I went to see C again. I was so tired I just wanted to sleep and I had no idea how a visit would pan out and no capacity to think about it either. So I just went. Fuck it. Hope for the best. That’s how I felt.

On the way there, I thought about her request for junk food. I hadn’t brought her junk food on Monday, because I was going up there basically to punish her. I was so tired and more than a little overcome with a sense of futility about it all, but there is a shop outside the school and I bought junk food there.

The students joked when I came in. They said, “C isn’t here.” And I got really scared, because I didn’t see her right away. She wasn’t with her friends or near her own bed. I said, “Don’t say that. I get really worried.”

Anyway, she came over. She had eaten already. She asked me why I had come with a worried look on her face. It must be if I break the routine it’s very worrying. I told her I was worried, because the night before she had not been okay.

She tidied the things around her bed for a while, singing, and eventually began to study her physics. I felt without really thinking about it that I had the Teen with me. I don’t know what it is about the Teen, but I love her. She is so full of life, so purposeful. C sat on the bed, and I put my hand on her back from time to time. It seemed that she was shrugging it off, but maybe she was just moving. I began to think after a while I sort of have it right. This is about the right amount of closeness. I am here, I am talking to her cousin and not to her, I am touching her from time to time, but I am not sitting close to her. And she likes this. She likes mom being there, but not smothering her. She likes having mom there while she does her own thing.

After I had been there for about 45 minutes, C looked at her watch and I got the familiar boot. I didn’t move right away. I said something about her uncle and that’s when she said she didn’t want to go. I don’t know why she didn’t, but I am sure I’ll never know. I let that go. I said, “Do you want to stay at the higher school?”

She looked me in the eye this time and said in a kind of vulnerable way that she did.

I said, “I’ll keep you here then.”

I started to go after that. I hugged her and I got a hug back, less of a side hug, and more of something frontal. I was surprised actually, but I guess she felt connected again and safe.

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