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every other man

The light outside the main entrance to our building has gone out again. The heavy metal door swings wide as I pull a hat down over my ears. In the darkness there are maybe twenty teenagers standing still. My boot scrapes across the ground, slowing down. Their hands in pockets, shoulders hunched, I look for a space to pass between them. A voice appears, saying hello in English, with an obvious accent. I am all instinct, sayingpivyet as I pass, not looking back, wondering who said this. There was a boy that was an extra in Blackbetty that lives in our building, but he is too young, too short for it to have been him.

I look back, navigating the puddles in the street. It does not make any sense.

N is with V, making their way home. I meet them, pulling V into my arms as she chatters about her day, about dry leaves and princesses, about her grandmother's apartment and what she ate there. We are going back home, and I try to explain the odd collection that stands outside. As we pass th…

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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