Snakes and Pills

135 - late mind

Machines beeped to a rhythm as Marci entered the room. Vaguely, she could recall a time when the sounds had been unfamiliar to her. Hospitals always made her feel uneasy, but until six months ago, she mercifully had little cause to visit them. The nurse who had led her to the room stepped out and closed the door behind her.

This setting was now sadly becoming ordinary to her. Quietly, she approached her father, who was sleeping in the room's bed. He looked to be at peace, and that was enough of a rarity that she was reluctant to disturb him in the slightest.

His appearance was something she could never accept as ordinary, though. The tubes in his nose and his arm somehow were not what bothered her the most, as troubling as they were. Most disturbing to Marci was how frail he looked. She couldn't help but recall the man who had picked her up and carried her around the living room with one arm. The man who had promised to toss a ball softly, and still threw it so hard that it hurt her gloved hand.

Wisps of white hair hung on to the top of his head, little clouds covering the wrinkles and liver spots. She had little doubt that she was the one who could carry him in her arms, now. She took her seat next to his bed, watching the small but steady motion of his breathing.

Quiet as she tried to be, only a few moments after taking a seat, her father stirred. He turned his head toward her carefully, and smiled a smile that reassured her that he was really the same man from all those years ago.

"Marci, my dear, you've come to visit," he said, slowly.

"Hey, Dad. Of course I'm here. I dropped everything when the doctor called my office," she said, as she gently grabbed his hand and caressed it. He was hardly able to squeeze her hand back, but she perceived the slightest change in pressure, and for that she was thankful.

"Oh, they called you at work?" her father asked, slightly concerned. "I wish they hadn't done that. You're busy, they shouldn't just bother you over nothing."

Marci sighed slightly, not really wanting to go through this whole conversation again. "Dad, what are you talking about? I want them to call me. Nothing in the world could make me too busy to be concerned for you."

He nodded his head slightly, though Marci was not sure if he was acquiescing or simply lacked the strength to argue. "I know you're concerned, but really, it's nothing to be worried about. I put a little too much effort into lifting something and threw my back out, that's all." He paused. "I guess I'm not as young as I used to be."

She knew that he had not simply 'thrown his back out.' She wanted to argue with him, and at the beginning of these hospital visits, she did so. She had told him that he wasn't taking the situation seriously enough. After months of his condition worsening, the repeated hospital visits, and the same handwaving away that he did each time, she began to wonder if, on top of everything else, he was also losing his grip on reality.

Belaboring the point, she had learned by now, would be futile. Whether or not he took his condition seriously, little could be done. There was no reason to constantly remind him of inevitability. The last sentence he had just spoken indicated that he was more than cognizant of what was happening.

Marci had her turn at nodding her head to acquiesce.


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