Thursday, September 01, 2005

Our laughter

The good news: I'm not sweating. For the first time in what feels like a decade, I'm clean and dry. The bad news: I'm biting on a rag, clenching my jaw like a fist while my mother digs a huge shard of glass out of the bottom of my right foot.

It happened after I trekked home from Glenda's house. I made the waaaaaaay stupid mistake of walking around my parent's yard without any shoes. I hopped off of the deck in the back and landed on what feels like a seven inch glass dagger. Once again, I hobbled into the front room, whimpering like a lost puppy, shouting for my mother to come and rescue me. Again. It's like a damn daily event.

Anyway, Mom has a set of tweezers in one hand and a pair of pliers in the other. She literally pulls open the wound with the pliers and tries to get a grip on the glass with the tweezers. She's able to pull it out a couple of millimeters before the ancient lizard part of my brain gives into the searing pain and I pull away from her, gulping in a lung full of air, wiping back the tears.

The air is cool. The rag I've been chewing is cold against my teeth. Mom swears she's being as gentle as possible and slowly pulls my foot back into the light of a Coleman. Just as she starts to get another grip on the hunk of glass, I see something buzzing over the horizon. Something black and oddly angled, like a ceramic dragonfly. It gets joined by three other dark objects that drift quickly in its wake. Mom starts to draw out the glass. The objects edge closer. I'm holding my breath again. Vision going white as the pain creeps up behind my eyes. And then I'm able to see the deep green underbelly of the lead helicopter followed by the deep black military units in formation around it. Somewhere, I feel the pain weeping out of my foot. Just over the trees, has to be near the middle school where I've been picking up relief, the helicopters dip down lower and begin to circle. It's almost like a resounding, sickening pop as the glass comes out. The world goes gray.

I come out of it as Mom yells for my father to come see what is happening over by the school. Then she starts taping up my wound. But the helicopters have spun up and out of site before The Old Man comes calling. He admires Mom's handiwork and eyeballs the hunk of agony she dislodged.

Now, he says, you won't have any excuses, tomorrow.

The hum of rotor blades dies out long before our laughter.

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