The Fourth Floor
by Peggy McFarland
The Fairview visitor's lot was empty. Guilt stabbed Sue. Her vehicle rarely filled a parking space.
She unbuckled Lexi, reminding herself that sick daughter took precedence over sick mother. The phone call spurred today's visit. Damn the babysitter.
"Amber thinks silly," Lexi said.
Sue flinched. It wasn't the first time Lexi read her mind. MRI's never revealed "anomalies" to explain her daughter's headaches or unsettling statements.
Lexi squinted at a crow spiraling above overhanging branches. "He's waiting for Doreen, not Grandma."
The crow flew to the nursing home's roof. "There she is!" Lexi smiled.
Lexi's pained gaze flitted from harried nurses to a covered stretcher wheeling past. She rubbed her pale forehead. Sue rushed them into the elevator, damning Amber.
Lexi relaxed once they stepped onto the fourth floor. "It's quiet here. And no colors!"
Sue checked room numbers, wondered if institutional gray soothed her daughter.
The other bed was empty. Sue thought of the crow.
"Mom, I'm here," Sue said. The monitor beeped.
"Grandma doesn't think ANYTHING! And she has no colors."
Lexi approached the bed. "When I look at you mommy, your thought words go in my head. 'Damn Amber, Lexi don't get sick today,' and your mixed-up colors make me dizzy." Lexi climbed onto the bed.
"Get down!" Sue hissed. Lexi cuddled next to her grandmother.
"In here, no rainbow colors or dirt colors or blood colors swishing. No mean thoughts to hurt my head."
Lexi sighed and closed her eyes. "I hear me."