Martha watched as Laura drifted into the background and the spotlight was on the doctor.
‘Mrs Whitman my name is Doctor Apti Patel, can you tell me where you are?
‘Can you tell me your name?’
‘How old are you?’
‘I will be fifty in a month’s time,’ Martha said.
‘Who is the prime minister?’
What did it matter who the prime minister was? Her husband was missing, and she was asking inane questions. The bedframe rattled as Martha tried to remove the handcuffs from around her wrist.
‘Mrs Whitman, I’ll need to take your blood pressure. We’ll leave the questions until later,’ Doctor Patel said.
Martha’s gaze fell on the door, expecting Thomas to stride into the room to order them all away, but he was nowhere to be found. Why was the policewoman stood outside her private ward? Why was she in handcuffs? Was Thomas dead? Her restraints smashed against metal, but they wouldn’t release their grip.
The blood-stained carpet, the shards of glass beneath her feet. A leather belt, and sharp buckle made her face sting. His mother’s crystal vase in pieces. It couldn’t be, she was just confused.
Yet Thomas wasn’t here.
Laura, Theresa – they all looked so frightened, like they wanted to say something, but couldn’t find the words. She searched the door again, as if Thomas were going to barge through and take her home, but it remained empty.
‘Where is my husband?’ Martha asked, out loud this time.
‘Mum,’ Laura said, advancing towards the bed.
Martha slumped back into the soft pillows, and pointed to the water jug, which was standing on the cabinet beside her bed. ‘Can I . . .’
A beaker held to her lips; Martha could only take small sips without choking.
When Doctor Patel left the room, Theresa followed her outside.
Answers were searched for but nothing, but questions fired back. Her body strained against the mattress until there was no strength left to struggle. Events wouldn’t wedge together. Her memories were all a blur of blood and pain.
Another small sip of water out of the plastic cup, Laura lovingly caressed her forehead. There was a strange silence hanging in the air. Neither woman knew what to say.
‘Laura what have I done to you?’ Martha finally asked.
‘You’ve done nothing to be ashamed of.’
‘Please forgive me.’
Laura shook her head. ‘For what? You were just defending yourself and he deserved all he got.’
‘I’m sorry, I don’t remember . . . I didn’t kill him did I?’
‘So what if you did!’ Laura’s whole body shook. ‘I hated him when he was alive, and I feel no different now.’
‘Don’t say it,’ Martha pleaded. ‘Whatever else you think he was; he was still your dad.’
‘And you’re my mum. You’re such a gentle soul and he took advantage of that.’
Martha slipped back into her nightmares. ‘It was my fault.’