Private House

Private House by Anthony Hyde

Book: Private House by Anthony Hyde Read Free Book Online
Authors: Anthony Hyde
her face away, behind her hand—I’m so ashamed, I’m so ashamed of myself. Her face was burning and she spoke aloud: “Oh God, I hate you!” She had meant herself, but now she bit her lip; for the first time in her life she hoped that God had not heard her voice.
    5
    Mathilde was in too much difficulty to worry whether this meeting was an accident or, as seemed more likely, Adamaris had known she was in the Ambos Mundos and had waited outside; and her pain was too obvious to deny.
    â€œSomething is the matter?”
    â€œYes. I need a doctor. I don’t have time to talk, Adamaris. I’m going back to the hotel.”
    â€œPlease, take my arm.”
    â€œI’m all right.”
    â€œBut I am coming with you to the hotel.”
    And a moment later, she stumbled in the dusty, broken street and Adamaris took her arm, anyway. The pressure of her hand, the impress of her long, elegant fingers, was gentle and entirely unobjectionable; and just because of this, all the more irritating.
    â€œTurn here.”
    â€œI know where I’m going.”
    â€œOf course. Yes. You are in pain—where? You ate something?” Mathilde shook her head. “You are dizzy?”
    â€œNo.”
    â€œSo . . . ah, there .”
    Mathilde made no reply, but Adamaris squeezed her arm in a gesture of sympathy and understanding that managed, all the same, to be an affront; and was all the more insulting precisely because the understanding embraced this, too. “I will help you. It will be better, to have someone who can speak Spanish.”
    Mathilde was pleased when the hotel manager’s English—there was no point trying his French—was up to the task; as he explained, she kept her eyes on him and ignored Adamaris entirely.
    â€œIn Cuba, for tourists is a special medical service.” He had a brochure, Assistur . “Each area has a clinic. For us, here.” He tapped his finger on one of the simple maps they gave out when people registered. “Prado. You have been there?”
    â€œYes.”
    â€œHere is the number. You have your passport? You should have it—not just our card. Ring the bell and you will go in. But you must understand, for your treatment, you must pay.”
    She went to her room, for the passport. In the elevator, she resolved to send Adamaris on her way, but in her room the pain sharpened, and by the time she came down, she’d changed her mind.
    â€œHe called a taxi. Sit here. I will wait at the front.”
    The high, dark lobby, with its art deco columns and glass, was furnished with innumerable couches; Mathilde sank into one of them while Adamaris waited at the bottom of the stairs, in the light of the entrance. Taxis couldn’t come to the door: in this section of the Old Town, the streets were blocked, given over to walkers—and were so rough, in any case, that even Cuban drivers found them daunting. But a few minutes later she saw Adamaris talking to a man, and she got up quickly and walked down the steps. The car was only a few steps away; but Mathilde allowed herself to lean against Adamaris,though only for a moment, and Adamaris took her gently by the shoulder, helping her into the back.
    Adamaris said, “You don’t have to go to this clinic, if you don’t want. I have a doctor.”
    â€œWhy would that be better?”
    â€œShe is a woman. Doctora . At this clinic, it might be a man.”
    â€œI don’t care.”
    â€œYou will pay, wherever you go. But at this clinic the government gets the money, why should the doctor care? He will say take this, take that, and go back to France.”
    Mathilde hesitated now. She closed her eyes. What Adamaris said seemed not impossible; by this evening, she might well be on a plane. And that would be the end of her story . . . and she would not see Bailey again. “Where is your doctor?”
    â€œNot far, in a taxi. She will see you quickly, I will tell

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