After speaking to the locksmith on his cell phone, and agreeing to meet at his building in the early morning, JM walked back into Sophia’s room. She was sitting upright while a nurse held a straw and a glass of fluid to her mouth.
“It’s good to see you sitting up. Does that mean you’re feeling better?”
Her response was to raise her right hand slightly. With her injuries, and tethered intravenously, her movements were of a cautious nature.
“I’ll wait until you’re finished.”
“I’ll leave it on the cabinet, just in case you change your mind,” the nurse said, regarding the glass, before vacating the room.
JM slid his chair closer to the bed. “Well, how are you? Are you feeling better?”
She raised her right hand an inch or two from the bed.
“Are you up to writing?”
She turned her head, slightly, to indicate she was in need of the writing pad and pencil.
JM walked around to the cabinet and then placed the pad onto a pillow lying across her lap.
YES. Sophia had scrawled by the time he had returned to the chair.
“Do you need anything?”
NO HOWS KAT
“She’s coming along nicely. I have given her your love. When she can walk I’ll bring her to see you.” He knew he had made a drastic mistake as soon as the words had left his mouth.
Unfortunately, for him, she was quick to notice. Her wide eyes had declared her surprise.
WHY CANT SHE WALK
Now that I have let the cat out of the bag, I’ll have to explain Katherine’s injuries. I don’t want to see her hurt, but I have to lay all the cards on the table. “It’s not my intention to upset you, but, like you, Katherine received some shocking injuries, only hers are internal. Down here!” JM pointed to his groin. “The doctor said she’s healing just fine and she may be able to walk soon, but we don’t know when.”
His words needed no further explanation. Neither did her punishing scream. By raising her hands instinctively to cover her exposed eyes and mouth, the intravenous accidently dislodged from the cannula at the back of her hand.
JM, anticipating some form reaction, sprang from the chair to console her, but first removed her hands from her face to reconnect the intravenous.
Katherine had suffered because of me. Why? What harm has she ever done to anyone? None! This can’t be happening.
Her eyes had released a river of tears, but her moaning was haunting.
This is why I did not want her to know! She is strong enough to accept her own injuries, but not Katherine’s.
She grabbed for the pencil that had fallen onto the bedsheet, then scrawled, GET ME OUT OF BED STAND ME UP
He could only stare at her. He was not sure if he should do as she had written.
Because she could see his hesitation, she impatiently moved her legs from the bed, to try to stand without assistance. As soon as her feet touched the floor she realised she had made another stupid decision. Her morphine-infused body refused to do as her mind had instructed.
He grabbed at her wilting body and steadied her. “Careful. You’ve still got the drip attached.”
He assisted her with sitting on the bed’s edge, but she was quick to grasp the pad.
WHERES KAT SHOW ME. He interpreted her determined stare as, no being the answer she did not want to hear.
“I can’t take you the way you are. She may not talk at all. Right now, she’s recovering, but refusing to speak. Why, we don’t know? The doctor said it is psychological, but we’re not sure. We don’t want her to regress.”
She dismissed his plea by pointing to her last line of words.
With one arm around her waist they shuffled toward Katherine’s room, his free hand pulled the portable drip stand. Allowing his mind to race ahead, he tried to envisage Katherine’s response when she saw her grandmother. She’ll probably be shocked. This is not the way to help her, but I cannot refuse Sophia either. What will happen if I did? His journey was one of trepidation.
An extra pillow now lay behind Katherine’s head, and although she was not face-on to the door, a good view she commanded of her father escorting a head-bandaged woman into her room.
Is this my grandmother? It can’t be! Afraid to blink, and the image disappear, she steadfastly held her gaze.
Sophia sat near the bed, while JM stood.
Sophia, at first, found it difficult to look at her granddaughter. I have to tell her what I did, and why, but where do I begin? I know it’s not enough just to apologise, but what else can I do?
As she reached out and touched Katherine’s hands, her sense of guilt returned. I’m responsible for what happened to you. It does matter that I was trying to please you, but apologising surely isn’t enough.
With pad and pen in hand, she wrote, IM SORRY I LOVE YOU I WANTED TO MAKE YOU HAPPY
Katherine was looking at her grandmother through moist vision, but the words forced her to reflect on why she was a victim. Is she responsible for me being raped? She can’t be! Nan loves me.
She glared at her grandmother. Why am I like this? Why did it happen to me? Do you know what happened? I need answers.
Instinctively her eyes returned to the words. Why are saying sorry? You’ve been hurt. What aren’t you not telling me?
She closed her eyes as a sign of dismissal, then faced away. I don’t know you!
“Come on . . . she needs to rest. You can come back another time.” JM wanted to sympathize with Sophia, but was unable to after witnessing his daughter’s reaction.
Everyone loses here. Only Bruno wins. Why is that? It was a moment of reflection.
After the soul-searching visit, Sophia returned in a shuffling manner to her room, with JM’s assistance.
“Please be patient. She will come around … you will see. It may take some time though. I will call in later tonight and see how you are getting on. Just try and rest.”
I should have died in the attack. I’d be better off, she wanted to say as she lay crying in bed.
JM returned to Katherine’s room and sat on the same chair Sophia had occupied not that long ago. He explained as best he could Sophia’s limited explanation for going to the market, but he deliberately omitted the details of what had transpired on her return.
“I can’t say I understand what you’re going through, I can only guess. I do know you are suffering, and for that, I am sorry. You know your grandmother loves you. Never in her wildest dreams would she want to see you violated. I can only imagine her aim was to please you. I am not making excuses for her actions, but if we allow this to split our love for her, then the intruder wins. Is that what you want? I certainly don’t. I believe you have the ability to speak, but by you deciding not to, I respect that. If this is your way of overcoming your pain and mental anguish, then so be it! We will always love you and will be here for you when you feel you are ready to return to us. Please, give some thought to what I’ve said, and your grandmother.”
Katherine listened, then thought, he’s being crystal-clear with his message. He’s asking me to think of a loved one, even though I’m suffering. That’s easier said, than done.