I spotted the UPS van pull up outside. I wasn’t expecting anything and it wasn’t my birthday. I opened the bubble-wrapped envelope in anticipation and “Apple Tree Yard” slipped out. No acknowledgement slip, nothing. Just a nice surprise. It was on my list of ‘Must Reads’ and I had entered a draw for it on writing.ie so I guessed they were my anonymous donor (Thanks writing.ie).
Soon after, I cracked a disc in my neck and became immobile for two weeks. I got my wish – time to write, and under the velux window in my bed. Surely, the morphine containing cocktail of drugs would spark subconscious brilliance. Probably – if only I could keep my eyes open and away from facebook, twitter, the internet, short story collections and the French Open. I sobbed my way through the brilliant “The Fault in Our Stars” and wrote an ending for ‘An Imperial Affliction’.
So Apple Tree Yard accompanied me to theatre. I expected a long wait. I was just glad to make the surgical list. What I hadn’t expected were the moaners in the corner. They wore velvet buttoned up dressing gowns and mammy slippers, their lined faces naked of makeup.
“What are you getting done?” they asked each other, comparing war wounds like children showing off scars in the school yard.
“Oh, I had that done last year. It’s really very unpleasant.”
I close my eyes feigning sleep, wishing I had brought ear plugs.
“How can that girl be so relaxed? That’s what we should be doing.” I stupidly open one eye and I’m caught by their staring eyes.
“What are you getting done?”
“Neck surgery,” I reply snapping my eyes shut.
“I couldn’t relax, I’m so hungry, I’m so thirsty, my lips are so dry without my lipstick,” they went on and on.
“How long more nurse? Am I next?” they ask like children on a long car journey.
“Can I not even have one sip of water?”
Then a man in his twenties enters the arena. He’s been sent back from theatre. The consultant requires an x-ray before they remove the lump in his neck. His smile reflects around the sour room.
“You need to go for a CT scan now. Something has shown up on your x-ray. Then they will think about your surgery a few hours later,” the nurse tells him.
Soon, the women have snared him.
“It’s my back and my knees…” the long story begins again. He replies to them so kindly suggesting they try a different chair. I can picture how kind he must be to his own mother and hopes she appreciates him.
“And how do you feel day to day?” he asks.
“Well sure, I don’t know. I’m not good.”
“Well sure, we have to keep the bright side out.” Nothing was going to break that smile. He doesn’t feign sleep like I and offer monosyllabic answers when spoken to. And he had to be worried. He had nothing to read, nowhere to hide, not even a dressing gown as he sat exposed in the wine surgical gown.
My arm and neck are too sore to hold up ‘Apple Tree Yard’ anyways. I can download it on kindle.
He takes it with a conciliatory grin and dives into the pages. A reprieve.
So I wonder where the anonymous ‘Apple Tree Yard’ will end up? Will it be enjoyed? Will it be passed on? Or will it lay on the waiting room seat to be picked up by another person needing rescuing tomorrow?
Hopefully, it has offered one young man an escape from whatever lies in front of him.
As for me, I finished Part One before we parted ways. I found it disappointing. It’s certainly an original voice and the descriptions are lovely but me, I like things to move along faster. Will I download it on kindle? Yes. I want to see what happens. WHY IS SHE IN COURT?