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Monday, 7 January 2013

Alcandor's grief - extract from Mine to Avenge

Alcandor now knew why the three men hadn’t involved themselves too deeply in the lives of his family. They would have been concerned by the possibility of being recognised earlier by Alcandor and Caterina for who they really were.
As he lay in bed alongside his sleeping wife, he wondered what he should do. Who should he tell? Should he tell at all? Would anyone believe him? As he lay there, he didn’t know where to start.
‘I have to speak ... I have to tell,’ he thought, and decided that he would start with Caterina. He would work out how to tell her and she would help him decide what to do. He would tell her about the note when she awoke.
He finally opened his eyes to see the grey light of dawn filtering into the room. He tried to roll over to face his wife but couldn’t move. He concentrated, telling his body to move, telling his right arm and leg to do what he never had to tell them before, but there was no response.
He could move his left side, slightly, but it was weak. He couldn’t even turn his head. He opened his mouth to speak but nothing came.
It was as if the revelation of truth had completely immobilised him. Although he was unable to speak, hot tears of bitterness and fear rolled down his cheeks.
When Caterina awoke an hour later, she looked across at her husband. She saw that he was awake, lying on his back, staring at the ceiling. She said nothing for a while and lay next to him, letting her eyes trace the contours of his right eye and eyelashes. It had a sleepy droop to it, she thought. She reached across as she often did, placing her right arm across his chest and snuggled into him, but there was no response.
She propped herself on her elbow and gazed into his face. He stared back at her, but she noticed that his head didn’t move, only his left eye. The right one sagged oddly, making him look unfamiliar to her. Alarmed, she jumped from the bed and came around to the other side, watching his face as she came. His head didn’t follow but his left eye followed her movement closely.
‘Oh, Alcandor,’ she cried softly. ‘What’s happened to you? What’s wrong?’
She tenderly picked up his big, limp hands in her small warm ones, and leaned forwards to brush his forehead with her lips. ‘I’m going for help,’ she told him. ‘Stay calm, my love.’
She ran from the room, in more of a panic than Alcandor had ever known her to be before. He listened, and heard her pause by the room where their grandchildren were. He heard the creak of the door as she peered in to make sure they were still sleeping. He heard her in the kitchen and knew that she was putting on her overcoat which hung behind the kitchen door. He knew that she was going to the neighbor’s house for they had a telephone, and he knew that she would phone for the doctor.
Half an hour later the doctor informed Caterina that her husband had suffered a stroke during the night, and was unlikely to ever fully recover.

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