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Monica Bielanko
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Four Month Immunization Blues.

The door closes and its just the two of us. Me and Violet. She's wearing just her diaper. I'm sporting my new Willie Nelson t-shirt. It says OUTLAW on it and that says a lot. I pull her in close to Willie, to my heart. Around then it sort of occurs to me that I need to take her out of her outfits and onesies more often. I need to just hold her in her skin sometimes. It's pretty slide your finger across a whole tiny chest of skin you helped make. I do this a few times and she grins big and gummy.

The lights are the bright kind that only doctors offices seem to have. They seem so bright: brush-burns on your arm look like red-lit landing strips at night. I nibble on Violet's scalp and button-push her little nose. I whisper to her. Look at the fish poster, here's a sink/see the water; goofy stuff to kill time I guess. I'm uncomfortable. Jittery. I bring her here to get these needles and the whole time until they sink the point, she has no idea what's up...what's coming.

Under these lights her eyes seem so blue today. They stare at me wide when I set her down on the crinkley clean paper strip they put down for each new baby patient. Holding my eyes hard to hers she feels the paper with her nude toes and begins to kick away at the air. It melts me. The whole scene melts decades worth of the ice up in me. Her lips stiffen all seriously and her eyes bulge and her little hands fist up. Hundred-proof determination gushes into the room like a hard flood. She kicks with all she's got: running in place and watching me to make sure I'm watching her. She's trying to impress me. She has to be. She's saying look at me Papa! I'm running to you even though its hard for me. You see me, right? I'm running!

I see ya, Sweetie!, I tell her. I touch her dimpled knees as they move.

I want to grab her up and bash/bolt to my right through the wall like The Hulk. Our shape in the bricks is all they would see. We go to the park and lay in the sun-speckled grass instead of getting needles. The nurse comes running in to see brick dust pillars in the streaking hole of daylight. Violet's clothes are still on the chair.

We stay though. We stay to prevent polio and rumba, or something that sounds like rumba. We stay to get the shots under the cold naked truth lights. We kick flappy paper until they arrive. We wrap our hands around each others finger and thumbs until they get here. Staring and smiling and nose-to-nose Eskimo kissing and Willie Nelson and clean clear baby skin and cooing and talking and moving our legs and not moving at all. Finally they come waltzing in like only one of us knew they would.

The needles.

They go into you, Violet, on the high meat of your chubby little thighs.

There is that flash of moment after they pierce your skin. That moment before that stranger known as pain comes strolling down your lane and knocks like a cop on the doors of your heart and your head. That moment when all the world is peace and quiet for just a faded second before your cries meet my bite crushed lip. Then your sobs soar so high they almost disappear up in the clouds. But they don't.

In my lap, we scream together.

Reader Comments (5)

Oh Serge, you really are one of a kind!

Two lucky girls!

May 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSharon

oh my lordy. Do you remember when you got your shots? I mean, like when you have to go through the later-in-childhood shots? i remember being five and still feeling so betrayed by my parents by them actually TAKING me somehwere so I could hurt. It kinda killed my little kid ego, until I was about nine and watched my dad get a flu shot and he passed out :)
I went with my sister to go get my niece her immunizations when she was little...that face is indescribable.

Oh, and i'm sure you already knew this, but you're an amazing writer.

May 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

xmastime & i were just talking about that yesterday. i'll never forget that moment as long as i live. felt like i'd thrown my boy to the wolves ... his stare and silent scream ... never felt that low.

will in bklyn

May 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

That is the worst, as parents, we would do anything to take the pain away, take it a hundred times worse just to alleviate the pain our little ones have to feel. The first time is always the worst...

May 21, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermizkylie

Oh I think I felt that one too!

May 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJenny

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