I hate her.
She’s probably not much older than I am, but Nature didn’t give her my advantages, and apparently her life wasn’t much better. The net effect is a face that looks like a clenched fist, with thin hair. She swears like a sailor whenever anything goes wrong. Classy.
She’s REDACTED. We’re roommates in REDACTED, where I’ve been dealing with the side effects of a non-H1N1 flu contracted last February. Because of the coronavirus, we’re quarantined for two weeks, in a room about 15’ x 25’, with only a Jacquard damask curtain with chrysanthemums between us. Oh, and she’s got the bathroom sink space, even though she uses a bedside commode and gets bed baths. But I’m too meek to say anything.
I hate how she’s worse off than me, which means that she gets more help. This is a pain clinic, mostly, and she’s got a complicated fracture of her thigh. I got my heart restarted, and lost about 30 pounds in fluids. (Yes, childrens, I was defunct, flatlined, daid.) I'm just here to cool my heels and recover my atrophied strength before going back to housekeeping solo.
I hate how she sucks up to the help. Everyone loves her. She may not have looks, but she’s really relatable. She knows everyone’s name, and everyone’s kids’ names, and plays up being everyone’s grandma. No occasion is too small to pass without a chatty conversation, about both their families, about her dog, her investment home in Florida, what she's watching. This is that kind of place, where they talk down to old people, and it’s good that people watch TV all day. She watches young women get wedding gowns, and people buying houses, and ghost stories that are really, really True. She even sleeps with it on. Classy.
I know that I came from a suite, almost, by myself, and I’m having to share this room, because we’re in quarantine, because of this lousy virus, and she was here first. We got out to a bad start, and I can’t help but sense her judging every time I deal with staff. I say "Thank you" always, and "Please", sometimes, but I don't waste too many words, and can't help but feel that she thinks that I'm cold.
I know I’m an introvert. And on the Spectrum. And I don't have relatives, or children. Or a dog, for that matter.
I know that I’m extra emotional, too, because I’ve got all these powerful drugs in my body, and whatever is controlling my heart and breathing is probably doing a number on my CNS as well, and they’re weaning me slowly off them. And I can’t eat what and when I like. Or leave this room. Or move around much, without playing out a breathing tube, like an astronaut. I sit with my laptop. I'm trying to regain my mental faculties, and I play esoteric music to keep my mind a million miles away from a conversation I'll never be able to join.
And I know that it’s mostly because of my condition, generally, that I’m feeling like my nose is out of joint, and that it’s completely childish and immature that I’m feeling this way.
I should be able to bear up, swallow my pride, and just deal with it: after all, that’s what grownups do. I don’t have any right to complain. After all, I’ve got reasonable good looks and a rich full life behind me, and it’s not as if it was my leg, that was broken.
But it still hurts. It hurts.
I’m just doing what I’m best at, that slow alchemy, that makes thoughts into words, late at night, listening to Robert Fripp’s collaboration with Daryl Hall, with the staff wondering what I could be doing with such concentration.
And at that, I hear the nurse coming to take Night Vitals. They're chatting, and I know she's going to have the TV on, all night.
And I hate her.