Huussshhhhhh, I murmur, as I lift her head. She’s been sleeping - her eyes are squeezed tight against the world. I pick the crust from their corners and she whines at me.
Husshh, I say. Husshh, it’s alright.
The warm water is dribbling down my arm and into my sleeve. She watches, smiling. I wash between her toes, the deep crevices at the top of her thighs, under her armpits and behind her ears, and she gurgles appreciatively. Her fingers grasp at the sponge as it moves.
I need to move her now. She’s heavier, since the steroids, and the lack of exercise. There’s a twinge in my back and wrist that I don’t think will go away, from helping her to stand. They say I shouldn’t be doing that anymore. They say it in the same breath as they say, ‘Once she stops moving, that’ll be it. She’ll lose the ability to move at all.’
I cross my arms and grasp both her wrists. I’m willing her to help me, but she hangs there like a dead weight. She looks at me, blank with trust, and I think, What makes you so sure you’re safe with me?
She just stares. And says nothing. And says nothing.
Abi is a drama, fiction & poetry writer. Her fiction has been published in a variety of small journals including The Molotov Cocktail, The Fable Online & Spelk Fiction, & her work has been performed at The Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Grosvenor Open Air Theatre, Chester, Bolton Octagon Theatre and 24:7 Theatre Festival in Manchester. Abi is also Artistic Director of theatre & film company Faro Productions, & runs Manchester-based cabaret collective First Draft.