The room went black.
Sirens ricocheted. I grabbed the dining room chair. Sweat soaked my clothes. Stillness quelled the momentary eruption of fever.
I was still standing. The kitchen came into view. I stumbled toward a cup and water. Gulping water, I decided to make a move for the Minute Clinic where I received the results. The flu test was positive. Verifying prescription drug coverage proved difficult for my fever-ridden brain. Frantically flip through cards in the brown leather wallet. No insurance card. I didn’t have the money.
A little bit at a time. That was the way I stole it, he said. Thief. Stole money from the savings account because we didn’t make the decision together. My planning to replace the money with the tax refund was a poor decision. Ken loved me less. This was financial strike 2 after I ran up my credit cards.
I was jobless. Pregnant. The doctor, who specialized in making sure my cervix did not open prematurely, resigned me to light activity to avoid bed rest. During the additional 30-day wait to return to work, I purchased e-books. My nails and hair were flawless. My eyebrows, upper lip and bikini line were pristine. I ate at 2 to 3 star restaurants. I registered for prenatal yoga. My feet ballooned. I bought 5 pairs of sandals in which my swollen feet could no longer squeeze by month 9. Daily, I convinced myself that I deserved it. I could get my credit back on track. As for the savings account, I’ll repay the money, all in good time.
An hour goes by.
Didn’t want to. Call him. Ask. For the money, the pharmacist pestered. But. But I needed prescription coverage help. I wasn’t sure I spoke to Ken. About Ken approved the medication. Approved the funds from our checking account. The cost he knew. I was sick. Relentless. Sinus cavity pain seeps in.
Crashing and ripping at my chest, Ken’s talk of vasectomy was dizzying. Somewhere between a date at the bar and a marriage of six years, one child was enough. My dream of uproarious, smooth little Wynton collapsed and struck my abdomen. Tingling and numb, I left the house. Although my throat grew tight, I called him. Ken pondered, pushing my heartbeat to rapidity. He may not get the vasectomy. Ken decided that he wanted no more waking in the middle of night, diaper changing, or potty training. Trembles shortened my breath. Heat blazed the car windows, but my bones were cold. I stayed home with our daughter during a month-and-a-half maternity leave. Nightly, I tended to the baby, even after returning to work. We somewhat shared the diaper changing. Daycare led the charge in potty training. Having a second child depended upon reaching a modicum of financial stability and support from his parents who had moved here. My head ached. Clear and toxic as curdled blood, submerged in fresh water, Ken loved our daughter, but he never again wanted to be so deeply needed.
I descended, suffocating from detachment, mutation crept through me.
For like the third time. Called Ken. Voicemail. I hung up. Again. I was upstairs. He was downstairs. My jaw-line seized with pain. Text messages were sent. Where was the sinus medicine? No response. Practically chained, I called Ken. Voicemail. I hung up. Again. No response. The throb in my jaw shot through veins and tore up cells. Within minutes, I changed and released claws that rived dreams. I broke out and slithered down 17 stairs. Kitchen cabinet doors slammed. Cans banged. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught a wisp of the little blue baseball hat. The kitchen counter stood between sleeping Ken and macabre vision. Pierced over and over again, the toddler hat disintegrated. Ken awoke in confusion. Wynton’s collar flew from shreds of his buttoned shirt, feathery cotton and pastel blue. Ken saw no need for mania while my boy drifted into air.
He handed me the medication. A gorge remained where Wynton Lyndell used to be. Capsules and water were stuffed between gnarled lips. In the hall near the bedroom door, Ken waited. I slid back into my hole. Out of grunts, an apology would never
come kick the cement surface. Anxious, the urban desert sweats
dust. Walk. Reach for his hand.
Ken trod toward conditional love. My hands opened to perspiration, light and nothing
peaceful, uncertain days pass. A little sickness is all it takes to fight off the invader. In one shot, the body trains. In permeable walls, sometimes perform recon, and other times set off quiet booms.
From Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, Nova Baize graduated with her BFA
in theater. Her writing style was nurtured by powerful mentors: Carla Harryman offered otherworldly perspective, Ron Allen disintegrated conventional knowledge through the use of organic processes and instinct, and Professor Glenda Dickerson spiritualized and personalized performance.