This is a slightly longer version of a flash piece I wrote for the blog in June. Maybe it’ll turn into a complete short story one day!
You leave the hospital with your newly sutured equatorial line circumnavigating your midsection like a train track. You’re swallowing saliva. Too much of it. You know what it means and you stop. She looks at you.
“Oh my god, what? What is it, the stitches? It’s the stitches isn’t it? You’ve busted the stitches?”
You’d never heard her use the word busted before and you want to laugh.
“No, it’s not the stitches, I just feel a bit…”
Despite the train tracks embedded into your navel demanding that you stay upright, you throw yourself forward and throw up onto the brown hospital bricks. The sun throws its munificent rays across the top of your head and they strike the pile of puke on the paving, highlighting the red streaks like a king bejeweling a virgin. Your mother is horrified, terrified, and ready to pick up all 95 kilos of you and run with you on her bony shoulder back to those amazing doctors.
“Oh my god, oh my god, Kate! Blood!”
You straighten awkwardly. You feel as if you’ve swallowed several thousand pairs of tights and they’re wrapping themselves around your organs and running laps beneath your belly. You glance at the pile of vomit on the pavement.
“I’m sure that’s normal, post-op Mum. Besides, there’s not much there. I feel better now. Come on.”
“Oh, I don’t know darling, I don’t feel good about that, not at all, I think we better go back. Better safe than sorry.”
She grabs your arm and starts to turn you in little mincing steps like you’re a wardrobe on wheels. Inanities like ‘better safe than sorry’ have fallen from her lips for as long as you remember. They lost all meaning when you were six.
“No Mum, that last nurse said it was fine if it happened, it’s normal. Come on.” You lie to your mother’s face. You turn her around again in one movement; you’ve always had that advantage over her. She tsks. She likes tsking, it makes her feel better. It’s economical. It frees up her energy for ponderous head shaking and general dissatisfaction. It also gives her time to rustle up another cracking cliché.
“Yes dear, but there’s no time like the present, is there? We’re right here, if there is something wrong it’ll save us a trip in the middle of the night, won’t it?”
There’s nothing she hates more than a trip in the middle of the night.