When my father said that my mother had been stabbing him with a pen, my initial thought was, “Well, what kind of pen?” Was it a bic? Was it one of those pointy fountain pens? What if it was felt-tipped, would that really be worth complaining about? Not once did the situation seem out of place for me, and it was this realization which confused me most.
My mother denied the entire pen-stabbing incident took place, and although I believe she doesn’t remember the act, I do somewhat doubt why on earth my father would make up the story of being stabbed with a pen, of all things. After all, just add one word, and a “pen-knife” stabbing incident would make so much more sense.
I wasn’t there to witness the act, however, I was awoken from my brief nap to my mother running down the stairs and screaming that my father was “trying to kill” her. This was because the method of keeping track of all of her chemotherapy pills, by writing them down on napkins, was thwarted when none of said napkins were thrown out. My mother, whose memory has been affected by the mixture of medication and over-activity, simply cannot keep track. My father, according to my mother, cannot be trusted. Any pill mix-up is potentially a disaster. So to my mother, a swift pen stab is probably within her realm of reasoning. It’s also within my fathers realm of reasoning to leave whenever he might get stabbed by a pen.
So, after arriving from a red-eye flight and going without food for a significant period of time, I had the task of figuring out which pills my mother had already taken, and which ones she still had left to take. This process is harder than it sounds.
In the midst of this I decided to pet my cat Furball. In some ways, I’d say I missed her more than anything else in the city. As I reflected on this she quickly swiped a paw at my face. Recoiling backwards, I felt the hot sensation of liquid running over my lips. I grabbed a napkin and realized it was blood.
I had to go to the store to buy supplies: a bar of soap and digestive pills. I stepped outside and breathed in the freezing air. I tried to zip up my jacket, but in the darkness it became caught on something.
I went to Giant, a store we’d call Albertsons in the West, and grabbed what I needed. On the way to the checkout a girl recognized me, and it took me a moment to realize it was someone I once had a crush on in high school. I wondered what she would think of me now, in the midst of my West Coast accomplishments. I could even mention my girlfriend, maybe rub it in a little.
Then I caught a reflection of myself in a cardboard shaving stand.
I hadn’t shaved in three weeks. My hair was brushed straight up. My jacket zipper, which I thought was caught, was only partially holding on to the other side, forming a sort of bizarre cape. In one hand I was holding a box of “Smooth Moves” laxatives, and the wound on my lips had re-opened. It looked like I got in a knife fight at a retirement facility.
I didn’t make a great impression.
Later that night I called Beth on the phone. She sounded happy and relaxed, and I felt better. I felt as though D.C. wasn’t as hard of a place to be in anymore. I felt as though I had something I never had before. She told me about her day, and I told her about mine.