The boy realized something was wrong by his father’s eyes. Clear and serene until an hour ago, they had gotten heavy with concern. His father was watching him, but wasn’t seeing him, which was frightening. The change had taken place after a long phone conversation in the kitchen, from which the boy managed to catch only a couple of words. Then he went somewhere, leaving him alone with the questions that swirled in his mind. Something was wrong!
It was very late and only two of the windows of the neighboring buildings was lit, but the boy could not sleep. So far he hasn’t been left alone for so long. Just as the uncertainty gripped his throat tightly, threatening to choke him, his father appeared at the front door. He was holding several sheets of paper. Without a word, he went into the kitchen and poured himself a whiskey. He drank it on foot, then shook his head and sat down. The boy approached cautiously as if his father was a bomb that could explode any moment.
“Where is mom?”
His father turned and looked at him blankly. There were several horizontal wrinkles on his forehead– he was thinking.
“Why aren’t you sleeping? Don’t you see how late it is. You must go to school tomorrow...
“Where is mom?” he repeated insistently.
“Your mother is in hospital. She had a car accident.”
The boy paused trying to grasp what he had just heard. He had been in a hospital last year when he got food poisoning, and he knew the place was not good. It smelled bad and was full of suffering people. At night could be heard moans and other unpleasant sounds. It was pity his mother being there.
“When will she be back?”
- Well ... when she gets better. If she ... turns the corner. Come on, go to bed, it’s all right, “ he said ruffling his hair.
Heading to his room, the boy wondered what meant to turn the corner. He was about to get back to ask. Eventually he gave up. But he knew that when someone said everything was fine, something was wrong.
He fell asleep quickly for the anxiety had exhausted his powers.
He did not see his mother the next day, nor the day after. His father was still sullen and distracted, and paid little attention to him. One morning he even forgot to prepare him breakfast. The atmosphere at home had changed.
One day, shortly after а spring downpour, his father took him in his arms and carried him to the taxi that waited near the entrance. The street was shining in the sun as if varnished, sending up tiny wisps of smoke
“Where are we going, dad?”
“To visit your mother. She misses you a lot. She wants to see you. But you should not ask her any questions, okay?
The hospital smelled as bad as before. Tis stomach hurt, but he did not complain. His whole essence was focused on the upcoming meeting.
They took the elevator to the seventh floor.
His mother was on the bed beside the window. She had shadows under her eyes and her hair was matted and ruffled, but when she smiled she looked like an angel. The boy climbed onto the bed and huddled in her arms. She had lost weight, and was not as soft as before, her hands pale and thin, her fingers moving nervously. But that was his mother, no doubt.
His eyes then lingered on mom Emmy ‘s legs. They stuck up, straight and slightly apart, and to the pads on which they were propped were attached ropes, part of a system of pulleys. It looked like someone was trying to torture the lower part of her body. Iron bars were sticking from the thigh of her right leg, others wrapping the calf of the left. Her feet were hanging loosely, as if cut off from the body. The boy bit his lips. Why she had allowed them to do that? There was something indecent, humiliating in it.
“Can you get up, mom?”
“No, darling, but I’ll be fine, it’s all right. Don’t look at that, do not look.
The boy wondered how she used toilet but did not dare to ask.
“When are you coming home? I need your help doing my homework.
“Be patient. They take good care of me, don’t worry. And from now on you will visit me more often.”
“Yes, mom. I forgot to bring you flowers. Next time...”
She petted him.
“No problem, no problem. Get out in the corridor for a while, I want to talk to your father.”
Ten minutes later, as they were about to leave, tears sprang in his mother’s eyes. The boy noticed them, and felt bad, very bad.
Later he asked his father: “What had happened to mom’s legs?”
“Will they fix them?”
“Of course, everything will be fine.”
“I do not know. After removing the fixators, the doctors will put her leg in plaster. And we will have to take care of her at home.
The boy was startled by the words “take care,” but he didn’t say anything.
“Is she in pain?”
“Of course she is ... to crash like that ... for a dog!
“Your mother swung right and crashed into a tree, trying to save a mongrel. Oh, so stu...
They got home, and his father drank so much brandy that his speech changed.