The sun shone into a room, the main features of which were a window, a hospital bed and a wheelchair. An elderly woman sat complacently on the edge of the bed, not oblivious to her surroundings but not engaged with them, either. She paid little notice to the male nurse bent before her as he inserted her feet into a pair of fuzzy slippers before lifting her into the waiting wheelchair. He had considerately positioned it to face the window knowing that she spent much of her time watching the world outside. The nurse retrieved a silver brush from the bedside table.
“You have a guest coming today, Terra,” the man said, “Alexandra. Won’t that be wonderful? She always brings a smile to your face.”
In long strokes he gently brought order to Terra’s shoulder-length white hair. There was no hint left of its youthful red, but the curls still maintained their defiant resolve. He stopped when, without apparent reason, Terra turned her head toward the doorway. A moment later the door was flung open and Alexandra stepped through. The hoodie was zipped back up and the black boots had been exchanged for a pair of retro high-top sneakers. She was twirling a key fob with her right hand.
The two women smiled at each other, Alexandra beaming widely while Terra welcomed her with her eyes.
“Well hello,” the nurse welcomed, cheerfully.
“Pete,” Alexandra replied, in greeting as she slipped the fob into a front pocket of her shorts.
“Don’t get me wrong, marvelous to see you,” he remarked, “but isn’t this visit a little outside your usual routine?”
“I had some business to tend to. Brought me down a little earlier than usual,” she explained, before directing focus on Terra.
“Getting my girl all dolled up for me?” she asked.
“That, I am.”
Pete did a squint-eyed overview of Terra’s hair. Satisfied, he placed the brush back on the bedside table.
“I’ll leave you two,” he said.
Alexandra smiled at Pete as he exited out into the corridor. After the man left, she crouched down in front of Terra, steadying herself on the armrests of the wheelchair. She looked up into Terra’s serene face. The old woman meant a great deal to her. She was the last link with Alexandra’s past. The imminent loss of Terra left Alexandra feeling empty and alone. Tears started to roll down her cheeks at the thought of it.
“Mouse,” Alexandra expressed, “Anastasiya says that she’s had visions. She says you’re in there. I mean really in there. That you’ve contacted her.”
She locked eyes with Terra for a moment, and analysed her gaze. Could there be genuine hope? Terra began to weep, but the silence of decades remained unbroken. Alexandra sighed, leaned forward until their foreheads touched, and then the two closed their eyes. In the tenderness of the moment Alexandra was certain that she felt a plea conveyed from her old friend. Save me.
“Your mother had such awesome expectations for the two of us,” Alexandra whispered, “and her intuition was always bang-on. Maybe it can all still happen.”
Her eyes opened and she moved back as her friend watched. She caressed the side of Terra’s face and, with a magician-like turn of hand, removed a coin from Terra’s ear. The trick evoked a faint smile. Alexandra straightened, wiped her tears, and moved behind the wheelchair.
“I have a lot more redhead jokes,” she said, as she grabbed the chair’s handles and started to wheel Terra out of the room.
Terra slowly looked back toward her, glared, then turned forward again and huffed.
“…’Cause I know how you love redhead jokes.”