A knot in a long forgotten shoelace

An excerpt from a work-in-progress tentatively titled “The opposite of drowning.” It is set in Toronto in the early 1990s where twenty-year-old Bea Porter is a lifeguard on the edge of Lake Ontario…

“Aphasia,” the bald doctor declared, piling pamphlets on Nan’s bedside table. “It’s quite common with stroke patients. It can just be a passing phase while the brain heals itself, or it can be permanent. There will almost undoubtedly be some sort of memory loss, either temporary or not, long term or short term, we’ll have to see, but the brain is an incredibly complex organ with an extraordinary capacity for healing itself.”

Mom and Dad let Nan go on and on about nothing while Bea flipped through a pamphlet. The colour was slightly off, so the illustrations of comforting families sat next to hospital beds with their shirts outlined in black, red t-shirts veering left.

The pages unfolded to walk Bea step by step through Nan’s blood-starved brain, the clot, like a knot in a long forgotten shoelace. It was the same brain diagram as in her lifeguarding manual, the big white cauliflower, the red spot on the left, the clot. The clot that ruined Nan was probably smaller than her thumbnail.