CHAPTER THIRTY EIGHT
“But, we can't stand around here doing nothing, More,” Ayalet said. Her face was contorted with anxiety and she stood over Perry's loose and moveless body. She brushed at his tousled hair with tender movements of her hand that seemed to suggest she almost feared to disturb his reverie lest she make matters worse.
“I'm sorry, Ayalet. There's nothing else I can suggest for the moment. I think we just need to be patient and wait for Perry to find his own way back.”
“That's not much comfort. You got him into this. You have to get him out of it.”
“Believe me, I would if I knew how.”
“But why don't you know how?”
Morwena did not answer. She only stared with sad eyes at Perry's moveless limbs while her thoughts boiled turbulently and refused to to come to order.
“Oh!” Ayalet exclaimed. “The poor, dear man.”
Perry — or rather: Perry's body, Morwena corrected herself — was voiding his bladder. The two women watched helpless as a dark stain appeared at his crotch and spread out in a wide uneven circle that reached down to his knees and up, almost to his waist. Morwena's nose wrinkled as the unlovely aroma of urine and wet wool reached her nose. In some way, it was almost a relief, she thought, that now the she and Ayalet would have something to do. Ayalet had arrived at Morwena's cottage a half hour ago and the ensuing time had been filled with empty recriminations and equally hollow exhortations. Morwena felt helpless while Ayalet ran through the spectrum of emotions from shock to grief; never stopping long enough in one or another condition in time for Morwena to catch up with her.
“Let's get him cleaned up,” Morwena said when it was clear Perry's bladder was finally empty. Both women had all but held their breath, amazed and aghast, at the duration of Perry's flow. “You start undressing him, and I'll go see if I can find an old nightgown he can wear.”
Ayalet began pulling off Perry's clothes. He was heavy, but not resisting. The tunic came off over his head easily enough, once she finally managed to work the lower back hem free of his buttocks. In doing so, she had to bend over him and push her hands between him and the sides of the chair. It brought her face up close to his and, even over the smell of wet wool, she caught a faint trace of his natural scent. It was a perfume she had come to like; he smelled of pelargoniums. His undershirt came free with the tunic and she had got that off too, by the time Morwena returned.
“Get the rest off, and I'll get some water. He'll need to washed before we dress him.” Morwena said as she dropped some clothing on the sofa and swished on by heading for the sink. When she returned with a basinful of warm water and a bar of soap, Ayalet was just covering Perry's nakedness with a towel that she found Morwena had brought with the nightgown. “Do you want to wash him, or shall I?”
“I'll do it,” Ayalet said in a small voice. She had blushed, unseen, when she had exposed Perry's genitals. They were a lot larger than she had expected. Of course she had seen boys before ... well, babies, but it had never occurred to her wonder how such parts might develop as the rest of their bodies grew. She was not especially bothered by embarrassment for herself by the prospect of handling the man's intimate parts, she was more concerned for his own, even though he seemed, presently, to be insensible to any emotion. She was, however, resolute that it should it be her and not Morwena who did the deed.
She enlisted Morwena's help in lifting him from the chair and they carried him to the sofa where they lay him on a couple of towels. While Ayalet washed Perry, Morwena dragged the wet chair out to the porch. Outside, she stared sadly at the dark wet stain in the seat. The chair was the only item of furniture she possessed that had been salvaged from her parents' home. She wondered if it could ever be restored without having to rip off the upholstery and replacing the wadding under the fabric. She stayed outside, partly to think, and partly out of consideration for the other woman's sensibilities. She failed to order her thoughts though, and in the end her attempts to marshall any sort of plan were cut short by Ayalet calling for assistance. Morwena sighed and went back inside to help get Perry dressed.
Perry looked as though he was merely sleeping once they were finished. They laid him full length on the sofa and covered him with a blanket. Ayalet perched herself on the edge of the sofa next to Perry's waist and gazed at him with a face filled with unreadable emotions. She held on to his right hand and stroked his rough, cracked knuckles with her thumb
“Will you be OK to sit with him? I think I should run over to Gordain's and see if he has a clean tarpaulin I can borrow. I don't want to wait and see if he has another accident.”
Ayalet nodded, mutely.
“Look I know it seems like I am planning for the long term, but it would be foolish not to be prepared. He might even return while I am gone.”
“Really?” Hope flared in Ayalet's eyes and faded almost as quickly. “You're just saying that ....”
“No. He might.”
“What do I do if he does?”
“Nothing. Just be calm. He may be confused, but that will pass.” Morwena came over and squeezed the other woman's shoulder comfortingly. “Try not to worry, dear. I am sure everything is going to be fine. We just ... have to be patient. You understand that, don't you?”
“Patient, yes. It's not going to be easy, is it?”
“Nothing is ever easy, though, is it?”
Ayalet said nothing and turned back to attend to Perry.ReflectionsChapter One (for latecomers)Chapter Thirty Nine