Thursday, October 08, 2009


The couple across the street are flirting, flinging a banana back and forth at one another. They walk so that they are always touching - shoulders, hands, hips. After a minute of the banana game, they stop and embrace. The guy, a foot taller than her, is standing on the curb as she stands on the street. She looks so tiny, the extra inches from the curb exacerbating that image. The hug lasts a long time, they separate, hands touching as long as possible. Then he gets into his little blue Honda and she gets into her white Chevy and they drive off in separate directions.

The courtroom is packed. Our wet jackets and umbrellas lay on the ground, our heads damp, our thoughts on the scene in front of us.

The defendant is crying, sobbing, reaching through the Plexiglass for her daughter. The public defender is trying to get her to calm down, the prosecutor is clicking away on the computer, and the judge is looking down, reading his file. I am watching this lady cry. I am watching the girl in the gallery compulsively open and close her fist as her mom reaches for her. I am watching the guy with his arm slung around the girl, looking bored, his eyes half closed. I never really understood the description "heavy lidded" until I looked at him. Suddenly my brain sees Bellatrix Lestrange in an entirely different light.

I am conflicted. These two both look pained, but this defendant? She is accused of dealing drugs to children. I feel a pressure on my chest. I can't breathe. I am glad I am not the judge. I begin to start visualization techniques in my head: here's what Bellatrix looks like, here's what Lupin looks like, here's what Sirius looks like in dog form. Damn it, why am I thinking about Harry Potter? Lives are changing. Why am I so self-absorbed? The weight settles again. I have to breathe out of my mouth.

The judge makes his ruling. The woman sobs as she is led back into the jail. The girl sobs as she exits the room. I pretend I haven't been staring at the heavy lidded boy as he shuffles his way out of the courtroom. The weight on my chest grows heavier.

He is four and a half months old. He should only be one and a half months old and we're supposed to remember that. His eye exams are normal. He is off oxygen. He is over ten pounds now and his face is so chubby my heart can hardly stand it.

We all worry. We worry about those brain bleeds early on his life. We worry about those blood transfusions. We worry about the early doses of morphine. We worry because those cheeks are chubby, yes, but his eyes? Are his eyes focusing? Are they supposed to? Is he reacting to us the way he should? He's fucking cute - everyone at the church stops and stares at him and his twin sister - but still there's something, isn't there? Something not quite right? Is it just that he's slower in developing? Is it that we're paranoid? We're looking for something, so we're going to see it? He's only supposed to be a month and a half old. We're supposed to remember that.

We don't say anything to his parents. I just grab him and treat him like I'd treat any other baby, which is to say carefully and gingerly and cheek eating and belly rubbing. I look at my husband, he looks at me, and we shrug. There's nothing any of us can do and only time will tell.

He's only supposed to be a month and a half old. We're supposed to remember that.

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