She crashed through the front door of the farm house the family had rented for a holiday, “I’ve got it” she gasped to her mum.
Standing in the doorway to the hall passage, which lead from the kitchen to the bedroom, phone in hand, her mum quickly deleted the “999” which she had just typed and replaced it with the doctor’s number “I was just about to hit call” she explained, as Rupert regained her breath.
It was the latest in a long line of difficult events, which always seemed, to Rupert, to occur just as the last catastrophe began to improve.
She collapsed into the chair in the corner of the room and, as her mum returned to the bedroom, the telephone conversation fading into the background, she thought back on the last few hours and tried to pull apart the events that had lead up to her gran’s collapse. Maybe there was a clue, a pattern, something that would give them some idea of what had happened, and what they should be doing about it.
Two hours ago she had been filled with happy, but nervous energy, as she and her gran prepared to drive out to the local store for some groceries. Most 15 year olds would have to be persuaded to go on such an errand, never mind be excited at the prospect, but Rupert was battling an internal conflict. A couple of years ago she was diagnosed with a condition which caused weakness, and, at it’s worst, terrifying episodes of a pounding heart, which felt akin to being repeatedly hit in the chest with a hammer, a racing pulse which was faster than anyone had been able to monitor, dizziness, sweating, choking, panic, paralysis. It was the most terrifying feeling she had ever encountered, and the fear that it left was compounded by the fact that the doctors didn’t seem to understand it any more than she did.
There seemed to be no trigger, no remedy, no explanation or expectation of how it would behave in the future. Each episode worse than the last, Rupert carried this condition over her head day and night, waiting for the next ‘episode’ to strike, wondering if it would, and if it did, how much worse it would be, and what that would mean for her.
The only comfort she could find during these episodes was from her mum, who she trusted implicitly, she admired her knowledge and level headed common sense, and she had never let her down, unlike the doctors, and unlike so many others around her. Due to this, the thought of suffering one of these debilitating episodes without her mum became almost as petrifying as the episode itself, and the two were consequently inseparable by necessity.
The last episode had been some months ago, and, though each time she plucked up courage to start living a normal life again the episodes seemed to strike, she was determined not to give up. When each episode ended she concluded, “Well, maybe that was the last one.”, and, as she recovered and felt able, she would pick herself up and try again..
This latest setback was different, and as Rupert sifted through the events of the day she pondered carefully whether she could somehow have been the cause of her gran being taken ill so suddenly. No warning, just sudden, and immense, pain. She had just about managed to get back to the bedroom before becoming entirely immobilised by the agony.
No nonsense and logical, with a good instinct and a head for adventure, Rupert’s gran was a very close friend, and the person she trusted most, next to her mum. Rupert had a pretty good feeling that if she could just overcome this difficulty, then she and her gran probably had a fair shot at conquering the world together.
She couldn’t think, hard as she tried, of any tell tale signs, patterns, or events, that might give a hint as to what had happened to her gran, and soon she became restless as they waited for the doctor to arrive. She could hear distressed sounds coming from the bedroom, and began to pace the floor in agitation. What was taking them so long. Why wasn’t there anything she could do to ease the pain. Was she missing something? These thoughts circled her mind, and as she paced she gradually became aware of someone pacing behind her. Grandad. There was a wry grin on his face as he imitated her agitated steps. “I think it would have happened by now…..if anything was going to” he settled back into his chair with a newspaper. She felt a little comfort from his words, but also wondered if they were true, and how he could be so unconcerned while gran was writhing in pain just down the hallway.
As she stood at the glass front of the house, Rupert eventually saw the green lights of the doctor’s car as it sped between the hedgerows. She ran to alert everyone of his arrival and then back to meet him as he pulled up to the house.
The doctor bustled through the kitchen and into the bedroom and Rupert strained to hear what was going on, listening for tones in the conversation that might indicate how serious the situation was.
Suddenly, her mum flew from the bedroom. “Bicarb!” She announced. “What?” Rupert sprang into action as she questioned whether she had heard her mother correctly “Bicarb!” She repeated, as she helped Rupert search the cupboards. “Here!” Rupert thrust a tub of bicarbonate of soda into her mother’s hand, and she ran back to the bedroom.
Rupert sat down, puzzled, she knew there was a good reason for the sudden kitchen raid but couldn’t for the life of her think what it was.
Opening her laptop, Rupert listened to the hum of voices that floated down the hallway and slowly typed “bicarbonate of soda” into the search engine.
“20 Bicarbonate Of Soda Life Hacks”
She clicked the link, wondering if this would give her a clue as to what was going on in the bedroom.
“Toilet cleaner….litter trays….weed killer….fluff up your omlette?” Rupert murmured through the list of alternative uses.
“Chicken pox…..” she was pretty sure her gran didn’t have chicken pox. Could Shingles have something to do with it?
She read on.
She heard the door to the bedroom close and looked up, the doctor reappeared, and as he calmly made his way to the door she sat near, she stood up and looked enquiringly into his kind face, he seemed surprised, like he had forgotten she was there, or had expected her to have left. “Just indigestion” he said. “Very painful. Not to worry.” He muttered something about further tests and took his leave. Rupert made her way into the bedroom, relieved as she scanned the room to see her gran, sitting on the bed, looking washed out but much more comfortable, and her mum, exhausted but no longer in panic mode.
That evening, Rupert pondered the events of the day. She sat on the sofa of the upstairs lounge, more like a big extension of the bedroom, with two sofas which could fold flat to be slept on, a tv in the corner, and lace drapes which were to lend some privacy to the bedroom area.
It was nice and quiet, she had time to think, not many of the family cared to traipse up to the second living room just to watch tv.
As she went over the day again, she realised it had been quite a dramatic afternoon, and slowly she picked up the notepad that lay beside her, and wrote the first page of this book.
Rupert had bought the notepad, along with some pens, because she longed to draw. So far there were several pages covered in doodles which left a lot to be desired, and left Rupert wondering if she had been born with her hands attached backwards. The only picture that held a slight interest for her was a roughly drawn sunset, made up of viciously scribbled red, orange, pink, and yellow lines, reflecting in a sea composed of several different shades of blue.
She heard footsteps approaching, Gran appeared at the top of the stairs to say goodnight, and Rupert passed over the notebook, inwardly hesitant as her Gran read the scribbled lines. “That’s really good” she said as she looked up, surprised at the content. “But” she laughed “I’m not going to do anything else!!” Rupert grinned, and hoped she was right. She was pleasantly surprised by what she had written though, and as she got up from the sofa she inwardly wished it always came so easily.