|Ten Years Ago
Author: Lori Hu Calmia PM
Where were you? Warnings for mentions of deathRated: Fiction K+ - English - Tragedy - Words: 755 - Reviews: 1 - Published: 09-11-11 - Status: Complete - id: 2951417
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Ten years ago, I was in second grade, deciding what to do for show-and-tell. Of course, it was going to be my favorite mystery book—a fan of murder mysteries even then—and then I'd probably end up in the hospital later that day for a seizure. It wouldn't be three more years before I could finally go to a normal public school, but until then I was more or less content with going to a private school for special needs children like me.
I summarized the book and accidentally gave the ending away before the teacher told me that spoilers weren't appreciated. I shrugged and sat down, less angry at her than at the male classmate who had been talking loudly during my five minutes of fame. It soon became clear that I wasn't the only one; the girl who sat next to me said that she wanted to teach the kid a lesson. Using the game "Telephone," at the time the best way to spread information, we as a class collectively decided not to pay attention when the boy did his presentation. It lasted only seconds; I started to flip through my book, but the teacher reprimands group of giggling girls to my right and tells us all to pay attention. Afraid of getting in trouble, I put the book away and the room seems to shift. It feels like an animal is burrowing under my feet and I wonder why I can't see anything out the window. My teacher screams, but it's quieter than I remember screams being. Later I find out that there was almost enough noise to muffle her.
Ten years ago, a school was shut down for minor infrastructure damage. I spent the rest of the year in the morgue, waiting for the chaos in the city to die down a bit and avoid slipping through the cracks.
It wasn't anything odd to walk into the morgue and be unable to see the floor in a room because there was a pile-up in Pelham Parkway. It was odd to walk into a morgue and be unable to find an autopsy table with less than three bodies on it, all fully clothes, none identified, not even covered, and to still have to toss another body onto the pile-up. It wasn't anything odd to walk into the hospital and see doctors running around, not even seeing you, because some restaurant forgot to boil their eggs correctly. It was odd to walk into the hospital and not see a single doctor because they were all somewhere else; even the desk clerk was gone. It wasn't odd to hear a bunch of phones ringing during flu season because it tends to bring out the most paranoid in people. It's odd to hear every single line on every single phone light up multiple times and suddenly stop; the power grids have finally given out. It used to be odd to see a camera crew following me as I pushed a gurney with AY. It suddenly became odder not to; there were more cameras than toe tags in Manhattan during the busy day that became a busy week, busy month, two, three, six.
It used to be odd to sleep on the couch in the doctors' lounge; doing so meant you were in need of psychiatric care. I don't even recall how long it was that seeing five of us piled on the two-person couch became commonplace. All I remember was being surprised to find out that April had passed by, my father (whom I hadn't seen for a while) was living in California with my mother because the landlord couldn't be bothered to turn on the abused electricity and phone lines. Apparently, the hospital wasn't the only place that repeatedly lost coverage.
I had to repeat the second grade back in my old epilepsy research center in Indiana. AY moved with me to take care of me and to take a much-needed break. The city that never sleeps needed a nap, and went to Indianapolis to get it. Just reflecting makes me tired. I'm going to go back to sleep. And then I will go to the morgue to volunteer. Every morgue needs an AY, and she's taking a vacation today. I don't blame her; I'll be more than happy to cover for her.
I will cover for you, too.