A week after I was back home, I made some progress but the way to go was still very long.
This night, I didn’t sleep well. As I managed to sleep a few hours, an awful nightmare woke me up. I was sweating and shaking. I was in a grey car, it was very dark. Men and a couple – probably my parents – screamed an begged for mercy. I was told to be silent while I was hiding under a blanket. I heard muffled noise, victims moaned. Necks were broken, people shouted before they were hung, before they lost life. Where was I? Which reality did this recurring nightmare refer to? What about the escape at the back of a lorry in the thick night? Each time, I pictured me inside the truck. The tarp flopped in the wind, the awful petrol smell made me want to throw up. Someone was taking me away. Did he pull me off the executioners who hung and shot shamelessly. Who were my saviors? Who were the hangmen? Would I find out one day?
This terrible past tormented me so much than I still couldn’t watch a movie without going with total insomnia. The least violent scenes terrorized me. I identified to them and anxiety made me unable to think correctly.
This morning, when I woke up, I told Florence:
“I need to know who my real parents were. As soon as I’ll get better, I’m taking care of it.”
“I don’t know if you’re right.”
“Listen, the children from Social Services used to be called in when they turned eighteen in order to read carefully their file. Why was I ever called?”
“Because there is nothing to say you already know!” Florence answered while she was yawning. “No may invert some stories!”
Of course, at this moment, what I knew about me was reduced. I knew my parents, Demnise and Claude, never hid something from me. When I asked them questions, they answered me nobody told them any piece of information except I was from a noble family and a drama separated me from my family. I was a traumatized orphan. But what drama? Why did the administration not inform them about it? Why so many lies around me? The fact I was recognized as a “young ward” likely implied at least one of my genitors had a strong tie with France or the French State. By now, I know my mother, Maria, was minor. So I think it was my father.
I I was recognized as an “orphan”, why did the psychic tell me they were still hiding in North or Scandinavia? In that case, why did they not give a call? Florence feared I found out a truth which could be worse than the one I imagined. She was surely right, but she was also sure that the fact I didn’t know my origins took a slice of my children and I, a part of ourselves.
This nightmare had not to spoil my day. I decided my daily program: first, I was gonna play the piano with my left hand. The music will prepare me for the following activities. When everybody will be gone, I will train me to walk with the stick, without leaning the walls. This step was essential to conquer my little freedom which allowed me to walk through the door of the garden or of the street. And I wanted to go back to the church by foot on next Sunday.
I played the piano with my left hand for about ten minutes. Then I went to the corridor and I took the cane with my right hand. I understood very quickly it was premature, my moves were too messy and I risked falling. My dizziness started again. And now I was shaking a when I was on the diving board of the swimming pool and the swimming instructor forced me to climb it with no glasses in front of all my classmates. But it was not the time to yield, I had to fight my fear.
I found a solution: I leaned the insensitive shoulder on the wall and looked for my balance with the cane. Finally, it worked pretty well. As if – suddenly – my right side decide to cooperate a little. I could go from the door of my room to the room of the restroom. Only a few inches but I was so pleased!
I went back to my starting point and decided to stop there in order to stain my success with a little accident. Eventually, I tried to climb the stairs. My muscles didn’t hurt me like before and I did it so easily I was surprised. When I was upstairs, I was exulting; the improvements kept on, life was coming back slowly.
It gave me some ideas. Only one step pulled me apart from the kitchen. A step I could order to my left foot. If I figured out my run-up correctly, I would be able to recover and begin to learn my right hand how to use the cane.
My recent falls made me careful and I thought for a moment about it before I went into. Then I took the plunge and everything went as planned: the weight of my body took me and my left shoulder banged over on the edge of the door and I found my balance again. I tried to do the same in the other way. It was more complicated because the wall ran away in front of me and didn’t give me a good bearing. But my cane was there to hold me. And it worked again. I was happy like a small child who walked for the first time. Because it was a first step, even though I cheated a few. It made me fell bold. I tried to find my balance only with my left leg and the cane which supported the right leg.
I wanted to jump the gun as usual. I fell on the tiles and my elbow hurt me deeply. I managed to get on my feet. Let that be a lesson to me! I almost broke the sculpture placed on the pedestal table.
The day after, I was still stunned when I woke up. I had a very bad nightmare. I was in front of the audience, my stick in my hand, the viola in the other hand. Each time I wanted to place my instrument to play, I stumbled and the audience was laughing at me. It was awful; I might have begged them to stop, screamed I was a survivor, a person who had miraculously cured. The crowd kept laughing and laughing.
It was very sunny and pretty warm, the ideal weather. When Florence and the boys were gone, I elaborated my program. I might do a new mistake because I liked to go a little too fast. But never mind!
Around nine A.M., while I was preparing for my new expedition and walked without leaning on the wall of the corridor or on my stick once again, the unexpected visit of my brother postponed my plans but made me feel good. I reminded of the time when he arrived in the Hilger family. He was a big three-month baby. He was round-headed and crabby-haired. I had never seen so a little child. I liked to be the elder child. He grew up pretty easily beause he had no memories of his life before he was adopted. He was also an original. We always have been so conniving.
I told him about my adventures of the last days and the incredible luck I had when I didn’t break the vase on the pedestal table.
“Grand Pa Robert and Grand Ma Germaine’s gift! Nobody would have forgotten you!” He told me laughing.
We talked a little, then he left. His visit made me fell more hard-working than ever. Adventure was waiting for me at the end of the corridor! I arrived to the open door of the garden. The lawn had been mowed by Nicolas. If I ever felt, it would be on a lovely green carpet. It was in this little, closed space – a few hundred square meters – I was baou to start my standing-man life, my life of two-legged animal.
I pretty easily leaned all my weight on my cane while the healthy leg moved towards the small path. I tipped over the weight in order to make my immobile side slide – as heavy and disordered as before – here was finally my first step outside!
It seemed so simple I decided to try with no cane. I kept it in my hand although – ready to be used – it was harder: my right leg I didn’t feel had to support my weight. And it worked. At the third step, my body was used to this new exercice and obeyed me. I was in the middle of the garden, very next to the hut. I kept on staggering; I looked like a wobbly, old man. I moved forwards to the wooden door and I opened it. I enjoyed my victory listening to the birds singing in the nearby trees. A hot bliss ran into my veins and I had the impression – at that moment – the dead part of my body was a little more sensitive.
Now, I had to do the return trip. I walked the small path along. Life was exploding around me: birds came back to their nests, two swallows flew in the clear air. Life was so beautiful when you took the time to look around you. In the nearby gardens, a lawnmower was cutting the young grass and the air was smelling like soft grass, hay. This was the smell Benoit and I liked when we went in the countryside, at our grandparents’ in Saint Symphorien d’Ancelles near Mâcon.
My self-confidence was back. My heavy leg seemed to have recovered some of its skills abd obeyed me even if I had not to drop my guard.
I arrived in the middle of the garden and I decided to have a break in order to watch the swallows playing and their ability to perform a lot of difficult figures in order to catch the insects. A door slammed in the house. I got up so quickly than I almost fell.
As there was a strike in his school, Constantin came home. He was stunned to see me in the middle of the garden. He smiled. He was both happy and anxious about my progress.
“What about falling?” He asked.
“I managed to get up yesterday. So I w=can do it today.”
I would like to make a step to show him my progress but I was not focused enough. As an uncertain student who didn’t like playing in front of people and accumulated the wrong notes, I tossed my leg a little too strongly and the result was the expected one: I rolled over the lawn. Constantin laughed and rushed to me:
“It was your fault.” I told him. “You’ve been distracted me. I didn’t expect you to come back at that time. I need to practice by myself! “
My son wanted to help me to get up and I strongly refused talking louder against my will:
“I don’t need anyone, do you understand? This fight is mine!”
He didn’t insist. I did try to cope with my leg and my dead-still arm. I wished my son didn’t look at me behind the curtain. I was likely ridiculous. Yesterday when I got on my feet, I could lean on the edge of the door and the wall. Here in the middle of the garden, I had nothing.
A disabled person always has to think about the consequences of every move – as ordinary as it is. My impatient temperament has played me tricks. I had to focus on the least tasks. Two magpies walked across the garden and chattered as if they had fun of me.
I turned around on my bottom pretty easily. I bent my torso forwards and succeeded in getting on my knees and then to place my healthy foot. A vigorous sun was beating down on my head, I was sweating a lot but I managed to get up. I was in front of Constantin who was back. I was wobbly – certainly – but I was able to make a new step. For this, I had to turn around, which was a very long way to go. My son reveled:
“I know you can do it! Well done!”