The deep dirty red of an Italian farmhouse. The crackling whispergold light from the fireplace. The electric TV blue, jumping around, competing. The milky green that crept up my one-year-old son’s face just before he turned grey and went into convulsions — the peach sweetness of his newborn little sister in my arms — and no one else home.
My baby with a friend, a neighbor drove us to the hospital.
The nauseating green of emergency room walls. The unholy flickering of fluorescent tubes.
The hospital was on strike. (The extra moment it took to process that no one was going to help. On purpose.)
The dead noncolor of the halls as they blurred by. The white coat of an orderly, who, in my primal desperation, I made into a doctor. His brown eyes bulging as I grabbed him by his shirt, dragged him to my son, and threatened him — him, his ancestors, and anyone in his bloodline hoping to be born — threatening them all with eternal damnation if he didn’t materialize a goddamn DOCTOR.
There was only one working that night, and she was delivering a baby. I waited. I don’t know how long.
Finally she arrived, cynical, pissed off, bored. My tiny boy had regained consciousness. She handled him like a piece of mail you had to open, just in case it wasn’t junk. He barely made the cut. She gave him a shot of phenobarbital, told me I’d have to do it too, every day, for the rest of his life. Told me he’d have to stay,
but I couldn’t stay with him. I had to leave.
I’ll never know what hurtled me into Option B, given what I didn’t know about medicine, about life and danger and what could be wrong, but he did not stay the night.
The softed brown corduroy of his little jacket, and his arms going into the sleeves. The greygreen, streaked linoleum as my feet carried us away. Her parting gift, a curse: “If he dies, his death is on your head.”
The beige leather dashboard of my friend’s Fiat. The terra cotta tiles in our entrance way. The fire engine matchbox car in his hands, my son still alive. His little sister sound asleep. The Spiderman jammies. The angel wings nightlight.
My friend’s dyed auburn hair and warm dark green coat finally going out the door.
The blue and white Florentine back splash at our kitchen sink.
The soft white stucco walls. The mahogany wooden stairs.
And the deep, dark, coffee of the many cups I drank that night, lest I fall asleep
watching him sleep.