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the empty

The fat girl as they call her, came to school with a hypodermic needle in her backpack. It may have been to defend herself, it may have been to instigate something. She comes from a broken home and this is her second or third school. E steers clear of her, and the bullies she tangles with. It was never understood  - how things began, who threw the first insult, the first punch, the first grabbed book but the end is a chronic cycle of violence. At one point, the girl's mother got the police involved and this was seen as offensive, a step too far. The police did not resolve anything so it was all just a lot of saber rattling. That is the most common sound here. The empty threat.

Last week, there was a sobrani, sort of a cross between a parent-teacher conference and a school meeting. I was busy, so E went by herself and took notes. Five minutes in she messaged me, that I was wise not to be there. Nothing about this girl was going to be resolved.
"Boys will be boys" was all …

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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