The hospital is dark, only the dimmest of lights flickering. That ever-present hospital smell floats around her like an ominous mist. Walking slowly down the corridor, her right boot squeaks, the sound seemingly amplified in the stillness around her. Glancing down at the offending boot, she takes notice of her clothes, as though she was not previously aware of such things. Her black jeans, tucked into her black boots, feel tighter than she remembers them being. A stark contrast to the baggy summer top under her open plaid shirt that is hanging off her frame.
Walking past the nurse’s station, she glances to her left, the bay is eerily silent. All but one of the eight beds shrouded in darkness, the lone occupant seemingly asleep with an almost translucent light surrounding her. Slowly approaching the bed, she notices how strange it is to see the lady, not in a hospital gown, but her own clothes. Taking in the appearance of the familiar navy trousers and that white shirt with its blue flowered pattern brings a feeling of sentimentality. Leaning down over the bed, she kisses her forehead, tears in her eyes as she pulls a chair forward from behind her.
Bright blue eyes open and meet her misty ones, “You look like my Sophie. But older.” Her voice is so soft and unsure, it breaks her heart.
“It’s okay, you’re just dreaming.” She reaches over for the hand resting on the bed.
She nods slowly, “yes.”
“I worry about you. How you’ll be.”
“I know. I’m fine. I miss you, I always will but there are times where I feel you with me and it is such a strong feeling that I can’t even attempt to brush it off as me just being hopeful.”
“I’ll always be with you, sweetheart.”
“You know, at some point, you told mum that she shouldn’t worry about me because you knew I would be okay…”
“I know you will be.”
“I never thought I would be.”
“We raised you to be. You’re a fighter, whether you want to be or not.”
“It still hurts. I always miss you.”
The grip on her hand tightens, thin fingers wrapping around her palm, “and I you. Always.”
Her head drops to their clasped hands, tears leaking freely from her eyes. She feels a hand in her hair, comforting in a way that is almost foreign to her now, “I love you.”
“I love you too, sweetheart. So much.”
She raises her head, sight blurry as she lays a soft kiss to the hand she holds. A cold hand reaches out and places some fallen hairs back behind her ear, “Tell me about your life now.”
“I’m a social worker. I work with children with similar problems to the ones I had.”
A content smile and a knowing look is her response, a slow nod of the head that she reads as approval, “Married?”
She shakes her head quickly, “No. I couldn’t get past the idea of not being able to walk down the aisle with you and grandad there.”
“We’ll be there. Maybe not physically, but we will be there. It isn’t something either of us would ever miss, sweetheart. Please, don’t let that stop you if you have someone special in your life.”
“Visiting hours are over in 10 minutes, ladies.” A strong voice surprises them from the hallway.
“I think that’s your cue.”
“It’s okay. Go. Go back to your life.”
“I love you too.”
Standing up, leaning over one last time to place a kiss on her forehead, she starts to walk backwards. She keeps eye contact for as long as she can before she’s no longer in her sight, turning to walk back down the silent corridor.