francis with an i

‘You want to know what it feels like? I’ll tell you what it feels like. It feels like I’ve been cut in half, my legs filled with concrete, and then the top half shoved back on top again.’
Francis drills me with a look, intensified by the tufts of wispy white hair that rise left and right of his head, like plumes of steam from the vents of his ears.
‘Oh? Is that right, legs?’ he says, addressing his legs.  ‘That’s how you want to play it?  Maybe I’ll smash you and see how much you like it.’
He begins the painful business of mobilising, turning round on the spot with his zimmer frame, maintaining a commentary that’s so aggressive it makes me want to laugh.
‘How do you spell your name?’ I say, covering myself with his yellow folder. ‘Is it Francis with an I or Frances with an E?’
He stops, turns, and looks at me again.
‘With an I! It’s Francis. With an I. Not an E. Francis with an E is a girl’s name. Why are people always saying that? I had someone here the other day. The doctor. She said is it Francis with an I or an E? I said you what? She said is it Francis with an I or an E? I said I’ll give you Francis with an E. I said the last person who asked me that I smashed them with my fists. She said you seem a little bit angry. I said wouldn’t you be? People spelling your name wrong all the time. Mixing up their E’s and I’s. Well, she said, I only want to get it right. Yes. You do want to get it right, I said. And you want to fix my legs n’all. There’s no need to be like that, she said. Like what I said. All angry and furious. Well wouldn’t you be all angry and furious, your legs full of concrete, and everyone spelling your name wrong?’

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