Jessie walked into the kitchen and her brain knew something was wrong before her eyes saw it. She’d been out late the night before and was still suffering from dehydration and a killer hangover. She opened the fridge and took out the orange juice, placing it on the kitchen table behind her. The orange juice carton wobbled and started to fall. Jessie grabbed the neck of the plastic container just in time. She looked down to see what she had put it on that stopped it from standing up straight. There on the edge of the table was a small white pill. Then she saw another and another. There must have been twenty of them scattered all over the table and at the far end the medicine bottle lay on its side, open and empty.
Within seconds her head cleared and she sprang into action. She took in the scene, scanning the kitchen in one quick movement. At the end of the table the chair was on its side and her mother was lying on the floor not moving. Jessie rushed over to her and felt for a pulse. She tried her mother’s hand. Nothing. She felt around her mother’s neck and thought she could feel a faint flutter as blood continued to pump through her veins.
Jessie rushed back up stairs and grabbed her mobile, dialling 999 as she charged back into the kitchen and sat at her mother’s side. The ambulance was there with ten minutes and all the time they had been waiting the dispatcher had carried on talking to Jessie, making sure she was alright and telling her what to do.
When the paramedics arrived they checked Jessie’s mother and claimed she was stable but obviously needed to get to a hospital. They transferred her to the ambulance and left Jessie to lock up and make her own way there.
Jessie’s mother was admitted and later that day she regained consciousness. Jessie was sitting by her hospital bed, where she had been all morning, as she opened her eyes.
‘Oh Mum, you’re okay,’ Jessie said as she saw her mother blinking in the harsh fluorescent lights. ‘It’s me Jessie. You’re in the hospital.’
‘Mouth, dry. Can I have some water?’ Jessie’s mother asked.
‘Of course.’ Jessie poured a glass of water and held it while her mother sipped gently. Her mother nodded when she had had enough to drink and Jessie carefully placed the glass back on the unit at the side of the bed.
‘What happened? What were you thinking?’ Jessie scolded her mother.
‘I don’t know. I guess I just forgot how many pills I had taken and took too many.’
‘Mum you have the chart I made for you. You’re supposed to tick them off and then you can’t forget.’
‘I know but it’s not so easy when I’m on my own.’
‘You have to get used to this. I am moving out next week and you need to be able to manage by yourself.’
‘But we are good together. You helping me. It works okay doesn’t it?’
‘It works for you but I want a life you know. Dave has been patient with me so far but he won’t wait forever. I will only be across town and I will still come and visit.’
‘Excuse me,’ a young white coated man stood at the end of the bed. ‘Miss Carter?’
‘I’m Dr Jones. Can I have a quick word?’
‘Of course.’ Jessie got up and followed the doctor out of the ward.
Once they were in the corridor the doctor turned to Jessie. ‘Miss Carter I have some good news. We ran a tox screen on your mother and she didn’t have any excessive drugs in her system.’
‘What do you mean?’ Jessie stared at him. ‘She took an overdose.’
‘No she didn’t. She had very little food in her system and if anything I think she had not taken enough of her pills. She probably just passed out from lack of food.’
‘Oh God. I am so sorry that we have wasted your time,’ Jessie blushed feeling annoyed at her mother for creating this furore.
‘Not at all. I am just glad it is nothing more serious. She can go home this afternoon.’ The doctor shook Jessie’s hand and headed off down the corridor.
Jessie headed back into the ward to give her mother the good news.
‘Right that’s me packed Mum. Dave should be here soon and then we can load up the car.’
‘Jessie please don’t go. You know I can’t cope without you. Of course you can. You have your chart for your pills and you cope fine when I am here.’
‘Yes but I need you in case something goes wrong.’
‘No you don’t. You will be fine.’
‘But what about last week?’
‘You had nothing to eat and forgot to take you pills. You just need to be careful.’
‘But I need you. Can’t you see what happened last week could happen again.’
‘Not if you’re careful.’
‘Well maybe I won’t be careful. What’s the point if you’re not here? I’m just a lonely old woman. What’s the point?’
‘Don’t talk like that Mum. You’ll be fine and I’ll pop in to check on you.’
‘Make sure you do or I might have to stop eating again.’
‘What do you mean by that?’
‘Well you only care about me when I collapse.’
‘You know that’s not true. I love you. You’re my mum but I have a life of my own and I am moving in with Dave.’
‘Well on your head be it.’
‘Mum don’t be like that.’
Just then a car horn could be heard outside and Jessie glanced out of the window.
‘That’s Dave. I’m off. Now take care of yourself and I’ll pop in later in the week.
Jessie put the phone down and frowned.
‘What’s wrong love?’ Dave asked.
‘It’s Mum, she’s not picking up her phone.’
‘She’s probably just sulking.’
‘I know we had words but I do worry about her. She had all that trouble when Dad died. I don’t want her to feel she’s all on her own.’
‘I’m sure she’s fine but if it’ll make you happier I’ll get the car and we can pop round.’
Twenty minutes later they pulled up outside Jessie’s mum’s house. Jessie rang the bell and waited. Nothing. She put her ear to the glass to see if she could hear her mother coming to the door from the back room. Still nothing.
Jessie fished around in her handbag to find the door key. Finally finding it she let herself in. She walked into the living room as Dave headed towards the kitchen.
Jessie spent a few minutes looking around the living room and came out into the hallway just as Dave stood in the kitchen door.
‘I’m so sorry love.’ Dave said as he blocked the door.
‘What, What is it?’ Jessie said as she tried to push passed him.
He blocked her and put out his arms to give her a hug. The only thing she could see over his shoulder was the kitchen table. In the middle lay a bottle of pills open and on its side. Only this time there were no pills left to scatter over the kitchen table.