A Long, Long Time
She remembered the hospital well enough. All bright lights, sterile smells, and pushy nurses. After that, an endless succession of monotonous, meaningless days. They told her she could go home if she learned to walk again, but who could find the energy in such a place? The blandly awful food, the indifference, the dull walls all drained you. And the loneliness was worst of all.
Returning here was better, but birdsong and squirrel chatter couldn't quench the hunger those empty days had filled her with. She heard voices and turned toward them. She took a few steps, and saw a pair of teenage boys blinking in the dim light, shuffling their feet among her scattered papers. They stared at her, eyes wide.
"Hello, boys..." She broke off, startled.
Outside, panting, they huddled behind a wall, speaking in hushed tones of the strange woman who just walked through a wall of the deserted old cabin and spoke.
Helen stood where they left her, tears soaking her cheeks. Every now and then she moaned. "Come back! Please, come back!"
Despite her plea, it was a long, long time before anyone dared.