While Will and I walk I start planning it all out in my head. What will I say if dad asks me about the new patient? What if kids at school tease me for having what they call “his kind” in our house? What if I get so nervous with all that attention that I can’t hide it and start fiddling with my pleats and that Molly with her big mouth makes some comment again? Sometimes I feel really feisty, as mom calls it, and afterward I always wonder what it would feel like to have a real confession to tell.
We make our way to the back of the house as the raised voices of my parents disappear in the distance. The increasing silence is like a weight lifting from my shoulders. While that one lifts, his presses against me. He is weak and wobbly. I feel somehow holy in a way I’ve never felt before.
I open the door to our makeshift hospital and take in the smell of cloves, brown Lysol, dirty hair, baby powder and despair.
There are only three people staying with us just now: Mr. Ardoin, who fought in the war only to come home and loose both legs to diabetes; Mrs. Thibodeaux, who thought her stroke was a sun stroke and she could be cured by a healer. She had Mrs. Rae, the sun stroke lady, pray on her only to find out she had in fact had an honest to goodness stroke, now she eats through a straw and curses a lot; and my grandpa, Papoo, who suffers from dementia, insists on calling me Mae, the name of my late grandma, and once ate my math homework because he was hungry. He later claimed the Germans stole it, along with his good teeth.