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.  

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