Asher and Sruly spend time together at the house. Asher decides that Hindy can recover on her own, without rehab.
* * *
Hindy didn’t know what hurt worse. Her entire body was bruised and aching from the stomach pump, but the shame she felt at seeing her husband, her mother, her kids shook her to the core. Her façade of invincibility had been cruelly torn down; there was no place left to hide. Her mother’s constant presence by her side had been the only interaction that had not hurt.
It was odd, she reflected: She hadn’t felt at all ashamed while she was eagerly ingesting the painkillers. It was only now that she’d been discovered that the shame rolled in. She felt no relief at no longer having to keep a secret; instead, a deep fog now enveloped her completely.
“Asher is here, Hindy,” her mother said calmly. She reached over and straightened her daughter’s tichel, cupping her daughter’s face between her two warm hands when she saw Hindy’s expression. “Everything will be all right,” she said.
“It will never be all right again, and we both know it.” Hindy was again near tears.
“Okay then, it won’t be all right. It will be better than all right!”
Hindy inwardly grimaced at her mother’s optimism. “I’m ready to see him.”
“He’s right outside. I’ll go get him.” They had already moved Hindy into the step-down unit, so she was allowed visitors for more than five minutes at a time. She hoped her family wouldn’t take advantage of it, because all she really wanted was to be alone.
Asher’s tall frame loomed in the doorway. He seemed to inch his way into the room, and Hindy found it difficult to lift her eyes. They felt suddenly heavy, weighed down with fatigue.
“Hindy?” She had never heard him sound so tentative. He was usually so sure of himself. “How’re you doing?” He placed a box of candy and a bouquet of flowers on her bed.
“For you,” he said.
“Thank you.” Her voice was so low he could barely hear it.
He pulled over the chair from the corner and brought it closer to the hospital bed. She found the button that moved the bed into a sitting position. Sitting left her feeling dizzy and weak, she discovered.
“You had a rough time,” Asher said. “But you’re on the mend. You’ll be home and good as new before you know it.”
“What happened to me?” She had asked her mother the same question, but she wanted to hear everyone’s version of events so she could piece together the truth.
“Well,” began Asher. He felt guilty that he’d been so far away when she collapsed, and that he hadn’t taken it seriously at first. He didn’t know if she remembered he’d been gone that day, and he wasn’t sure he wanted to remind her, either. “Apparently, you were meeting with Suri Kleinman, and you began to slur your words. When she asked you what was wrong, you slipped down from your chair and passed out.”
“Suri Kleinman? The kallah’s mother? Did I miss the chasunah?” A rush of panic rode through her.
Asher chuckled. “It doesn’t matter now,” he said. “I’m sure she’ll understand that you were indisposed!”
It was too late to try to comfort her. “She didn’t know where to find everything! I wasn’t there to receive the last-minute deliveries! The wedding must have been a disaster!”
“Hindy, calm down.”
“Don’t tell me to calm down!” she snapped.
“I will tell you,” he murmured softly, like he was trying to lure a cat down from a high branch. “Because it doesn’t matter. Not at all. The only thing that matters is that you get well. Hey, you want to hear something funny?”
“Not really,” she replied.
Asher ignored her reply. “It was a rhetorical question. Your doctor wants to send you to rehab.”
“Rehab? What is that?”
“It’s a … place …” he began, “a place where they send addicts to recover. Can you picture yourself there? I told him in no uncertain terms that you would be coming straight home and back to your normal life.”
“Why would he say I had to go there?” Hindy asked. “I’m not addicted to anything.”
Asher shrugged. “I don’t know. I guess they have to tell anyone who got their stomach pumped. Did it hurt?”
“So much. I hurt everywhere, and nobody will give me anything for the pain. Do you have any Tylenol with you? Can you find me some?”
Asher sat back in his chair, surprised. After all she had been through, he thought she’d never want to see another Tylenol again. How could she still be asking for it now? Was that normal? He suddenly felt a twinge of fear. His wife seemed like a stranger.
“I think you should lay off that for a while, no? You did some damage to yourself taking so many, maybe you should take a break.”
Hindy shook her head like a recalcitrant child. “I need it, Asher. Please, get me some painkillers.”
He didn’t want to say no directly, but he had no intention of fulfilling her request. “Maybe later,” he said. “Right now, you should get some rest.”
She pressed the button and the bed eased back down. As it did, she felt her eyes already closing. Asher moved the candy to the night table next to her bed, and replaced the old flowers in a plastic pitcher with the ones he’d brought before going out of the room. He stood by the door outside in the hallway, unable to move forward and too perplexed to go back in. Something felt wrong. He’d thought this whole thing was an overblown reaction to a small blip on the radar, but had he been wrong? Was Hindy actually addicted?
To be continued . . .