Monday, September 04, 2017
One morning I woke up shivering. The phone was ringing. Thinking it was my alarm clock, I rolled over to my nightstand to slam the snooze button, but my arm felt nothing. No radio. No nightstand.
I sat up. Blinked. Where was I?
Oh of course. On the sofa. I had slept there all night. Joel was in Washington, D.C. on business, and Jonah was overnight at a friend’s house.
I had spent most of the afternoon writing, sitting on the couch with the laptop. The last thing I remember is placing the laptop on the floor and lying down on the sofa with the afghan covering me.
The phone stopped ringing.
I yawned, lifting my hand to my mouth. I gasped: My arm was dripping in bright gold fringe. I was wrapped in the shawl. Señora’s. I pulled it tighter. The golden fringe twinkled in the lamplight. I held the blue silk to my face. Rubbed the side of my thumb over the dazzling blaze of red and orange and yellow and purple roses. Then I ran the silky knots of the gold fringe between my fingers.
I had fallen asleep in my ordinary clothes, and woken up cocooned in the magical shawl. Ah, there was no end to the power of Senora and her beautiful rebozo.
I looked around the living room, half expecting to see the dear old lady, holding the guitar. But no. I was alone.
The phone rang again. I lay there on the couch, trying to decide whether to ruin this wonderful moment by answering it.
I picked it up.
“Hey you,” Joel said. “Where have you been?”
I stared at the shawl. “I….fell asleep on the couch.”
We chatted a few more minutes. Joel had a meeting to go to.
It was nine o’clock in the morning. I sank back onto the sofa and hugged the shawl tighter around me.
Finally, I got up and, lifting the shawl higher, I ventured into the kitchen. I stood there drinking a gigantic glass of water. And then, a second glass.
Suddenly, I was there with Señora peering down at Antonie in the bed.
His torso was bare, and he had no hair.
I gasped. There were red pustules all over his chest, and splotches of wet silvery liquid covering them.
“OH LORD!” I gasped. Grabbing Señora’s hand, I turned my face away. I felt faint and leaned against her shoulder.
“OH mi’ja!” Señora was the only thing holding me up. She guided me to a chair in the corner. I settled into the seat, and realized I was wearing habit and veil.
But who was I?
At that moment it didn’t matter because I was kneeling and throwing up rather violently. Señora had her arms around me and she held my forehead as I leaned over the floor.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but Renata and I shared a tendency toward what my doctor calls “hyperemesis.” Basically when you start throwing up, you can’t stop.
At some point as I was upchucking, I was vaguely aware of Astorga at the door. But I vomited more and more. Finally I was on my hands and knees, and the only thing coming up when I heaved was sour green bile.
I looked up and I was face to face with the dishwasher in my kitchen. To my right was the oven.
Then I was back in Antonie’s sickroom with Señora and Astorga looming overhead. I saw Astorga reaching into his bag. He took out an enormous needle.
I closed my eyes. Dear God, what was he going to do?
Before I could react he kneeled beside me. He slipped my sleeve up and the next thing I knew I was screeching. It felt like he had driven a burning hot poker just below my shoulder.
I cried louder. Señora was holding onto me and cradling my head against her fleshy chest. I began sobbing.
“Shhhhh,” she said, rocking me back and forth. I felt her arms around me, and I could see the two of us in reflection in the front of the oven.
I cried and gagged and finally I began to sniffle. Whatever he had given me…
When I woke up I was curled in a fetal position, with my cheek on the kitchen tile. I blinked. I was staring into my own vomit. Oh my God, I thought, where is the shawl. I sat up and it was nowhere to be seen.
It wasn’t until much later, after I had showered and drunk a cup of tea, and some ginger ale, that I went back to my laptop on the sofa.
That’s when I eyed the shawl, the gold fringe, those amazing roses. The shawl was neatly folded, the golden fringe glowing like a goddesses’ hair, sitting neatly on one arm of the sofa.