20 juin 2015

Chapter 9

          “I’m aware it’s a lot to take in, but…”


Let’s just say that it takes one hell of a shock to shush one’s doctor.

This. Is. So. Weird!!!

I lift my arm into the light, like a toddler discovering its limbs. Freckle status: normal. Then I throw a zillionth glance into the mirror. Facial freckles: inexistent.  

          “Erm… Did you have a look at other areas… of my body?” I ask with an empty, half-awed, half-freaked out voice.

          “Obviously. And it’s a very interesting patchwork...”

Of all the ways I’ve been described…


          “Yes… The freckles seem to have vanished from all the heavily wounded parts. Needless to say, it’s… uncommon.”

          “But… why hasn’t anyone else noticed?” I wonder. My parents know me by heart, and it seems unlikely for them not to have noted my… defrecklement. 

          “Well, perception tends to adapt to the next logical theory: to others, the current overall redness of your skin must surely be hiding the freckles. They haven’t seen this many wounds very often, so to their mind, this is ‘what wounds do’!”

Not very convincing, especially knowing Erik and his attention to detail. Yet, he’s no doctor, and he might probably be distracted by all the swelling and bruises to wonder about vanishing melanin. That might even be a good thing too, since it’s the kind of detail which, once noticed, quickly becomes the elephant in the room.

          “Have you seen any… change in the time I’ve been here?”
          “You mean an increase or decrease? That is exactly what I’m here to talk to you about. If it’s okay with you, I’d like to put you under prolonged observation, in order to figure out why this is happening, and to establish a pattern. Is it a permanent or temporary alteration? Is it in progress, or just an isolated incident? There are many unknowns to explore…”

 In progress!!! I feel panicky all of a sudden. It will take me some time to fully comprehend this whole situation, and now she’s suggesting the patchwork might get even less…patchy?! I was never a fan of the freckles, but there’s this horror-movie-like dread one gets when they’re faced with a potentially irreversible change of their very constitution, no matter whether or not they liked it in the first place.  

          “What would this…observation involve? And do you think you may be able to stop this thing?!”

          “Calm down Miss Brandt, I promise you, I will try to get to the bottom of this. All I need from you is to sign these forms, allowing me to. Here, use my pen…”

 Boy, she looks eager. I wonder what it would mean for her, to treat a practically unique case by herself… I’d do anything to find out what the hell is wrong with me, but there’s a thought I just can’t shake… she was hiding the mirror between the pages of her clipboard!

           “Tell me, Dr. C… Why isn’t nurse Joséphine with you today?” I don’t even know where I’m going with this, but I suddenly feel very uncomfortable around the good doctor. Her expression remains neutral, but she waits two seconds too long to answer.

            “Nurses don’t gravitate around me all day, Miss Brandt.”
            “What about my parents? Have you already talked to them about this?
            “You’re no longer a minor, so I don’t really need to.”
            “But it would be more… ethical to tell them first, wouldn’t it?”

I’m playing a much more dangerous game than I think I can handle. But strangely enough, she seems to falter.
          “You need to understand… I have tried to get through to your parents, but they have a very square idea of what your skin is and what it does, and no matter how much I try to point out that it is different this time around, they just won’t have it!”

          “It’s because they’re protecting me! They know just how much I’ve had to deal with, on a daily basis, because of my skin, and the last thing I need right now is another curious doctor!!!” I’m on the verge of screaming, so I try to take a deep breath. I see the blotches spreading angrily across my forearm. Huh… at least these are still faithful to the call.  

          “Lily… I’m only trying to help. I’ve never seen anyone so uninterested in what’s happening to them!”

          “So… to you, out of a hairline and open fractures, internal bleeding, cuts and extreme bruises, what I should be interested most in knowing is where my freckles went?”

 Her lips open slightly, and she seems at a loss for words. I take a second to think about all this, and realize that besides all personal interest, she also means no harm. So I decide to bargain.
         “No close or prolonged observation of any sort. Just ONE test. In return, I want a favor.”   

         “Name it,” she says with hardly concealed determination.

         “I want an early release. I want you to convince my father that it would be okay for me to spend the healing period at home. We could hire a nurse if necessary, just as long as I get to leave this place.”

           “But it’s not possible; you’ve suffered serious injury….”
           “Wouldn’t a nurse be able to monitor me? I’ll stay in bed and won’t lick my stitches,” I say cheekily.  

  She stares at me for a long moment, with a furrowed brow. She knows that what she’s asking of me wouldn’t get any of her superiors’ approval. So, if she wants mine, she’s going to have to break the rules.

            “How early?” she asks warily.

Yes! I’ve got her. And I know exactly when I’d like to leave.

            “Next week, Friday.” Please, please Peter, be there before!
Dr. Culbard pauses, then nods once, and I know I’ve just made a deal with the devil.

In the following days, I watch my hospital privileges double suspiciously. The food is better, which is already something, but I’m also allowed to have my laptop from home – which provides the opportunity to loop Peter’s songs, and perhaps innocently Google his name, to no avail. The man is a ghost! But anything else would have surprised me, for someone working with the police…  

I’m also constantly asked “if everything is alright” by practically half the nurses on the floor. Ridiculous.
In return, I allow Dr. Culbard, during one of my wonderful “bathing” sessions, to sneak into the room and do a biopsy. 

On a different front, Erik finally gets to ask me all his questions, although he’s not given permission to investigate anything personally. I answer willingly, thinking it might bring him some comfort, but to our shared despair, my brain still prefers the flesh-coloured spot to remembering the Face of my Terror.
What would I tell Peter when he asks me again? How many times can I disappoint him before he loses interest in my case? The thought itself is distressing.  

           “Dad? Any news from Mr. Alberic?” I ask tentatively.

           “No, why? You said he was coming back! Did he say ‘maybe’?”

           “No, it’s just… I’m not telling him much, so maybe he’s lost interest. In the case.” I can’t even look Erik in the eye. But for some weird reason, I find him laughing.

            “Kid, not like he says much either!”

            “How do you mean?” I ask, puzzled.

            “Well, you know… The way he tends to stammer sometimes….and how he could go for minutes without saying anything, although you’re there, waiting for his answer!”
What?! Okay, he’s shy and all, but when he talks, he’s nothing short of intimidating, and he’s never stammered! What is this?

          “Is that something you’ve noticed?” I push. Erik is barely ever wrong, so I need to know where this is coming from.

          “It’s obvious enough though, isn’t it? You know what we call him at the station? ‘Aspy’. As in Asperger’s. You know, autistic…”

          “I know what Asperger is dad. And it’s horrible of you!”

          “Oh, no worries, it’s all in good fun. We even joked that his favorite song was ‘Welcome to the jungle, watch it bring you to your knnn knne knees, knees’.”

          “Dad!!!” I scold, but he’s got the giggles now and there’s no stopping him.

How strange is that though? I can’t even imagine Peter stuttering, or even less providing the jokes for an entire precinct.
          “Do you know him well?” I ask earnestly.

          “Hmm… I can’t say I do. No one does. He doesn’t exactly socialize! And no one ever knows his whereabouts. Most of the time he’s in the U.K., but he also travels across Europe for cases, so we can hardly ever get in touch with him. And most of the time, we would do anything to have him work with us. I don’t know how he does it, but that boy is like a rock-solid guarantee that the suspect will be caught. He looks twelve, and yet he’s lethally accurate at what he does; it’s humbling. So yeah… you can trust him.”

 We’re interrupted by a light rasp at the door. Nurse Joséphine comes in with a big smile – still spoiling me I see... Please, proceed! – and hands me an envelope. “This just came for you. Is everything alright?”
          “Yeees,” both Erik and I reply, in non-fooled synchrony.

   Suddenly I’m worried: what if it’s the biopsy results sheet? I need to get Erik out of the room somehow. Think fast, think uncomfortable…
          “Dad, could you please, erm… give me some catheter time?” For some reason, the C-word makes him disappear from the room at Samurai speed.
I know I don’t have long, so I quickly scan the premises to be sure no one’s looking, then fumble like crazy to tear the envelope open with one hand.

And what I find there makes my heart morph into a fairground punchbag in a fraction of a second.

It’s a post-it note that reads, simply:

…and it’s stuck on the cardboard cover of a Sia CD.


Aucun commentaire:

Enregistrer un commentaire