Copyright © 2013 Ben Kesp
I sit alone in my room, watching with a slow breath the unstoppable rain falling from high above. Fred and Alice keep me company. Two pigeons. I’m not even sure if they are male or female, but I think the names Fred and Alice suit them. They huddle together to gain shelter as much as the window ledge will allow. A flash of light cuts through the dark grey storm clouds. The roll of thunder follows shortly afterwards.
I allow my stare to gaze on the tall statue of the female warrior standing strongly against the beating rain in gratitude, cooling herself from the blistering sun. Her arms are outstretched, holding a sword in her right and a battle axe in her left. She stands alone today, with no crowds of people sitting beneath, chatting, eating and having their photos taken with her. I imagine she feels at peace in the rain. Did she move?! The tree branch outside my window battling against the wind obscures my view. I think I saw her move!
The door of the room opens, interrupting my gaze. Casting my eyes in the direction of the recent disturbance, I see Nurse Susie entering, pushing her squeaky wheeled trolley. Susie smiles her usual polite smile. Her stammer makes her self-conscious, so she doesn’t say much. Dinner has arrived. Nothing to get the senses excited about. Lamb stew with potato, and to finish, tea with a custard bun. Susie smiles again and pushes the trolley out of the room.
I take a mouthful of the lamb stew and potato. As I turn my eyes once more to watch the rain washing down over the female warrior, I drop my knife from my hand, almost choking on the lamb. She’s gone! How could this be? My breath rises inside my chest. All sorts of thoughts and imaginings fly around in my head. I continue to stare for a long time at the empty space where she once stood proud. The rains eventually stop allowing Fred and Alice to fly away. Susie returns to collect the dishes and I dare not speak a word to her. She might instruct that my tablets are increased, but her more likely response would be a smile and not say anything.
Darkness descends on another day. I’m unsure how many hours of sleep creep over me before I see the early morning sun filtering in through the curtains. The cooing sounds of Fred and Alice reach my ears. They have arrived for a new day. What will people say about the beloved female warrior that disappeared during the storm? My room door opens and Susie enters with the squeaky trolley and her typical sweet smile. Breakfast. Hot cereal followed by tea and buttered toast smeared with marmalade. Sliding open the curtains, Susie stands looking out the window. Fred and Alice flap to a nearby window ledge. My eyes focus on Susie. Does she notice the missing statue? Will she say anything?
I hold my eyes on her as she continues about her business. She doesn’t speak. As she prepares to wheel her trolley out of the room, she places the morning paper on my bedside locker. Not a word. I sit in thought, finishing my cereal. I pour myself a cup of tea and take a slice of toast. Reaching for the morning paper, the headline jumps out and stops me chewing on my toast. “Warrior Queen fights once more for the city.” With slightly trembling hands, I pick up the paper to read the events of the evening before. The breakwater barriers holding back the mighty currents of the city river were showing signs of bursting. Quick thinking by the fire department had the statue removed and placed to enforce the barriers from giving way to the river swells. In the process, the female warrior lost both her arms, however saving hundreds of homes and lives that lie in the valley below.
Placing my cup on the table top, I finish my mouthful of toast. As I lean into my pillow, I exhale the relief that spreads through my body. Throwing my look out the window past Fred and Alice who are oblivious to the empty space in the park opposite my room, I know the warrior queen will one day stand tall and strong again, gaining a new generation of respect.
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