When Apple wasn’t going on and on about her baby and Sparky wasn’t going on and on about his mother, they were together. Apple had opened Matilda again. She and Sparky would sit in the Reading Room at the other end of the hallway from the TV Room and Cafeteria. She would read out loud from Matilda and Sparky would lounge back in a battered old chair to listen. When they did this, they weren’t part of us anymore. They were relaxing on a Sunday afternoon. In one hand, Sparky cradled a cigar between a thumb and forefinger, letting it dip lackadaisically until he was ready to bring it to his lips and drag. His was a long, deep drag. He was a pro, blowing Sunday smoke rings out over the bookcase. Apple read and smiled, pausing now and again to shift flirtatiously in her Sunday dress or gaze out the Sunday window. There were no bars, never bars, on the Sunday window.
We were jealous. That room was never a Sunday room for us. It was always just the hospital Reading Room. It was always no day. We liked to watch though as if it were a deliciously revealing TV show. We liked to watch and imagine ourselves living other people’s lives.
Read the whole chapter and catch up on the first installment at appleandoranges.com.