So does Dad love me then?
I believed I was in a washroom. Yellow walls. I was facing a white toilet bowl. The seat was up and somebody was holding my hair back.
I heard a voice. “Stick a finger down your throat!”
“Jessica?” I burbled.
“Come on now, stick a finger down your throat. Please!”
I didn’t understand why she wanted me to do that.
“Or shall I do it?” she said.
No, she shouldn’t. I didn’t want any finger down my throat. I just wanted my peace and to close my eyes again.
I had been out with a group of girls from my floor. Rebecca and I had been binging: one whisky, one vodka, one called “limes,” one Bacardi and four tequilas. All within an hour and a half or so. All well shaken inside our bodies, since we were at a disco.
The Bacardi and the vodka were mixed with Coke. Whisky and everything else we drank neat. The shots had changed from tasting-totally-awful to tasting-all-right to tasting-of-nothing-anymore. I decided to retire when I found a bench somewhere inside the disco and laid down.
Now I noticed straps around my arms and shoulders. I was lying on something. I heard some diffuse voices around me but hardly understood a word. Then, a man spoke very loudly at me. God, he almost shouted.
“How are you insured?”
He was so annoying. I felt it was such a trivial little matter and told him to ask me another time. I was being lifted, I guess on a stretcher, and taken to an ambulance. I had a blurred vision of Rebecca, some distance away from me, as she was crawling on all fours around the carpark. Good girl, she was “fine”. She was about twice as heavy as me and could handle her drinks better. – I could fall asleep again.
I’m not sure why I drank so much. Peer pressure, maybe. Wanting to be cool; very cool. Or just because.
I had stopped my internship. I didn’t want to become an architect. And Dad wasn’t happy I was still not in real training. He demanded I start something proper. Unfortunately, I remained undecided, not being convinced of anything that I really wanted to do or become. I had applied for a university place to study nutritional science, and hoped I had a chance that the German central application system, which allocated places according to family situations, would give me one in Munich – despite my family living in northern Germany. I had to wait several weeks for a response. In the meantime, Dad stopped giving me maintenance. He said I had to make some money myself, since I had been too wasteful with my time and decisions for training. I didn’t feel good about my apparent waste. I hadn’t been lazy. Dad hadn’t said I had been lazy, but still. I had tried hard.
So, I had found a job at a factory, sorting and packaging different kinds of food. It was an awfully boring job, and I worked up to twelve hours per shift at the conveyer belts for two months. It earned me more money than Dad would have given me during the same period. About twice as much.
Now this job was over, and I had gone out to party with the girls.
When I woke again, I was in a strange kind of bed. I sat up. Lots of white furniture around me. Glass partitions divided the big room into smaller sections. I spotted a woman in a sky-blue uniform, but she disappeared. I looked down at myself in my white bed. The cloth that covered me seemed to be a use-once-duvet. I was attached to some cables. A drip stood next to me, its needle inserted into my right arm.
Goodness gracious me, where the hell was I?
But then I was faced with a much bigger problem: I needed a pee. Desperately.
“Hello?” I didn’t recognize my own voice. It sounded deep and rough.
“Hellooo?” I croaked again.
Nobody answered. Maybe I didn’t shout loudly enough, but that was all I was capable of.
Once again: “Hellooo!”
Still, nobody replied and nobody in a hospital-uniform turned up. I was sitting in this neon-light-bright room by myself and needed a pee.
I got up, grabbing the metal stand of the drip to make sure I didn’t rip off the tube, and started pushing it next to me. On my way down a corridor, I found a bathroom and stumbled inside. I needed to support myself with both hands. I was actually still drunk.
Then I peed; for a whole minute or so. When I emerged from the bathroom, a woman in hospital-uniform was already approaching. She took me back into that neon-light-bright room and asked a few questions. Without really knowing what I answered, I watched her removing the drip from my arm. Then she escorted me into a proper hospital room. She showed me the bed I was supposed to get in and told me that the breakfast next to it was for me. She left the room as I was holding myself on the railing of the foot end of “my” bed. I felt so unsteady.
I looked at a woman who was sitting up in the other bed of the room. Big eyes stared at me. I could clearly feel how they were checking me out. The woman and I could have been in a scene from a comedy. I saw thought bubbles popping up above her head, as she was wondering:
- Where do you come from?
- What’s your health issue?
- And why the hell are you barefoot???
She was absolutely entitled to be shocked by my appearance: I was tottering, despite holding on to my bed, I wore a very short summer dress, my hair was a big mess, and I had lost my stilettos!
I followed her stare and looked down at myself. My dress was stained. My legs were smeared with mud. My feet were dirt-black rather than skin colored.
No doubt the woman thought I was a bum who had been drinking too much, who had been wallowing around in a carpark all night long.
I sat on my bed and tried to eat the breakfast. My hands and fingers were like rubber. I couldn’t open the chocolate drink. There was no place to stick the straw, so I skipped it. I did manage to open some biscuits and a yogurt with my teeth, though.
And then, I started feeling bad. Physically as well as mentally. The situation I had maneuvered myself into felt embarrassing. I wanted to get home to the girls’ house as soon as possible. I left my bed to ask the friendly nurse if I could please go home. She again asked me a few questions about how I was feeling.
“I’m fine,” I pretended.
“Use the phone over there by the wall and call your friend to pick you up. You cannot go home alone,” she said.
I went to the phone. Honestly, I struggled even getting the handset up to my ear. It was so heavy. Thankfully, I remembered the number of the sixth floor of the girls’ house and so I dialed it.
I heard several rings.
“Hello?” a girl’s voice said.
My words still sounded very croaky when I said my name.
“Is that Marina?” I asked.
“Yes. But, sorry, who are you?”
I said again who I was and apologized for my voice. “Can you please wake Jessica and tell her she should pick me up from the hospital now?”
Marina didn’t seem to know I was in hospital. I explained briefly why I had ended up there.
“And from which hospital?” she asked.
I hadn’t thought about the fact that there were loads of hospitals in Munich, and I didn’t know which one I was in.
“No idea. I really don’t know where I am,” I said. “But Jessica must know. So if you just tell her to pick me up, she’ll remember from last night. They told me she was here.”
Less than half an hour later, Jessica turned up. As soon as I saw her coming down the corridor, I smiled. She opened her arms. God, I was so happy to see her.
Once in my room in the girls’ house, I didn’t want to do anything but go to bed. I wanted to sleep and have my peace. From everybody. But it was a Saturday. I was expecting a phone call from Mom at some point. She called me every Saturday.
I had recently had my own landline installed in my room. Every girl who wanted one, and was willing to spend the necessary installation fee, could get one. I was lying in bed and reached for my phone. I decided to call Mom straight away, so I could sleep for the rest of the day. My parents were going to find out about my binge, and where I had stayed the previous night, because I was health insured through them. Dad was going to see the bill. There was no point even considering hiding anything from them.
I dialed my parents’ number. I pulled myself together, hoping my voice wouldn’t give away the terrible state I was in. Dad picked up after some rings and told me that Mom wasn’t at home. I confessed to Dad and prepared him for some special bill with some possibly unusual remarks on it.
“And why have you done that?” he asked.
He spoke with such an unusually soft voice. He wasn’t angry at all.
“I don’t know, really,” I said. “Rebecca and I just wanted to try a little bit of everything. It was spontaneous.”
Dad sounded as if he laughed slightly – in a nice way. Rather smiling than laughing.
“Well, we’ve all done that in our lives. But I hope you’ve learned from it!” he said.
Had I just heard right? Was I still drunk? Dad sounded so understanding and caring. I was pleased about his reaction, but it didn’t feel like the real him to me. He sounded so warm. Too warm!
He said he’d tell Mom about everything when she got home.
“I’ll call you back myself in about half an hour if she isn’t back by then to see how you are. I guess you’re alone in your room?” he said.
It was un-be-lieve-able: Dad really seemed to be worried about me, because I had just come back from hospital.
“Okay, but don’t wait too long before you call. I’m so tired, I’d like to sleep,” I said.
I waited twenty-five minutes. Twenty-six, twenty-seven, twenty-eight minutes. It was a struggle. Dad charmed me with his desire to know how I was feeling. He wanted to make sure I was fine. But, as hard as I tried, I knew I could not stay awake much longer. I wanted to avoid being called while asleep and being surprised by the noise of my phone.
I waited twenty-nine minutes, thirty and thirty-one. Then, I couldn’t wait anymore. I figured Mom hadn’t returned home, so Dad must have decided to wait for her a little longer. I didn’t mind not speaking to her at all, since Dad could report everything. I just wanted to sleep.
Thirty-two minutes passed before I pulled my phone’s cable out of the socket for some undisturbed sleep. I would call my parents later, when I was feeling better. I turned around in my bed and managed to take off my dress and bra, without bothering to put on my pajamas. It was going to be another hot day anyway. I fell asleep instantly.
Knocks on my door woke me. I opened my eyes, glanced at the ceiling and blinked two or three times. I lifted my head slightly. Two tall and solid men in uniform, with guns, truncheons and handcuffs around their waists, stood in my doorway.
“No need for alarm, it’s just the police!” one of them said.
JUST THE POLICE?
I sat up in my bed, not forgetting to hold the duvet in front of my body, otherwise I’d have been sitting topless in front of two police officers.
“My God, are you arresting me? I’ve only been drinking slightly too much,” I said.
“Don’t worry Miss, don’t worry!” the other policeman said, making a calming movement with his hands.
His colleague closed my door. Who would have thought less than twenty-four hours earlier that I was going to find myself dressed only in a pair of underwear with two fully armed police officers in my room telling me not to worry? I wasn’t even dressed!
I really wasn’t going to be arrested, was I?
Who knew what I had done while I had blacked out?
“Your father called us. He’s worried about you. He couldn’t reach you on the phone. You haven’t had the best of nights, he told us,” one of the officers said.
I saw a little wink of his eye.
“Ah, now I understand,” I said.
The policemen looked onto the floor, next to my bed, where the unplugged cable of my phone was lying.
“You need to call your parents right now, please. Or would you like us to do it?”
“Err, um, yes. Err, no! I mean, no you don’t need to call them. I’ll do it. Right now. Promise!”
“All right then,” the officers nodded and left.
I was so embarrassed. Particularly, because of Mrs. Lange & Co: For sure, the officers had asked them to be allowed to pass the reception and enter the house. And for sure, whichever lady was on shift had asked them why and who they wanted to see.
I quickly plugged in my phone and called my parents. After only one ring, Dad picked up.
“Everything is fine Dad, I was only sleeping.”
He sounded as relieved as if he had saved my life.
So he did love me, didn’t he?
Although I hardly ever felt his affection, I believed he had just shown some. I changed my mind about Sonja’s father and mine being brothers: They were not related. They were too different.
© Copyright 2018 Author of ONE OF US HAS TO GO – All Rights Reserved