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115 20 ~ Sam By the dim light from the corridor, Sam recorded the urine volume on the Intake/ Output clipboard next to the sink. The nurse had offered to do Zoe’s midnight cath, but he and Anna always liked to do Zoe’s care themselves when she was hospitalized. Hescootedthechairclosetoherbed,tuckingtheblanketaroundhersmallshoulders. Carefulnottobumpherbandagedhead,hecheckedtheinkcircleoutliningthequarter -sized pink ooze on the dressing. No change. He cradled her hand, the one without theIV,sohewouldwakeupifshemoved.Finallyhelethiseyelidsslump. But it wasn’t Zoe who woke him. Anna and Emily stormed into the darkened hospital room, wrapped in frosty air and the thick smell of wet wool. Anna tossed her jacketandbackpackontheemptypatientbedbythedoorandmadeabeelineforZoe. Samwipedabitofdroolfromhismustacheandturnedundertheblanketedgetohide the dark splotch. He watched Anna lean over to kiss Zoe’s forehead. When she stood up, he recognized the granite set of her neck and shoulders, even in the shadow light. Heknewthatstiffdance.WhenAnnaarmoredherbodylikethat,watchout.Andhe was the likely candidate for her anger this time. Even so, he felt himself start to relax nowthatshewashere. Emily circled around to Sam’s side of the bed, squeezing between his chair and the wall unit with its oxygen and suction and Code Blue button. She waited for Anna’s kisstoend,theninspectedthedressingsonZoe’sabdomenandhead.Shetouchedthe backofherhandtothegirl’sforeheadbeforeglancingatSam. “Nofever?”shewhispered. Sam shook his head, scooting his chair slightly away to give her room. He glanced athiswatch.“Howwasthedriving?” “Bad,”Annasaid.“Butwe’reherenow.”Shepulledtheotherchairtohersideofthe bed.“Everythingwentokay?” 116 ~ House Arrest “Yeah,” he said. “She woke up in Recovery about five, got back here before seven.” Heshookhishead;hehadbeennaggingAnnaaboutacellphonefortimeslikethis.“If youhadacell,Icouldhavekeptyouintheloop.” “You’reright.Youwin.WhatdidDr.Fredsay?” “The tubing had broken, up near the valve.” Sam felt okay, in control of the medical details. Usually he was the one asking the questions and Anna or Emily with the answers. “Howlongdoeshewanttokeepherhere?” “ProbablyFriday,butnopromises.” Anna looked exhausted. She collapsed onto the bed, head cradled in her arms next to her sleeping daughter. Driving seven hours from Rockland in a snowstorm. He knew that drive and it was brutal. But, glancing back and forth between her and Emily, he wished she would stay awake long enough to fill him in on what was going on. Last thing in the world he and Zoe needed right now was to get caught up in the middleofthosetwo. Anna and Emily usually got along fine, but they were both stubborn. When they disagreed, he preferred to be someplace else. Like the year after Emily moved in, when her old boyfriend Chad wanted to get back together. Anna thought Emily should see him,givehimanotherchance.EmilysaidthatshelivedwithChadforthreeyearsand it never felt right. Neither woman told Sam the whole story, as if a guy couldn’t possiblyunderstandthesethings .Hedidn’twanttobeinvolvedintheirargument,buthe wanted to know what was happening. So he stood outside the kitchen door, in their sharedbackhallway,andtriedtolistenin.Annawouldsaythatwassnooping,butthey werehisfamily. Evenwobblywithfatigue,EmilystoodsentryrightnexttoZoe’sbed,betweenhim andthewall.Hemovedhischairanothercoupleofinches,tomakemoreroom.Inthe dim light from the hallway, her face was stone gray. Was she just going to stand there all night? Or do something nursey, something take-charge? He half expected her to whip a stethoscope out from under her sweater, or pluck a penlight from her sleeve. The last time Zoe had shunt surgery, Emily insisted on flashing that damn light into Zoe’s eyes every fifteen minutes, even though the hospital nurse came by and checked heraroundtheclock.ButEmilysurprisedhim.Sheturnedawayfromthebedsideand curled up on the reclining sleepchair in the corner by the window, covering herself withherjacket. Within a few minutes, the hospital room was silent. Zoe murmured something in hersleepandSamleanedclosetolisten.Butherwordsbecameasoftsnorethatmerged withAnna’sdeepexhalationsonthebednexttoher,andEmily’sslowbreathsfromthe corner. He burrowed his nose into the damp of Zoe’s neck and sniffed. When she was aninfant,hejokedwithAnnathattheirdaughterwasbornwiththearomaofautumn inaNewEnglandkitchen.Theperfumeofpumpkinpie,candycorn,andnutmeglingered ,warringwiththemetallicsmellofhospitalantiseptic. Ellen Meeropol ~ 117 Sam never could get used to that hospital odor. Iodine, maybe, or alcohol? It made him remember Zoe’s birth with that pulsating thing on her back. She needed surgery right away, and then the shunt, and Intensive Care, the viscous smell of sickness that wouldn’t come off no matter how long he stood under the hot shower in the parent lounge. Sometimes it triggered the ancient whiff of his father’s dying, of words never spoken. Anna couldn’t understand why it was so hard for him to parent a child like Zoe. He couldn’t explain, any more than he could articulate why the medical tasks had finally lost their terror for him. He hadn’t even called his mother yesterday, to tell her about Zoe’s surgery. What could she do? Maybe she would have stopped by, kept him companywhilehewaitedfortheCTscanandsurgery.Buthedoubtedit.Inhisfamily, theyturnedtheirfacesawayandsorrowedalone. Instead, Pippa had...


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MARC Record
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