By Jesse Kellerman
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Not a scratch. Mom. ” She swallowed. ” “You’re the ﬁrst person who knows. ” “We should, we can conference call him. ” He started to object but she had already moved the receiver away. ” Hearing her dial, he groaned and slammed a ﬁst into his bed. “I’m sure he’ll know what to say,” she said, coming back on over the ringing. ” “You are,” he said, “and it’s not helping. Not at all. ” “Laurie said it’s important. ” “You’re eating? ” “It’s three o’clock. ” She sounded hysterical. Please, Mom, please.
He sat by her side. ” She coughed. ” She dragged herself out of bed. She was wearing jeans and a wool sweater beneath a maroon terrycloth robe. Through a moth hole near her stomach he saw sallow, cheesy folds of skin. Her girth yo-yoed as a result of neuroleptic-induced weight gain. He didn’t try to touch her, but as they went downstairs, she laid a hand on his arm. “I’m not here,” she said. He didn’t know what to make of that. ” They sat in the kitchen, out of George’s earshot. She gave most of her breakfast to the cat, and Jonah asked if she wanted him to prepare something else.
Aren’t you upset? ” “I’m exhausted,” he said. Which was true. It was now Thursday, and he’d been at St. Aggie’s six days in a row, sixteen hours a day. His superiors hadn’t explicitly ordered him to make up the missed day, but tacit expectations bore down on him like Scripture. He’d worked Saturday, Sunday, Monday. Tuesday he had call until midnight, and today he had to come in for a seminar on post-op care. He was a zombie, but anything was better than going home to the apartment—empty once Lance had left for the night—to be hounded by silence and insomnia.