Earsick. Antibiotic sick. Headstuffed. Codeined. Did I boil the kettle? Am I awake or dreaming now?
“MUMMY HOW WILL KATIE BE ON HER BIRTHDAY?”
Her birthday is in six weeks. She’ll be nine. I tell him that.
“NOT HOW OLD WILL SHE BE; HOW WILL SHE BE?”
Head swims back from inside itself. I’m lost there on a dreamless ocean.
This small person is reaching to me, looking for answers.
“CAN I HAVE A MILK NOT A GREEN CUP THOUGH BECAUSE I DON’T WANT A GREEN CUP CAN I HAVE A MILK IN A THOMAS CUP PLEASE BECAUSE THOMAS CUPS ARE MY FAVOURITE CUPS”
Thomas cup. Yes. Milk.
Steady thrum like a drone now. A rich red sea. Small light breaks in at the window.
“TOMORROW I WET MY PANTS WHEN I WAS ON THE COMPUTER BUT I DIDN’T MAKE A PUDDLE AND THEN I TOOK THEM OFF BECAUSE THEY WERE WET AND I PUT THEM ON THE DIRTY WASHING…MUUMMMYYY”
He wants me.
Someone remind me of this one day: this is what it must feel like to be dying. Not the pain, I could never cheapen such a hallowed experience with the momentary hassle of my ear infection, but the lostness. Or, perhaps, the centeredness.
Deep within myself, at times like this, is the only place to be. And all I want is the periphery – the milk and the birthdays and the Thomas cup and the dirty laundry – to disappear, and for the people around me to be here with nothing but themselves to clothe them.
In a few days when my small and temporary pain is gone I’m sure I will forget all this, and I will be the one again who bustles into someone’s pain with unsure words of birthdays and milk and dirty laundry because I don’t know again what not to say.
Pain, it seems, is nakedising. I hope that the act of writing will help me remember this.