Excerpt from Molly’s Dreams, available now on Amazon.
It was later that day when Mum came to visit me. I was allowed to sit up in bed then and she sat with me all the way into the evening, right up until the nurses came and said that visiting hours were over.
I slept restlessly all through the night because I couldn’t get myself comfortable. I had never liked sleeping on my back and now that was the only position I could lay in. I tried turning my head to the side but that only made me feel dizzy again.
Every time I started to fall asleep, one of the nurses would come into the room to do something and wake me up. Then I would lay there in the darkness and stare at the dull light coming through the window. I wished I could see the stars from where I was laying. But I just felt a great lump sitting in my stomach and I ached to be home in my own bed. I found myself crying again and again throughout the night, but I tried to be quiet because I didn’t want to wake the old lady with the knitting needles.
The next day Mum brought some knitting with her and she spent most of the time talking with the old lady in the next bed, but it was nice to just have her there. She brought me a book to read and I took it out of the paper bag and looked at the title — ‘For the Term of His Natural Life’. The cover had a picture of a sad looking man wearing convict chains and there were arrows on his clothes.
I started reading while Mum sat and talked with Mrs Gould while they both knitted. I didn’t pay any attention to their conversation as I began to read about a man having a fight with his father and running away. I thought it was a pretty boring book, but I kept reading because I had nothing else to do in my hospital bed.
I thought the man was stupid when he was arrested because he wouldn’t tell them who he really was. He gave his name as Rufus Dawes and was sentenced to transportation for a crime he didn’t do and I made a little noise of frustration that he wouldn’t speak up. I looked up from my reading for a moment and saw both Mum and Mrs Gould had stopped talking and were looking at me.
I blushed and went back to reading as I heard Mum start saying something to Mrs Gould about how much I loved reading. I stopped listening because I didn’t want to get even more embarrassed and I wished Mum wouldn’t talk about me like that when I was right in front of her.
As the week went on and I got further into the book, I started to feel just like a convict trapped aboard a ship on the way to Australia. As I sat in my hospital bed I started to imagine that I was a convict and the tube in my arm was the chain that tied me to my bunk so I couldn’t escape.
Jenny came and chatted with me every day as she changed the dressing on my leg. She told me all about her little girl and how she was in kindergarten and just starting to learn how to read and how well she was doing. Jenny said her daughter’s name was Taylor and she and I would be great friends because we both liked reading so much. I didn’t want to tell Jenny how bad I was at school, so I just let her keep talking.
Late in the week I was set free from the prison bed when the physiotherapist came to teach me how to walk using crutches.
My head was suddenly dizzy the first time I swung my legs off the bed, and then I nearly fainted from the pain in my leg as all the blood rushed down towards my foot. That first time I was only able to stand for a minute or so before I had to hop back into bed.
Eventually I made it to the corridor and back and then gradually went further and further until one day I made it all the way to the front door of the hospital. What I really wanted to do was look out the window so that I could see the clouds and stars and be completely free from my prison bed.
Then Dr. Smith came back to see me at the end of the week and said I could go home in the morning.
Mum brought a change of clothes for me to wear home and all the nurses came out and hugged me goodbye as I hopped down the corridor on my crutches. Jenny was waiting at the front door and she gave me a big hug and a kiss and dropped a few tears in my hair. That set me off crying as well, but this time they were happy tears as everyone at the hospital had made me feel so special.
I hopped through the hospital door to the outside world and blinked at the bright blue sky shining above me.