From the first summer alone:
Our vacation has been pleasant and relaxing — until the last 24 hours. Last night, while we were in the cinema, Jack’s headache turned into a full-blown shaking fever. We tottered home on our bicycles through the dark streets and he went straight to bed, his whole body burning up. I slept fitfully too, waking with panicky thoughts that he could be dying a 19th century death from a mysterious fever. I climbed the stairs with a wet cloth to mop his brow, glasses of juice, Advil, anxiety.
In the morning, he was cooler but still wrung out like that cloth. I headed out to town to buy a thermometer and some chicken soup; our dogs yapping at me as I drove away. When I got back, the gardeners were mowing the lawn and the gate was wide open. The dogs were gone. The gardener told me he hadn’t known they were our dogs, that a lady had stopped them by busy the road, looked for their owner and driven off with them.
I rushed back and forth through the house, unsure what to do. The dogs have tags on their collars but they are inscribed with Patti’s now-cancelled cel phone number. I ripped out sheets of paper, pieces of cardboard and painted up signs to hang along the road. I kept flashing to images of my boyhood dog, Pogo, who had wandered away from our house when old and doddering and never came back.
Jack still lay twisted in his damp sheets, exhausted and pale. I squawked at him, explaining the situation, and he crawled down to help me put up the signs. Then I started calling anyone I could think off, the police, the shelters, vet after vet, until one said .,”Yes we have them.” I rushed out of the house, and drove off, was instantly lost. Found my way back, begged Jack to come with me as navigator, and we found our way to the vet and returned, all intact, little worse for wear.
I felt a new tic, a flickering twinge under my right lower lip, matching the one in my right upper eye lid. I almost lost what little I have left. My boys. I am responsible for their safety, their well-being.
I have to keep up.