It is raining. She is upset when I get there. A tooth has broken off. When we ask if there is any pain she says no but every time her tongue finds the spot she cries out about her tooth. Like someone has stolen it. Her tooth.
I change the subject. Get her coffee. She finds two paintings and carries them around, yelling that they are hers. She made them. When she finds her tooth missing again she runs out of the room screaming about her tooth. She cries in the mirror. Runs to my little boy. Bending down in front of him she yells "I am not a person. I am not a person."
When she is calm enough I get her into the car. We have three and a half hours to spend and I won't spend them that way, her yelling at my little boy. I ask if we should drive north or south. Nobody answers. I pick north. Trying to find some old memory I say we are going to Building 19. We drive far, too far, still not far enough. It has been so long and I can't find it anymore. My memory fails me and I drive through Georgetown without remembering which way to go. I drive through Groveland. I turn into West Newbury and into Newburyport. Sam is tired and hungry. My mother slips in and out of sleep. Sam sleeps as we cross 95.
I ask my mother if she wants coffee. She nods. Two cups at a McDonald's window and I turn to drive back home. Nearing downtown Newburyport she takes a sip and I don't know what happened. She couldn't swallow it. Didn't swallow it. She explodes, her head hanging down than up again another explosion. She has no idea what is happening. I pull over, grab a blanket from the back and calm her as I try to brush the vomit off of her. She is whimpering. I tell her it is okay. I always tell her it is okay. We are a long way from home. As I drive she looks straight forward like a blind woman.
I get back into town. Find a place for Sam. I get her home and upstairs. Try to get her into the tub but she won't. She won't she won't she won't she won't. I leave the room and try again. I can't undress her. She yells at me, tells me I am jealous. Calls me her mother. I step out of the room and come back again as her daughter. She is crying and for a moment understands that she needs to get clean. Because she was sick. She is not bad. She agrees for the moment but before I can get her into the tub she is angry again. I leave the room twice more before she gets in the tub.
Clean now I find some clothes for her, dress her and get her warm. She seems to want to go to bed but won't climb in. Something clicks and she is angry again. She finds her bag and holds it like riot police hold shields. Keeping it between her and me, using it to move me back. We go from room to room. At the top of the stairs she tells me to get out. She says she will kill me. I change the subject. Get her looking for shoes. Downstairs a few minutes later she is hissing at me to get out. I plead with her like I am sixteen again. Like she is my mother. It does no good.