Steve hasn’t left his apartment in a week. The panic attack hit him while he was walking to the restaurant he works at over on 12th and Passyunk.
It was September, the beginning of a new school year, and I was having a snack in the teacher’s room when I was told about my parents’ accident.
I stare at my therapist’s coffee cup the entire time she talks to me about the importance of communicating.
Sam’s final aching breaths, and the silence between, woke Miri, and she rose from the tangled blankets she slept on beside his hospice cot to hold his hand until it went cold in hers.
The construction truck in the opposing lane, exceeding the speed limit, careers into my lane and right at me. I am immobile, staring, my hand not getting the signal to blast the horn. I might manage to dive onto the shoulder but the truck’s driver stops doing whatever distracted him and sees me and, with two car lengths between us, slides back into the correct lane. We pass each other and continue as we were.
Standing before a group of strangers is the closest thing Angela has to achieving her dreams or making her mark on the world. She seesaws her arm, delivers a joke about a merman who pools his money with a sea urchin to get a triton.
On the first two days, we did what they called shadow dumps. Several of us were in training. We followed people around outside different government buildings and watched them pick up litter and trash.
Mom and I are driving to camp and playing the game where we think of jobs I could one day have that won’t compromise my condition. That’s how she phrases it. Mom and I spend a lot of time avoiding things that might compromise my condition.
Sam asks, “What are we doing here?” and you don’t know if he means here, in Flanders, or more generally, here on God’s green earth, which here, in Flanders is not green but mud-covered and cratered and incapable of sending up any other crop but barbed wire. Or if he means still here, at the edge of this pit—because the horse that was drowning in the mire is now still.
The premonition hits as I walk down Park Street to the university. One foot up in the air and bamm! Knocks me back like a punch in the gut or a mysterious pain in the chest. A premo that sends a chill down my spine despite the warm spring morning. I try to shake it off. I have things to do.