"Brian, did you know Megan painted these?" Brian had come back from his dad's with Megan. She told Megan they could live there until they could save some money and get their own place.
"Yes," Brian was very soft spoken, "I've seen them. They're very good." Two of Megan's paintings hung in the small kitchen on either side of the dining table. One was a dense, forest area with a wooden shack and a monkey in one of the trees. The other was a nighttime, mountain lake scene with Northern lights.
"If you like, you can take that one with you when you move out, but I want to keep the mountain painting," she told Megan.
"No, you keep them. They're getting more traffic here," she said with a laugh. "Oh, by the way, you will have less visitors soon."
She laughed softly. They never had visitors. Megan meant the cameras. What could she do about cameras now? They'd been in the house for weeks, but she had only just figured it out. Beginning to understand was not easy. It wasn't right, would never be right... Her daughter. She was part of this. Sigh. I don't want to think about this.
Brian added, "Yeah, those will be gone soon." This wasn't the first time she had to read things into what he said. He did not talk much, but she paid attention when he did because he was very revealing.
A couple of days before, she was bringing in groceries and saw that Brian was putting some away. She snapped at him. She had a certain way of doing things, and it was her first day home. No one had bothered to buy anything while she was gone. And she needed to be in control of something, even if it was a mere can of green beans. Quickly realizing her attitude, she offered an apology. He sneered and retorted "That's fine. Do you want me to let the dogs in?"
She let it roll but filed the whole minor incident in her memory bank. So this guy might have a darker side. She did not know him well, but her daughter seemed happy with him, and she had snapped at him. Still, his reaction to her apology made her think...
The paintings have an audience. Megan and Brian know about the cameras. Does my husband?
"You seem a lot better since you stopped taking that medicine," Megan interrupted her thoughts.
"You know," she replied, "Everyone forgets, or maybe no one wants to remember that I may have suffered brain damage when I was sixteen. Medicines never have the same effect on me as they do on other people."
"Oh, yeah, you did. You hit your nose or something?" Megan had forgotten the story it seemed, and Brian looked up, interested.
"Well, yeah, I ran face first into your Uncle Jay's head. My septum, that piece of cartilage in the middle, popped completely out of the bone on impact. You know it goes back this far?" and she turned to the side and pointed at her ear.
"No, I didn't know that."
"And my upper lip, where it hit my front teeth, was so swollen it hung past my lower lip."
"Yeah, well, the doctors had to saw off the bottom part of the septum, set it back in the bone. I had splints and balloons in my nose for twenty-four hours. I looked like Miss Piggy! Anyway, I had problems for years afterward, especially during the years right after the accident. When I was twenty-one, this guy I worked with had the guts to tell me that sometimes when I spoke, people could not understand me. It sounded like gobbledy-gook.
So I started listening to myself because I hadn't noticed. Everything sounded right in my head. He was right. And I've had other weird stuff happen that I have just had to deal with, like the muscles pulling in my left jaw and in the left side of my neck. Sometimes, I feel like my head is stuffed full of cotton, and it is trying to bust out. I have trouble doing anything when that happens. It can last for hours or days. I've asked the doctors about it. There isn't much to do. I've had an mri. It shows scar tissue back there behind my nose."
"You did? You should get a copy of that," Megan interjected.
"I have one."
"You do?" Megan and Brian asked almost simultaneously.
"I'll go get it." She went to the file cabinet where she kept things like the mri report. It took maybe five minutes to find the file. The drawers held more papers than she remembered. Finally.
"Here it is." And she dropped the stapled papers on the table.
"Do you have a picture of your brain?"
"Nope. But the hospital does."
"You should hang this on the refrigerator," Brian said.
"Ha! I don't think so," she chuckled. She was tired of proving herself. If no one wanted to believe she had had problems with her brain since her accident more than half her life earlier, then she truly did not give a shit.