is one of a mass of primates...


Her shoulder-length hair was tufted and soft, like a chickadee's feathers during a snowstorm. She pulled herself into a triangle, leaned long over her outstretched legs, the white sheets still crisp beneath her and the pillow without indentation. 

"This is fine," she murmured languidly to her husband, as he placed down her utilitarian black bag. "Yes, I would love a coffee," she agreed, and he stepped purposefully out the door. 

"This is bullshit," she hissed, turning her head towards me for the first time, her pupils suddenly honed on my face, her lips wrapped tightly around her teeth. "This is total bullshit! I have never been sick in my life!" Despair crawled from her mouth, ruptured out of her eyes. Her hands slapped the wrinkles in her blouse. 

"I came to this country and I worked hard. Every day, I worked hard. Now, my children are grown, doing okay, and I am thinking of retiring and going on a trip, having some fun, finally taking a break... I worked so hard! This is such bullshit!! It isn't right!"

Her hands quaked dangerously, extended and retracted into fists. The window was obscured by the width of a curtain; her face was pale and yellowish in the fluorescent light.  

"Just when I want to enjoy myself, I am going to die. Do you hear me? I am going to die! And I worked so hard," her voice razored the air. 

Her face was a mass of rage; tears would not come. Relief would not come. Her jaw was clenched, the air heavy and still. 

"French roast is perfect," she purred, as he returned with two cups. "Yes, honey, I'm settled in. You can go to work now. Everything is fine."  

She glanced at me, a momentary flash of warning in her dulled eyes. 

I reached for the blood pressure cuff. 

- kc