Chapter five: A harsh reality
In which we have to deal with it
I don’t know why I went and picked up the glass.
It was a stupid idea from beginning to end.
I didn’t think clearly, if I left it I could have blamed it on someone else. Pretend someone tossed a rock through the window, one of the village boys perhaps.
But now I have no idea how to explain myself.
My aunt huffs when I don’t answer. “Anyway, we need to clean the cuts. Come on.”
I nod weakly and follow her to the kitchen where she pulls the medical kit from the shelf and sits me down on a chair.
She pulls a tea towel from a drawer and lays it down on the table. “Just put your hands down on that palms facing up.
I follow the order while watching her rummage through the contents of the bag. She then pulls out a set of tweezers “Now this won’t be pleasant but it’s better than keeping glass inside your hands believe me.” She then takes the small hook and starts poking at the wounds.
Spooked I try to pull my hands away but she quickly places her grown-up hand on my wrists “Don’t pull away when I’m in there unless you want a new gash to worry about.” She says harshly, then adds “Just be brave all right?” in a more maternal tone.
I nod but I feel nauseous, the hooks sting like fire ants but once every so often she does find a shard and pulls it out so slowly I feel I’m going to die the moment it comes out.
The whole process is terrible, I wish I hadn’t even gone near that glass. I wish I tied that window shut with chains instead of a silly cloth scarf.
I should have known she could cut through that.
And now there’s a gaping hole in my room…
“It’s going to take at least a week until it’s healed. Maybe much longer looking at how deep some of these gashes got.
“You said that three times now, yet I still don’t know why my window is broken.”
She rolls her eyes “Fine, don’t tell me, but this better not become a habit. Glass is expensive.”
I want to tell her it wasn’t me, but then I have to explain who it was instead. I just bite my lip and try not to feel the poking too much.
“All right that should be all.” My aunt says as she takes a last good look at my hands. She pulls out a roll of rag-strips “Now let’s get you patched up again.” She leaves a little rat tail and then binds the rest of the strip around my hand. The fabric feels strange, it’s like a glove but only partially. But I’m just glad I’m no longer dripping blood everywhere.
“Now that that’s done, you’ll need a place to sleep. I mean I doubt you want to sleep in the cold.”
She grunts “Well, I guess you’ll have to come upstairs.”
I follow my aunt up the stairs and find the wallpaper doesn’t extend further than the tallest step.
The wooden floor is rough and the runners have lost all their pile.
Downstairs everything looks well-kept and pretty so why does the upstairs look so sad?
“The laundry room has a bed in it. You can stay there for now.” She explains before opening a door and turning on the light revealing a small room with a kettle and tub. The lack of windows feels reassuring to me.
But I don’t see a bed?
“I’ll just stack this over there for a bit.” Aunt Fortuna walks to a massive pile of laundry and picks it up to reveal a bed underneath. She dumps the piles on top of the kettle.
“All right, it’s not much but it’s something. I’ll have Prim look for glass setters in the morning.”
“Don’t mention it, or any of this.” She sounds annoyed, perhaps even embarrassed.
“All right.” I smile reassuringly.
She leaves without a further word.
I walk to the bed, it’s hard and smells damp.
But it’s still better than sleeping downstairs.
I crawl under the blanket and try my best to sleep.
The next morning the smell of tobacco smoke wafts into my room from downstairs.
Madam Ditty is here.
Why is she here? Did aunt Fortuna call for her? Did she just know things were bad?
I’m not sure if I dare go down now.
I don’t think my aunt would allow the great Madam Ditty upstairs.
Maybe I just should stay up-
“Serenity, you have visitors!”
To my surprise, it’s not just Madam Ditty who came to visit, but mister Dandelion is here as well. They’re sitting by the dinner table.
“Good morning.” madam Ditty says.
“How do you feel?” mister Dandelion asks.
I shrug at both accounts and sit down.
“I asked them to come over. I know you don’t like talking to me about serious things but perhaps you like to talk to them? Either way, we need to discuss how we proceed from here.
I want to tell her they’re just cuts, it’s not like my fingers fell off. But I don’t want to get in a fight, so I hum and nod noncommittally.
“She does that to me all the time.” She announces to everyone but me “Well, I’ll be upstairs just call me down when needed.”
She leaves the room with quick paces.
The moment the door closes mister Dandelion bursts lose “Are okay okay? How bad is it? Did you go to a doctor?”
“The cuts aren’t deep, I’m fine.”
“You’re not fine.” Madam Ditty interjects “You broke a window and cut into your hands with the shards.”
“Not on purpose.” I cross my arms.
“Then why?” She challenges.
“Now now let’s not argue ladies. We need to find a solution, not pass blame.”
The madam shrugs “Look it’s not like I haven’t seen this before, kid gets a big break. It’s a high at first then a huge mountain of responsibility next and not everyone can handle that. And then they start looking for an easy out, an excuse not to play.”
Now it’s mister Dandelion’s turn to cross his arms “That’s a big claim to make and Serenity just told you she didn’t cut her hands-on purpose.”
“Of course she says that, I’d say that too when I was scared.”
“I’m not-” I try
“You can’t just assume she’s lying.” Mister Dandelion points at me but his eyes stay fixed upon the madam.
“You can’t assume she speaks the truth, neither of us has proof but at least I got a theory.” She shrugs.
“Well, your theory doesn’t fit her at all. She was excited to get started-”
“She has a voice of her own you know!” My blood is boiling, talking over me like I’m simple. I point at madam Ditty with an accusing bandaged hand “Think whatever you want but don’t bother me with your theories.” my finger shifts to the rabbit “And I don’t need your pity. My hands will heal in their own time and when they have I will have no issue learning the rest of the score.”
Mister Dandelion looks down at the floor but madam Ditty’s gaze doesn’t waver, she doesn’t even seem fazed by my outburst. “Very well.” She says “Get well soon.” She then douses her pipe and picks up her ferrets. “I look forward to your performance.”
“I look forward to being there.” I train my eyes on her, trying very hard not to break eye contact.
She smiles a thin smile and heads out.
“Serenity I didn’t mean to be so rude I just-”
“It’s all right mister Dandelion. I know you only want what’s best for me.”
“I just need some time to recover. I’ll be back in lessons as soon as possible.”
He smiles “I am looking forward to it.”
“Have a good day mister Dandelion.”
He tips his hat “Get well soon Serenity.”
The rabbit leaves as well, his cane tapping all the way to the front door.
Well, that was something.
I bet that wasn’t how aunt Fortuna hoped the conversation would go.
But I don’t need them to think I’m crazy. Crazy people go to the asylum, they get prodded with needles and filled up with pills.
This is my problem.
And I’m going to fix it myself.