They think I don’t understand. They think I am a zombie. They lower their voices for themselves, not for me.

‘Vegetable,’ they say. ‘Acute trauma.’ Their voices are full of learning and ignorance. Only one voice says, ‘no’. Leon. Exasperated. ‘She knows. Your job is to help her.’

One time it turns into a scuffle. Mild mannered Leon fighting for me. I’d have laughed once. I still do I suppose but no one knows it. They say I’m twitching and call the orderlies to turn me. The orderlies flop me like a carcass unless Leon is in the room.

When he is with me he shoos the others away so we can talk. He tells me of his day. I tell him not to worry so much. We have a laugh.

Then he touches my forehead. Kisses my cheek. He trusts me to keep a secret. ‘Tomorrow I will bring chocolate for you to smell. And that perfume I bought for your birthday.

But when he brings them the nurse says no. ‘This is a hospital,’ she says. ‘Not a gift shop.’

I tell him what a cow she is. I do not even wait til she’s out of the room. Why would I? She doesn’t believe I exist.

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