A visitor stepped into the room as Grace tucked a blanket around Melba’s legs. The scent of his aftershave covered antiseptic with clove and pine.
‘Melba, do you know who this man is?’ she asked her patient.
‘Is he my daddy?’
‘No, Sweety, your husband. Come to visit you.’
‘I’m late for school.’
‘You’re not late for school. Mind you be nice to Tom.’
‘Do I know him?’
‘Sure you do. See that picture on the wall. That’s you in the wedding dress, Tom beside you.’
‘I have a wedding dress?’
‘Yep. And a husband. Look, he’s brought you a gift.’
Melba looked at the man in the doorway. She scrunched her nose and pounded her head with her fist. ‘No! Don’t want it. He looks mean.’
‘No, Love, he’s very nice. Oh, look! He’s putting on a red hat.’
Melba looked at the visitor. Her eyes grew wide. ‘It’s Santa Claus,’ she squealed. I love Santa Claus!’
Grace pulled a chair close to Melba’s bed and motioned for Santa to sit. As she slipped from the room she leaned towards him. ‘Merry Christmas, Tom. She’s happy you came.’