Saturday, August 05, 2006

A Minor Emergency


Her forehead was hot. Burning up. Her tiny head was limp and lolled to the sides, swaying back and forth like it was too heavy for her neck. Her face was red and sweaty. She didn’t respond when Erin spoke to her, who was almost screaming in her ear, while we sat in the back of a cab on the way to the hospital.

I just sat there silent and calm. Keeping a close eye on her heaving chest, her closed eyes, and her mouth hanging open, weak and exhausted. Erin pinched her side and she jolted up, in a grimace, her eyes still closed. The response was merely instinctual. She crumbled back into her mother’s chest, whimpering, then silent again.

We have a sick baby back here; Erin said firmly, politely, could you go a little faster? The cab driver shrugged and gestured towards the red light, then returned to his phone call.

I had never seen her like this. She was always calm. Curious. Resilient. She has a deep sympathy for the human condition, and accepted it, flaws and all. She is quick witted with a genuine intelligence that penetrates through words straight on to ideas and feelings, and has a complex beauty, stunning on the outside and heartbreaking on the in. She could throw a good Frisbee, climb a tree, dance all night on ecstasy, and could let petty things go yet still stand her ground when her morals or rational was challenged. She could cut hair. Surf. Engage in intellectual conversation. She can cook a mean macaroni and cheese, and always made enough for everyone. She has a warm, hearty laugh that can cut through tension and make a whole room feel easy.

Once we stayed up all night drinking wine while Isaac, her husband, was out of town. We confessed our past and opened up our wounds and when the sun finally rose we sat there scarred and naked and with a deep unspoken love and respect that seemed more ancient than earth. There was a bravery we shared. And a cowardice too.

But her face had changed since I last saw her. Concern and worry hung at the ends of her eyes. Her laughs, still warm and genuine, were few and far between. And usually muffled, so as not to wake the kids.

Her beautiful kids. Their beautiful children. One under 6 months old, the other just turned 2. Both girls. It was the latter falling into unconscious in the back of the cab. It was the latter with a history of illness. It was the latter she held in her arms, rocking on her lap, kissing on her forehead, eyes darting at the street signs to see how much closer we were.

She asks, How much further is it, and the driver doesn’t answer. I lean forward. Ay. Where’s the hospital at? She’s sick. I point to Reya, the little girl. The driver still doesn’t answer, he just makes a left.

One time me, her and her husband, who I met her through, and who I’m equally as close and intimate with, stayed up for 3 days on ecstasy and speed, and at the end of the bender we sat in their car as the dawn broke into day and discussed movies and pop singers and giggled and smirked and made sly eyes at one another for hours and hours until we had to move the car.

In the emergency room she had regained consciousness, and was talking low and shyly to her mother, in her ear. I stood a few feet away and waited until I was needed. The doctor had to take her temperature and Erin elected she do it, as Reya was nervous and scared and didn’t want the nurse sticking anything in her ass. Even if it was the most accurate method. I went and got some snacks from the vending machine. We all ate crackers and trail mix together behind the hospital room curtain and I read her a book and Erin sat back and smiled and watched us. I excused myself and called Isaac to tell him things were ok. That we would be coming home soon.

She blushed and said thank you and I gave her a hug. I could feel her shaking in my embrace and I squeezed harder, trying to keep her still. Calm. Resilient. She pulled away and we looked at each other and I smiled in what I hope was a reassuring manner, and even if it didn’t show I knew she understood what I was going for, and she smiled back and leaned back into me. We stood there for a minute, slightly restored.

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Darth vader was funnier than you know. Check out this outtake from Empire Strikes Back. That Vader was a card!

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:gray matters: by jkg is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at downtownalleys.blogspot.com.