I park the walking wounded on the sofa and hand her a tablet because the icy-hot has failed to relieve her stiff neck as she lies on the sofa with a mircro-waved heat pad draped around her shoulders. I return to supper preparations for the starving millions and homework help for the tardy one.
Her younger brother, the only free agent, is always sympathetic to those with physical impairments, so he pipes up.
“Why is she?” as he pirouettes in the kitchen, because constant frenetic movement is an aid to speech production.
“Slept in a draught I suspect.”
“It gave her wind?” he asks, as he throws himself onto one counter and then bounces off the next, pin ball style.
“Um… no but it was a bit windy in the cabin so that’s probably why her neck hurts now.”
“Why she has it?” he says, pogoing the entire length of the kitchen, first forwards then backwards.
I try and think of other ways of packaging the essential elements of the message – sleep in draught, neck exposed to the cold, camping cabin chilly – but I’m struggling… “Er… she..the muscle…”
“No. Why she burps a lot?” he adds in time with his full-body jumping-jacks.
“I don’t think she does much, not by comparison to you two at any rate.”
“But the pill?” he continues, spin to the right, stop, spin to the left, stop.
“The pill is for pain.”
“They don’t make you burp a lot?” he says swinging his head down between his parted legs to speak to me upside down, his hair brushing the floor like an upside down cuckoo from his clock.
“She doesn’t have indigestion she has a pain in the neck.” The emphasis is purely accidental.
“Oh.” He stops abruptly, as if I stole his key. Clearly my tone is too sharp and windy with irritation.
“But it says,” he bleats as he peers at the jar, “Oopsie. Oh no it doesn’t,” he whispers. “Never mind!” he yells at fifty decibels charging from the room.
But I catch him mid dash, “it doesn’t what?”
“I thought it said ‘I burp often,’” but now I see it doesn’t.”
I turn the label around, run my eye over it again, “Hmm…yes, I can see how you might mis-read Ibuprofen.”