Monday, March 15, 2010

The Spirit

In which we see Ms. Bradstreet come to her senses

The Maria Chronicles, # 45

The first thing Maria is aware of when she opens her eyes is the searing pain in her head. The second thing, which almost leads her to forget the first, is her daughter Felicity sitting at the foot of the bed, tearfully smiling at her. The third is the medical apparatus beside her, part of the larger unfamiliar bedroom setup in which she finds herself.

"Oh Mama," she says, rising and walking over to embrace her, "I'm so glad you're awake."

"Felicity," Maria croaks. "What are you doing here?"

"You're in the hospital, Mama. You fell down a flight of stairs yesterday."

"Fell down?"

"Yes. You slipped on a potato chip bag. You banged the base of your head on one of the stairs, and broke your foot. It's a miracle you weren't more badly hurt. You had a concussion, but according to the CAT scan it wasn't too bad. You remember any of this?"

Maria suddenly realizes that her leg is in a cast. It hurts, but not a lot. Is that because of painkillers? If so, why does her head hurt so much? And oh, she's terribly thirsty. Maria pours a cup of water from the tray overhanging the bed and puts it to Maria's lips. "Slowly," she says. Maria laps the water gratefully.

"You're also lucky in that people took very good care of you. You actually stopped breathing for about thirty seconds. Your student Derek Clark, who was the first to get to you, actually administered CPR. He apparently joked that he never thought a bullshit health class would ever do him any good." Felicity smiles. "Sounds like a boy after your own heart."

Barack Obama. Maria suddenly remembers somebody, must have been a doctor, asking her who the president of the United States was. How many fingers.

"And Jack Casey. He's the one who sent all the flowers." Maria sees dozens of roses on the window sill to her right. "He followed the ambulance here. He apparently went through your purse for information. He was the one who called me. And Evan. He stayed with you until I arrived. I just sent him out to get some breakfast."

Maria tries to say, "I'm sorry," but can't get the words out. Felicity puts her index finger on her lip to shush her.

"Evan is here, Mama. He arrived late last night. He went to get me a cup of coffee. I think he'll be back any minute."

Felicity strokes her mother's face, which is bruised. "You gave us quite a scare, Mama. But the doctor says you're going to be all right. They kept you for observation, but I think you'll be headed home soon. But that ankle is going to take a while to heal."

"That's exactly right," a young woman in a lab coat says, entering the room. "Glad to see you awake, Ms. Bradstreet. My name is Emily Battista. You took quite a fall there, Ms. Bradstreet. But I think you're going to be fine. But let me check a few of your vital signs and we'll talk about where we go from here."

And they do. But Maria drifts off, exhausted less by the poking and prodding than trying to digest what's happened. Just when it seemed her new life was getting underway, she's crashed.

"I guess I know what I'll be doing for Spring Break," she says out loud, as the doctor takes her vital signs.

The doctor stops what she's doing and gazes at Maria intently, apparently deciding she likes what she hears. "That's the spirit!" she replies misreading her.

That's what feels broken, Maria thinks. My spirit.