Sunday, 13 March 2016
Sunday Short Story: Part II (FRIDAY)
Written by Kris Kaila
“Your hair…it’s shorter, right?” Griffith asked, as she sat down across from him.
The visiting room was a tiny square room with two chairs, a small table with a few magazines from the previous decade, and two very fake potted plants. Everything but the magazines were nailed or glued down. There were no windows, or doors in the room. Sim did not know what was more depressing the visiting room or the asylum itself.
“I cut it myself,” she answered, smoothing down her new choppy chin length bob.
“I like it,” Griffith said, instead of asking her why she cut it herself. He was fervently ignoring that conversation.
“How’s the outside world?”
“Depends on whom you ask,” Griffith responded, looking at his wife.
“How’s it for you, Griffith?”
“It’s lonely. Without you there it doesn’t really make sense.”
“I miss you, too, ” Sim confessed, looking down at her hands on her lap.
“Come home,” Griffith whispered.
“The girls, they…”
“Griff, I don’t…”
He refused to be interrupted this time, “They want to see you, Sim. I’ve run out of excuses.”
Sim was silent. Silent, because this was one thing she never knew what to say to her husband.
“I’m happy to see you.”
“I love you.”
“I love you, too.”
“So, come home.”
“Tell them…maybe they...can come next time.”
They remained in their position for another five minutes until the nurse walked into the room to signal the end of their visit.
* * *
“It’s Monday, the day of Sim Branigan’s confession,” Dr. Berg said cheerfully as Sim sat slumped in her chair smoking her cigarette.
“I said Monday, just not which Monday.”
“Fine. Whatever. I got pregnant the first time to please my husband. The second time I was too far along...to do anything. Both times I hate the whole thing. The pregnancy, labour and the shit that came after. There, satisfied?”
“You want more? Well, while I was pregnant the second time I did everything I could to miscarry. I purposely fell down from a flight of stairs, drank some concoction I read about in a magazine, and whatever else I heard about. When they were born, I would let them cry until I could not take it anymore and would call my mom. The truth is my mother raised both the girls on her own. I would read to them at night and did art projects with them. That was my motherly contribution. My mother cooked, cleaned, clothed and fed them. She drove them to school and back. She is their mother; and I...I am their wicked stepmother. I went on with my life as usual and tried to pretend that they weren’t there. What mother says and thinks these things about their own flesh and blood?” Sim’s fingers trembled as she brought the cigarette to her lips and took a puff. “There you go that’s your big fucking mystery. Can I go now? Am I cured?”
Dr. Berg sighed.
“Look, Dr. Berg…”
“We’re just starting to make a breakthrough…”
Sim talked right over the doctor, “They want to see me.”
“Do you want to see them?”
She looked away from the doctor.
“Sim, do you want to see them?”
“Not even curious?" Silence. "Then what are you going to do?”
“I don’t know.”
“What would you do if you were released from here...today?”
“I’m not sure I want to go anywhere. I think I, and others, would be better off if I am here.”
“Why do you say that?”
“I’m here because my mother went on vacation for a month, a month, and as a result my eldest daughter was badly burned. I left them home alone, hungry, to go get some art supplies. She tried to cook some soup for her and her sister. It boiled over and onto her arms. Her arms will always have those deep scars. Looking at them daily makes me sick.”
“Doesn’t that show that you care for them?”
“I am sorry it happened, and that’s why my husband and I decided that it would be best for me to come here. The secret is out, I am a woman who has no ability to be a mother. Looking at her arms just reminds me of what I am lacking.”
“You could start a whole new life somewhere else once you are released.”
“But I couldn’t, you see. I can’t leave my husband. His weekly visits are the only thing I live for now. I love him. And, I cannot ask my husband to leave his daughters. If he did, he’d only come to resent me. If he didn’t he would wonder if he did the right thing by me for the rest of his life. It’s better if I’m here, broken. There will always be hope for them that I’ll be fixed.” A few tears fell down her cheek, but she was not crying. “I’m not a monster, Doctor. I can't love them. I need them to believe I need to be here. That it's not their fault.”
“We can’t keep you here forever. Especially since you seem to be doing better.”
“Don’t make me do something desperate to earn to be here.”
Dr. Berg sighed.
“We’ll talk about this on Wednesday.”
“You talk Wednesday. I am done talking.”
* * *
“I miss you, Sim,” Griffith said into her hair, as he held her.
“I miss you, too.”
“The girls, they…”
Sim moved away from her husband and looked into his eyes.
“Griffith, what if I never get better? What if I’m always like…this?”
“Don’t talk like that, Sim. You’ll get better. You already are. The Doctor says so.”
“Griffith. What if I don’t?”
“If…I will always be here every Friday at the same time. I will continue to love you, and always think that you will get better.”
The nurse clearing her throat interrupted their conversation.
“See you next Friday,” Sim said, leaning in to kiss him.
“Friday,” he whispered back.
Sim stood up and walked towards the nurse. Sim turned around and gave a small wave to Griffith.
“Friday.” Sim chanted to herself all the way back to the day room. “I’ll see you Friday.”