was glued to her spot as if she had taken root, her tears coursing steadily down her face. She looked like a crying statue, her arms now hanging straight down her sides. Mills turned back to Erik and said, "I'm afraid I can't answer that, Erik. Until proper tests have been made. Mrs Lindqvist knows the names of the herbs, barks and roots from which the potions were made. But only in her vernacular language which I don't speak. And she assures me that you too don't speak the vernacular well enough to know the...”

That’s when the forester's forest turned ugly in the blink of an eye. He no longer remembered striking the fresh earth, planting the saplings or praying for the rain. He saw monstrous ugliness. The erect tree trunks were twisted and warped, the leaves curled, the branches became grotesquely knurled and without beauty, and the gentle morning sunlight snuffed out.

It all happened so quickly it was like a lightning rod to Mills and a blur to Erik himself. Darkness fell with not even a shadowed moonlight, and Erik’s labyrinthine gem and himself were hurtled into a black, fathomless chasm, when Erik heard this additional sin in Khira's list of inconceivable sins.

Erik covered his eyes with both his hands and roared.

 Like a dozen injured lions in chorus, he roared again. And then again, long and protracted.

The feline he had become leapt to Khira and attacked her - in rage, pain and self-defence. 

"ISN'T THERE A SINGLE ONE OF YOU IN THIS WORLD WHOM A MAN CAN TRUST AND LIVE WITH!

The blow lifted Khira off her feet and sent her sailing back into the wall behind her.

"Get a hold of yourself, man!” cried Dr Mills, shoving Erik out of his way and advancing towards Khira. "You're not a polar bear attacking its female, you know!” He glanced at Khira and saw her sliding slowly down the wall onto the floor.

The back of her head left a scarlet trail on the wall.

"Good God Almighty!", said Dr Mills, now kneeling next to Khira, with her wrist in his hand.

Erik stood transfixed, his mouth wide open, his voice gone, his eyes crazed pools staring into the fathomless.

        

“Are you all right in there, Erik?”

He wasn’t. He was disoriented for a few more seconds. Then all that he had shut out came back slowly. Phillip leaning in on him, the hissing and bleeps of machines, the duty nurse quiet in her corner with a women’s magazine pretending not to be there as always; his hand holding his wife’s limp one. The angry aubergine of her cheek reminding him of his masterpiece. Her fragile beauty (even when she fleshed out in pregnancy she oozed this vulnerable fragility that screamed to him for protection) as always exotic and engaging – he’d marred that too.

He swallowed. Then croaked without knowing he had waterworks on his face, ruining the front of his shirt, “Phillip. I was… ages away…”

He puffed out air, cheeks ballooned. Then nodded, “Tja. Now I’m here. Yes, I’m all right in there, Phillip. It’s just that for a second or so I thought…” That her eyes quivered?

He shrugged instead, “I’m here.”

With my Gudinna, he thought, turning to her and bowing to kiss her limp hand held in his on the bedclothes.

He began to talk to her.

And she to him.

 

FIVE

 

“Hello, my Gudinna. It’s me again. How do you feel?”

Sick and tired of this question from all of you, that’s how I feel. Sick and tired of screaming the same answer: I want to get out of the abyss, out of this sinister darkness! Get me out of here! Again and again. But none of you bothers to answer me. Nobody listens to my pleas about getting out. Nobody answers as to whether I’m in the world of the dead or joined another life form in another universe. So why bother asking me the question thousands of times – each time any or all of you come in here. In my room. Martine St Germain, Phillip Dumas, Fabian Ziegler. You all come in here, introduce yourselves and then start on me. The same old question. What room is it anyway? Talk to me instead, please. Tell me things I need to know, where I am and why, not just: You have a visitor, madame… I’m the cleaning lady, just getting your room tidied up, so don’t let the noise upset you, madame…

So now answer me: Who is Gudinna – me? Is that my name? And weren’t you here before? Whiny, just like now, before you all left?

The second voice she’d heard in the room told her, “Just came back from Lo. She’d like…” Erik’s voice constricted and he turned to look at Phillip with dachshund eyes, but she couldn’t see that from her abyss in the vast valley. Eyes back at her, he felt as if he had a white furry tongue and bad breath.

“Yes,” Phillip leaned in and murmured to Erik’s shoulder, “she probably hears you. At least at some level. The brain waves are more active now.”

Erik turned clouded eyes to bleeping machines that the doctor indicated. Blurred visions of bluish green and red numerals and freaky charts bopping at their ends like sinuous threads of pecking worms.

“Keep talking and interacting with her calmly and clearly. Hold her hand, caress her face. It all helps the natural healing process of her brain.”

What are you murmuring about? Or am I getting deaf as well? Who is Lo?

“She’d like to talk to you, my soul. Lo, I mean.”

Aha.

“But, Christ, you know how hopeless I am without you.”

Without me?

“I can’t let her see you like this… can’t let any of them, really… and so I thought I’d let you know how much they’re all longing for Mamma… Norska is also flying in from Gothenburg today. Without Farfar… he’s so mad at me he said he’s… ashamed to be my father…”

Talking in riddles by the blood of the ancients. And weeping. Your father is ashamed of you? I’m sorry you’re so sad but I’m not sure you’re talking to me or to someone else. Who’s Lo? Who’re they – those ones longing for Mamma? Who’s Norska and Farfar? Are they my children or your soul’s children? But if… Great ancestors! Am I your soul? Your Gudinna? Please, tell me! I’m trying to remember so much… so many things but they keep slipping away. You… sound and sort of… smell familiar. Who are you? Please…

“Gudinna, I’m a perfectly hopeless father and I’ve been a monstrous husband to you…”

He saw her closed eyes twitch again. At least he thought he did. For a fraction of a second. Could she really hear him? Did she know he was here holding her hand? Stroking her still-life face?

“I can’t tell you how so very sorry I am that you’re here like this and that I did this to you, my soul… I mean, it wasn’t… Thor och Odin…”

Zigzag answers. Such a tortured voice. Thor och Odin… that’s… like Herregud… Swedish… Am I married? Are you my husband? Do we have children? Is that why you sound and smell familiar?

The wet patch on the duvet covering her, where he was leaning in as he talked to her, was getting larger and soppier from his tears and snot. He wanted to talk to her, to explain how devastated he was about what he’d done to her. To their children and the whole family. To explain to her that he’d not lashed out at her but at his own buried demons. His mania about complete trust. That his faculty had spun out of control in those mad seconds when he’d hit her, but it hadn’t been her he was attacking. He wanted to tell her about his Monday evening with Thor-Sol-Bert and how their we-boys rambling on about navy boats and sailing had lifted his spirits at least for a couple of hours. To tell her about the twins’ fear yet again last night that their mother would die and end up in a box buried forever. He wanted to explain to her that their daughter was suffering because of what happened between the three of them: mother, daughter and father. But he didn’t know how.

He wanted to tell her that he was going to talk to Dr Hoffman so the therapist could be in a better position – perhaps – to help Loyana out of her emotional and psychological trauma trap. He even wanted to talk to her about the Lindqvist Group, that Bill Armstrong, the MD, was now acting chairman and holding the fort for them – after all, she was Group Vice Chairman – and Annabelle Cartwright, the old girl who’d been his right hand ever since when, was seeing to it that things ran smoothly right around the globe.

But everything stuck in his throat.

A hand fell on his shoulder.

“Erik? Are you really all right? Need a break? Something to drink?”

“Wouldn’t want to be all right, Phillip. And I don’t need a break, for God’s sake. She does. Look at her. I’m not even sure she knows I’m here. Or hears me…” The lump raided his throat again.

Erik. Don’t be sad, if it’s about me. I’m fine, only I can’t make sense of your words. Yes, I know you’re here and I hear you. Do you hear me? You sound nearer to me than the last time you were here. In my room. Listen, try and…

“Don’t despair, she does hear you, Erik.”

…answer my questions. I’m here and it’s a vast darkness and I want out!

There was an erratic bleep that sent Phillip to the electrical devices while Erik turned an intense gaze at Khira. The slight twitches of her eyes. Wet lids.

Christ almighty. “Gudinna! No, my soul, please! Phillip!”

“She’s a little excited, which is a good sign, Erik. No panic, okay?”

Ancestors, I mustn’t panic. I need to know what’s going on. My memory…

But Erik was panicking.

“My soul, it wasn’t you, believe me. I didn’t hit you!”

He held her hand with both of his as he rocked in his chair back and forth over her. “It wasn’t you I attacked, it was me, the demented animal nursing injuries decades old. Me, the old codger you blessed with beatific flesh and blood new Lindqvists. You prefer to call them Scando-Nilotes and I played with the word, saying they indeed had a scandalous father, remember? You helped me create a unique new human group. Bonded north and south irreversibly.”

He spoke fast, faster, agitated now by the quivering of her eyelids, willing her back to the here and now. Talk, talk, talk. Wake her up.

“My Gudinna. My pure little white dove… My very first ever precious soul… Remember I told you about Claudette and Husseini? Remember the spring of my barbarism with women? Where and why this barbarism all started…?”

The bleeps changed to a dramatic tempo. The duty nurse had dropped her magazine and was on her feet fiddling with Khira’s IV drips. Dr Martine St Germain walked in, as always crisp and birdlike, every fifty-one years of her.

“Erik,” she said. “Let’s have a look at her. You better step back, or step out if you like. She’s all right, just excited to hear you, I’m sure.”

Erik wanted to believe her with all he was.

“Perhaps she needs a little respite?” Phillip patted Erik’s shoulder again.

“She’s…” Erik croaked and started again. “She’s crying…”

Tears indeed clung on her trembling long sickle-blade eyelashes.

“All I ever do is hurt her, Phillip. I shouldn’t ever come anywhere near her. She can’t even say how much pain she’s having.”

He swiped a sleeve across his nose, getting up.

No, Erik, I’m not in pain. Just so sad for your sadness. What binds us…?

“Perhaps a little distress. Her heart rate is a bit increased.” Martine St Germain said. She didn’t sound convincing to Erik. “Apart from that, she’s…”

“No worse than the worst case she’d ever had to be? Herregud!”

Herregud? Yes, it’s that Erik again. The one who’d left the room…

“We’ll give her something to steady her again, Erik. Okay?”

Sure, Phillip. Brilliant. A little steadying here, a little pacifying over there.

“I think I’ll get back to my daughter. Not much I can do here but harm.”

His head was a buoy signalling a storm. He took off his hospital gown. The nurse took it from him. Both doctors, St Germain and Dumas, were concentrating on their patient. They seemed not to have heard him.

But his wife had.

No, Erik! Please don’t go! What barbarism with women? I don’t remember! Is your daughter my daughter? Is that what binds us? I’m trying so hard to, but I can’t remember a thing! Please answer me! Don’t go before you tell me!

“I’ll be back as soon as I can, my precious soul. These two will take care of you till then, hm? I worship you, now more than ever before.”

Thank the ancient bones, you heard me. I’ll wait till you’re back. I feel… completely… devoid of… just can’t… remember…

 

Let's be friends

The Women Behind She Writes

519 articles
12 articles

Featured Members (7)

123 articles
392 articles
54 articles
60 articles

Featured Groups (7)

Trending Articles

  • Within The Silence …
  • Hit your peak - 8 Simple Ways to Enhance Your Athletic...
  • Book Feature: The Day GOD Wore a Hard Hat by Jonathan...
  • Dealing with Post-Publication Blues
  • .further education.
  • The Ultimate Example

Comments
No comments yet