Only If I Glare

by jkatejohnston

23 October 2013

Dear Max,

Two days ago Enzo woke up and his eyes were almost swollen shut. His nose and lips were swollen—the whole front of his face. It was still half-dark, and I didn’t see it at first. He climbed into my lap sideways and pulled his feet up. I asked him how he was feeling. (The night before he’d been doing this exaggerated wheezing. Or maybe it wasn’t so exaggerated.)

“My eyes hurt.” Then we looked at him, and oh my God.

“Can you see anything?”

“Only if I glare,”

We called the advice nurse, and Teresa went to the store for children’s Benadryl and white bread for toast and tangerine-orange juice and sparkling apple-grape juice. Later that morning Teresa took him to the doctor where he gave four vials of blood—all without making a peep—and peed in a cup. They’re testing him for every allergy under the sun. He got to spend the rest of the day playing with the new Lego set Teresa got him and glaring at the TV through his little slits. The swelling went down gradually.

I had to leave for a hearing in Sonora, where I accidentally bought him twenty-one dollars worth of candy—gummy coke bottles, candy boogers, candy corn, Runts and other classics, and I meant to get the gummy brains, but they were nowhere to be found when I came home and he poured out his treasure. I asked him about going to the doctor’s, he told me that his blood was almost black


I hate it when I get behind. It’s Wednesday morning, and I have to look at the notes on my phone to write about Sunday afternoon. (I text myself when I don’t have pen and paper.)

When we left the house in the early afternoon, the 49er’s were beating the Titans ten to zero. And at the Japanese fish store the guy behind the counter was wearing a Kaepernick jersey, and of course Enzo was wearing his too. The counter guy checked his phone, and I asked if the Niners were still winning. They were. We bought a lobster out of the tank (half price because already dead), then Enzo had me go all down the long case reading the name and origin and price of each fish. It’s all sushi grade and prices through the roof. (I hope Enzo’s not allergic to lobster, but it does seem the most likely candidate. Well, better that than wheat.)

After the fish store we went to the Y and played Frisbee in the soccer field, staying far away from trees because the Frisbee is the kind that’s just a ring and it tends to get stuck on branches. It was another one of those sweet warm fall days. Sycamores with white trunks, two right next two each other, one with leaves still mostly green and the other almost all ruddy yellow. The sky a pure deep blue. A freight train went by with dark orange locomotives, BNSF, The Burlington Northern and the Santa Fe. We’re both pretty bad at Frisbee, but we each had a few completed passes, and that felt great. Then Enzo threw one a little too hard into a tall scrubby oak at the edge of the field. It got stuck for a moment, then fell from branch to branch and then to the ground and Enzo, in the middle of the field, pretended to faint from sheer relief.