The early afternoon sun streamed in through the half-shut blinds. Its glow was warm and inviting as it fell on Nono’s face. She stirred in the warmth, waking up from a dream. She became aware of a smell that stung her nostrils and forced her to wake up; the familiar smell of disinfectant. When her eyes opened the first thing she saw was a man lying on a bed next to hers; a hospital bed.

Even with the bandage to the head she could still make out who he was. The machine was beeping next to them, keeping him alive. Nono’s temperature started to rise in anger and she could feel her hands shaking.

“Bastard is still alive,” she whispered.

Moving her hands, as a reflex to stop them shaking, she saw that she had a bottle of morphine in one hand, and a syringe in the other. She panicked and put them in the pockets of her lab coat.

“Oh God, what have I done?” she whispered as she looked around the room.

She looked at the machine beeping next to her and she still didn’t feel relieved.

“Lucas, Lucas?” she called to the sleeping figure, for the first time using his name and wishing he was awake.

She escaped the ICU, walking briskly, checking that she was not noticed.

“Oh God…oh God! What have I done?” she cried in frustration.

She walked out of the hospital doors and didn’t even greet George, the security guard. When she got outside into the fresh air, she took a deep breath and tears streamed from her eyes. As she wandered the grounds aimlessly, her mind was on Lucas. Is he dead? Have I killed him? she asked herself as she walked on to the small park, adjacent to the hospital. As she sat down on the wet, dewy grass, she tried to retrace the preceding hours in her mind.

It didn’t matter to her that she was sitting on the cold ground, nor that George called out to her and she didn’t respond or even acknowledge him. No, that didn’t matter. In fact, Nono wasn’t even aware of any of this. Her main concern, which seemed to be draining every bit of strength she had left, was trying to remember how long ago she had got to the hospital and what she had been doing. What was she doing waking up next to Lucas’s bed in ICU? How long had she been there? And most importantly, what was she doing with a bottle of morphine and a syringe?

The harder she tried to think, the more her mind drew a blank. Then once again, she felt so, so tired. She lay down.


“Nono, my angel. Nono, wake up,” a familiar voice called to her.

She opened her eyes and saw her husband. She was relieved for a second to see him, and she jumped to his arms. She wrapped her arms around his neck as he picked her up.

“I didn’t mean to do it,” she whispered into Phillip’s neck.

“Shh, don’t worry angel, you’re safe now,” Phillip said as he lifted her up effortlessly in his arms.

Standing behind Phillip was a man in uniform. Nono caught a vague glimpse of him and panicked.

“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to do it. Please, I’m sorry,” she pleaded, trying to release herself from Phillip’s hold.

“Do you need me to call for help, Mr Ndlovu?” asked the man in uniform.

“No George, it’s fine. I’ll take her home,” said Phillip, putting her in the car. As she sat curled up on the back seat, she felt something pressing on her thigh. She put her hand in her pocket to check what it was. As it folded around the morphine bottle all the anxiety started up again.

When they arrived at their house, Nono told Phillip she needed a shower.

“OK love, but have some tea first,” Phillip offered.

“I said I need a shower! Why must everything be on your terms? I said I. Need. A. God. Damn. Shower!” Nono shouted at Phillip, saying each word slowly and deliberately.

“Fine, go shower. I don’t have the energy to do this again,” he said calmly as he headed to the kitchen.

In the bathroom, all Nono wanted to do was remember, but she couldn’t. What did Phillip mean when he said, he can’t ‘do this again’? she asked herself.

The steam was soothing but it didn’t clear her foggy mind. She decided the only way to fill in the gaps was to ask Phillip. She had to watch her temper; otherwise he wouldn’t talk to her. But he has always been a softy, she thought to herself. She stepped out of the shower to find Phillip in the kitchen making a pot of chamomile tea.

“I’m sorry,” she offered standing at the kitchen doorway.

“That’s not how you felt last night,” Phillip grumbled.

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Think about what you said last night,” said Phillip, handing her a cup of tea.

“Phil, I’m sorry I didn’t call you. I was angry yesterday when I left work and I just needed some air.”

“You should’ve called me. Why didn’t you call me? I was worried sick…”

“Oh grow up! I can’t be on my own for a couple of hours? I said I was sorry!” Nono yelled at Phillip.

She waited for a sharp comeback but she got none from him. The look of confusion, turning to concern, and then turning to fear on Phillip’s face made her put her cup down. It was clear to her that a few hours of her missing memory was more than what she was missing.

“I left the hospital after my shift. I then took the train home. And then I…I,” she stopped when she couldn’t retrieve the memory of what happened next.

Phillip walked to her and held her gently round her shoulders and led her to the couch.

“Hun, you are confused. You got home late last night, drunk. We argued. You went to do day shift today. You left work early…” Phillip said looking into her eyes. When he could see that Nono was not making the connection he continued, “Nono, come on, what happened today. You left the hospital suddenly this afternoon, just walked out. Then you fell asleep on the lawn outside. George called me.”

He didn’t have to say anymore. He could see the pleading questions in his wife’s eyes. She had no clue where her missing hours had gone. She sat there, weeping and shaking, as Phillip told her all that had occurred. He told her everything, everything, except the part where she made him cry. He couldn’t put her through that, she was feeling bad enough. All he wished for was that she would be OK.


Tell us what you think: Why can’t Nono remember what happened?