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  from The Third Dimension by Mary Judge-Hubard

Chapter 1

The Third Dimension

I turn as the night nurse enters the room. She stops at Catarina's bedside. She holds in her hand a needle and a vile. She performs her duty with the grace of a Russian ballerina. Sticking the syringe in the vile of medicine and shooting it into Grandmothers arm. The nurse looks up, her green eyes filled with compassion. “I gave her Morphine, it will help her relax.”

 I think the nurse is trying to be subtle. She knows my Grandmother does not have long to live, and yet she will not say the words out loud. I wonder is this part of thy Hippocratic oaths health care workers take. Maybe they are not allowed say the word, dying, because they secretly hope for a miracle? It does not matter. I know the signs, and do not need a professional telling me what the death rattle in Catarina's chest means. Her body is shutting down. The shot gave my Grandmother instant relief.  The medication is working.    "Thank you, nurse. I will ring for you if she needs anything else." The nurse shakes her head and scurries out of the room.  

   The last place Catarina ever intended to visit will be the place she will die. A public hospital. She is supposed to die at home surrounded by her family. If she could talk right now she would ask me? "What in the hell am I doing here?" How would I respond? My first impulse would be to lie, but you cannot lie to someone who sees the truth.  

       My Grandmother, Catarina, is a fortune teller.  Not one who fits the stereotypical definition of the word. She predicts major scientific events that effect the world and all of mankind. No shit. Serious bad ass stuff. Leaders from around the world seek her out for advice, and her last prediction. A whopper. "Technology is evolving faster than the human brain. One day soon they will implant microchips in the minds of humans to produce higher intelligent life forms. 

This technology will not only make the human body immortal but will be used by the world’s governments to control its peoples."

  Catarina would rather die than have a microchip implanted into her brain. She was adamant and reverently warned that this type of science is dangerous, and that it may be necessary to stop its inception with violence. Yet if the implant was on the market, would I let the doctors install one in her brain? Selfish feelings plague me, and I am thankful I do not have to make that choice.  

The aroma of fresh coffee permeates my nostrils and is coming from the nurse’s station. "Granma, I will be right back." The steaming cup of Joe warms my hands as I stand in the threshold of my Grandmothers hospital room.  I can see the Grim Reaper staring into the frosted hospital room window. He is waiting for Catarina to take her last breath. There must be a reason for her to hang on? The nurse said three days ago she only had hours to live, and yet she lies still in a coma.

   Penelope rubs Catarina’s temples. “Grandmother, it is time for you to go. Stop fighting. You had a massive heart attack. You do not want to live like this. No one would fault you for moving on.” Catarina does not respond.  Her dark skin ashen... her eyes closed.  “Ok Grandmother, you just lie there.” Penelope bends down and kisses Catarina on the forehead. Her lower back spasms. Now would be a good time to skip out for a smoke, but she did not bring any cigs with her. Damn, stuck at a smoke free hospital in a snow storm. Does not stop her brain receptors from wanting a dopamine fit. "Shit". Penelope raises her shoulders up and under her ears, they crack. Now to engage her back into submission. Penelope's long arms reach down towards her toes. The vertebra down her back align themselves as she slowly touches the floor. Rolling carefully up too bi-pedal stance she shuffles into the bathroom adjoining her grandmother’s hospital room.

  Penelope grabs ahold of the cool porcelain sink. Her body reeks of body odor. Bathing is not a luxury but necessity at this point. She turns on the hot water and closes her eyes for a moment before she looks up at her reflection in the mirror.  Not liking what she sees she fights the urge to smash the vanity glass with her fist. How can she survive without Catarina? She will be all alone.   She pushes the soap dispenser. Applying the gooey liquid onto her face and scrubs the shame off her face. Than leans down placing her entire head into the sink. Letting the warm water wash away her depression. She prays for a second wind of energy. Minuets pass as the warm water soothes her weary mind. She reaches for a towel folding it around her head in a tight turban. Than pats her face dry.   

  There is a knock on the door. Who could that be? She told the nurse she would ring if they needed anything. Penelope cracks open the door. She peeks out, Derrick.  

   Penelope panics and slams the door.  Barricade entry with her back. The room spins. Everything turns black. Her body tingles. Her back slides down the back of the door. She lands in a squat position. Penelope rests her head over bended knees. Her mind races, why is he here? How did he find her? What does he want? How dare he come now? Maybe he will go away? Derrick knocks on the door a second time.   Penelope prays for courage. He is the one that got away.  He broke her heart. Scum. She pulls herself up off the cold tile and composes herself. She pokes her head out the door. "Wait for me on that bench” Than slams the door shut and hurries to make herself presentable.  

   “Derrick." Catching her reflection in the closet mirror, she cringes. He has not caught her at her most attractive moment. She rips the towel off her head and finger dries the mass of curls cascading down her shoulders.  

~ Meanwhile~

   Derrick sits down on the bench and waits for Penelope. He risked his neck traveling hundreds of miles in a blizzard to get here. Penelope is worth it.  He knew the moment their eyes met it would be awkward. They had not spoken in two years and the last conversation they had did not end well.  The decision to leave the clan had been a spontaneous mistake of his youth. He felt stifled by their stick rules and outdated traditions. When he left the verbal marriage contract between his parents and Penelope's became null and void. Their marriage had been arranged when they were babies. He had not thought about the ramifications of his actions for Penelope, but the slap she put on his face the day he told her he was leaving still stings.  

   Penelope makes a grand entrance. “Derrick what on Earth are you doing here?”  Derrick says. “Here to bring Catarina home.” Penelope had forgotten how good-looking Derrick is. The site of him made her blush. He exudes an animal magnetism that draws her to him, like fly paper. He is cat nip. She thought they would never meet again. When he left she was humiliated? Doomed never to marry. In all actuality he did her a big favor, she did not want to get married, and he hurt her pride is all. Penelope puts on her poker face. "Derrick, boy am I surprised. How are you?"  

   Derrick grabs Penelope in his arms. Than kissers her softly on the cheek. Penelope wants to give in to his advances, instead she slaps him across the face. Derrick winces, "Feel better? Penelope laughs. "Much. How did you find me?” Derrick says. “Your parents sent me to fetch Catarina. My truck barely made it here. We are stranded.” 

   Penelope’s heart sinks. “It is just my luck. Catarina chose to have a massive heart attack the weekend of the wo...

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