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Same Blood

Houghton Mifflin

Ballantine Books
 February, 1990


Part One,
Chapter 1

Page 18

it feel even more waterish. Oops, Bubby’s wakin’ up, Daddy. I gotta nurse him. I don’t want him to git cryin’ how he does when he can’t find me and it’s dark. And it’s our last night.

It’s been almost a whole day since the needle come. My breasts swelled up hard and died down like a set of lungs movin’ slow. Then I laid back on the black vinyl and I seen it, Daddy, the bear. He got shot by one of them city hunters you hated. Wouldn’t stalk him like a decent man into the woods, wouldn’t travel his land. He tricked him instead with that bear lure you said ain’t no part of a true hunter’s pack. Daddy, Bubby’s dead. They found a hole in his belly after he fell smack on his face on Adele’s floor. Stone cold and white. Adele, she rushed him down to Cartsdale and they called me at Dr. Muller’s. They say it’s a hole been wearin’ through a long time but I know it was the needle finally done it—same day, Daddy, same time. They couldn’t figure out why he didn’t hurt, why he didn’t complain. I tried to tell him, the doctor, I told him ’bout Teator’s cows and how you’d taught us to switch over and what we seen then. I told him ’bout the Poughkeepsie Bridge and them steel cables holdin’ us together. I told him it was me the whole time feelin’ the pain, I had switched over—it was by mistake, I couldn’t help it—it was me felt his belly grindin’ down, it had worn through, when the needle come. It was the needle ripped it, ripped me right outa him, ripped us apart, the needle. Adele come and hold me and set me down and I had to wait on the bench outside the operatin’ room. Like I was at a dentist, a magazine layin’ there on the stand next to me and the lady’s teeth on the cover was so white, Daddy, and big, like they was gonna eat me up.

Then one of them nurses come out and says, “He’s gone,” and, “I’m sorry,” and I ain’t thinkin’ nothin’, I follow her in and see a sheet stretched over a lump—coulda been a pillow. They couldn’t even leave him for me, Daddy. Soon as he left, they go and put a sheet over him and I had to lift it to see him. But he was gone. My brain didn’t feel nothin’. Like the bone in my forehead right over my eyes got real big and hard. Or like I missed a sentence in one of them word problems at school and I couldn’t finish, go on.

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