Saturday, March 31, 2007

660 days, 9 hours, 27 minutes, 19 seconds

660. All morning that number's been haunting her. Area code? Zip code? At last she looks it up, sees it's the area code for central Missouri. Central Missouri State University. Where a friend taught was until this year. An associate professor with tenure and his two children were born at home with a midwife because the school didn't pay enough toward medical insurance. Not to mention the paltry salary. He gave up tenure to get the hell out of their. Look at his wife's family – the number of amputated limbs that could be chalked up to poor medical care. They'd had custody of her daughter but had to leave her with the father when they moved. Missouri makes it all but impossible to take a child out of state. The personal. The political.

660 days, 10 hours, 29 minutes, 10.7 seconds

In line at the coffee shop. The two youngest children wander farther into the dining room. Then the youngest pulls away. His sister tries to lure him back, calls to someone, then leaves him alone to drag an older sister over. The mother smiles. In all, there are four children. They get a table. The mother carries the youngest now.