Sunday, March 30, 2008

The call goes out late one winter not breathing. He races to the scene, the big Chevy sliding on each icy corner, driving much too fast, but somehow holding the street. In the projects he slides to a stop and runs up to the apartment, his hard-soled boots ringing on the metal stairs.
The little girl, six months old, lies in her grandmother's arms, black yet pale. She is not breathing, a white crust on her lips, her eyes half opened. He takes her, there are no questions, and pushes her chest with his finger tips, covers her nose and mouth with his mouth and breathes. The air does not go in at first, there is a block, but then it opens and her chest rises against his hand with each puff.
He runs down the stairs, leaving her family behind, crying, and climbs into the back of the just-arrived ambulance. He places her on the gurney and continues breathing for her as the medic in back begins compressions on her tiny chest. The driver spins the big truck around in the icy parking lot, and hauls ass toward the hospital. The siren sounds muted and weak as she vomits into his mouth as he delivers another breath, and he takes this as a good sign.
At the hospital he will carry her inside, still breathing for her, still making her heart beat, and will hand her over to a nurse. A doctor will declare her dead within minutes. He will lean on a wall outside and ask a medic for a cigarette, his first in months, and a few days later he will cut her obituary from the paper, will learn her name, and will wonder for the rest of his life who she might have been.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Bathroom

He came home early from work hoping to spend some time with her, things had been a little strange lately. He walked in to find his daughter sitting at the computer, next to the phone charger. The handset was gone, the red light announcing the open line with a steady flash.
"She's been on for, like, two hours," his daughter said, never looking away from the computer screen.
He opened the bedroom door and walked through to the bathroom and there she was. His wife was standing in the middle of the room, startled. The phone sat on the counter and they both looked at it. She hugged him quickly, holding him close and he could feel her heart beating much too quickly against his own chest, and he knew.

Thursday Night

The mother cat slashes the faces of the kittens as they are born and drags them into the middle of the living room before retreating to her box to pant and wait, it is her first litter. The first one Em finds is in a chair, it is only half a kitten, the lower part of the body missing...who knows where.
Em then sits in the floor with each skinny, little cat, cleaning its wounds and stroking it as it dies. She is not emotional, she is sad but detatched. She wants to be a surgeon. Later, she will watch as her father digs a hole and buries the dead kittens.