as the bandage came off

The woman had bandages around her back and her arm. She didn’t bleed any longer. The wound had mended. Instead, a heavy stiffness and ache permeated her body.

She had fevered dreams. While she slept she sweated the sickness out. She jolted and turned in her sleep as if even her dreams gave her no refuge. 

The rains had stopped. The sun was out and water dripped down from the roof. 

The man went about his usual business in the cabin as she slept. He gathered the old bandages and uneaten plate of food. He opened the windows to the light and raised the shades so that air could rush in.

Still, she slept.

In the evening, he bent over her and she woke up with a start.

“I’m going to check your bandages.”

She nodded. She turned to her side.

Gingerly he undid the long cloth wrap bound tightly across her back. As he got closer to skin, she winced. The bandage was stuck lightly to her. He pulled it off. She shut her eyes tightly.

The cut had mostly healed. The wound had crusted over a scab. He took a damp cloth and pressed it to her.

She exhaled.

“Is that okay?”

She nodded.

He took another cloth and patted her wet skin dry.

“I think you might be fine without the bandage…”

She didn’t say anything. She stared at the wall in front of her. Wood grain with a knot like an eye looking at her.

He helped her lay back down. He reached over and took a bowl of hot liquid and brought it closer to her. She shook her head no, putting out her hand.

“Why won’t you eat?”

She shrugged, not looking at him.

“Look, if your mad at me, then-”

“I’m not mad at you…”

A hot tear rolled down the side of her face. 

He looked down at his hands and the damp cloths in them. They sat in silence for a while. 

“I think you’re getting better.”

He stood up and put the cloths with the old bandages and into a sack.

“I’ll be back soon, okay.”

She nodded.  

“Maybe have a little soup?”

“Okay.”

He shut the door walking into the forest with the sack. Looking up to the clear blue sky with the birds whistling to one another.

Inside the cabin, she wearily turned to her side stairing at the bowl of hot liquid. Steam rising up. She brought it closer. She inhaled. It smelled like healing. 

Her stomach rumbled. She took the spoon and dipped it into the broth blowing on it before it reached her mouth. Then, took a sip. Her eyelids grew heavy and she felt her whole body relax. She continued to sip the soup slowly until the liquid was gone. 

A wave of euphoria overtook her as she laid back down. Her eyes tried to remain open, but no, they would close. And she would sleep. And she would dream. But not like before. Finally, for what felt like the first time in forever, she could rest deeply, peacefully, fully. 

And so she drifted in between the worlds again as she closed her eyes to the cabin and found herself again in clouds. 

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