This is a flasher from a Facebook writing project I participated in. It describes a moment several years ago when my son was in the hospital.


Night in the children’s hospital. Ceaseless beeping. Too much light. He is two years old. They carefully arrange the nest of cords so he can sleep the only way he will, on the comfort of my stomach. Around midnight the needle inserted to carry their caustic devil’s medicine comes out of the port implanted in his small chest. It traumatized him hours earlier when they put it in, and now they have to repeat the process through swollen, tender tissue. He’s terrified, but the surgeries stalled his speech development so he can only speak with screams, relentlessly piteous and piercing. It’s the one time I can remember that he ever looked at me in agonized confusion, as if to say, “Why don’t you help me?!”


Amidst these sterile noises and inane attempts to soothe, under multiple arms that are not mine holding him down, he hears the soft swish of the door behind the curtain. It’s ten feet away. His eyes widen with panic. I am sick in every way to watch the hell I have authorized for maybe a five percent chance. If it were me, I would rip that needle out and wave good-bye with my middle finger over the moon. But I don’t know if that’s what he wants.

Finally, they succeed in removing the port. As the last nurse exits, he is already falling back asleep, too weary for nightmares.

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