I was in bed. I didn’t open my eyes. “Have you tried the breathing techni..?” “Yes” he says before I can get the last words out of my mouth. I am surprised he understands me. Breathing techni comes out breeeaaattthhhhiiinnnnggg teecccchhhhhnnneeeeee as if demonstrating the words to him will make him sleepy and he will go away.
“Try counting your brea….” “I did.” Rapid retort, sleep beginning to hide. I turn my back to him taking advantage of the darkness his body has brought to the room. Conveniently, he stays in my doorway. There is silence for a long moment. The man walks over to my bed, places his hand on my shoulder and shakes. Annoyed I say “Think about jumping off the peer.”
“I’ve tried everything.”
“Get into bed with me.” I hold the cover up. No man has refused that offer before…well not any that I care to remember.
“Mom!” the space after that word filled with the kind of disgust that is reserved for my are-you-masturbating question or eat-the-eggplant.
I get up, follow Langston, my 12 year old, into his room, rub his man-back till the fan blowing numbs my forearm. Returning to bed, the clock glares 12:41 am.
Bang, thump, thump, thump, thump, thump, thump.
A little body slides into Art’s side of the bed bringing with him all the little sand he has collected on his little dwarf like dead-of-the-night-sprint from his room to mine. Tomorrow night, I will end up with little lacerations on the entire right side of my big body when I attempt to ‘slide’ into bed. I will think about putting Neosporin on the lacerations but that will require that I get up and get the Neosporin. It also means I will have to wash the sheets the next morning which requires that I remember to take them off the bed. My husband just died, damn it. I can’t do everything!
The little head attached to the little body announces “Mom I’m here.” 3:41 am say the red lights. “No shit. Go to sleep” say I. “Mom, you shouldn’t swear” says righteous sand bringer as he settles into what has become his pillow, on his side of the bed with his sand that he doesn’t seem to notice. 7 yr old skin must be laceration proof.
“Mom? I’m sick.”
I move Ezra over and invite the third visitor tonight into my bed. At least she accepts with no apparent disgust. She settles in and I notice my skin is on fire. I think of the damn sand and then don’t recall the sand ever making my skin burn. Burning, hot, dry skin… only where her skin touches my skin. A fever. I climb over her, accidently putting my weight on her ankle causing her to cry out and her brother to stir. I shift my weight and my right knee crashes into the floor with spirit.
Into the bathroom, on to the lip of the tub, balance is misplaced and my right hip goes into the towel bar. I will find the bruise in the shower in two days and wonder how the hell did I get that bruise. I will shake my head in disbelief and maternal disapproval. I find the thermometer, shove it into her mouth and it beeps, telling me it’s 4:41. No wait, that’s the alarm. What? Who? Smash. It’s on the floor, under the bed. My hand searches frantically. Stop the beeping. Stop the god damn beeping. The thermometer says 102.3.
Back into the bathroom. Tylenol and little cup with water. I am not going to the kitchen for one. There is a lot of stuff along the living room wall that is on my right side. I don’t trust my early morning walking capabilities.
“Back to your bed” I tell her hesitantly because I sense there is an opportunity to create something here. If her fever is high enough I can turn the sand in my bed into glass. We could color and blow and shape it into night light covers. We could sell them to friends at first and then Nordstroms would call. I am sure that I could find pipe thingy in the garage. It would, however, require I go out to the garage and on my way become the biggest pray to walk into some lucky spider’s web. Too many variables. Besides how much should I charge for a hand blown night light cover? I ease my daughter out of my bed.
5:15 am I write.