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LAce Posted Monday, September 22nd, 2008
Just Like Meningitis
Antonios Maltezos

They’ve propped her up with big fluffy pillows. They are damp and cloying, gluing her to the bed, keeping her from falling over because she’s sunken into them. Before her is one of those little plastic trays for meals. She can smell what it holds, though she can’t see any of it. Her eyes are closed. The tray must be a reddish-orange in color, as with most hospital food trays, and in one corner somewhere there’s a dried-out square of spice cake resting on a paper doily. For the main course, there are boiled string beans, a scoop of mashed potato and three grey-brown slices of meat soaking in gravy on a sectioned plate of worn-out plastic. She can’t see any of it, but she’s been here before. She hopes nothing has changed.

She hears the doctors conversing: Meningitis, likely. Lookit how she’s flexing -- her head must really hurt. She can’t be certain they are here with her, or if she’s simply remembering what Meningitis was like.

Two-three weeks, she’s hoping, and she’ll be out of it -- a sleep like malaria, an empty space she’s left behind, and after that, something brand new, her life changing for the better, the last life obscured by these two/three weeks of rest.

Worries and fears shake up from the tiles on the floor, rattle down from the hanging ceiling when her mother visits, bringing the warmth of her shiny old hands with her to the bedside and her daughter’s face. The daughter tells time with these visits, my baby, my baby, the fawning, her mother rubbing her arms to stop the chills. Just like when she was afflicted by Meningitis, the daughter pines, when she was a young girl with her trapezoids bunched at her ears, her mouth foaming, her swollen and itchy eyelids, and her mom keeping time, telling her that the day had changed to another by cooing softly in her ears. “It’s me. It’s mom.”

She’s just that sick, and though her mom may seem weak, she tells herself, she’s weak from worry… out of love.

Just give me two-three weeks she breathes through her skin so her mother will understand.

Just like Meningitis.

Comments [post a comment]

Posted by Judy Cabito on Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008 at 9:32 AM
Tony - this is beautiful and powerful.

Posted by Donia Carey on Wednesday, September 24th, 2008 at 1:41 AM
Strong, affective and true. Thoughtful description of an unbearable situation, done without sentimentality. Gorgeous writing.

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