Why is it on the sunny and blue days that illness seems to strike the hardest? This past weekend it was me underneath the duvet, a book in one hand, a box of tissues in the other, a heating pad underneath my back. Far above me, out our tall, narrow windows, the air was perfumed with new blooms and cut grass. The clouds kept their distance.
Today it’s Xander. And he’s feeling better each hour, but the day outside is screaming, “Come outside!” and he can’t quite yet. Once he’s well I’m sure the sky will open up and inky rain will fall and blue lightning will crash around our feet. Back inside, back to the nest.
This morning, after it was determined that school and work would not be happening, I went back to sleep. It was that delicious sort of extra sleep that picks you up and carries you instantly into vivid dreaming. I dreamed that it snowed, erasing all the heat and chilling the pink and white dogwood blooms, preserving them in hoar frost. It fell in wet chunks, covering the backyard, surprising the dog who was chasing a squirrel. I had to go pull her out of the white and into the warmth of the kitchen. When I shut the door I noticed a grey kitten, around six months old, trapped in a broken beam. I pulled the kitten out and called it ours.
When I woke, less than an hour after laying my head down, I half expected there to be three feet of snow and a kitten in the house, curled on top of Xander’s bed where we had left her in my dream.
There are two squirrels outside, and they’re tormenting the dog. They’ve been hanging out in the mountain laurel, chasing each other, while Mifflin watches from the floor to ceiling picture windows. A few centimeters of glass separates her from them, and they seem to be thumbing their noses at her.
This morning, while Xander lays next to me on the couch watching television, I’ve been reading Anaïs Nin’s diary. It’s the first volume, the famous one, the one where she’s singularly obsessed with June and Henry trails the two women like a dusty and lanky sort of specter. I know how it is to be singularly obsessed with someone or something. So fixated and tortured. Like the squirrels outside, running around the dog’s existence, simultaneously ruining and enriching her days.
I wish I could invoke some of the writers that hold so strongly to my thoughts. I’d conjure dark Anaïs like a piece of obsidian: glossy, black, jagged on one side and refined and smooth on the other. I’d place her at my feet.
To my left would be Flannery, wrapped in a green blanket with a furrowed and fevered brow. She’d whisper stories that would keep me afraid and awake long after midnight, and I’d beg to crawl under the covers with her.
To my right would be Sylvia, wrapped in a pink robe, her silver blonde head resting on my shoulder.
Xander is up off of the couch; the movie has ended. He told me he feels well enough and wants to go outside. Anyone who has spent any time with a child of seven or eight can attest to the dizzying fast recuperation their bodies undertake. Their faces will heat up with fever, their chests expel deep, unsettling coughs. Then minutes later, literally minutes later, they’re up and asking for peanut butter and their bicycle helmets.