Blister Sister (Part Two)
Ben stood up straight, his ears crimson, his voice hoarse. “Damn it! How dare you say that in front of a child! What are you thinking? Are you an idiot? What the hell is wrong with you?”
Now, although I was completely mortified and feeling the strong urge, despite my stomach cramping, to crawl under the hospital bed and never come out, I have to say, Ben impressed me. Not in the way a parent impresses you by throwing you a birthday party and inviting all of your friends over to stay the night, nor in the way a child feels proud when a parent attends the school’s career day and knocks the socks or your classmates. No, it wasn’t the type of impressive behavior that summons thoughts of coolness and grandiosity. Ben’s behavior more so brought images of a fearsome bear standing on her hind legs with claws erected to protect her cub. It was a scary image, quite terrifying actually—though none could deny that somewhere deep inside the man who was set upon a blind-rampage, huffing and puffing away at every hospital staff member within his path, that there was at least somewhere hidden a jewel of compassion.
It didn’t take long for Ben to pack up my things, usher Mother and me out of the building, and drive thirty miles across the state to another hospital. Sadly for Ben, by then hospital visiting hours had past and the nurses insisted Ben and Mother leave. And thus I was made to stay in a strange place, miles from home, without a soul I knew, replaying in my head all the horrific ways my death might play out.
Sometime in the night my body won out over my obsessive thoughts of funeral caskets and bereavement floral arrangements, and I fell asleep.
In the morning, when I awoke, a lingering gait of worry crossed back and forth in my mind like one of those circular rotating ducks at a carnival target booth. My heart pounded, my palms sweated, and I didn’t seem to be taking in enough oxygen. After I’d practically hyperventilated, and reviewed all the morbid ways I could die, a good dozen times each, a plump nurse with a ruddy complexion entered the room and took my vitals. Sitting on the edge of the hospital bed, she met her eyes with mine. “Well, Honey,” she said. “There isn’t much we can do for you.”
That was all I needed to hear. Now for certain I would die on the east coast, far away from all of my family and friends, never to be heard of again, never to be held or loved again. Why God? Why Me?
My heart sank: a broken elevator crashing from the grand suite to the basement. This was the end, indeed.
Seconds later, disgruntled Ben sauntered into the room with two days worth of black stubbles on his face. Mother followed at his side.
“Hello,” the nurse said. “I was just telling your daughter…”
The room stopped for a moment; well, not the room, but everything inside the room: the conversation, the noises, even the sunlight, everything went black. My heart raced. This was it. Mother would soon know I was dying.
The rest of the nurse’s words came out at quarter-speed, so much so that her mouth seemed to be stretched out and frozen in the shape of a contorted goose egg.
“…Everything… is… going…to… be … fine,” she spoke in super slow motion.
What the heck? I looked over at the smiling nurse and arched my right brow.
The nurse rose off the hospital bed and scribbled some data on my medical chart. “What is happening is very simple,” she continued, giving Ben a particularly large proportion of her attention. “Your daughter is constipated and has a substantial amount of gas trapped in her intestines.” The nurse held up a plastic bottle of some ghastly purplish-gray substance. “She can drink this down or try to go on her own.” She turned her wide blue eyes to me. “It’s up to you. Do you want to take this?”
I gulped. I looked out the window. My cheeks were on fire.
Most kids would have felt relieved to hear the news that they were not dying, but not me. I didn’t know where to even begin in my disappointment. First off the nurse obviously thought Ben was my father, that fact alone panged me terribly. Then there was this unsettling feeling of grave disappointment, as if I’d failed everyone by not having something seriously wrong with me.
And now three adults were all staring straight at me and waiting for me to go take a dump. I didn’t even go to the bathroom at school, or even at the house when other people were in close proximity. I was screwed.
My eyes side-swept the nurse, who was smiling patiently. Next, I glanced at mother as she sighed in relief, and then I hovered my attention at the expressionless Ben. Waited to hear him scream, “What a loser!”
But there was no sound, no movement from anyone, only this unbearable silence.
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