We are nocturnal, again. I trundle through days and nights with attrition, neither asleep nor awake, merely treading water as I wait for the phase to pass. I adopt my own coping mechanism, a constant stream of espresso interspersed with pots of tea, as there’s nothing like a full bladder to keep you on your mark. Bloated but vertical, will just have to do.
As I wait outside the classroom with my youngest son for the others to join us, I am reminded of the steady stenographer. She would sit in the courtroom with her neatly crossed ankles below her tidy legs, encased in a pencil skirt, nursing a soft little pot belly of womanhood on her lap. Still as a statue, palms down. The only movement came from her curved fingers as the tips followed the words of all the parties present. Her neutral face was calm, open and expressionless.
I pay my son no heed as he is huge and eight and discretely inappropriate and waiting is always tough. He nestles into my body, not so much from the cold but for protection from other more ethereal attacks. His moans are sotto voce, the suppression expression of the frustration of waiting, whilst his fingers tap my tummy.
“It doesn’t hurt to me!” he bellows at 50 decibels as volume control is work in progress. All around the school yard, faces turn towards us with one accord on cue. Maybe a hundred pairs of black bee sunglasses stare blankly through the watery piercing sunlight, in the chill of the afternoon.
“Oh good. It doesn’t hurt me either dear.”
“Mom?” he continues.
“Are yah fat or pregnant?”