*This excerpt is from a current work-in-progress and may vary significantly from the final product.*
Samuel sat on his bed, focused on the table where he kept his nebulizer supplies. He filled the medicine compartment of one nebulizer with budesonide, then the second with cromolyn sodium. In his peripheral vision, every few minutes he’d catch the blur of movement that was his daughter, Emily, racing around from one side of his bed to the other. It was part of their evening routine; she’d work out some of her energy before curling up beside him while he inhaled the aerosoled medicine, one after the other, for fifteen minutes each.
This room was smaller than the master bedroom in their old house, so she had less room to run, but she’d learned early to double her jumps and half circles in order to make up for it. Sam smiled faintly at her as he attached the mask to the second nebulizer, then affixed the compressor tube to the set. Her curly light brown hair bounced as she wiggled around the room, breathing hard and beaming every time she touched the bed post or dresser or doorframe. It was part of her game, counting. See if she could race to the headboard before she finished counting to five three times in her head, then see if she could tap the first drawer of the bureau in five times two. Five was her favorite number, even though she’d recently turned six and had started kindergarten.
She jumped on the bed, landing on her hands and knees, grinning, her fair skin flushed. The foam mattress didn’t jostle. Sam smiled, his heart aching a little every time he saw her. She looked more and more like Adrienne every day. Sam grabbed the remote and raised the head of the bed so he could be supported while he sat up. The adjustable foam bed had been expensive, but worth it. Although he still woke at least once a night, he breathed easier sleeping upright than he did flat.
“Daddy!” she yelled, panting with exertion and excitement.
He laughed. “Yes, Em ‘n Em?” he said, using a nickname her mother had picked out for her.
Emily bounced onto her knees. “I made a story in school. Can I read it to you while you breathe your magic medicine?”
“Of course you can, sweetie.”
“Oh!” she said, bouncing again. “I forgetted it. I’m gonna go get it!” she yelled, hopping off the bed before Sam could correct her.
He sighed, rubbed his chest. It was tight. Not the urgent crushing discomfort of an attack, but just enough to let him know he likely wouldn’t be sleeping well tonight. He debated grabbing another nebulizer chamber and doing a treatment of albuterol first. Instead, he opted for a quick couple puffs from the rescue inhaler he had for when he left the house. After a few minutes, the tightness relaxed, and he felt confident the rest of his medicine would make its way into his lungs. Sam shifted on the mattress, getting more comfortable. Maybe moving back home had been a mistake. His asthma had never been worse, and although he tried not to worry, his greatest fear was not being there for Emily, for leaving her alone.
“Daddy! Look!” Emily called, climbing into the bed beside him. “I made this!”
She held up a folio of drawing paper made into a makeshift book. The cover showed a dark, scary monster made of streaks of black and gray crayon, with two red, beady eyes and rows of sharp teeth. In crude handwriting, a mix of capitals and lowercase, with the occasional backward letter, it said, “Az Monster.”
“Oh, wow, that’s scary,” Sam said, his finger smoothing over the waxy drawing.
“Yeah,” she said, then opened to the first page. “But that’s only the cover,” she whined, as if Sam had been dumb in not realizing that. “It’s a whole book I made for you. And I’m going to read it so you can get a story.”
“OK, Em. I’m going to start my medicine now, but I’ll be listening the whole time.” He slipped the mask onto his face, adjusted it until it fit snugly, then turned the compressor on. Sam leaned back against the mattress once the flow of mist began to swirl up, so he concentrated on taking slow, deep breaths, followed by short, quick exhalations.
Emily snuggled up against him, his arm wrapped around her, and began to “read” her story, which Sam could see was primarily illustrations.Share:
Oh! Sounds very interesting!