Welcome to the Fainting Room. A room especially for the faint of heart and those prone to fainting fits. Here you can kick back and lie down in peace. More about the fainting room.
People in the room
There are several people present in this room and each one wants to tell you something:
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This room is part of a poetry project called Empty Rooms by Milla van der Have. Inspired by an episide of Cold Case, each poem represents a room and a cold case in itself. And you can buy them! With the Empty Rooms poetry poster book you get a unique combination of poetry, photography and poster, all in one. Get your copy here!
June 16, 18XX
What do you know or right before leaving for A.’s annual diner party, of which I was the guest of honour, or I was all but attacked by some sort of carpet man, his hands covered with big, ugly welts that grabbed for the reins of my horse. He told me in no uncertain terms that he knew all about me though when I dared him to explain himself he just pointed two fingers at his eyes and than at me in what was supposed to be a threatening gesture. Oh, I was sore tempted to give him a taste of the horsewhip! But I was late and in no mood to disappoint A.
The party turned out to be a dreary matter; I had hoped for some small fit on A.’s part so that we could withdraw ourselves into our private room, the room known as the fainting room. But the company seemed to have livened A.’s spirits and she moved briskly through the company with a rosy blush on her cheeks which made me yearn for her private company all the more.
It was the maid, in the end, that brought things to a headway. During diner I noticed she was poised, more than usual, like a bird of prey with its sight set on a mouse and from the way she turned about my seat I couldn’t shake the notion that I was the sought-after rodent. Still I was a tad surprised when she truly fainted. They dragged her into the kitchen and call out for the doctor… me.
It took all my sangfroid to keep up the appearance of professionalism. Faced with a true faint, I was at a complete loss. I muttered something about syncope and get her some fresh air. It was not just for her, I felt dizzy too. I knew my last hour in Staffordshire had struck. I write these words now in great haste, as a wagon takes me up North, back to Scotland, back to where I burned my bridges…
June 9, 18XX
My diploma’s have reached me but within came inquiries of the suspicious kind. Some London lady’s husband can’t leave well enough alone and has, apparently, spread vicious words about me, saying that I left his wife worse than when I met her. Fortunately, my whereabouts remain unknown still.
Patient A. meanwhile grows more restless. She says she always has this during summer and pleaded with me to visit her at least once a week, whether she has fainted or no. If it wasn’t for her, I’d have left Staffordshire, perhaps England altogether, but how can I turn my back to such a fortuitous happenstance.
What bothers me though is the maid, that cleaner. Somehow her eyes are on my back always and her glance lingers.
Libby Morris talks to her sister Betsy “She’s ‘avin’ a syncope,” says this raspy Hobson’s Choice I kna ter be the bloomin’ doctor’s. I’m abaht ter protest, this close ter tellin’ ‘im it’s not a symphony i’m ‘avin’, it’s a faint! A swoon! A fit! An affliction and I need me medicine. I can already […]
June 3, 18XX
As patient A. grows more accustomed to the treatment, she also becomes more demanding. For one her fainting spells occur more often, having me turn up at odd and even hours to satisfy her whims. Also it will happen sometimes that she will claim my treatment has left her unfulfilled and that, even after hours of work, I shan’t leave until I have freed her from apoplexy. Every other doctor would take affront, but my aim is to please, so whenever she is in one of her moods, I obediently stretch my fingers and prepare for another round. On other days though the healing effect of the treatment asserts itself pretty soon; on other occasions it seems that A. has only called upon me for want of conversation. She is quite a pleasant conversationalist, considering that she’s a woman.
Lately more and more people will be present during the start of the treatment and I have to press my way through throngs of snoopers. One of them is an ordinary girl, a cleaner of some sorts. She scowls around with a bored expression, though her face is remarkably unmarred, something which you do not see that much within working class physique.
Libby Morris talks to her sister Betsy
So ‘ere’s wot I thought after ‘avin’ witness that bit of ‘therapy’. I thought, Bo-le Of Glue can play that game. Na I kna they won’t ran aahhht for the doctor just for me so I can’t just fall daahhhn aahhht of nowhere, not loike ‘er. And if she’s at it and ‘e’s at ‘er, then there’s nah use either. I gotta carefully plan it. Do it at a Moriarty, loike. chicken pen ‘e’s there but not involved. Sooner said than done, perhaps, but that’s wot I did. Ya kna ‘a she ‘osts this big diner Moriarty every monf? ‘Eaven and ‘ell, I sort of convinced wahn of the maids ter take illl, properly ill and then I ‘appened ter offer ter take ‘er Drum. so far, so Robin Hood. I bust me Khyber pass carryin’ abaht plates of In The Nude, cause I said ter myself nah need ter waste In The Nude, I can do me trick after they’ve aw eaten and the gentlemen ‘re lookin’ forward ter their cigars and whatnot, na that’ll be a mighty Robin Hood nickle and dime ter drop loike brahn bread at the Robin Hood doctor’s plates of meat.
Na I Lord Mayor, Betsy, up ter this day I daan’t kna ‘a I did it. Aw the nickle and dime while I was in and aahhht of that kitchen, I was worryin’. ‘a ter do it? Wot if ‘e Bear’s Paw through it? I was gettin’ warmer and warmer wif the Cock Linnet. And every nickle and dime chicken pen I was near ‘im I said ter myself, na i’ll do it, na i’ll Scapa Fla daahhhn loike a flag after sun-dahn but there I pranced wite off Hammer and Tack ter that kitchen, ter get anovver Fine and Dandy, anovver piece of trifle. And then, aahhht of nowhere, there I Scapa Fla. ‘onestly I daan’t kna wot ‘appened. Me lights just went aahhht, as if I was clubbed over the Crust of Bread. It lasted only this long; I missed a small part and then I felt they were draggin’ me somewhere but ’cause I didn’t wanna ruin it, I kept me mince pies closed tight loike a miser’s wallet.
May 25, 18XX
For a few weeks the weather has been unfortunately unruly, first forestalling my visits to patient A. with downpours of torrential proportions then with a unexpected heatwave that made every effort, however small, ill-advised. Finally, after more than a month from our first meeting, have I been able to carry out my first in-depth treatment with patient A. As I suspected it took some time to get the feel for one another. Patient A. remained rather ticklish throughout the first tries and only after I had softened her spirit with a concoction (I told her it was medication but in fact it was some pastis I brought from France) did she unclench enough to let me finish the procedure.
As it seems patient A. makes quite a spectacle of her affliction that has her whole household in an uproar whenever it happens. It took me several minutes to usher everyone out of the room and as soon as I left the room they were upon me like locusts upon Egypt. I told them their mistress was sleeping and that they should let her rest for a while. Only in the carriage back home did I notice one of my shoelaces was still untied.
Libby Morris talks to her sister Betsy
They say ‘e’s aw the way from Scotland, ‘e is, mr. dr. Justin Abercrombie but for aw I care ‘e could come from Italy or the bleedin’ Saarf, wif those swarthy mince pies and that milk and tea colour of ‘is skin. They also say ‘e’s ‘eaven and ‘ell versed in aw these experimental therapies and that’s why ‘e’s ‘ere, ‘e’s the only wahn ‘oo can cure the mrs from ‘er afflictions. Afflictions, na there’s sum cats’ ‘rses for ya! I kna what’s the matter wif ‘er: a big load of put-on is aw! For ye clock, i’ve Pearly Queen wot ‘appens next. everyone gets ushered aahhht of the va va voom as soon as dr. Abercrombie enters. Even me, ‘oo normally they daan’t even clock if they trip on me. But as soon as we’re aahhht, I’m unnoticeable again and while the others flock away loike scared geese, I retrace me steps ter the door and open it a lil’ bit, just far in the buff for me ter peak in and not so far it starts ter creak…. and I Kettle and Hob… not aahhht of meanness, blimey! I just wanted ter get anovver butcher’s at the Robin Hood doctor. Nuffin’ wrong wif me Timothy but after a ‘earty pie a twist n twirl could use a bite of sweet! so I Kettle and Hob..
The doctor pats ‘er face a lil’, talkin’ ter ‘er in a reassurin’ Hobson’s Choice. Lil’ bits of nuffin’, ‘e’s sayin’, the soothin’ stuff. ‘E loosens ‘er dress a lil’ more, bends over… and then ‘e’s at ‘er kniickers, massagin’ ‘er nether regions! And she goes along wif it, squirmin’ and moanin’ as they Scapa Fla and that they call affliction and therapy?! I can tell ya I wouldn’t Chinese Blind a lil’ of that myself! Nuffin’ against me Timothy but accordin’ ter wot I clock and ‘ear in this va va voom this doctor Bobby knows ‘is way ’round if ya kna wot I mean. ‘E takes a detour, is aw i’m sayin’, while me Timothy is more of a steady as she goes kind of bloke. I’m so thunderstruck I almost lose grip of the door. I slowly Hammer and Tack away, a lil’ embarrassed at ‘avin’ Pearly Queen this but also a lil’ wonder-stricken and frankly, a bit angry that she gets ter call this bein’ Uncle Dick or afflicted or whatever Uncle Josh dickie birds she ‘as for it, ’cause aw this is, is… ‘eaven and ‘ell, ya kna wot it is, Betsy, we call a ca a ca and a Tea Leaf a Tea Leaf.