She arrived early in the afternoon for her appointment, but she never made it in for the test. Instead she did as John instructed, going to the nurses station to ask about visiting with some of the patients who could use a little company. She had a couple hours to kill and she’d make a round of short visits to all the people she could. Katrina, of course, didn’t speak the best English. It was much better than it used to be but it hadn’t improve to the point of perfect fluency. She struggled through many conversations, soft words about family members, the occasional ‘Oh I speak a bit of French’ followed by a butchered greeting. She made it through several people before arriving at this, her last door of the day. She’d be here for just a few moments. She couldn’t stay long. Soon she’d be getting a text message about her ride waiting for her outside. She’d already pilfered a little medical supplies to tape over the crook of her elbow for appearances, but she’d deal with that on her way out the door.
"Hello," she greeted as she stepped through the door and approached the bed, "I am Katrina, I am volunteering today. For visits," her greeting sounded well practiced, but her face was a flawless smile and her voice didn’t lack any enthusiasm. She was still a good actress, this was for sure. She crossed the room and took a seat by the bed.
"How are you feeling today?" she asked, with genuine-sounding interest.
Victor only been hospitalized twice before in his life, one from an overdose and the other when he was young and had broken his arm falling out of a tree. The first time, the hospital had seemed like it was a grand adventure; the second time, a prison. Now it felt like sanctuary, a sanctuary he desperately wanted to escape and never wanted to leave. For when he left, his actions would come back to bite at his heels, great wolfhounds that would dog him for the rest of his life and breathe heavy in his ear when he tried to sleep, dig their teeth in his arms to remind him.
The outside world had become a nightmare, and so when people came from there, especially those he didn’t know, it made his spine crawl. Victor felt that tingle up his back and looked up from where he was finishing up the fruit juice from his tray. Of all the therapy, he had made the least progress nutritionally; the aftereffects, he knew that they knew and wouldn’t tell him, of withdrawal that his body still felt.
Despite the aches and pains and suspicions, Victor smiled at the woman as she sat, and placed the bottle back on the table before shifting to sit up straighter and cross his legs, shaking one foot idly to keep off the pins and needles. “Good afternoon, Katrina.” Quiet smile, easy to appear, not faltering at how pale he is or thin - used to seeing this. Heavy French inflection. Hands in her lap, closing off to the environment. Used to hospitals, but unwilling to be in them…
"I’m alright, thank you. It’s been a very long day of being on my feet, so they sent me off to take short rest before I start back up again. Even if I am, as they say, stubborn as a mule." The corners of his eyes creased warmly, kindly. "Pardon me for intruding, but…parlez-vous français? Si vous êtes plus à l’aise en parlant il - je suis un peu rouillé mais…” His accent was smooth and natural, well-practiced from months on the French coast when he was younger.
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