My chest got tight. I breathed in and out just like Dr. Walters had taught me.
God please don’t let me have another panic attack I thought as I breathed.
Momma was still staring at Ms. Donna when she burst out crying.
“Momma, it’s not that serious,” I said. I didn’t sound very convincing. I had to have had at least two hundred dollars in there.
“Natalie, you have no idea how serious this really is.”
Momma had this cold look in her eye. I’m sure I’ve never seen it there.
“Donna, can you please bring me a couple of clothes and some clothes for Natalie please?” Momma asked.
“Of course,” Ms. Donna said. “Natalie, I hope you feel better. It seems like everybody in town has dropped off some kind of gift for you.”
I smiled and nodded. It felt nice to know that people were giving gifts.
A nurse walked into the room and dropped her clipboard.
“Riley, is that you?” The nurse asked. Momma looked like she didn’t know how to answer.
“Yes, I’m Mrs. Riley Baldwin,” Momma said.
“It’s been what? Seventeen years?” The nurse asked.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Momma snapped. Momma rarely ever snapped.
“How could you forget me? I’m Sarah Parker! We’ve known each other since elementary school!” The nurse shouted surprised.
Momma closed her eyes and sighed three times. She did that when she was trying to hold back serious tears. She did that a lot right after my daddy died.
“Hiya Sarah,” Momma finally breathed. “How are you doing?”
“Pretty good. I have three kids of my own now. I see you’ve got the one,” Nurse Sarah said.
“Yup,” Momma nodded.
“I saw your mother the other day. She said that she hasn’t heard from you since well you know that day,” Nurse Sarah said.
It took all I had NOT to gasp at what Nurse Sarah just said. Of course I knew I had a grandmother and a grandfather somewhere out there in world. I guess I assumed my mother didn’t have any or they were dead because she never talked about her childhood.
Momma looked around like she was uncomfortable. She closed her eyes again but this time sighed five times.
“It’s just…I just…I just didn’t think she’d ever want to hear my voice again,” Momma finally said.
“It just hasn’t been the same since you left,” Nurse Sarah said. “Do you plan on staying?”
Momma didn’t answer.
“I’m really proud of you, Riley. It takes a lot of courage to come back home and rip off really old bandages,” Nurse Sarah said. She gave me a smile and walked out of the room.
“What was that all about?” I asked. Momma didn’t look at me.
“God, all I want is to do your will and I know that moving to Florida is it but why did it have to be so close to Pittsfield?” Momma prayed out loud.
“Momma,” I started. Momma walked out the door leaving me to stare after her.
“God, all I want is for my life to go back to being sweet,” I muttered.
My mother didn’t come back to my room for a whole hour. She looked like she had been crying but I didn’t care. I wanted answers and I wanted answers now.
“Momma, I know that running away is your thing but…..,” I started.
“I was born here in this very hospital,” Momma said. “My parents are Shirley and Jack Walters and seventeen years ago I ran away from home.”
“Why did you run away?” I asked. Momma shifted.
“I have two brothers and one sister,” Momma said. “And you know that Walters lady from the Sunshine B&B? She’s my aunt.”
My chest got tight again. I breathed in and out but that didn’t help. I felt myself trembling and sweating.
Momma didn’t seem to notice or I don’t think she would have gone on.
“I love my family. Don’t get me wrong. I missed no I miss my mother every day,” Momma said.
“Did they not approve of Daddy?” I managed to get out. I kept trying to breathe.
“Oh no. I didn’t meet your father until after I ran away,” Momma said.
“Then I don’t understand. Why did you run away?” I asked. Momma walked over towards the door.
“That and your father’s death is not something I’m ready to discuss,” Momma said. Tears started to rush down her face and with that she walked out the room.
I hit the nurse help button cause I started to feel like I was choking and lightheaded.
God, why do panic attacks have to be my expression of fear? I thought as the nurse tried to calm me down.