The Fabric of Time
by Raymond Cothern
Summer nights long ago in those streets below the hospital window, trucks with yellow flashing lights from the Louisiana Department of Mosquito Control hiss along slowly, the high whine of the compressors shooting out white spray behind the trucks like seeds from the crooked funnels of harvesters, killing the insects flitting among the trees or batting against screened doors, punctuating porch talk. Still, now, this summer night, more yellow lights flashing on the top of newer trucks in the neighborhood where once lightning bugs flickered along childhood streets and among bushes and in treetops and sometimes died only when caught in jars and their glow smeared across the front of t-shirts.
It is a night with my daughter like most others recently: carrying on and dealing with the constant monitoring of machines and infections and bodily functions (or lack of them), making an effort at small talk with any visitors, at being interested in matters outside of the hospital, most times the effort of reading a newspaper or book or watching the TV high up on the wall too much to overcome, walking the halls when the need to escape the room is high, peering into other sick rooms when doing so, making eye contact with other vigilant people, the heaviness of waiting etched always in expectant looks, wondering at other stories of illnesses, nodding at the thin young man in his robe wasting away, wondering at his thoughts as he stands at the end of the corridor looking out the window at the trucks spraying for mosquitoes, the knowledge of just how ill he is in his eyes, knowing his prognosis is dim, dealing with it the only way any of us can, one moment at a time, one after the other, then again and again, moments rushing together so quickly but strung out so endlessly that the fabric of time finally stretches and slows down.
Raymond Cothern studied writing at LSU under Walker Percy and Vance Bourjaily. He is winner of both the Deep South Writers Conference and the St. Tammany National One-Act Play Festival. Two of his plays have been produced in New York City , The Long Hymn of Dilemma as part of the DTE New Play Festival, and Fat Girl From Texas in the Distilled Theatre Company Short Play Festival. He was also a 2011 semi-finalist in the Playwrights First Award sponsored by the National Arts Club of New York City and a finalist in the 5th Annual Play Tour sponsored by cARTel Collaborative Arts LA. His fiction, poetry, and essays have been published in Manchac, Intro 8, Two Thirds North, American Antheneum, and in the book Meanwhile Back at the Caf? Du Monde.