Pain Relief Chapter 13

novel

By the time Yochi left, Hindy was exhausted. She’d always believed it was easier to do things yourself than have to explain them, but she felt like she had no choice. The burden she had easily carried for so many years suddenly felt so heavy she was afraid she would drop it and it would explode into a thousand pieces.

Since she’d fallen down the stairs she felt that she, too, had shattered. Nothing felt the same as before; just as her back had shifted, so had her mind. It didn’t make any sense how such a drastic change could occur from such a simple event.

She lay back on the couch, telling herself she’d just rest her eyes for a minute. She hadn’t felt quite right all day, but wasn’t in any pain.  She’d taken the pills, and a lovely, floaty kind of feeling had clung to her all day. She’d just sit back, relax, and let the waves wash over her.

*   *   *

When Hindy jerked awake hours later, the house was completely dark. She hadn’t heard the alarm , but she couldn’t remember setting it either, even though she’d set her alarm every day since she’d received her first one at age 12. Was it morning? Why was she sleeping on the couch? Disoriented, she pulled herself up and flicked on the lamp.

“Four o’clock?” she wondered, looking at her watch. “In the afternoon? Why is it so dark?”

She stood up and found herself struggling for balance. She looked around the living room as though she’d never seen it before, trying to shake off the deep sleep she’d fallen into.

“Okay,” she said, steadying herself. She walked over to the kitchen and turned on the light, greeted by unwashed dishes, unidentified splatters, and an unswept floor.

“Dear Mommy.” She saw a note on the kitchen table. “I got in late and I didn’t want to wake you. You looked so peaceful. Love, Tzippy.”

Hindy sat down heavily at the table, propping her head up with her hand. “It’s four o’clock in the morning? How can that be?” She’d fallen asleep on the couch many times, but this was completely different.

She didn’t know whether she should go up to bed and sleep more or wake up for the day, and she sat at the table trying to decide. Since she still felt groggy, she opted for more sleep and climbed gingerly upstairs to her bed, shaking her head the whole time.

She awoke again as the alarm rang, feeling more grounded but also more achey.

Her head throbbed, her stomach burned, she didn’t know where all the pain was coming from.

She held on tightly to the banister as she lowered herself down the stairs and had just made it into the kitchen when she heard Asher’s key turning in the door, and his abrupt one-two-three knock as he walked in.

“Here’s the newspaper,” he said, holding it out to her. ”Haven’t you been out yet?” She usually ran a few errands even before he returned from davening.

“I guess not.”

Hindy sat down on the couch, still trying to get her bearings. Asher loomed over her like a tall tree. “What’s with the couch lately?” he asked. “I’ve seen you on the couch more times in the past three months than in our entire marriage combined.”

“I don’t know,” she answered. “I guess I get tired more easily. Maybe I’m getting old!” she joked lamely.

Disapproval lined his features. “Nobody said you had to work so hard, Hindy.”

“I know. I’ve just been doing it for so long, I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t work, and I did hire an assistant. Asher?”

“What?”

“I’m very hungry. I’m going to make myself a sandwich. Would you like one?”

“Why would I want a sandwich for breakfast? Are you all right, Hindy? You’ve been acting so strange lately.”

“I’m fine. I told you I’m just tired. So, a sandwich? We’ll do something different for a change. I’ll make it taste better than regular breakfast.”

When they walked together into the kitchen, the mess was still there and Asher couldn’t mask his surprise. Instead of starting to clean up, Hindy noticed the sticky bottle of pancake syrup on the counter, left out all night after Tzippy’s midnight snack, and her thoughts abruptly shifted to how great it would be to eat a batch of pancakes, the thick fried dough and the sappy sweet syrup making her mouth water. She hadn’t made them in years, and the only reason they had syrup in the house was for the frozen waffles her kids, and now their kids, still insisted on eating. Tzippy must have made some the night before. In fact, the empty box was in the trash can. Hindy decided that she might feel better if she filled up with sugar and pancakes. Yes. Pancakes it would be.

Asher had gone upstairs to get ready for work as she tried to get busy around the kitchen, banging pans and cracking eggs, waiting for the butter to start sizzling in the pan. Normally she only used cooking spray; she wouldn’t dare waste calories on frying in butter, but she’d thrown all caution to the wind. When they were ready, she called Asher down to the table and slid the hot pancakes onto his plate with a flourish.

“This is a sandwich?” he asked, pushing the plate away.

“It’s pancakes! You have told me you like to be spontaneous, so here I am, being spontaneous.”

“Hindy,” he said, both baffled and suspicious, “Enjoy your pancakes, but they’re not something I’m going to be able to eat. I’ll have breakfast out. Take good care of yourself today,” he said, warily, and stood up to leave for work.

To be continued . . .