For the third night in a row, I tell the night nurse what happened: After I woke up, Nina poured me a bowl of cereal. I said, “Thank you. I like it. The milk is not warm. And the flakes are not soggy.”
Nina asked me why I was talking like this. I didn’t know what she meant. She said, “You’re not funny.” I thought she meant I was funny. For real funny.
I told her, “My brain feels not normal.” I touched the lump on top of my head. I could feel a pulse. It was not weak.
“Cut it out,” Nina said. “You’re making it worse.” She slapped my hand away. It went right back to the lump.
Nina looked at me through the corner of her eye as she crunched her cereal. She said she’d give me another lump if I didn’t stop.
I tell the night nurse how I spray the sink nozzle out the kitchen window to water the flowers. Nina says I have to fill the sprinkler can and walk out back with it. But I can hit all the flowers with the nozzle. Sometimes I turn my back to the TV and play video games in the reflection in the mirror on the wall. I beat Nina’s high score in Mappy that way.
These things pop into my brain. So I try them. They’re not boring. Nina says I’m disrespecting her. She came home from work three days ago and saw me beating her Rally X score in the mirror, and she whacked me on the head with a plate. Not lightly. I woke up and then we were eating cereal. I fell asleep again. Nina must have called an ambulance. I missed the ride because I was not awake. So that makes me not happy.
“You mean you’re sad?” the night nurse says.
“This is not the emergency room,” I say.
“Yes, dear,” the night nurse says. “You’re in a regular room now.” She smells not unlike a lavender candle. She’s moving some of the covers aside. She says, “Try to stay still, dear. So you don’t get dizzy again.”
“I keep thinking I can see my memories on YouTube,” I say.
The night nurse stops with the covers and says, “Your memory doesn't work that way. I hope I’m being clear.” She holds my arm up, runs a sponge along it.
“I wish I could. I could see me beating Nina’s high scores. The plate, too. I’d like to see how I looked after Nina hit me with the plate.”
The night nurse asks, “You never said there was a plate. Your chart says you fell down the stairs.”
I’m not understanding that, but I believe her. Because the night nurse is not mean. She talks to me and gives me a sponge bath each night when I’m telling her about how I got here. It feels not bad at all. And, for a while, I don’t think about Nina.
The night nurse puts the covers back. She gets my chart at the end of the bed and starts writing things on it. I ask her if there is still something not right with how I talk.
She smiles and says, “I understand you. You’re still a little shook up is all. But you’re getting better.” Then she asks, “Would you like to take Nina off your visitor list?”
I don’t know. She has been not here, but I don’t know what she’d do if she finds out she can not be here. I touch the lump on my head. It feels not as big as before. I don’t know what I’d do if I got another one.
Jeff Burd is either writing, thinking about writing, or worried about not writing or thinking about writing. This is the life he's chosen. Follow him on Twitter: @WriteyB.