Posts Tagged ‘narcolepsy’

I got to work yesterday afternoon to discover a post-it on my locker.

Damn it, Lloyd.

However it was a reasonably uneventful night – most of our regulars come in on Fridays, along with the crowds, but Saturdays are more relaxed. Not too quiet, enough to keep you busy, but not enough customers to be a serious hassle.

Joanie was working, too, which always seems to make the night go more smoothly. She’s been running the place for thirteen years, and no-one messes with her. Not that she’s some hulking threat – it’s more that no-one could possibly argue with her. She exudes an air of such calm, regal sensibility that she can diffuse a situation in the time it takes for her to look at you and clasp her hands together in front of her.

Tonight, though, she was distracted. It wasn’t that she was clumsy or that she made mistakes. It’s hard to imagine Joanie ever messing up an order. No, she just seemed out of sorts, and her eyes never quite seemed to see what she was looking at. When things had quieted down, and we had slowed to one or two new customers every hour, I asked her what was wrong.

“Oh, it’s… oh, you know, just things on my mind.” Her hands polished glasses with practised ease, slipping tumblers smoothly into their racks.

“What things?”

“Oh, it’s just, well, Abigail had to go in for some more tests, and they still don’t know what’s wrong with her, really.”

Abigail is Joanie’s fifteen year old daughter. Her birthday was a couple of weeks ago, and Joanie and her husband Mark threw her a party. Apparently at some point Abi and a couple of the girls went missing for about half an hour, and when Mark went to look for them he found Abi’s friends struggling to carry her unconscious form out of the garden and back to the house. The girls swore blind they weren’t doing drugs or anything, just gossiping out of earshot of the other kids, when Abigail had suddenly fainted into the rose bush. And it’s been happening fairly regularly, once or twice a day, ever since. The doctors suspect it may be some condition similar to narcolepsy, but of course the results have been inconclusive.

“And you know, the funny thing is, I used to have a very dear friend who was a specialist in these kinds of diseases.” Joanie leant back against the bench, stretching her spine. “But we haven’t spoken since Abigail was born.”

“Why not?” I asked. God, she looks tired, I thought. Probably hasn’t slept properly since the birthday party.

“Oh, well you know, it was a difficult situation. I’d known Margaret for years, we lived together at University – she was studying medicine, I was doing arts literature – and we were very close. But when Abi was born, I named my sister as her godmother. It’s kind of a family tradition. Margie was very upset. My sister had been out of the country for four years, she argued, what kind of influence could she possibly have on Abigail’s life? I tried to explain, but she was so hurt, she’d been expecting and looking forward to being a godmother. I told her she could still be a part of Abi’s life without the title, but it seemed to mean so much to her. She came over to the house a week after we got back from the hospital, and told me she never wanted to speak to me again. It was bizarre. Mark had to pull her from the house, she was hysterical and yelling gibberish and gesturing to the crib. I’d never known she had it in her.” Joanie closed her eyes for a second, dark circles emphasising her frail lids. She suddenly looked too old for forty two.

“Joanie,” I said, “why don’t you go home for the night. Get some rest. I can close up, it’ll be quiet from now on.”

She thanked me, and left her set of keys. I wiped down the bench, thinking how strange life’s twists and turns can be, and hoping they’d figure out what was wrong with Abigail soon. She’s a sweet girl, after all.


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