Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Monday night run

I turn to Sam and catch a dark expression as flits across his brow. So subtle, it is almost imperceptible. Did I imagine it? I watch more closely, searching his face. Nothing. Maybe I was wrong. Sam finishes his dinner without event and heads off to another room.

Moments later I hear a primal scream. Sam runs to the kitchen, dropping quickly to the floor in a loud thud. His scream morphs into a low and steady wail. Rigid, he props his body up with his elbows, his feet erect, high above his head. He tensely curls his legs toward his head and then straight up again.

“Sam, where do you hurt,” I ask. No answer.

Lost in some other place, he doesn’t hear me. He jumps up, crying as he runs in manic circles, eluding my grasp. I manage to get close enough to drop Tums into his mouth, hoping I’ve guessed the source of his distress. Hoping relief will come quickly.

Perhaps because I’ve ventured too close, he runs to the door. “Please don’t go.” I implore. “Please stay.” He pauses for a moment, almost listening, almost hearing me. But I lose him again as he runs to a different door. Before my eyes and within my reach, he bolts. And I am powerless to stop him.

Hearing noise Tony emerges. “Get him!” I direct, hoping Tony can run fast enough. Not convinced he can, I run to my car to follow.

By the time I reach the end of driveway, Tony is leading Sam back home. Surprised at the quick turnaround, I see why: Sam’s run is broken by a fall. His knees and elbows are badly scrapped; there are gashes on his hands and legs. “Bandage?” he asks hopefully, tearing up again. His earlier distress has been replaced by a more immediate need. He watches stoically as I clean and wrap his wounds.

Order is restored. The time lapse is so brief, I almost wonder if it happened. But his bandaged knees confirm the truth. I ask Sam what happened. “Did you hurt?” I ask. “Yes.” He points to his abdomen. Once again I remind him I can help and he shouldn’t run. “No run” he echoes, dismissing me as he drifts back to his world.

A few minutes later I remark rhetorically, “It would be so much easier if you just told me what was wrong.”  I don’t expect a response. I’ve never gotten one. For this reason, his reply catches me off guard. He glances up ever so briefly and flashes a quick, sly smile, saying:

“Get real, Pinocchio.”

With that I pause, unsure whether to laugh or cry. I shake my head and settle on a bit of both.

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