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the list

It was a simple request, but it took me months to solve it. Soon we will have guests in the house for V's birthday, and the cascading piles of notes and camera parts, the lopsided villages of books, the forgotten bowls of loose change - they all had to find homes. I even bought a collection of clear, stackable boxes just after Christmas, but they sat like empty open mouths gathering bits of fluff and dust in them until today. With little flakes of fresh snow dancing against the windows, I began at one end of the room.

The problem with cleaning is that you constantly find lost treasures, windows into your past lives. Here, a set of notes from a film I was writing some seven years ago. Here, the warranty for a watch I bought for N (that I still need to register). And next, a Soviet ruble that I bought in Tbilisi at the dry bridge market, the location of the lost wonders of the world. Next to a broken saxophone and an old rug, I remember noticing a handful of old coins that I bought…

a virus

Three AM and she still cannot sleep. Coughing, sneezing, tossing in the sheets I nest around her she looks up at the ceiling into the darkness. I bring a fresh glass of water and get her to drink some. The laptop is there, the millionth animated film flickering away, soundtrack bubbling along but she is not interested. At one point I am too tired to do more than hold her hand and whisper to her to breathe through her mouth and try to go back to sleep. She blows her nose constantly, enough that it makes me nervous.

When she does find sleep, I slump into the chair in her room. I have a sudden fear she will stop breathing. I know this compulsion, this drastic imagination that creeps up on me in the middle of the night. It was different when I was younger. I used to be scared of phone calls, always imagining it was the news of someone's death. I could not imagine it was a wrong number, or someone trying to get me to vote, or to buy some new pots and pans. It was always that death impulse, and then the methodical, quick erasing of that idea. 

Outside the windows the street is warm. People are walking around in t-shirts. I am making more soup, a minestrone this time. It needs basil and spinach but I am not going to the store today. It is cooked from what is in the fridge and I am sure it will give us heartburn. E is wandering around the rooms, coughing, bored out of her mind. I brush past the guitars standing in the hallway, catching a string as I bring her a bowl. The lone note twangs in the afternoon. I have not played music for almost two weeks now. Each day is just a march through headaches and medicines, fifteen minute pauses to take temperatures, the warming of leftovers, the short naps in the afternoon. 

I wake from them, smelling car exhaust from the street and diesel from the train tracks. There is a terrible taste in the back of my throat. I make a coffee for myself and then see that E is sleeping in her little bed. I hear the air chugging in and out of her. 


liv said…
I remember those years too. The thermometer, the hot water bottle, soup and tea and cough drops. The leaning over the bed 3 or 4 times in the night to make sure she was breathing right. The worry and exhaustion.

And then the deep sigh of relieve when she sits up and cracks a joke and wants more toast. What a wonderful love it is.
Rubye Jack said…
Is that your house? The yellow. I love the photo very much!
I do not miss those days of colds and flu but I remember they always get well again.

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