It began with a cough. Her brother had a cough. And, after all, what was a cough? They had all had them. In winter, they passed them around like sweets. Enough coughing meant no school. Although sometimes we sent them off anyway—risking a call from the school nurse, who only half the time would be convinced by our pleading that it was nothing—so that a few more hours might elapse before the apartment filled with their books and the paper wrappers from their snacks.
2020欧洲杯最新战况But now it was August, and we were at the beach. All winter we dreamed of the house, with its blue floors, the tiny periscope hole in the roof, the red chairs, the rickety porch with its view of the bay. The children turned brown. It was hot. The sea was flat. At low tide, a little pool appeared, and a sandbar, and she, the youngest at three, stood on tiptoe in the water, screeching when an inch-high wave hit. “I think the water’s actually cold,” she ran to tell us. “No, I think it’s actually warm.” We sat by the edge in our low beach chairs, the same chairs that used to embarrass us when our parents brought them to the beach. Why do we have so much stuff? we would ask them, eager to be free of it all, of the towels and swimsuits and bottles of juice and fruit, imagining ourselves alone on an empty stretch of beach, naked, with a rucksack. Now we’re the ones who unload the car and carry the heaviest bags.
She’s so little we let her run naked, even though we have learned that turning brown is bad. We are careless, self-indulgent, to let her do it. By late afternoon, the sun has slipped behind the enormous high dunes, and blue shadows lap at the water. When she comes up from the edge, she is shivering. Her older sisters and brother and their friends are far out in the waves, on their boogie boards and surfboards, unidentifiable in their black wetsuits. We keep track by counting. One, two, three, four, five, six. Is that Anna? We ask each other. Do you see Nick? There’s Rose. “Come in now! Come in!” we scream at them, our arms making huge pinwheels so they will pay attention. It is easy for them to pretend they don’t see us.
2020欧洲杯最新战况During the night, she coughs on and off, and wakes once. The wind on the bluff pounds the house. In the morning, it is hot and blue again. We get to the beach after lunch, but the sun is still high. From the top of the dune, shielding our eyes, we look for the cluster of bright umbrellas that mark the colony of our friends. They hail us. The older children jump like seals into the waves and swim out to their pals. She stays by the edge. Today, there is another child her age, but she’s cranky and won’t play. It’s too much sun, she didn’t sleep, we explain to the other child’s parents, chagrined. Secretly, we’re annoyed: why won’t she just play nicely? The younger children are fooling around with the surfboard, and she wants to try. A wave rears up suddenly, a dragon, foaming at the mouth, she’s hurled underwater and onto the sand. Everyone races to help. How can we have allowed this to happen? This is appalling! She is young, much too young for these high jinks. She comes up sputtering. What kind of parents are we? Until someone else makes a mistake, our reputation is shaken.
That night, she wakes up every hour coughing. The cough catches her throat, grips it, then lets go. We give her some children’s medicine to make her sleep. At some point, I lie down beside her in her bed, and when I wake up it is morning.
The day is blustery and cool. On and off, we feel her forehead. Tonight is a friend’s birthday, and we will be nine people for dinner. The middle children go next door to babysit for the younger ones. She sleeps upstairs through the noise. When everyone has left, she wakes up, coughing. When I put my arms around her, she begins to vomit. Get a bucket, I say to the nearest child. They know the drill. We’ve been through this countless times, with one or the other of them. We have been awakened by children standing by the side of the bed with bloodied noses, by a decade of earaches. But now—and we don’t know why—we are frightened. She vomits again and again into the bucket, taking rasping breaths. Her forehead is warm but not hot. Her arms flail, and she isn’t focussing.
We do not have a telephone. The cell phone works only if you walk a quarter mile down Corn Hill to the public-beach parking lot. There are no all-night drugstores. This is why we come here. We like it. We are against the plans for the new Stop & Shop in this small Cape Cod village.
2020欧洲杯最新战况Get Anne, I say. One of the children, white-faced, returns from next door with Anne, who left the table only twenty minutes ago. While we are nonchalant about our children, Anne’s father was a doctor in rural South Africa, and knowing more—knowing what can happen—she is careful. When she peers into the bed, she agrees right away that something is wrong: the child looks odd. Her breathing is coming in shudders. Someone remembers that Giulia’s grandmother, down the way, has a telephone. No doctor at the Health Services, in Provincetown, is on call for summer residents; we must call the Rescue Squad. We worry that we are being ridiculous, but we call. “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” Anne asks. “That you don’t need them?” Her father goes out into the dark to wait for the Rescue Squad.
The van comes in five minutes, red lights flashing. Her temperature is 100.1; her vital signs are normal. If we are worried, we can take her to the hospital in Hyannis, an hour away.
2020欧洲杯最新战况We decide to wait until morning. In the kitchen, she sits on my lap in one of the red chairs. Because we have run out of medicine and not replaced it during the day—another sign of our foolhardiness, our nonchalance—even though it is too late, we call our friends up the road, Luke and Emily, the parents of our children’s friends, and they arrive by car in what seems like an instant, bottle in hand. I take off my vomit-covered sweater. She throws up, just a little, on my shirt. But she is smiling, at Emily, who is looking at her with great tenderness, saying, Poor baby.
The next morning, while the other children sleep, we take her in the station wagon to the health clinic in Provincetown. The waiting room, streaming with light, is almost empty. Two emaciated men sit next to each other on the wall facing the parking lot. There are no appointments until later in the day, but the nurse, after looking at me, comes out to the parking lot to have a look at her. Immediately, there is an appointment. The nurses are beautiful and tall. This is Provincetown, and I wonder briefly if they are transvestites. The doctor’s lovely mild face is perplexed. It looks like a virus. Her fever is 101.2. We are to alternate Tylenol and Motrin every three hours. Her skin is dry to the touch.