Sunday, November 19, 2006

793 Days, 12 Hours, 24 Minutes, 8.1 Seconds

F.D.A. Will Allow Breast Implants Made of Silicone. She wakes up, records two dreams, then reads this headline in the New York Times. Actually she remembers it from last night's news. And she remembers other pieces in the news of late. The implants acted as an air bag, coming between a woman and the dashboard after she runs a red light on a busy Romanian street on Saturday morning, the two cars destroyed beyond recognition. (Her father-in-law totals his car driving from Boston to Florida). A woman in Israel is caught in a Lebanese rocket attack and the hospital finds the implants served as a buffer, keeping the shrapnel just inches away from her heart. (Two men her husband works with relocate to Israel). The friend of a friend who had implants twice because they didn't work the first time still couldn't find someone to love her. (Sometimes she thinks her breasts are all her husband cares about). After fifteen years and God knows how many lawsuits, the original manufacturer forced out of business, a study links the implants to suicide but not cancer.

795 Days, 7 Hours, 42 Minutes, 31.4 Seconds

Cervical collar, she says. And her husband wonders what numbness in her fingers has to do with the cervix. No, the neck, a neck brace, she corrects. And he thinks a brace for her fingers. Then she has to explain, or tries to explain, the muscle's in her neck. A pulled muscle? No, that's not right. A pulled nerve? A pinched nerve, that's what the doctor says, though for some reason she has trouble remembering the proper term, and is suddenly scared to walk into the drugstore and ask for something they might think is for her cervix.

796 Days, 3 Hours, 51 Minutes, 39 Seconds

She wonders, if a magnet got close to this key chain, would time stop? Perish the thought. But she's wearing the magnetic necklace she seldom wears. The headaches she bought it for are infrequent these days, but she put it on before going to the doctor this morning, thinking it might help lower the sugar in her blood. Tonight she's tired, when she still has to drive thirty miles home. The heavy necklace weighing on her eyelids? Perish the thought.

796 Days, 9 Hours, 37 Minutes, 22 Seconds

Perfume sits down next to her in the waiting room, wearing black tights and spike heels. She pulls out a cell phone and starts making business calls, angered that she missed a flight, that she lugged ten tiles to a client when they didn't need the tiles. She's been told to reduce stress. Her battery runs out two seconds before the doctor calls her in. On her finger is a huge diamond, flashing light as she gets up. Her pink cashmere sweater fits tightly, showing off a decent figure. Maybe it's gestational diabetes.

796 Days, 11 Hours, 5 Minutes, 3.4 Seconds

What she thought might be her alarm this morning was actually a truck backing up on the street seventeen floors below. She was half awake already, and recognized it immediately for what it was. Other mornings she hasn't been as perceptive.

796 Days, 23 Hours, 34 Minutes, 23 Seconds

"Come to bed," he says. "It's late." And she says she can't. She knows if she turned in now she'd just lie there counting. 100, 99, 98, 97... It's how she always starts trying to drift off. Somewhere in the 70s she loses count, maybe starts again, then just lies there thinking. She makes a list of the things that she's done, professionally, to justify her age, always the same things, and they always add up with leeway for a couple more years. She turns her other cheek to the pillow, half off the edge most nights, and the count begins again.

797 Days, 23 Hours, 25 Minutes, 22 Seconds

Or 797 Days, 23 Hours, 24 Minutes, 18 Seconds, depending which clock you believe. My key chain arrived in the mail today, over an hour different, and it took awhile to set. More patience than I have at the moment. The computer's flagging words as misspelled even as I write this, words I know are correct. One of those days. If I had half a brain I'd just go to bed, except these nights I'm sleeping without my wedding ring.

799 Days, 10 Hours, 30 Minutes, 51 Seconds

Or Sunday, November 12, 1:30 p.m. on her computer’s clock. It should be lunchtime, but hunger’s the furthest thing from her mind. Even her husband slept late today, awake half the night despite a sleeping pill. At four a.m. he got up and went back to work. At 5:30 his office called with a crisis, but he’d just fallen asleep and didn’t hear the phone. The two-line cordless phone in the bedroom (his and hers), was left on the desk past its battery running down. She can’t stand that phone. And he never checked his messages this morning.

800 Days, 13 Hours, 10 Minutes, 11 Seconds

Nearing the end of the 800 mark, which she supposes is hopeful. Still too much to count on her fingers. She places her hand in front of her face, not wanting anyone to see her unable to make the count. She remembers, years ago, in tears over the whole writing scene and her inability to get a book published, wanting to hide thus. Her friend, in town from Wyoming, had one of those giant cowboy hats. He dumped it over her head. That seemed to perform the hiding trick to perfection.

802 days, 12 hours, 12 minutes, 12 seconds

The year she turned 12, Kennedy and Nixon were running for president. It was the first time she paid attention to the elections. One of the boys in her class, whose parents owned a variety shop on the Boardwalk, was selling Kennedy and Nixon campaign buttons. She bought a Nixon. Then, after seeing the first debate, she switched her allegiance to Kennedy. Seeing, not listening. Then as now, her impressions would be mostly visual. Kennedy was as handsome as the boy she hoped to someday marry. In 802 days, she would be in high school. She would be allowed to go out on dates. She would have her sights on the student council president, two years older than she was and dating the friend of a friend.