Like…Mother…? (Claire #2)

I was sitting on our stoop. Ma was gossiping with Mrs. Nagy in that fantàstical, magificent

Language of the Magyars…

All gentle cz’s, sz’s, no gutterals, the harshest sounds a buzzing like a bug in your ear. Shhshhh’s and Chhhhh’st and Sshhzzzt’s Chhhzzzzt’s like they wanted the language to be silent and yet still reverberate through the world like gentle thunder.

I wish we’d cared enough to keep it.

I bumped into the concrete banister, so I was told, and the grand, perfectly  round limestone cap teeter-tottered and



Apparently,  the perfectly round limestone cap was not perfectly in sync with gravity. And the hole the drilled through the bottom to hold it in place was less than perfect…


I sat on the chair in the kitchen, holding half a frozen chicken on my head draped in an old towel.

There was blood too…

It took me a little while to realize it was mine. And it when I realized that,  I also realized I was crying, and my head hurt. I felt my chest get tight even as the nausea and frostbite fear settled into my stomach and limbs. I remember looking up at one point, and even though my eyes were blurry from the tears, seeing Ma’s eyes…

I had never seen them so…cold…icy…like…like she’d somehow shut herself off in some way that I couldn’t fathom…

She took the chicken in the towel off my head, frowned, said something in Hungarian, and placed what should have been dinner back on my bloody wound. My hand reached up instinctively to hold it there, hold it so my brains and blood wouldn’t gush out onto the newly mopped worn floor. The fear curled and coiled in my gut until I was frozen in place, my hysteria paused by her words.

“B…bu…but what are they gonna do to me in the hospital?”

My voice quavered as I watched her calmly put her coat on. She looked at me and smile-smirked, a flash of something sparking her eyes crystal.

“Oh, probably cut your head off.”

I proceeded to get more hysterical.


I remembered that as I stood over my daughter lying on the slab of the MRI machine in Lenox Hill. Her Pediatrician stood next to me, an ancient, wizened old man with a head like a billiard ball. He was speaking to her softly, gently…something I…couldn’t do…not…now.

I was so fucking frightened.

The slab began to move, and he took my arm. “She’ll be alright,” I vaguely heard him tell me as he lead me out of the room.

All I could do was focus on the panic on her face…the shudder of terror…the unkown…God why the HELL was she so afraid of the dark???!?…her green eyes so frightened…left pupil so much larger than the right…trying so hard to be obedient then, not move her head in the blocks…

…When the machine began to move her into the tunnel that would scan her brain in stone cold black and white (the X-Ray showed nothing but the lump forming from the impact of her head against windshield), the halo of white light circumnavigating the circumference of the catacomb she was being dragged into crowning her like she was some sort of foolish, triumphant daredevil…

But she never cried once.





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