Alma knows this child. Twenty years ago this child was her daughter. Like Becca, she lives in a force field where the slightest touch startles her. Sure enough, when her mother inches over to whisper in her ear, the child pulls away. Alma knows this child. A hug or a kiss would make her flinch. Alma and her husband hold their forks like scepters. They can’t eat. They can’t drink. The child glances at them, flaps.
The first few weeks have been a tangled mess of nightmares so twisted with reality that I can no longer discern the difference. I try to carry on like nothing has changed. Each morning I slide reluctantly from the warm embrace of my bed and force myself to dress.
Some days you sit together on the bench swing in the yard, counting the number of lizards that run around you, or take early morning walks around the neighborhood, admiring the shades of yellows and corals and blues, which are brighter before the humidity covers everything with its familiar haze.
Her son turns over, away from her, mumbles in his sleep. She strains to hear if she can make out actual words, yearns for a glimpse into his inner thoughts, the ones he used to share with her, but that he now keeps locked away. He sighs, and she resists the urge to shake him awake, demand that he talk.
Laura was used to waiting for Evan. She waited for him to notice her through high school, waited for him to ask her on their first date, to ask her to marry him, to decide he was ready for children.
Wish. Kids. Disappear. I said them, words that must have made a quantum leap, their velocity greater than the speed of light until time moved backward, until those words entered the realm of negative time. Who would have thought that the distance from my mouth to God’s ear could only be measured on the subatomic scale? Who would have thought?
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