The timing could not have been more precise. My phone rang; a friend calling to deliver worrisome, though not disastrous, medical news about a mutual friend. “The warranties on our middle-aged bodies,” I remember thinking, “have well and truly run out. We are all starting to show our manufacturing defects, and there is no RMA available. It’s fix or toss, now.” And even as we talked through what this meant in the immediate term, an unfamiliar number with a 608 prefix rang me.
My cell phone number dates back to Boston, and the other number I maintain to New York City, so my personal daily cloud of no-see-em spam phone calls come to me from 617 and 917: any call from a 608 number I assume to be real. On top of that, I answer pretty much any call when I’m not physically around my kids. This was a no-brainer: I apologized to my friend and took the call.
I didn’t recognize the voice.
“This is your wife.” (It was not my wife.) “I’m with your wife.” (That made more sense.) “Piper’s been in an accident here on the bike path. I’m going to put your wife on the phone.” (A brief flapping and fumbling as the phone changed hands.) “It’s me,” Kate said, in a voice all focus and fear behind a tourniquet of concentration. “I need to you to pick up Syd and meet us at the Children’s Hospital. A biker hit Piper on the head. We’re calling 911 now. It’s bad.”
“Okay,” I said. “I’m on it.” I held the phone for a moment before asking, “Just how bad is it? What’s your read?” Nothing from Kate as an eternal few seconds fell echoing down a well, and then: “Just come.” Continue reading Openings and Closings
After I prudently decided not to start watching an episode of Dr. Who at 9:57 p.m. last night, I buttoned up the house and climbed into bed by a respectable (and even early, by our sick, sick standards) 10:30 p.m., only to wake at 12:05 a.m. with the same stuffy nose I’ve had for five days and the all-over-body-aches that have been the hallmark of any viral infection I get since the Guillain-Barré. And then was woken by Piper clambering into bed at 4:07 a.m., who stage-whispered to me that she “just wanted to snuggle,” that Carlos the cat “is licking my elbow!” and that “the bed is very full.” Points for accuracy in observation, kid, but let’s discuss cause and effect, what? Continue reading Dragging myself forward by my eyelids, today
«Syd comes galumphing into the room clutching a just-found box of candles in her hand»
Piper, to Syd: “Oh, Syd, I want those candles!”
Me, to Piper: “So what do you do when you want something that Syd’s got?”
Piper, very nearly rolling her eyes: “I … Trade … Her … Something.”
«Piper looks around, seizes the first portable thing she can grab without moving»
Piper, to Syd: “Here, Syd, have some stinky pants.”
«Piper snakes the candles out of Syd’s grasp and flits away. Syd cheerfully galumphs after her, clutching the ‘stinky pants’ but clearly intending to get her candles back.»
This is a note for my children, but this seems as good a place to leave it as any.
Ray Bradbury wrote many short stories, and one of them has both stuck with me and been resurfacing, recently: “Season of Disbelief.” It’s one of the untitled many collected in “Dandelion Wine.” Continue reading What we were and are