2:00 am, my parents’ house.
Terrible storms tore through the area last night, terrible in that Midwestern, end-of-the-world way that turns the sky green and sucks the last molecule of oxygen from the last breath of air left in the entire state of Missouri.
No electricity and thus no machine to help my father breathe through the night. No air conditioning. Not even a fan to stir the air above his bed. Until tonight, that fan hadn’t stopped in two years. Its skeleton dangles from the ceiling like a phantom limb, blacker against blackness.
The whole neighborhood hums with the generator at the fire station two blocks away, its low whine accompanied by the manic jangle of wind chimes. People in retirement communities love wind chimes. Maybe they like to hear what they no longer go outside to feel. You never see anyone outside here. They stay inside their houses, their doors closed against death. Do they know death doesn't need a door? Any crack will do.
I lie in bed, waiting to be needed. A magnetic ebb and flow pulls me down a perfect Fibonaci spiral—a nautilus shell of night. Round and down…round and down…round and down it drags me into the vortex of this stillness.
I meditate. I repeat a mantra, humming with the generator. I beg for release from this prison built of my own fear, but I can’t sleep. All I can do is listen for Dad’s next breath.