Harriet has always been a delicate flower.
At least that’s what Rosa thinks, as she watches her twin sister sleeping in the hospital bed. Rosa strokes Harriet’s forehead, then rests her head on the bed.
‘Oh, Harry. How did this happen?’ Tears slip down Rosa’s cheeks. She lets the tears seep onto the bed sheets; before long, her face is surrounded by a salty dampness, next to Harriet’s arm.
The door opens. Rosa lifts her head, smiles and wipes her eyes. A nurse enters. She reaches for the chart at the end of Harriet’s bed. Pulls her pen out of her pocket. She scribbles on the chart.
‘Good evening. I’m Melinda. I’m looking after Harriet overnight.’
‘Hi,’ Rosa replies. ‘I’m the sister.’ She’s nervous; she clears her throat, averts her gaze to the wheels on the bed.
‘How are you?’ Melinda asks gently.
‘Um, OK, I guess. I just don’t know how this happened?’
‘We’re not certain ourselves. But she’s in the best place right now. We’ll look after her and get to the bottom of it.’
Rosa thinks back to the night before. It was 11PM when her mobile rung. She’d fallen asleep on the couch, her head on Will’s lap.
‘Hello?’ Rosa had asked, tentatively.
The voice on the other end was serious, quiet. Rosa dropped the phone when she’d heard her sister had collapsed at work. An ambulance had been called and she was undergoing tests in the city’s major hospital. Rosa left her home straight away.
As children, they’d been dependent on each other. Rosa was the stronger and outgoing; Harriet shy and introverted. But Rosa always protected her and oddly relied on her at the same time. They needed to be with each other.
And then, they lost each other. Harriet became sullen and withdrawn through her teens. Each year took her further away from Rosa’s care and attention. Rosa soon lost interest too, if she were honest and moved her attention keenly to the opposite sex. Before Rosa knew it, she was married and bought a home in the outer suburbs, and Harriet moved overseas.
Ten years later, Harriet had come back to her homeland, damaged, a wreck washed ashore. Rosa reached out; Harriet made small steps towards reconciliation. But each time they came close, Harriet pulled away. And now, here she lies, in a hospital bed. And nobody knows what’s wrong.
‘We’ll get to the bottom of it,’ Melinda repeats.
Rosa’s cheeks burn. She didn’t realise she’d blurted all this out to the nurse. ‘I’m sorry, I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I didn’t even know I was…’ she clears her throat. ‘Sorry, I didn’t mean to hold you up.’
‘It’s fine.’ Melinda pats Rosa’s hand. ‘But I do have to go now. Press the buzzer if you need anything. And get some rest.’ She nods her head in the direction of the armchair that folds out to make a highly uncomfortable single bed.
‘OK. I’ll try,’ Rosa mumbles. She strokes Harriet’s forehead and whispers, ‘I’m here, Harry.’