So I didn’t sleep so brilliantly. That’s not that surprising since my swollen ankle was wrapped up in a frozen gel ice pack then tightly bandaged. My mom had taken me to the emergency room at King Edward Hospital after the party. They did X-rays and nothing was broken so they’d just strapped up my ankle, given me some painkillers and sent me home. I spent the night with my foot propped up on two pillows, which felt really strange. And the icepack thawed in the middle of the night so that the bandages got wet and soggy. All of that was manageable, however. It was the recurring dream about my mother in a policewoman’s uniform inside Nigiro that was more than I could handle. I’m so glad that it’s finally morning!

I hear the front door of our flat open and shut, and then my mom peeks her head around my bedroom door. 

“You’re awake,” she smiles. “I popped out to the emergency chemist at Overport to get some things for your ankle.”

Ok, that means I must have slept better than I thought because I certainly hadn’t heard my mom get up and go out, and our flat is tiny so it’s pretty unusual to miss any action.

“How is your ankle feeling?”

“Not as sore as last night,” I say. I wiggle my toes and gently twist my foot both ways. “Just a little bit tender.”

“Ok, that’s sounding good. The chemist recommended you rub Reparil Gel on your ankle a couple of times a day over the next few days and that you should keep it bandaged when you’re not lying with your foot up. But I know you’re never going to be able to stay still for long, so I’ve rented you a crutch to help you keep your weight off your foot for a couple of days.”

“Cool, thanks mom. You’re an angel.”

“It’s a pleasure. I’m just glad you’re not too badly hurt. Accidents happen so easily you know.”

Her voice sounds strained and I think she must be thinking about my dad. Well, my adoptive dad to be accurate because I’m an adopted child. Dad was a Frenchman, hence my exotic surname, and he died in a yachting accident when I was two. Or at least that’s what we’ve imagined must have happened, because he was sailing alone and he just disappeared off the North Coast of KwaZulu-Natal. They never found his boat or his body. 

“I was chatting to another mom at the chemist and she said her daughter was arrested at a night club last night because she was under age.”

OMG. This is so not where I though this conversation was going!

“Oh really?” I say casually and look out the window. 

“Uhuh,” nods my mom. “And her daughter stayed at the police station all night because she didn’t want to phone her parents and give them a fright in the middle of the night.”

“But weren’t they expecting her home?” I ask, all innocence.

“Apparently she has her own keys and said she’d organised a lift home from the party she said she’d be at. The woman told me that she and her husband never wake up when their daughter comes home late at night because they sleep with their aircon on and keep their door closed to keep the room cool and then can’t hear anything outside the bedroom.”

Did I mention that my mother is a counsellor? And that she was evidently born for the vocation because random strangers tell her intimate details about their lives wherever she goes.

“So why was the mother at the chemist?” I ask.

“She was buying some MedLemon for her daughter. She picked up a cold in the police station.”

“Oh shame.” 

A lame response, I know, but what else am I meant to say?

“You know, Hope, I’m not the kind of mother that would ever expect you to try and hide things from me for any reason. I hope that you know that you really can always talk to me when stuff happens. And if you ever need help, I’d be the first person to give it to you, whatever the circumstances.”

And then my mom kisses my forehead, gets up and walks out of my bedroom.