Theme: Yes, AND…
“Right, a song. Umm…” As Drucilla stood up, still tonguing peanut butter from the roof of her mouth, she tried to think of a song for her guest. “Any requests?”
“Your go-to shower song.” Lesley reclined on the sofa while helping herself to a second spoonful of peanutty delight.
Shower. Part of her prescribed routine. A routine can be very helpful for people in your condition. Every morning, in a daze, she stumbles from her bed towards the bathroom. She carefully takes off her pajamas, folds them neatly in a stack, which she rests on the tank of the toilet, and reaches her hand under the showerhead to test the water. Once it is scalding, she stands under the intense jet of heat, and “lathers, rinses, repeats”. Even a shower, something she must have done thousands of times, feels foreign.
And she doesn’t have a shower song… that she knows of.
“I’m blanking.” Drucilla said while she involuntarily brought her thumbnail to her mouth to bite. Lesley stood, and took Dru’s hand away from her mouth.
“Don’t do that,” she gently reprimanded. “It’s a terrible habit.”
Dru felt a warmth grow from her center. Something about that moment felt so familiar and comforting. Lesley’s hand was still holding Dru’s. She looked at their hands and shifted her fingers to interlace with Lesley’s. When she looked up, Lesley’s eyes were wide and dewy.
“Is something coming back, Dru?” She could see Lesley’s muscles in her face trying to conceal her hopeful expectations.
“I… I don’t know.” Looking at Lesley distracted her. She forced herself to look back at their hands. Yes, their fingers like this. Her wrist. The tattoo of the number 57. 57.
“Heinz?” The word formed and tumbled out of Dru’s mouth before she could grasp what it might mean.
A moment passed and a tear dropped onto Dru and Lesley’s fingers. She found Lesley’s face wet with tears. “That’s right, Dru.”
“Heinz”, she said again, relishing in the familiar buzz of the “nz” sound.
“I’m Lesley Heinz.” Lesley tried to keep her composure as tears gracefully rolled down her cheeks. “The number 57 has followed me around my whole life. Heinz 57 Sauce, which the kids at school liked to taunt me with. Messier 57, The Ring Nebula, my first love and the reason I own three telescopes. And, West 57th Street in New York City. Where I met you.”
Dru was instantly transported outside the beautiful brick building just two blocks south of Central Park. “Carnegie Hall.”
“Yes, Dru!” Lesley took Drucilla’s other hand in hers and her sparkling smile enveloped her face.
Memories! Beautiful, real, memories. The box office at Carnegie Hall. La buona figliuola, the Piccinni opera she was rehearsing, though not one of her favorites. Markthalle Neun, the market in Berlin, crowded with people on a Thursday night. The tiny apartment she adored in London during her run in My Fair Lady on the West End. That tiny apartment, made tinier when sharing with another person. A person she loved. A person with the number 57 tattooed on her wrist.
“My Lesley.” Dru placed her hand on Lesley’s cheek, and as their lips were about to meet for the first time since the accident, the phone rang. A result of adrenaline, they both jumped and giggled. Dru considered answering the phone.
“Let it ring, Dru.”
They kissed their first and thousandth kiss. All of their kisses, touches, late night chats, and homemade dinners flooded Drucilla’s brain. Her fingers tingled unbearably. She felt like she was falling from a great height. She could feel her limbs become weightless. She could see the boy standing on the lawn below her, his face filled with dread as she was falling. That boy. Who was that boy?
His face was the only thing she could see as the ancient answering machine took the message from the missed call:
“This message is for Drucilla Columbera. This is Dr. Basso from Salvator Mundi International Hospital. We’d like you to come to the hospital as soon as possible. It looks like Dante is waking from his coma.”
She didn’t hear the rest of the message. The boy’s face looking up at her. It was Dante.