Nora wants to live more than a hundred years. She has planned everything in her mind, in front of her the future has stretched out like a long shimmering road. But the other day when she fainted in her gym class, the doctor in the hospital told her mother that her lungs are not good. But it can be changed. She has to draw the cool, clean air in, treasure it and release it and she has to stay a couple of days in the hospital. That will make her lung good as new. Ten years old Nora is confident that she can do it. Although it is hard for her mother Maisie.
Nora dwindles over packing, folding, refolding her clothes, tucking in a few moments to brighten up her room before she leaves for the hospital. She squares the cover of her bedsheet, smooths the bedspreads,tilts the shade of the lamp cover of the reading lamp. She stands in the middle of the oval rug. Her room is small but tidy and decorated in shades of blue, her favorite color. Each significant object has a name and to each she says goodbye or rather until they meet again. Nora closes the door.
Maisie is busy or rather tries hard to stay that way in the kitchen. It is hard for her to see her daughter in this condition. Nora runs into the kitchen. “ Mom, Uncle Jess is here to take me to the hospital.” No answer but Nora knows her mother is sad and afraid. Nora hugs her mother with her small hands. “ I will be fine mom, and come visit me in the hospital.” Her mother sighs. Nora picks up her small suitcase.
The air is cold. From the car window Nora looks at the house. Her mother stands there leaning slightly to the metal mail box in her walker. She waives her hand to her mother and wipes her tears.
There is not much to do in the hospital wake up, take bath, eat, read,take nap, watch television and be patient while the doctor takes a lots of test. The ward is alive with gossip, mostly about the imaginary romances between this or that girl or a boy or men. It is like a soap opera to her like the ones that come in television and her mom always say they are not real, just wastage of time and brain. Nora spends her time in reading the encyclopedias that her mother brought for her. She loves the mysteries inside and the beautiful information in them, their sedate dark-green binding, gold letters on their spines. She slides the little tower of books towards her slowly as though they are gathered treasure. Reading makes her calmer; she does not care about the hospital or health, she is confident that everything will be fine.
On the other hand her room-mate Liona is quite different. She loves to gossip in the phone with her friends. Some days she invites Nora to meet her friends in the lobby. But they laugh a little, sit pretty on the sofa touching their fancy jeweleries or adjusting their new hairstyles, gossiping on useless topics. “They are less sympathetic than the ambulance chasers. They are not real friends.” Nora murmurs to herself. When her mother comes to visit her the ward turns into a playground as if azaleas bloom and honeysuckle perfumes the air. Her mother tries to stay calm but sometimes she is washed to the emotion of rage which she does not know how to control its directions. At the end of the month it started to get harder for her mother to see Nora in the hospital. She wants her to go to school, play with her friends and to have a normal life. She argued with the doctors. “ Nothing has happened to my daughter. She will be fine at home and I will take good care of her.”
Just before Christmas Nora returns home with her mother. They sit in their living room. The bare Douglas-fir-tree sits on the corner of the room and the ornaments in a metal container. Her mother smiles brightly at her. “ Have faith and everything will be alright.” She says wrapping her hand around Nora tight as a robin’s nest. As they hang the ornaments on the fir-tree, her mother says,“ You are an angel straight from heaven.”