After the event
Time slows when you're alone. The mind wanders. The body itches. A tickle on my back- a spider crawling along my spine. I want to look, to flick it away but the muscles stay taught, unresponding. "Incy wincy spider wet up the water-spout" runs around my mind. Now the creature looms in front of me, the curse of my imagination. I close my eyes and it explodes into seemingly millions of smaller images sketched across my eye-balls.
A flicker of light drifts across the canvas of my eye-lids. I open them, just in time to see the nurse scurying past. "Hello", I call, but she doesn't seem to hear. Or maybe she chooses not to.
Here few choose to speak to me. The voices lying just beyond the dividers might as well be on another planet, alien as they are. I strain to make sense of them, to recognise the words that I've overheard in the 'boulangerie' or the local 'inter-marche', to put sounds to the words that I've snatched sight of down at the 'planche de l'eau'.
Outside lies a little piece of my home. My friends are the only ones who understand me- not just the words of my heart, but those that come from my mouth as well. Sure, there's my family, but my daughter seems more of them than me and my parents seem happy to float in their own world. When we moved from 'angleterre' I never thought it would be like this. I never thought I could long so much for the smell of 'Fish and Chips' drifting through our enclave of the French countriside.
Saturday nights mean home to me. Eating good fat chunky chips set next to a slab of battered cod. Popping down the pub for a quick beer. Its easy to forget where you are over a good game of bingo. And everyone understands me, not like here!
The doctor wanders by and I try another tentative "hello". Was that really a glare? Are doctors allowed to look at their patients like that?
He approaches. "Bonjour" he says, before his words dissapate into unintelligable babble. I feel myself beginning to panic as my mind scrambles to get a hold on what its hearing. I watch his mouth move as if it might give me clues to the word's meaning. And then, all of a sudden, the noise ceases.
I stare at the still lips, willing my brain to stop its annoying mumbling. My mind feels as if its about to explode.
But, somehow, it doesn't. And, somehow, I finally manage to realise that he is looking at me. One eyebrow is raised as he stares straight at me. Never before have I known more what the phrase "it felt like he was undressing me" meant. My brow beginning to boil, I struggle to regain some sense of what is happening. So what if he's undressing me, surely he's seen it a million times before. But I know that's not what he's doing- he's simply looking inside my soul!
Looking inside my soul? As if that's any better! Who is he to guesss what I'm thinking, he's not a pyschiatrist, how could he possibly understand?! Or maybe he is! It now occurs to me that I've never really been introduced to this man! Sure they rambled something in the lingo franca, but the bit they spoke in English (so that I might understand) was fragmented and simplistic at best.
The doctor sighs and repeats his question once again- for I now realise it was a question that he was asking all the time. I try to engage my brain in order to fathom his meaningless words, to no avail. Slowly and patiently I tell him "I..... do..... not..... understand...... French". His eyes roll, as if they might come out of his head. My patience finally exhausted I too sigh and lie down to sleep, hoping that by blocking out this world I might return to that of my own.
England is my home, if you believe the old saying 'home is where the heart is'. However, my house has been in France for the last three years. That was a few months after my parents got it into their heads to renevate an old farm out here.
It's not to bad though, the old ex-pat community kept us sane as we made our way through the building work. My daughter safely off at school, friends accompanied us as we scoured the shops for the objects that would make this place ours. By the time Dad had got the walls laid it had become clear that we would have to look back home for the household necessities.
The one plus side was the fish. Every time things got too much, and they regularly did, Dad would make his way out back with his line. I never could stand watching the wriggling worms that he attached to his line, preferring to wait until tthe produce was gutted before looking at his catch. Then it would be down to the fish and chip shop to get Tim to batter it up for dinner- the perfect garden to mouth existence. Of course when they holiday-makers arrived we'd have to share our catch with th visitors- altough there was the other cottage to look to before then.
It took quite a while to build our little hamlet- removing the unnecessary barns and stacking up the walls. Every little feature had to be carefully converted before the furniture arrived from across the channel. And there was the blasted septic tank- that luxery that would haunt us for years to come.