"Then I had to take Quill to the vet. He's been eating string again. Dr. Delaporte says there wasn't enough in his system to really mess him up, but I'm going to have to put my craft stuff on a higher shelf. At least we didn't have to send him in for surgery. Dodged a bullet, huh?" She taps her chipped fingernails against her front teeth and changes position in the uncomfortable chair. "Maybe not. Maybe Quill wants a vacation. He likes the treats there." I'd like a vacation, she mouths at him.
The faint, chemical smell of the room coats her tongue, and she takes a drink of coffee to rid her mouth of the taste. It doesn't help. Now it's chemicals and cold vending-machine coffee, drying her out. It makes her brittle.
"What's that girl's name? Simone? She stopped by again this morning. I don't know if anyone told you. I told them to be sure to tell you I took her off the visiting list. Did you mind? Just say so." Surface smiles. Black anger beneath. "Just open your eyes and tell me, David. Tell me you want them to let in your whore." She leans forward, the cold metal of the chair's arms digging into her wet palms. "I should have left you where I found you, you coward."
She isn't expecting an answer. Sometimes in dreams, when she says this, there's a reaction. His eyes open, and they're dark, they're rotting in his face, his tongue decayed into grey mash. His skin peels away from the bones of his face, stubborn strips of fat clinging like cobwebs. But here, the respirator churns and pushes, the low beeps and murmurs of his assorted machinery continue to fill the silence.
"I'm taking Quill to the beach this summer." She settles back into the chair, looks at her ruined manicure, considers relenting. They've assured her repeatedly that there is no way David can understand what she says, only that she is there and speaking. So he can hear me? He is in there, listening, right? Her voice trembling, the perfect shine of wifely concern lingering in her eyes, she asked them over and over again, can't I talk to him? Can't he hear? Carefully faked breakdown after breakdown, waiting with head bowed to listen to the nurses around the corner, whispering about devotion.
Devotion. Sure. "I'm taking Quill," she says again. "I'm taking your dog to the beach, David, and I'm going to bury him up to his head at high tide. And if he tries to get away, I'll break his legs first." She lowers her voice when she catches the squeaking of the night nurse's rubber-soled shoes in the hall, leans in again to stroke his wasted face.
She stands and grabs her purse from the nightstand. "It's the least I can do, darling. I'll see you next Monday."
For the Scriptic prompt exchange this week, Barb Black prompted me with "I guess we managed to dodge the bullet that time..." and I gave SAM this prompt: "Odin sacrificed himself to himself, and gave us eighteen runes and seventeen known charms or magical songs. He also learned an eighteenth, a secret song. Please write it down for us, weave it into a tale, or describe it and its effects."