Author's Note: I love editing. I love sentences and words and getting the exact right word—sometimes to the point where no one ever reads what I've written because it has to be PERFECT first and it never is. You may picture me, crazy-eyed, hunched protectively over my computer, fending off my husband and writing partners because THERE MIGHT BE A BETTER WAY TO WRITE THAT SENTENCE!
Hence my self-challenge with Ina and Hestia's story. I am writing this as I go along. I have a general idea about where I want to end up, but where we go in-between, I am as much in the dark as you are. Probably more so. I am afraid, and I dearly hope I don't write myself into an inescapable corner. I hope it ends up being enjoyable anyway!
Jessie sat on the edge of Hestia and Ina's blue flowered couch and took tissues from the tissue box floating in midair by her elbow. She blew her nose and sniffed. Ina said, "There, there, dear. Just have a good cry. How do you take your tea?"
From the kitchen, Hestia, who was pouring the hot water into three mugs, muttered, "Sickly sweet," about the same time Jessie said, "Three full spoons of sugar, if you don't mind."
Hestia rolled her eyes and got out the sugar jar. Trust Jessie to specify full spoons. Hestia had no sweet tooth herself; the sugar was for Ina. She put the required one spoon in Ina's cup, left hers alone, and filled the third with three overflowing, mountainous, spoonfuls.
She brought the mugs in on a tray, placed it on the coffee table in front of Jessie and Ina and sat herself down across from them in her chair. It was a large tan recliner with a stack of books on the coffee table beside it. Ina's chair, opposite it, was a neat little armchair with a delicate flower print over the ivory background. Her knitting basket peeked out from under the skirt and a few magazines on gardening and home décor sat under the other side.
"Well." Hestia said, glaring over the rim of her cup, "Spill."
Jessie looked faintly alarmed but put on a fake smile and a fake laugh. "Oh, it's just so sweet you two are taking an interest. It's not really anything that you could do anything about, but if you really want me to talk…"
"We do." Ina said, and there was a note of firmness in her voice that few people had heard for many years. Her teacup lifted from the tray and floated across the room to settle in the air above her chair. "Please begin."
Jessie glanced between Hestia, big and scowling on one side of the room, and Ina's teacup, floating unsupported on the other side, and giggled nervously. "It's just Mr. Electro. Or, no, it isn't Mr. Electro. It's just a silly new rule we have that we can't allow the higher-powered residents to overextend themselves. We get in terrible trouble every time one of them gets upset—we're supposed to keep them absolutely quiet and calm at all times to avoid overstrain. And this morning, this very morning, Mr. Appleby called me into his office and blamed me for that incident with Patrick Smiley yesterday—with the pudding?"
Hestia nodded. Everybody knew about the incident with Patrick and the pudding.
Jessie's shiny smile was slipping again and her voice trembled. "It's just—some of the residents are very bad tempered. Not all of them can help it, either, poor dears, what with dementia and all. I suppose you won't tell anybody about this? You really just caught me in a moment of weakness, since it was just this morning Mr. Appleby lectured me about Patrick, and then Mr. Electro throws a fit because the news reporter on the television didn't look right…I just thought…if I lose my job…" She dabbed at her face with a tissue again, and said, "Some of the other nurses are so frightened they've started giving higher doses of painkillers to keep difficult patients sedated…"
Hesita looked alarmed. Jessie scowled at her. "Well, do you blame them? Their jobs are on the line!"
Hestia restrained herself from pointing out that their patient's lives were on the line. Ina's teacup floated down out of the air to sit on the table with a decisive clink. "Thank you for telling us this, Jessie. It is so good of you to unburden yourself."
"It was too sweet of you both" Jessie said, finishing off her tea, "Though I probably shouldn't have talked. We'll just keep it as our little secret, right, ladies? Now don't you all need your afternoon naps about now?"
"I am getting so tired." Said Ina, who hadn't taken an afternoon nap as long as Hestia had known her. "Perhaps we should say goodbye."
As the door shut behind Jessie, Hestia turned to Ina. "Now what are you plotting?" She said.
"There's something going on there." Ina said, and the teacup began to float back and forth across the living room. "Why is it important that high powered residents keep calm? So important that Appleby would consider firing good nurses?"
Hesita snorted, and the teacup waved at her, sloshing slightly. "Now hush, she's so condescendingly sweet she'd make a bee sick, but you have to admit she is a competent nurse."
Hestia made a face. "Except for excusing nurses who mis-dose their patients just to keep their jobs…"
The teacup stopped. "That's the most disturbing part. You know the nurses here are some of the best in the world. After all, it's not every nurse that has the training to monitor health signs and also dodge fireballs. They are really scared."
Hestia grinned, her mouth a wide, scarlet slash. "True. And Ina Invisible is certainly not going to let a mystery slip out of her grasp."
"I wasn't planning anything complicated." Ina said, sounding innocent. "I'm just going to figure out what's going on around here. And if it needs to be stopped…"
Hestia sat back, her hands wrapped around her mug, and smiled at her old friend. "Then we stop it."
"Just like the old days," said the disembodied voice. And Hestia could swear she almost saw Ina's mischievous grin floating just over the teacup.