The night of my tenth birthday, I sat
at the top of the dark stairs, hugging my knees to my chest, listening
to them fighting over my present. They wouldn't make up their
minds. One minute it was murex shells, the next it was a pup tent,
and the next it was a crab trap, an oboe, a used astronaut suit
from NASA. They'd been talking about my birthday for days, but
no one ever asked me anything, and I was tired of it. I
wanted them to stop. I wanted them to just calm down.
My mother's shoes clicked against the
terrazzo floor. Before she could see me, I darted into my room
and flopped face-down on the bed. My heart banged in my chest.
"Honey." She turned on the
bamboo lamp. "Get dressed," she whispered. "We're
I didn't open my eyes. "I'm tired,"
"We're all tired, Red."
I stared at the face of the yellow clock.
The minute hand was missing, but the hour hand pointed to the
two. "It's the middle of the night."
"Don't worry," she said cheerily,
tossing a t-shirt and moccasins on my bed. "You can sleep
in tomorrow. I'll write you a little excuse," she said, winking.
"What?" She leaned against
the dresser and raised her left eyebrow. I was always afraid of
that look. "Is that Klein woman giving you problems again?"
"No." I was lying.
"If you're not feeling up to par,
you have every right to miss school. You can tell her I said that.
It's the law." She turned down my pajama collar and
hugged me, pulling me up against her breast. She kissed my neck.
"Now come on, cupcake," she said. "Get dressed.
I pulled some pants over my pajama bottoms
as she tiptoed down the stairs. I'd been late to school thirty-eight
times this year, and tomorrow would make thirty-nine. I knew Mrs.
Klein wasn't happy about this. She tried to
understand, but I knew what she thought. I could feel it, like
radar, each time I missed another dodge ball game.
Downstairs, my grandfather stood in the
kitchen in a faded t-shirt and loose khakis, rubbing the door
knobs with a blue cloth. He always did this before we went out.
If a robber ever broke in, he'd say, we'd have his fingerprints,
so the police could send him to the electric chair where he belonged.
"You're going like that?" he
said finally, looking over his shoulder.
I glanced down at myself. My shirttails
were tucked in; my fly was zipped. I wondered if he could see
my pajama bottoms.
"Your hair. Here." He walked
over to me, pulled a barber's comb from his shirt pocket, then
raked it once, twice, three times across my scalp. He was giving
me an Ivy League. I hated Ivy Leagues. I wanted to look like a
"That's a boy." He stepped
"Just what are you doing?"
my mother said. She leaned against the door jamb, tugging her
silver necklace,wearing a cocktail dress spangled with black beads.
She liked to dress up at night, even if we weren't doing anything
important. She looked troubled now.
"I fixed his hair, that's what."
"For crying out loud, Clem,"
my mother said. "Will you leave the poor kid alone?"
And then she started combing my hair in the opposite direction.
It was 1969. Things had not been going
well for us that year. Four months before, on December 30th, my
grandfather's company, Thornton Homes, the largest developer of
planned cities in the state of Florida, had been charged with
selling underwater lots to a young couple at a Cherry Hill, New
Jersey, dinner party. This was not the first time this had happened.
He'd been getting away with these things for years, switching
homesites, promising sewer lines that were never built, dredging
up mangroves in the Fahkahatchee Strand, so the state development
commission had put a two-year halt on all his communities: Port
Thornton, Boca Bay, Collier Gables, Vel Haven. Even worse, the
tax people were taking away his beachfront house in Naples. He
was broke; he had no place to live. So on a stormy Palm Sunday,
when the rain had made a lake of our street, he moved in with
my mother and me, lugging all his belongings--files, maps, brochures,
clothes, accounting records--in paper shopping bags. He asked
where he could sleep. My mother suggested the empty bed in my
room. "Only for a couple of weeks," she said, patting
my back nervously, watching him move the model airplanes on my
dresser. "Sure," I said, then walked out the door. "Fine."
The three of us sat in the front seat
of his battered Cadillac, driving down the Tamiami Trail at seventy
miles an hour. It was a hot, muggy night. Little showers blew
in from the Gulf, sprinkling the grass, the palm fronds, and our
windshield. Our tires slapped at the wet road. Heat lightning
flickered in the distance. My mother sat beside the open window,
filing her nails with a broken emery board.
"Having fun?" She tried to
My grandfather turned right. We drove
past a row of sabal palms and headed toward a store, big as an
airport, with a flashing blue sign of the roof: NORTH STAR: FLORIDA'S
FIRST 24-HOUR SHOPPING EXPERIENCE. A floodlight swept back and
forth across the low clouds like an eye. The parking lot was nearly
"Don't look at that," my grandfather
said, pointing to the white flames in the floodlight. "You'll
I shuffled toward the automatic doors.
Behind me, my mother wheeled a shopping cart while my grandfather
lectured her about correct hairstyles for boys. He was talking
about giving me a moonie. I tried to ignore him.
"Now let's decide what you want,"
my mother said once we were inside. She tapped a flyer with her
We walked straight to the toy department.
On the shelves were stacks and stacks of dolls, rocket ships,
inflatable rafts with skeletons, bicycles, chemistry sets, play
food, Viewfinders, bubble wands, blow-up dinosaurs. I couldn't
make up my mind. The air conditioning was making me tired. I didn't
want to play dodge ball tomorrow.
"I'm too old for this stuff,"
I said finally.
"You're a child, honey," my
mother said, her eyes hazing over. "You're supposed to want
"I don't like them," I whispered.
My grandfather wagged his head back and
forth, then strode toward the back of the store, mumbling. My
mother took a deep breath. She bit down on a knuckle, then grabbed
my hand. I'd said the wrong thing again.
We stopped beneath a circular sign marked
LAWN AND GARDEN/HARDWARE. My grandfather kept picking up thing--shower
hoses, sump pumps, gaskets--examining the prices, checking whether
or not they were made in Japan. Finally, he held onto a small
green box. "This is what you want," he said, and gave
it to me.
I stared at the tool kit in my hands
and tried to look happy. I didn't know what to say.
"What?" My mother touched an
"He's a boy," my grandfather
said. "He needs tools. One of these days he'll start building
tree houses, and he won't have the proper tools." My grandfather
turned to me again. "This is what you want."
"Jesus Christ, Clem," my mother
said. She swept some lawn sprinklers aside and sat on the shelf
nearest the floor. Her elbows rested on her knees. "He doesn't
want that. Why would he want that? Look at his face."
My grandfather folded his arms and squinted.
His ears were bright red. For a second I imagined him yelling,
his big hand coming down hard on my shoulder, but then he was
looking into my eyes, kneeling on the floor tile. "What do
you want for your birthday, Sport? Help us."
I didn't say anything. The fluorescent
lights made a soft humming sound. It was my birthday, and they
had ruined it.
"Goldfish," I said.
"Goldfish," my mother repeated.
"Okay, come on." She stood up, then led me to the pet
department. She fumbled inside her handbag and stopped. "Here,
blow," she said, holding a Kleenex over my nose. I blew;
I felt like I was five years old again.
"Goldfish," my grandfather
said, shuffling down the aisle.
Nobody talked. My grandfather barely
took the Cadillac over forty, drifting onto the crumbled shoulder
of the Trail every now and then. He usually drove like this when
he was thinking up new street names, and as I watched his lips,
I realized he was doing just that. BENDIX, BONWIT, BROOKLAWN,
BOTANY, BOULDER ROCK, BELLTONE, BIRD OF PARADISE, he murmured
while my goldfish churned around in its sandwich bag. I wondered
if we'd ever get home.
"So how does it feel to be ten years
old?" he said. We were stopped at a red light. Alongside
us a white dog stared grimly out the window of a station wagon.
"I don't know." I shrugged.
My mother flattened out my cowlick. She
started humming something in a warm voice: "The Age of Aquarius,"
I think. Her bare leg was pressed up against mine.
"You'll be going to college soon,"
he said, amazed.
I nodded. I thought I should tell him
I'd probably be failing fifth grade, but decided not to. My stomach
"Have you decided on your plans?"
"Aren't we rushing things?"
my mother said, confused.
A yellow light blinked in the distance.
As we drew closer, I saw a tall sign that spelled HARRY'S in neon
letters atop a broken-down bar. Cars circled the parking lot,
and out back, motorboats were tied up to a floating dock, rising
and falling, ropes pulling. A wind sock hung limply from a pole.
Gas pumps hunkered on the dock like bombs.
"A roadhouse!" my mother said.
My grandfather raised his eyebrows. "Shouldn't
we be in bed?"
"We'll give it a half-hour."
My mother turned to me. "How's that, peaches?" she said
Nobody waited for my reply. As soon as
my grandfather parked the car, they started across the lot, the
engine still knocking. I didn't want to go inside. I thought about
lying down on the back seat, pressing my cheek against the cool
leather, but when I heard people smashing bottles outside, I unlatched
the door and tried to catch up. Broken shells crunched beneath
"Three," my mother said, holding
up her fingers to the hostess.
I looked around the place. It was dark,
smoky, and loud, with lobsters scuttling around in big tanks.
A hippie strummed a guitar on stage. Many of the people, I noticed,
were not wearing underwear.
The woman led us to a wooden booth.
"Isn't this a gas?" my mother
said as we sat down. She pressed her palms against the tabletop
and looked all around. She gave me a deep red smile.
My grandfather frowned. Behind him, a
man in a business suit stood beside a lady in a bikini. He placed
his hand on her rear end and, thinking no one was watching, dug
his fingers deep between her legs. The lady continued speaking
as if nothing was happening. A trickle of sweat ran off her jaw.
"It's getting late, Vel." My
grandfather tapped the face of his wristwatch.
I could feel my eyes closing, opening,
closing again. People's faces drifted by like sad clown balloons.
Smoke burned the inside of my nose. I'd never been so exhausted
in all my life.
"Hold on, Clem, she's coming. Miss.
Miss," my mother said, flagging a waitress with dark
"Mmmmm?" She gave us a tired
"We'd like to order. The child--"
She pointed toward my head resting on the table as if that explained
The waitress said, "Three minutes,"
My mother turned around. Her face was
reddish. "How do you like that. You ask her to take your
order, and she can't even handle that. If she were working for
me, I tell you, she'd be out on her can in five minutes. I mean,
I slave, I try, I--"
"Vel," my grandfather said.
A woman with a sweet smile stood at the
table. "I'm sorry that took so long. We're horribly busy
in the kitchen."
My mother shifted in the booth. She tried
to be tough, but sometimes she could be the shyest person in the
world. "Yes, darling." She took out her half-glasses
and scanned the menu. "We'd like a shrimp in the basket,
hamburger, two conch fritters, and-- Could I talk to you alone
for a second?"
The waitress looked surprised.
"Yes, darling, you. Just for a minute."
I watched them walk to the bar. When
my mother came back, minutes later, she and my grandfather started
passing a cigarette between them, trading glances, smiling. I
wondered what was on her mind. Actually, she hadn't been herself
for quite some time, and I wondered whether something was wrong,
whether she'd been sick or drinking or depressed about my grandfather
moving in with us, but then the whole thing became clear to me:
she had asked the waitress to bring out a birthday cake.
"I have to pee," I said, and
A worried expression slid across my mother's
face. "Pee? You just peed at the North Star. You're always
"I have to go." I grabbed myself
in the crotch.
"Well, okay, honey, be careful."
She looked at my grandfather. "Why don't you go with him?"
"He's a big boy."
"You're some help," she said,
drawing on the cigarette.
I carried my goldfish in its sandwich
bag. The rest room was dark and musty, with pink tiles and a jalousie
window. I placed my goldfish on a ledge and unzipped my pants.
It was hard to pee in a public place. I kept pushing and pushing
and pushing until I finally got a little stream going, but then
the door flew open, thumping against a rubber stopper. I wondered
whether it was my grandfather. When I looked down, I realized
I'd gotten pee all over myself.
"Hold steady, partner." Someone
patted my shoulder.
A man in a green baseball cap stood beside
me. He was tall, sturdy; out of the corner of my eye, I could
see him fumbling for his penis: it was dark, red, and bumpy, thick
as a branch. I couldn't look at it. I hoped mine would never get
"What do you have there?" the
man said. He nodded to the plastic bag.
His urine sprayed the white porcelain.
"What's its name?"
My body felt light, like cotton, cloth,
a puppet. I couldn't go anymore. "Jumbo," I said, lying.
"Jumbo," he repeated. "I
I zipped my fly, flushed, grabbed the
fish, and started toward the row of sinks. Icy water ran over
my hands. When I turned around, the man was standing beside the
air machine, holding his penis, stroking it, making it bigger.
"Little boy," he crooned.
I banged my shoulder against the door
and ran to the table.
"Can we go now?" I asked them.
My arm was throbbing.
"We just got here, honey,"
my mother said. She looked surprised. "Are you all right?"
I shook my head from side to side.
"Clem, feel his forehead. He looks
a little feverish, under the eyes."
"Stop it!" I said.
My grandfather held up his hand like
a safety patrolman. He was looking at my fly. "What's that
you have all over yourself?"
"I don't want any cake," I
My mother twisted her bracelet around
her wrist. "Red, what's the matter with you?"
I looked over my shoulder, searching.
"You're scaring me," she said.
"I don't want any cake," I
My mother cupped her hands. People looked
up from their tables and their tall, clear drinks. "Honey,"
she said in a direct voice. "You had a cake at home. You
had another cake at school. How many g. d. cakes do you expect
in one day?"
I slid into the booth after a few moments.
I picked up the burger and took a bite; the tomatoes tasted bland,
"How come you talked to that lady,
then?" I said at last.
She looked puzzled. "It was a female
problem, sweetheart. Just a little feeling I had related to the
particular time of the month. She gave me a pill, that's all."
I looked up. The man in the green baseball
cap was pressing his hips into the bar, laughing, holding a beer
can. He glanced at my face, then turned away. No one would ever
"You mustn't be so self-centered,
honey," my mother said gently. "Your grandfather and
I do the best that we can. We love you. What more do you want
I sat in the back seat, watching the
houses on Echo Place, our street. The windows were black. Palm
branches wavered in the wind, and the grass--lush, clipped--glittered
like tin foil in the moonlight. Dark birds chattered in the trees.
Anyone driving through this neighborhood would think we were all
happy, quiet, and safe, without a problem in the world, but I
knew things. I knew how Mrs. Stark, home from a hard day at the
hospital, would take off her nurse's uniform and dress up in her
husband's suit, begin speaking in a rich, husky voice, or how
the NcNitt twins, Bret and Bart, set little fires in the church
sanctuary. It was a weird, scary place to live. Sometimes I wanted
to move someplace else, to California, to Washington, to Miami
even, but then I had the feeling it might be like this anywhere.
My grandfather pulled into our driveway,
the high beams washing our garage door with light. He cut the
engine, gripped the wheel for a few moments. On the door you could
still see where someone had scribbled FUCK with a charcoal briquet
one Halloween night. However hard my mother scrubbed, she couldn't
get it off, so it stayed there, faint, something we all laughed
about when we were in a good mood.
"Lock up," my grandfather said,
stepping onto the driveway.
Our house smelled like a freezer. I walked
across the living room and placed my goldfish on the Japanese
modern table. Sometimes I had a hard time believing that we lived
here. All of my mother's things were so beautiful and delicate--rice
paper lanterns, ebony swallows, butterfly chairs--that we had
to behave as if we were living in a sample house. Plus, it was
so chilly. The air conditioner was usually set at the highest
setting, even though it might have been fifty degrees outside.
Sometimes I hated walking around on those icy floors, but my mother
insisted it was elegant.
"G'night," I yawned, almost
tripping over a pile of Vogues.
She pulled her dress over her head and
draped it over the back of a dining room chair. She was wearing
only her slip. "Aren't you preparing your fish bowl?"
"Honey," she said. "The
poor little fishy. Come on, it'll just take a sec."
My mother blew some air across her upper
lip. She was waiting for me to give in, and I wouldn't do it.
Immediately, she started walking toward me, trying to grab the
plastic bag from my hands. "Give it to me, I'll do it myself."
She turned her head toward the kitchen
and called, "Hon."
"Stop it, sweetheart." She
was squeezing my wrist. Hard. I wanted to hit her.
"All right," I said
We walked into the kitchen. My mother
squirted some lemon soap on a sponge and started swabbing an empty
mayonnaise jar, her bracelets clinking together. My grandfather
sat at the kitchen table. He was wearing boxer shorts and long
black socks that reached to his knees. He was eating Grape Nuts
from my old Tony the Tiger bowl.
"Here we go." She turned the
sandwich bag upside down.
We watched as the fish banged against
the jar. It spun around in the currents, its eyes wide and astonished.
I wondered if it would ever stop. Bubbles perked up from the fish's
mouth, like beads. Finally, it rose to the surface, lying on its
side, motionless, bellying up.
"Happy birthday!" my mother
said, ruffling up my hair.
I burrowed into the sheets. There was
a cold, dry spot in the center of my head. I pulled my legs to
"You're babying him," my grandfather
The silverware drawer slammed. I sat
up in bed suddenly, pulled the window shade aside. The sun flooded
our wet yard, making prisms with the sprinkler. My old sliding
board rusted beneath the ginger tree. And then I remembered: it
was Tuesday, and I was supposed to play dodge ball at eleven o'clock.
It was already ten-thirty.
I'd barely slept the whole night. My
grandfather had climbed into the bed next to mine and fallen asleep
immediately, snoring, his bare feet making black marks on the
wall like little souls. Sometimes he'd wake up and the room was
quiet for a while, and I'd relax, feel myself filling up with
sleep, but then he'd start all over again, making whistling, soft
grunting sounds that came from deep in his chest. At one point,
I woke up and saw him doing sit-ups on the rag rug. He did these
grimly in the dark, as if he were trying to prove something. It
was five-forty-five in the morning. I wondered why he couldn't
sleep like a regular person.
There was a thumping on the staircase.
I pressed my head into my pillow, concentrating, trying to make
myself appear feverish. I had chicken pox, I decided. I imagined
the sores on my body, my hair wet, my tongue coated, the spit
crusted in the corners of my mouth. My fever was a hundred and
"I'm sick," I mumbled.
My grandfather blinked. He pushed the
hair up off my face and kept his hand there. His skin felt sterile,
papery. His eyes were the color of nickels. I forced myself not
to look away.
"How's your glands?"
Without waiting for my reply, he began
pushing my neck, my wrists, my stomach. He asked me to take off
my shirt. He asked me to stick out my tongue.
"Aaaaaah," I said.
My grandfather rubbed the point of his
elbow and shuffled down the hall. A cabinet creaked open; water
funnelled through the pipes. Seconds later, he was back with a
Dixie cup and a palm full of Anacin.
"Come on, schoolskipper."
"Look, you can't stay here all day,
you're missing your
lessons. Everyone else is out there learning their times tables,
"I already know my times tables."
"Thirteen times nineteen--"
he chuckled, and left the room.
I stared at the piñata hanging
above my bed. It was green and brown, in the shape of a sea cow,
with a little red tongue. My grandfather had bought it for me
years ago, after he had sold the thousandth lot at Vel Haven,
his first community. For some reason, he never wanted me to break
it until I was thirteen, but I didn't care. I reached for a yardstick
and smacked it hard against the head. Stale candy showered onto
I walked down the steps to the kitchen.
My mother stood at the sink in her slip,
her back toward me, running hot water over her hands. She pretended
to wash a bronze coffee pot that had a broken lid. She turned
"Thanks for saying I could stay
home," I said, pulling a chair from the table.
"Honey, don't," she said softly.
She turned to me, as if she wanted to say more but couldn't. There
were dark circles beneath her eyes. I could tell she hadn't slept
all night. "Your grandfather--" she started.
"I don't care." I pressed my
hands over my ears.
My mother looked at me as if I'd kicked
her. "You don't care," she said in a smoky voice. She
started shaking her head. "Do you think I want you running
off to school with only four and a half hours' sleep, do you?"
I looked down at my hands. "What
She took a deep breath, then looked up
at the ceiling. Her eyes were glassing up. "He hates us,
honey," she whispered, as if he could hear through the floor.
Something puttered in my stomach. I held
these words in my head, weighing them. They split up like wood
under an ax. "He said that?"
She shook her head. "Of course not."
She knelt on the floor and took a can
of cleanser from the cabinet, shaking it on the tile. Her arm
made wide, sweeping motions. The cleanser foamed blue. "He
thinks you're acting like a girl," she said at last.
I looked at the floor. A hot feeling
poured into my face. "I don't understand."
She bit down on her lip. "Forget
I tried to think of something to say.
People had told me that at school, and now I was hearing it from
"Honey," she said, and stood
up shyly. She put her arms around me, then started smoothing out
my hair. Her hands smelled rich like Comet. "Don't take it
so bad. He's blaming me, actually. It has nothing to do with you.
Don't worry, sweetheart."
I was upset. I tried to cry, but couldn't.
The corners of my eyes burned.
"We're just different from him,
that's all. He's so . . . stuffy. You mustn't let these things
"I can't even sleep anymore."
She nodded. She smiled at me with a tired
expression. "I know, I know. But it's only for a few more
weeks. A few more weeks and everything'll be back to normal."
She looked out the sliding glass window. Red and green birds hovered
over the birdbath like angels. "I just hope we can hold out
that long," she said.
We were quiet for a long time. Above
us, my grandfather moved furniture around in my bedroom. It was
the fourth time in two weeks he had rearranged things. I didn't
even care anymore.
"Do I still have to go to school?"
I said finally. My nose was running. I wiped it on the back of
"I'd say so," she nodded.
I was perfectly still. Upstairs my bureau
made scraping sounds against the floor.
My class was already on the field playing
dodge ball. Mrs. Klein stood off to the sidelines in a turquoise
dress, touching her collar with her fingertips, talking to another
teacher, Mrs. Barry, her best friend. I hid behind a banyan tree
for a while. Everyone looked so small, so tiny, like tin soldiers
on a game board. At any moment, almost anything could destroy
them. A thunderstorm, a tornado, a crazy man with a machine gun.
I tried to remember these things as I started across the damp
field. It didn't help much. My sneakers made squeaking sounds
in the marl.
"Hello," I mumbled. Suddenly,
I felt very shy. I'd known Mrs. Klein for months, since September,
and actually she was one of my favorite teachers ever. I didn't
know why I was acting like this.
"Mrs. Klein," I said, and tugged
on her skirt. I could hear my voice wavering.
She looked over her shoulder, blinked.
I could have sworn that she thought I was a stranger--her eyes
got all funny and dull--but then she was smiling warmly. "Oh,
Red. Oh, my goodness. We thought you had mumps again."
I shook my head. Words gathered, then
shredded in my brain.
"We missed you," she said with
I looked at the playground. Already Rob
Gleason and Mark Cullen were frowning, heaving the ball with all
their might. People were screaming, diving, skinning their knees
against the concrete. John Seminario stared at me.
I handed Mrs. Klein my mother's note.
She tore open the flap with her little finger and started reading
it, her eyes narrowing. "Well, she says you had a strep throat."
The white ball whirred through the air, almost hitting Sharon
Stone's ear. "Do you think you're up for a little dodge ball?"
I started to shake my head no. But then
I was in the
center of the circle, moving to the left, then to the right. Pebbles
flew up from the pavement. Kids had intense, serious expressions
on their faces. Suddenly, I stepped on the back of Janet Mackle's
"You faggot," she wailed,
and hobbled out of the circle.
A whistle blew. I thought then about
running all the way home, afraid that Janet Mackle would get me
in trouble, when the ball came at me again, from behind this time.
I ran to the other side of the circle, tripped. The knee tore
out of my pants. Someone giggled. Then the ball hit Kevin Navins
on the collar bone.
There were two people left. Me and Doug
Tuttle, this fat kid. It was the first time this had ever happened
to me. I was usually the last one picked, the first one out. Now
here I was, one of those people nobody ever noticed, and I started
running around, biting on my lip, even enjoying it a little. A
hot wind blew at my neck. A cool sweat puddled on my back. The
ball shot out from the left, and shouts flew up. Go Thornton,
go, somebody yelled. Go, go, go, go. And then the ball thumped
against the concrete, bouncing into Steve Simpson's hands. My
heart pounded in my chest. My sneakers slid across the grit. I
could feel myself trying things I never did before. I ducked,
I spun, I rolled on the pavement. Maybe I'd even start liking
school, and my grandfather would be proud of me, and I'd be happy,
and I'd have friends, and nothing, nothing would upset me anymore.
When I looked up, the ball was heading
straight for my nose.
I was lying in the infirmary. I pressed
an ice pack to my face, listening to Mrs. Garwood, the nurse,
talking on the phone, telling my mother that I was injured, and
would she please pick me up? Outside in the corridor, kids were
streaming into the cafeteria, clutching milk tickets.
"Your mom'll be here in a minute,"
whispered Mrs. Garwood. She fixed the pillow behind my head. "Could
I get you anything? Are you comfortable?"
I shook my head, then nodded, my eyes
closed. It felt so good to be lying here. The smell of medicine,
the tissue paper on the bed, everything still and peaceful, like
a church. I loved being sick, injured, and if I could, I'd spend
the rest of my life this way, lying down, thinking. I didn't see
it as such a bad thing.