Chapter 25


We fade in on Helene, who is also in a hospital bed. She’s awake, if only just recently. Ward is there, holding her hand. Helene has started processing everything: “We need to be sure she gets help.” Ward isn’t so forgiving: “She’s psychotic, Helene. Let’s just write her off.” // “I don’t mean to suggest that I want her back in my life, however short it may be. But, she has nobody looking out for her. So, even if they lock her up, let’s make sure she can get well. At least in the head.” We pull out wider on the scene, and there’s a nurse standing in the doorway. She’s a little confused: “I meant, is there anything I can do, for you? Like, right now?” // “Oh, sorry, dear. Yes, yes. Have you any shiraz?”


Ward pushes Helene’s wheelchair around the hospital. They’re out for a stretch. Helene looks fairly well considering her overall health and the incident at her home. Really, she doesn’t look much different than we last saw her. She keeps looking up at Ward, though she tries to do so without turning her head towards him. She’s trying to find the right time—or the right words—and she keeps holding back. Ward notices: “What is it, love?” // “Oh. Well. I just wanted to say—” // “I know what you want to say.” // “No you don’t.” // “You want to say you’re sorry. That you shouldn’t have written me off and listened to Tracey.” // “It’s not that I wrote you off. But I thought some space might be good and—” // “You trusted her more than me.” // “I trusted you both. But I was wrong to—” // “You don’t have to apologize for anything, Helene. I’m the one who opened the gate for all of this. For Tracey’s entrance into our lives, for Alina’s exit from our lives.” // “I guess we’re both just miserable, aren’t we? Drowned in guilt.” // “That’s why I love your company, Helene.” Ward rests his hand on Helene’s shoulder, and she places her opposite hand atop his.


Ward and Helene return to her hospital room. Her assistant Kyle and his wife are there with flowers, and flanking them are a dozen other bouquets. The nurse brings in one more, too: “These keep coming,” she says. “And they keep getting fancier and fancier. This one is from Grace Coddington!” After greeting her guests, Helene signals Ward and the nurse to help her back into bed. They hoist her carefully and tuck her in. “How long will you be here?” Kyle asks. “A few days more,” Helene says. “They want to monitor everything, especially with my other issues. Though, I don’t know where I’ll go when I leave. It’s not like I have a home right now.” // “You can stay with us.” “Yes,” Kyle’s wife says. “We insist. It’d be our pleasure. Anything you need.” “Very kind of you,” Helene says. “I’ll try to find something near my place, near Ward. But I’ll let you know if that changes.” A pause, then Kyle again: “It’s a miracle you didn’t get any burns. I went with Ward by the apartment. It’s like the flames just built a wall around you on the bed.” Helene doesn’t have an explanation, or any thoughts. She just shrugs.


Helene is alone at night, asleep in her hospital bed. The door to the hallway is ajar, so there’s some light pouring in across her face. She’s stirring a bit, having a lucid dream. Her lips quiver. A single tear runs from her closed eyes, and as it creeps past the top of her nose, Helene springs awake with a gasp. Now, she’s breathing heavily, and panicking as she searches the room. She starts sobbing, and pulls her sheet up over her mouth to mask any noise. “When does it stop?” she whimpers. “How do I stop needing you here?”


Helene relaxes in a full-body scanner. Her doctor monitors the process. Inside, Helene looks quite calm. She’s been here numerous times. Next, we’re in her hospital room. Helene looks befuddled. Then again, so does the doctor. “What do you mean, it’s gone?” Helene asks. “I… I… don’t know, Helene,” her doctor replies. “But it’s gone. I want to run a few more tests, but… I think you’ve won, again.” // “This must be an error. I practically had a death sentence…” // “I can’t believe it, either. But, once they get you on your feet again…you’ll be as good as new.” // “This isn’t what I wanted! I was cool with the cancer! I liked it this time! I wanted it to win.” // “I’m sorry to bear such bad news. And how sad that this inexplicable thing was wasted on you…” // “Sorry. I’m being a prat. I’m just sure it’s a mistake.” // “It seems not.” // “Wow.” // “Yeah. Wow.” Helene stares forward, dumbfounded and blindsided.

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