In bed, in the hall.
Wrapped up in white blankets with blue stripes at the edges. Pulling them over like a hood. Lying down and barking orders. Patches of brown splashed awkwardly across her face. Some kind of symptom. “My head feels like it’s about to explode,” she says.
“Is that a cross?”
“Come here and let me see it.”
Here. Do you like it? It’s from Italy. The Italian style.
“What does it mean?”
It means He’s here, around my neck. Watching over you and me. Blessing us.
“Blessing you with me, you mean.”
“That girl is so cute. I like her haircut, she’s adorable. Something about that girl that I like. That little girl. Why doesn’t she respond? Hey! You’re so cute! You’re the cutest little girl. Why isn’t she saying anything? She’s staring at me. She can see me. She’s staring at me and she isn’t saying anything.”
She’s nervous. She doesn’t like hospitals. Remember what her mother said? She’s nervous and she doesn’t like hospitals.
“I want to tell this girl that she’s cute. What does she see?”
“Hello. Hey. Hey, where are you going? What’s your name? Come here. Don’t go away. Come here. I want you to come over here and look at my legs. Can you look at my legs?”
At a door, at a distance. Squeezed past the bed, stuck in the hallway. At the door, frozen. (Why? What do you want me to do?)
She’s busy. Let her be. She’s not your doctor. You need to rest.
“Please, can you come here? Please can you come here and look at my legs?”
“Quiet, please. Please be quiet. You need your rest. Please be quiet. Go to sleep.”
How dare she die so poorly. How dare she die. How dare she remind us of her death. How dare she interrupt. How dare she affect us with her dying. How dare she die, and show us her death. How dare she make her death known, so loudly. How dare she die, in the hot prime of life, and let us know.
FEAR OF THE MASK
Calm until the release moment.
Limbs out of the bed. Connections broke. Machines beeping into death. Struggling. Being held down by a nurse. Breaking free and sitting up, like waking from a bad dream. Being held again, nurse leaning over the bed, her whole weight. Mask put on. Held. Struggle. Breathe. Body calms down. The nurse steps away.
Reassembles the connections. Machines beep back into life.