Albert’s Headache

I walked down the hallway and looked out the back screen door.  I would have to fix that screen because there was a hole near the latch that John had probably cut to get in when the screen was latched.  Big black flies could get through a hole that big.  I knew John didn’t care.  He had rusted all the screens in his bedroom because he was too lazy to walk down the hall to go to the bathroom like a normal person.

Thinking of John made me feel mostly mad, but there were some other emotions mixed in there, too.  He had been a fairly good little boy, but as he had gotten older he had turned into someone I couldn’t stand.

My head was hurting so bad!  I glanced at the aspirin bottle on the cabinet, but it hadn’t been but an hour since I took four aspirin. I needed to get rid of this infernal headache!  I picked up the aspirin bottle and read the directions one more time.  The recommended dosage was two aspirins every four hours.  Well, two aspirins wouldn’t touch my headache!

Hazel had most likely taken a taxi to the grocery store.  I should’ve driven her there, but she hadn’t waked me.  Everyone was acting differently around me now – almost as if they were tip-toeing and trying not to make me mad.

Yesterday when Winnie was at the house, she had opened my darkened bedroom door just a little, and said, “I love you!”  I had pretended to sleep because I wasn’t sure I loved Winnie.  She and Hazel had kitchen table talk-fests lots of days now, and then one or the other of them would suggest I go to a new doctor or go to Dallas.

I wish they would leave me alone!  I feel bad enough without having to fend them off constantly.  It seemed to me that everyone in my life had changed, but when I looked in their eyes, I saw that it was I who had changed. They looked at me with wariness and almost fear at times.  What had I done to be regarded in such a way by my family?  I’m sure they all knew, but they weren’t telling me!

I went back to stand and look out into the backyard.  It hadn’t rained but once in June, and here it was late July, and it was another day of heat without a cloud to break up the blue sky.

The summer grass had turned yellow and no one had mowed the lawn in quite awhile.   I couldn’t expect John to do anything.  He would’ve made such a mess of mowing the lawn that it wouldn’t have been worth it.  It was hard to push that old mower through the grass, and John didn’t like hard work.  I sighed in resignation because no one could do anything with John – least of all me.  I didn’t feel like riding herd on him today.  He was probably asleep in his room.  I didn’t want to know for sure.  Thinking about John made me tired, and I walked back down the hallway to my own bedroom at the front of the house.  Hazel kept the blinds closed and the room was as dark as it could be on a bright sunny summer day.

I think I would feel better if it rained.  I could imagine hearing the rain dripping from the eaves, and the trees blowing in a thunderstorm.

Hazel had insisted that we put in a storm cellar, but it wasn’t something I wanted.  I never went to the cellar when she and the kids and the neighbors crowded into it.  I thought thunderstorms were exciting and beautiful.  Sometimes I would stand at the window and watch the lightning streak across the sky in angry lines.  Then the thunder would boom and I would feel better.  I especially liked days when it rained all day – just a nice steady rain was very comforting to me.

I picked up the aspirin bottle and poured five into my hand and swallowed them.  If I could just buy myself a little time to feel better, I could mow the lawn.  It truly would be easier than trying to get John to do anything.  I don’t think anyone in my life has ever made me feel as helpless and hopeless as John made me feel.  Just looking at him made me mad.  To think that he had come from Hazel and me was an insult!  There was nothing of me in that boy!

I put my shoes on, and walked to the shed out back.  I needed to do so many things, but I felt so bad all the time.  I’d never been sick a day in my life, but now I’m destroyed by these horrible headaches.  Hazel thought they might be migraine headaches because she had migraines.  She would lie in a darkened room with a cool wet washcloth over her eyes, but she got better.  I never got any better….the headache just got worse and worse.

I looked in the shed at all my unfinished projects.   I needed to work on the seine.  It was only half done, but I didn’t have the energy to pick it up again.  I would have liked to have shown John how to make seines to catch fish, but he didn’t want to know things like that.  I put all the duck decoys that I had made on the work table in the shed.  Maybe someday John would want the duck decoys.  I looked at the push mower and then looked at the lawn.  It was mostly dead, and my headache was throbbing.   I felt defeated – by life, by John, by those headaches.  I wasn’t worth anything to anyone now.  I glared up into the sky and wished the sun would go away.   The sun beating down on me made everything worse.  My clothes were soaked now, but all I wanted was to take some more aspirin and lie down.

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