Some days feel like tar paper and brown paste. She walks through the cinder block halls, the rhythm of her own sharp heels on tile (clip, clip; clip, clip) solemnly marking time. A desperate urgency rises and falls throughout the day like a summer breeze.
Back in nursing school she saw a baby slip into existence and unfold itself like a desert flower at sunset, saw a woman’s heart drumming on meat and muscle, the inside of a man’s colon on a screen just above his bare elbow. It looked like a living cave. Everything was so fragile then.
Clip, clip. There’s no time to watch anymore, she thinks, something has been lost. Clip, clip. The world was delicate then. Students come in and out of the room all day, tough-skinned and belligerent. Metal chair legs scrape across the dingy floor. Dark book jackets absorb the light on a back shelf.
The students, heavy-lidded, wear hoods. And in her dreams at night the world is wide awake. She walks marble white pathways thinly covered in water. Soft light pours through high windows in a mahogany paneled classroom. There is a piano in the room and a robin’s egg blue carpet. One tiny student tumbled in among all the rest is a turtle encased in a leather shell. This is the student she must never lose. The mahogany walls shine.
Now in this cinder block room she scans their faces for her turtle student, feeling almost afraid for that one.
Category Archives: Libby Daniels
The little one is watching Scooby Doo again; it’s the mummy episode. She sits on the bed behind him in a t-shirt painting her toenails, orange. There always seems to be cereal in this bed, odd brightly colored bits sprinkled in with the sand. The familiar voices of the cartoon sooth her nerves. Soon the old janitor will spin right out of his mummy disguise, and she’ll feign surprise, here in this bedroom just fifty yards or so from the pulsing ocean. There is a sense of exposure that comes with the salt air, she thinks, and the constant abrasion of sand. Her toes will need one more coat.
Her little boy dangles one foot over the edge of the bed, gazes at the screen, the confines of the television world loosely enfolding him like a blanket. She remembers the way she held him in the old aquarium the day before, up in front of her chest like a shield, concrete all around them. How the wide, soft brim of her straw hat plucked at his fine hair from time to time. Not one soul knows they have come here, to this greying house with its long porch along the dune and its frayed awnings ever flapping. In a small, round pool the manta rays, just babies, waved their silken wings playfully and brushed up against the palm of her hand at every pass. An elderly man wearing a badge slept in a fold-out lawn chair beside the pool, unaware.