John clutched his mom’s hand as they walked down the long hallway to Melly’s room. He didn’t want to go in there again.
Melly lay there, hooked up to machines that buzzed and beeped quietly. His vibrant sister pale and thin, laying like a shadow of herself. John used to get so mad at Melly, always babbling on about something. But now he’d love to hear her voice again. Maybe that would make his mom stop crying at night. He dragged his feet as they got closer to the room.
The adults were all so quiet, putting on a good face, like he couldn’t tell. John wasn’t sure if it was for him or for themselves. They paced from the bed to the window, wandering down the hall for coffee and back again, talking about nothing in low voices. As if noise would bother Melly.
John snorted. She might wake up just to join in, if they said anything interesting enough.
The door opened and John’s grandmother came out, a huge smile on her face. She grasped her daughter’s hand and quickly drew them both into the hospital room. It was filled with noise and people.
John heard Melly’s voice, scratchy, low, but undeniably her voice as she importantly told her nurse about her dolls, including where and when she got each one, as well as where it fell in the hierarchy of her room.
John’s mom stared from Melly to her mother, who hugged her jubilantly.
“She woke up half an hour ago,” Grandmeme said, “hasn’t shut up since. Just like normal.”
“Yeah, never could get a word in edgeways,” Uncle George said. “We knew for sure she was feeling better!”
John smiled, listening as Melly moved on to telling the nurse about her stuffed animals.
get a word in edgeways: not being able to join a conversation as one person is speaking continously. You may have also heard this cliche as “get a word in edgewise,” as the words were used interchangably. Either meant to proceed with an edge first, and were used to describe a way to work through a crowd, seeking out the gaps to slide through sideways. Edging forward was first used in sailing terms, to describe tacking through the ocean waters:
After many tempests and foule weather, about the foureteenth of March we were in thirteene degrees and an halfe of Northerly latitude, where we descried a ship at hull; it being but a faire gale of wind, we edged towards her to see what she was.
Captain John Smith, The generall historie of Virginia, New-England and the Summer Isles, 1624
While this term began to be used to refer to conversations in 1683; it was first used in print in 1821, in a one act play:
Sir F. (Aside.) Curse me, if I can get a word in edgeways!
Twelve precisely! or, A night at Dover