You would cry that night and it would take a long time for anyone to hear you but when she did, you mother would listen about the overdue library book and what would happen if you weren’t well enough to get to school tomorrow? What would happen? What?
You never got over that library book. That you had made someone else suffer by being sick and by not getting that book back onto the shelf when it was meant to be. That you had been the source of another’s pain.
But this. This time of waiting was about being sick on the couch when you were a kid. Actifed. Your mother spooned it into you, laced with codeine so that you slept a brilliant, bejeweled sleep. Your nose tight. Your stagnant breath, still sweet to your mother only.
Sick on the sweaty couch, you never believed you would feel better, that this would end. You’d hear the kids outside at the end of the day and feel worse. Earlier, you’d been entertained by Match Game and The Doctors. By Coronation Street. You hadn’t thought about the other fucking children enjoying their lives and yet there they were out there doing things that you could not do.
Even though you felt so much better now. Your forehead wasn’t even hot.
Fever spiking. Weary mother, making dinner for the others, offering you a popsicle with the wrapper tight around the stick to keep the sticky ooze from your fingers.
Your mother with her cool cloths and her vaporizer and her cigarettes.
You felt weak when you stood up to go pee. Saw fireflies, spinning around. Fireflies in the tall grass at the edge of the lake. The sun pushing its flat palm down onto the water, asserting itself. We are done. Go to bed. The day has passed. But the fireflies became their own suns. The fireflies, reaching, seeking, the grass, an escape from the sweaty hands, clutching, wanting to hold onto something beautiful and finding
Your weak legs and the voices in the street outside playing kickball and the kids in the apple trees and your fucking mother and the pork chops.
And the fireflies. We are here. We. We. We. Are here.