Gary starts to say, Oh, I'm dying for some, and then stops. A phrase as simple as that, and he can't say it. It feels as if a layer has been pulled off his life. He's scared all the time. And he keeps thinking: What happens now?
But the thing is, no one knows what is wrong with Molly. She went in to have a routine delivery of Otis, and three weeks, five operations, and two near deaths later, still no one knows. They keep her anesthetized so she won't feel what is happening to her. Sometimes when he comes to see her, he wonders if she is imagining that he's left her, if he's dead, because she hasn't seen him, not for days, not for what seems like months, when the truth is, he is always there. "Honey," he says. Her eyes flutter open and then shut again, and she doesn't hear him, she doesn't see. It is as if there were a wall separating them, a wall he would smash with his own hands if he could just find it. "I'll wrap some pie up for later," Patsylu suddenly says. "So you can have something sweet later."
Gary pays Patsylu, overtipping her as usual, and bundles Otis up in his arms. "Bye, bye, sweetie pie," Patsylu says, and for one moment, he can't tell if she is talking to him or to the baby. He opens the front door, careful of Otis, and steps out into a nudging unseasonable chill.
Copyright Caroline Leavitt. All rights reserved. Reproduced by the permission of the author.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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