Touch: The Journal of Healing


One-Sided, Mother Calls

    by Toni L. Wilkes

She has swelling on her head. The back. They tunneled

behind her ear to get to the shunt.


No, I can’t see it. Didn’t know he was going to do that.

We thought they were just replacing the line through her neck.

Two small incisions.


The arrhythmias? Better, I think. The nurse practitioner says

they’re not uncommon after this kind of surgery.


Yes, I know she’s never had them before.

And I’ll ask the surgeon about it if we see him.


I don’t know. He might be in later today. Do you want to talk

to her? Never mind, she’s waving you off. Pain.

She’s in a lot of pain. You know what your daughter’s like

after surgery.


No, no control for it this time.


We can’t use those painkillers. Can’t risk breaking up the clot

she needs between the line and carotid artery, I guess.


No, I didn’t ask. But she doesn’t want a full dose of pain meds.

She has a hard time getting off of them.


Look, it’s her choice not mine.


Yeah, I’m all right. Just tired.


Not right now. They’re taking her vitals.


I don’t know. If the doctor comes in, I’ll call you. But she’s going

home tomorrow. I have to work the day after. She has to go home

tomorrow. Okay, they’re done. Want to talk to her?

She’s waving you off again.


No, I don’t think you’re an airplane.    I’m going now.

     Downstairs for dinner.            I’ll have her call you.

© 2009 Toni L. Wilkes

Toni L. Wilkes graduated from UCLA. Toni’s first chapbook, Stepping Through Moons, is soon to be published by Finishing Line Press. Her work also appears or is forthcoming in Confrontation, Folio, GW Review, Roanoke Review, Rosebud, Sow’s Ear, Texas Review, Touch: The Journal of Healing, and other noted journals. Toni lives in Santa Rosa, California.


Copyright © 2009

Touch: The Journal of Healing

All rights reserved.