KNIT ONE, PURL ONE

 

…knit one, purl one…

 

 

At last I have the means to endure the endless dragging hours in this place. Today I found a pair of knitting needles and a ball of yarn tucked away in a cupboard.

 

…knit one, purl one…

 

So far no one has tried to take the knitting needles away from me.

 

…knit one, purl one…

 

 

The knitting needles are plastic, of course, not the steel ones I am used to, but they will have to do. For the moment I am quite content to sit here in this green plastic chair, smiling my plastic smile at everyone who goes by, listening to the click, click of these green plastic knitting needles.

 

…knit one, purl one…

 

It’s odd that I can remember such a simple thing as the kind of knitting needles I used to have. What I cannot remember is how long I have been in this place with its barred windows, its locked doors, its smell of disinfectant, the orderlies with their white T-shirts straining over bulging biceps, the ever-watchful nurses with their rubber-soled shoes that make not a sound on the tiled floors. Worse still, I cannot remember what I must have done to be put in this place.

 

…knit one, purl one…

 

Still, my mind is so much clearer these days since I stopped taking the pills. The pills that made me forget who I was and where I was for so long.

 

…knit one, purl one…

 

I might not even have conceived of such a plan were it not for a coughing fit that caused me to spit out my morning pill a week or so ago. I was soon pleasantly surprised to find how much clearer my mind was. I was so taken with this phenomenon that I only pretended to swallow my pill the next morning. I soon became quite adept at getting rid of my pills. I have to be careful, of course.

 

…knit one, purl one…

 

If only I could remember how I came to be in this place. Aside from knowing that my name is Hattie McDaniel, I am no closer to remembering anything else about myself. I do not even know how old I am.

 

…knit one, purl one…

 

I cannot believe my luck. Someone claiming to be my husband is coming to see me on Sunday. The nurse told me just half an hour ago. I smiled my plastic smile, nodded and went back to knitting with my green plastic needles.

 

…knit one, purl one…

 

I find it hard to believe there is such a thing as a husband coming to see me. What man would want someone as ugly as me? I have seen the scars that make the left side of my face feel as though it was made out of plastic.

 

…knit one, purl one…

 

At any rate, the fact that someone is coming to see me is enough to set my heart racing. Perhaps my visitor will be able to tell me what I so desperately need to know. Why am I here? What happened to my face?

 

…knit one, purl one…

 

The man who claims to be my husband will be here in a few minutes. I am wearing a navy dress, nylons, and a pair of navy pumps. The nurse says they are mine. I do not recall ever seeing them before. There are so many blanks in my memory.

 

…knit one, purl one…

 

Now I sit here in the lounge, with its green plastic chairs, waiting for this impostor to arrive, my head bowed over my green plastic knitting needles.

 

…knit one, purl one…

 

I hear footsteps approaching, the nurse saying, “Hattie, your husband is here to see you.”

Clutching my knitting to my breast as if it somehow could shield me from the unknown, I slowly raise my head and stare at the man hovering in the entrance to the visitor’s lounge. He is wearing a tweed jacket and gray corduroy pants. I cannot see his face clearly. His head is inclined as if he is afraid to look at me.

“Hello, Hattie. It’s me. Jack.”

He comes closer. I catch a whiff of cigarette smoke.

Something deep inside me uncoils with a snap. I lunge out of my chair, my arm raised over my head, those innocuous plastic knitting needles stabbing, stabbing. Someone is screaming. I think it is me.

I remember everything now. The smell of smoke, a child screaming in the night. Later, when the firemen finally removed my daughter’s limp, blackened form from the smoldering ruins of our home…the shock, the grief, the rage. And me hurling myself at my husband, shrieking, “You killed my baby! You killed my baby! Over and over, pummeling him with my fists.

I am on a different ward now. The doors are locked all the time and there are no more supervised walks. The nurses watch me very closely when I take my meds just to make sure I do not spit them out.

The doctors have shown me the Arson Squad’s report that exonerated my husband of any blame in the fire that took our little girl’s life and left me scarred for life. There was no cigarette smoldering in the sofa, as I believed at the time. Just a faulty baseboard heater. No one was to blame.

Apparently my plastic knitting needles did little physical harm –a few puncture wounds to Jack’s hands and one to his face that just missed his left eye. The doctors advised my husband not to return to the hospital for a while.

I wish they had not taken away my knitting needles.

©KTBrodland

June 9, 2017

 

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