My children are sick.
I lurch backward as these germ-evangelists sneeze in my face. They smear their tracts upon my shoulders and pant legs. As they reason with me, they steal sips from my cup. Their arguments are overwhelming.
And now it feels as if my three-pound brain is slowly draining into my nose. My face lists to the starboard side. I find myself moving in sluggish circles, spiraling toward my destination, clockwise.
I arrive at the couch. There I am jungle gym. I am sofa. I am pillow and blanket and handkerchief. I drift between here and nowhere and ask about the baby. It's a game: Where's Wills? Find him please. Take the markers from him please. Turn over the chairs please. Pour him some juice please. Tape him to the ground please. Make him spongy with Benadryl please. Help me up please. Let me sleep please.
The phone rings, of course. I let it. And then stagger toward it with the desperation of a thousand housewives. For I am all sub-wifery, with slugs for brains, with monkeys for children, with messes for rooms. No one is there. The automated, tele-circ library voice, a poor reader, botches my surname as it asks for Mrs. "Lee-OHNS." With a tinny voice, it asks about overdue books. It asks about the same books as it asked about the last time and the time before last. (Would they let it go already?) With these books we are building their tiny kingdom of romance novels and LaHaye fictions.
"I bust fide those books," I mutter. As an afterthought, I curse Mr. Bell and his invention and spiral back toward the couch. I curse him again for good measure.
It is nighttime and I navigate through the dark of the bedroom. I am a blind man who knows each dresser corner, each clothes pile, each stuffed animal and firetruck. With some relief, I climb into bed.
And there, in my place, a small evangelist is asleep, softly rasping out her gospel.
"You're preachig to the choir, Baby," I whisper, and push her to the middle of the bed.