Among the flowers...

From the Story Arc: Red And Blue

Previous Story in the Arc: Room: No View by Belladonna Aura (Friday, July 01, 2005)

Next Story in the Arc: Friends Like These by Belladonna Aura (Saturday, July 02, 2005)

(posted Friday, July 01, 2005)

The day nurse unpacked the box with less care than she should have. Years spent in proximity to pain had desensitized her to the sentimental meanings that the grieving cling to. Mr. Parker laid still in the ICU, a vegetable if he was lucky, she reckoned. Nothing remarkable about an old man succumbing to a heart attack. But what was remarkable was the granddaughter who arrived in tears: blue skin from head to toe!

Her boyfriend recognized the woman from her description: Belladonna Aura, he informed her. She had a celebrity superhero as a visitor to her patient. And one who served with a group of Communists, no less.

It takes all kinds, the nurse supposed.

The box addressed to Mr. Parker had been carefully packed to protect fragile contents. She pushed through the bubble wrap, found something made of glass, and hefted it into the light: a bottle of vodka, labelled in Russian.

A card in english hung over the neck. Casting a glance for the mournful blue woman, she pried it open with a finger.

"Comrade Parker," it read, "Santiago and I were saddened to hear of your incapacitation. Your hospitality on our wedding night made happiest day of our lives even happier. We hope that we will be so generous in our twilight years. Much has happened, which we will tell you about when we uncork this bottle of bootleg vodka together. But do not drink it yet, until you are recovered...which we know you will. Then we drink a toast to your recovery. Please to hurry up. We are getting thirsty.

Love, Natalya and Santiago."

The nurse grunted with interest. It was rare to see a worthwhile present sent to her patients. And given the lack of a single english letter on the bottle of vodka, she wouldn't mind being around for the toast herself.

She placed the bottle amongst the flowers near the old man's bedside, but prominently enough that the message might seep in through closed eyes.