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the first

The yarmarka (farmer's market) is about to close. Some of the people are already packing up, offering their last bruised tomatoes at half-price to anyone walking past them.  I am wandering, staring at bunches of herbs, at the same old options - cabbage, pepper, potato, garlic, apple, cucumber. But then I see a pile of peas. The season must have come early this year. I buy a kilo, and some mint. I know what is for dinner. We have not had it in eleven months.

At home, I rip the bag open, showing them to V. She stands by the kitchen table, eyes wide. I crack one open, showing her the little rounds inside. She plucks one out, her pinky pointing to the ceiling.
"Try it." I tell her.
She does, but she does not like it.

I pull out a bowl for them. She jumps up and down a few times. V always wants to help in the kitchen. I pull her to my lap, and we begin pulling them out from the shells. She learns quickly, tossing them with a flourish into the bowl, a few cascading to the flo…

a fever


She is weak, hardly strong enough to make it to the bathroom to pee. She looks so tiny now, a stray leaf than can be flipped around the apartment by the smallest draft. The fever does not pass quickly. I sleep in the big chair next to her bed, waking every two hours to check her temperature. It rises and falls, some sort of overheated ocean inside her.

E accepts spoonfuls of purple medicine, small glasses of cool water.
She is bored.


N is sick too, quarantined in her mother's apartment. We speak at random hours, her voice rough and quiet, barely more than a whisper at times. 

It will be a full week that I do not see her, falling asleep alone in bed, waking up to check on E, to place a cool wet towel on her forehead. 

The days merge into shifts of trying to stay awake and entertaining E.  The fever has a hold on her, deep in her veins. We watch a lot of films together, in the middle of the day. She falls asleep halfway through them, her face pressed against my arm. I leave her there to go wash dishes, maybe boil some potatoes. 

I don't know what to do besides that.


It is all lost time. A forced breath.






Comments

liv said…
Oh, my gosh. A sick child wrenches the heart right out of you. So vulnerable. They seem even smaller when they're sick, don't they? Fragile little birds. But nothing heals like the attentive love of a good parent.
Thinking of you as you tend her. Sending hopes that recovery is just around the corner for E and N as well.
Take good care of yourself. You are such an important cog in this little machine called "Marco's Universe"...good care.
Banker Chick said…
I hope they are both better now. Sick kids break my heart.

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