Rose is sitting in her chair surrounded by dozens of teddy bears, all neatly queued up along the edge of her bed, on another chair, on a bookshelf and either side of the TV. She’s watching a violent police drama, with much the same expression as the bears.
‘Hello Rose! How’re you feeling today?’
‘How am I feeling? Terrible.’
‘Oh. Sorry to hear that.’
‘Waaal,’ she says, swatting her troubles away with her hand, and then settling back again to focus on the TV. The detective has caught up with the bad guy and they’re slugging it out amongst the casino slots, people screaming, quarters everywhere.
‘Are you in pain?’
‘Am I what?’
‘Pain? Do you have any pain?’
She hitches her skirt and swings both legs up. They don’t look too bad from here; there’s no mention of any leg problems.
‘What’s wrong with them?’ I ask her.
‘I got blowed up?’
‘Knocked right off my feet.’
‘When did you get blown up? During the war, I suppose?’
I check her date of birth.
‘You must have been quite small…’
‘Knocked right off my feet and throwed across the road. Into a bush!’
‘Yaaaas. They couldn’t find me. I copped it all down the backs of me legs.’
She rubs them tenderly.
‘Were you on your own?’
‘Me? No. I was with me father.’
‘Was he hurt?’
‘I’m so sorry.’
‘Must be thirty year, now.’
‘So he wasn’t killed by the bomb, then?’
She rubs her chin.
‘No. He drank himself to death.’
She watches the TV again. The detective has thrown the bad guy up onto a roulette table, screaming who sent you? who sent you?
‘Matter o’fact, I got blowed up twice’ says Rose.
‘Second time it took out all the houses down our road. Whoosh! Gone! Like a pack of cards. They was all out looking for me. Rose? Rose? I could hear them, pokin’ about, but it weren’t no good.’
‘Blimey. Blown up twice! Who were you with that time?’
‘So how old were you?’
She shrugs and turns her attention to the TV again.
The detective is trying to get the bad guy to talk by repeatedly dunking his head in a fish tank.
‘Blowed up!’ she says. ‘Twice!’