Aside 18 Feb


There were no mirrors in the room. Not that she minded she could see all she needed to reflected in others eyes. The way they looked downwards as soon as they approached and realised the dried leathery handbag in the bed was actually human. Their chattering conversation concerning skin grafts and plastic surgery wouldn’t mend the mental scars they were inflicting with their patronising patter. She knew she was bitter but couldn’t seem to shake off these feelings that were threatening to overcome her sense of self-worth.

She welcomed the nurses, they were professional as they plumped up her pillows and re-arranged the guilt flowers in vases. They were all brisk and businesslike no niceties (too busy) but she preferred that to the pity and horror she got from family who came to see the freak they were related to. She knew she was being hard on herself but then she had no-one else to blame.

80% they said – no-one could see the other 20% the bit that was pink, smooth and wholesome rather than the brown scale that now passed for her skin. The 20% was so touchable she ran her crisped fingers up and down her inner leg revelling in the completeness of it, the rosebud colour reflecting on the white sheets. Alone she would open her nightgown and stare at the perfect formulation of the hairs, freckles and veins clearly visible when tightening her muscles.

James had left. He couldn’t handle it apparently. Anyone would have thought he‘d been in the fire. Her friends had told her he blamed himself for leaving her alone after the argument. That was silly! She was the one who was smoking, she was the one who’d drank the two bottles of wine and fallen asleep while the last cigarette she would ever smoke landed on the rug they‘d picked together in Habitat. It was a blessing he’d stopped visiting.

Lucky to be alive they said. Lucky! She’d contemplated that word so often in the last six months. The visits from friends had stopped after two months. Only family visited now. Duty bound every Sunday they trooped through with bags of grapes (ironic now she looked like a dried one). She giggled; at least the anti-depressants were working.

Walking again had been the hardest lesson, stretching out the tautened skin; the pain had become second nature. Each step was an event she likened to the Olympics and awarded herself medals, bronze on a bad day, and gold on a good day. She was determined and approached every physiotherapy session like an athlete changing into her tracksuit, her skin becoming her very own body armour. Occasionally she found herself thinking why she made the effort and the answer was always the same there was nothing else to do except to keep battling to release the anger pent up inside. All the anger was directed at her mainly al least that was allowed.

She thought back about how long she used to take to choose a new dress or a pair of jeans scrutinising herself in the mirrors in the changing rooms turning this way and that. Vain that‘s what she was. She used to rush home to try them and on once more revel in the purchase of yet more camouflage. Nowadays her only purchases were online and consisted mainly of comfortable track-suits, velour no less!

Her release was imminent and her mind was playing tricks. Could she actually walk down a street and cope with the stares, the pointing and possible happy slapping she was going to have to endure? No longer cocooned in her little lint nest of a hospital room. All in good time said Nurse Too Busy to Talk. Mirrors had to be faced first said Nurse Superefficient who had been plaguing her for a week to take a peek. The pictures in her mind of her previous reflection needed to be replaced bit by bit gradually emerging like a backwards butterfly. Maybe it won’t be so bad.

It was worse, oh her eyes were the same green but nothing else was familiar the leathery dry skin with sparse patches of hair (it may grow back eventually they had said). Self-pity, her old friend, was getting her nowhere just get on with it she screamed inside her head. She cried her last she had vowed no more tears. Kevin the physiotherapist popped his head round the door:

“And how’s our very own frazzle face today?”
“Get lost” she shouted
“Quick lets harness that anger and get you standing up” he said laughing
“If I must then I must”
“Get your kit on then I’m not taking you out like that”
“Give me 10 minutes”
“I’ll give you 5 now hurry up”

Political correctness was not one of Kevin’s fortes but most of the time he knew it was the only way some of them would be able cope. He knew she was struggling inside but he was not going to let it defeat her. She was stronger than most and her extensive vocabulary of expletives kept him amused. He’d seen pictures of her before and in his mind she’d never looked better. He’d always admired the strength and tenacity of his patients and never, ever, encouraged self-pity. The nurses were constantly tutting at his gung-ho approach waiting for the civil law suit to be filed – it hadn’t happened to date so he must be doing something right!

“Are you ready yet?”
“Having trouble with the zip. Can you do it?”
“I could, but that would be defeating the object of the session”
“Okay, okay I’ve got it now anyway”

She shuffled towards the end of the bed where Kevin was waiting with the wheelchair to take her to the torture chamber commonly called the “physiotherapy room”.

“Ow” she screamed easing herself down
“Don’t start all that, you know you can’t feel anything!” said Kevin
“Just wanted to see if you’d fall for it one last time” she taunted
“I don’t know what I’m going to do once you’ve gone”
“Find another victim!”
“Oh you’re good, very good”

Kevin wheeled her off laughing to himself confident that this one was going to make it.




2 Responses to “”

  1. Kezmac February 20, 2013 at 8:42 am #

    Started readin n thought – she said semi fiction lol… Then realised I am slow and your on to your second story!… Brill!…x

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: