We moved her into our house after that. She stayed off school because of the broken arm we said she had suffered. She had got lost in the woods on the night of the storm and had tripped and fallen. Her arm had fractured, but what had made it worse was the that she had fallen out of consciousness and had slept undiscovered on the forest floor. The exposure must have been the cause of her speechlessness.
Sister Agnes came to visit on two occasions. The first time she brought suspicion. She looked at the splintered arm, lifted it and watched the rush of anxiety in Rachael’s face. Agnes thought this was the source of the pain. Her eyes searched the blankness of our patient trying to fathom the truth. Finally, she let escape a shallow breath.
“Take care of her, Eve. She has had a bad experience,” she ordered.
Sister Agnes only came again one more time. It was unannounced but Rachael was almost exactly the same. In truth, we were worried but we were also relieved. Whatever was wrong with Rachael was our problem, one that we had to keep Agnes and her ilk out off.
We took it in turns to care for her. When one went to school the other stayed at home. The first days were the hardest. That was when she would not communicate. She would not eat and could not move. So, Ruth and I did that for her. We fed, bathed and changed her. Constantly, we spoke to her.
At night, every night, Ruth sang to her.