The doctors swarm like flies to blood. I twitch with anxiety, ready to slap a mosquito on the back of my neck at any moment. But I am indoors, surrounded by pastel walls and sterile supplies. “Who is the current president?” they ask. “Barack Obama,” he replies. “And who was the president before him?” The doctor asks his clipboard. My father says, “President Ford.” I rub my palms on the fabric of my skirt, trying to get rid of the clammy feeling.
He’s tired again. He won’t say that he is, but with a bandage around your head and a drugged expression, it’s hard to look anything but tired. I scoot my chair closer and lean toward him, inclined to lessen the distance. I smile and say, oh no no no. You did fine. As if it were a graded test. Pass or fail. You’ll do better tomorrow.
He reaches his arm out, palm facing upward. This is our signal to one another. All those drives in the pick-up truck. In between shifting and flicking through radio stations, he would put his hand out. Hello, don’t worry. I’m here. The miles may stretch out before us, but just grab my hand and it will be okay. Squeeze. Let go. Shift. I take his hand in mine and can do nothing but rest my arms on the edge of the bed with my face down. His other arm moves gently, careful not to pull the IV, and his fingers come to rest on my head, trailing through my hair.
My face pressed hard against my skin, I think of what this must look like to other people. I think that it would make a good picture. A sad picture, but a good one. I imagine Kelsey in the doorway of the room, face partly concealed by her camera. Photographer is such a generic name. I choose instead to call her a Beauty Capturer. This is beautiful too, isn’t it?