((written several weeks ago–indeed, when the now-Mrs. Lionheart was still a Miss as Sinclaire–I neglected to post))
A small bottle or two of laudanum was always around the Amorosa home, one could almost take it for granted that it was freely available everywhere. But not in Babbage. Not when one really needed it.
Growing up, she had often seen her mother take a nip of laudanum now and then to ease her nerves. Mrs. Amorosa’s job as a nurse exposed her to many an awful thing. And one of the saving graces of her job was the access it afforded her to the cabinets that held the elixir she so needed. The doctors didn’t concern themselves with counting, it was not their forté. If there appeared to be a dwindling supply, it was easily explained, “Dr. Whatnot had to take two bottles on his last round of home visits in town”.
It was her husband’s experiments as an inventor that left her oft-frustrated. Small explosions disrupting the crockery in their home, all in the name of invention. A chipped platter or dropped tea saucer were, in a way, small blessings; the only casualties of experiments gone awry. One day she knew it would be worse. And the laudanum helped ease her worries until such a day arrived. Which it eventually did.
“My word, Leia, your father is going to blow this house up one of these days”, she would titter nervously as she uncorked the small bottle from her apron pocket and took a small sip. Sometimes two.
It was her daughter that now sought the comfort of that bitter elixir. Grief had been consuming her into a darkness she had experienced only once before. Sleep elusive, smiles out-of-reach.
As she ascended from the lift to street level, she reflected on her recent visit at Wilde-Huxley. She had not been successful with her appointment there, not at all. Dr. Sonnerstein felt she needed a psychiatric consult–and perhaps she did–but that was no matter.
Dr. Sinclaire had been thorough, which is more than Leia gave her credit for. She would have been more dramatic had she realized, caused a scene more grande than her display of tears. She had been prepared for a more generous hand with the sedatives, and instead the practitioners at Wilde-Huxley were more discreet.
The doctor had said, “Hold it in your hand and picture a good day with him. Both of you smiling, happy, anything good.”
She had replied skeptically, “And you think this will help me Doctor, sleeping with a pocketwatch?”
Dr. Sinclaire continued with counsel as though she knew what her patient was going through, “And hold that picture in your head when you lie down. If it doesn’t, take a hot bath and then lie down with it. I’ve done something similar and it worked fairly well.”
“Poppycock!”, Leia uttered after the appointment as she strode down the cobblestones towards the Excelsior, ignoring the urchins in her wake, and nearly jostling a stout, elderly woman in her haste. As if sleeping with a pocketwatch would bring her husband back. He was gone. The papers confirming it were being drawn up.
A second appointment had been suggested, and dismissed in Leia’s mind though she nodded politely to the doctor. It would require a more lavish display of despair for what would likely amount to a pittance sampling of laudanum. No, that would not be enough. These doctors were too thorough. There would not be a second visit there, that was for sure.
Taking the straight and narrow path had not reaped the benefits she was in need of. Surely, there were other sources of laudanum in Babbage, she would just have to find them and take whatever means were necessary to get what she wanted.
She was not happy with the appointment. Not happy at all.