Her voice calls across the still of the house. I hear the rustle and crunch of bed sheets, tiny feet meet floorboards and descend across the hall.
“Mumma?” she says quietly again, her voice more urgent.
“Here” I say and lift her into bed between us.
“No,” she says rolling back towards the floor, taking my hand. We cross the black hallway and I lift her into bed.
“Water? A cracker?” she asks. I collect a glass from beside my bed, a cracker from the pantry. She drinks all the water, two small hands grasped around the glass.
I lay beside her, a headache and nausea the hangover from a cocktail of drugs I’m still taking after being discharged from hospital.
It’s two days earlier. I’m sitting in my naturopath’s office. I’m here hoping for a miracle.
On discharge, my neurologists have said there’s nothing more they can do. My condition will continue to be monitored over the coming months. My sight may return, it may not. I’m to stay positive, get plenty of rest and pray for no other symptoms because of what they will mean.
“How’s your sleep?” Liz says.
“Broken,” I reply. “I’m woken two, maybe three times a night.”
“We’ll need to work on that,” she says making a note on her pad.
Charlotte rolls over and kicks her legs from underneath the covers.
“Mumma?” she says, her voice breathy with sleep. I roll over and place my arm around her.
“No cuddles,” she says rolling away, then unfurls her arm back across me.
“Ticka-tu”, she says, so I run my fingers up and down her arm. “No, say it,” she exhales.
I cluck “ticka-tu” in a low voice as I tickle the length of her arm. Slowly her breathing becomes even and steady. A car sighs down our street as I stare at the black of the ceiling.
It’s after midnight and I’m wide awake. I consider a trip to the kitchen for some painkillers to ease my throbbing head but I know in all honesty I can’t make the distance. Charlotte rolls over and places two tiny knees in the small of my back. My heart overflows.
In the early hours of the morning, despite better advice, tenderness seems like the best medication so I’m running with that.
[Image: Valeria Heine Fine Art Photography]