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"Fraggem" excerpt

Wednesday 10/2/19

“Incommode.” Delia came home from school with that new word and when she told me what it meant that night in bed I thought she was meaning on account of what I was doing. She learns words. Learns them fast. It’s not always just one a day. “Mom,” she says, “do you know what ‘jejune’ means?” and of course there is no way I know what jejune means because nobody does, but now I know incommode because I don’t want to be incommoding my own kid. This isn’t some ordinary kid. I get it, I get that every parent thinks that. There isn’t a mother out there who is all, “eh, mine’s pretty run of the mill, but she’s mine, I love her, wouldn’t want another,” but that’s the truth of it for most people, though maybe if they had experienced something else like when you try out a bunch of cars they would prefer another kid better. Give me Ron, give me Rich, give me Rebecca, give me the Ding Dong Ditch. But that’s life. You don’t get to know. So you think you know. Tell yourself you know. That’s the kind of thing I try to shield Delia from during this “right now” part of her life. Besides, some words—it’s more than you might think—are meant to exist, not be known by people. And what kind of mill would that be anyway? Kid mill. I think Bangladesh or Sri Lanka is like that. Poor people. A couple of my middle schoolers are Sri Lankans. They’re good at science.


You can’t be incommoded by a child you thought you’d never have who you always wanted. She wasn’t even a pound when she was born. I lived in that hospital. On couches. Not in a room. You’d be surprised how scarce beds are. Like everyone was out there blowing each other up. Resumption of hostilities. I’ll turn a phrase. We read books together. Getting cancer of the bowel. Burned by the kettle. I watched her nostrils open. That’s supposed to happen when they’re inside of you. It’s not something you get to see, but I did, because that’s how premature she was and I was there over that incubator. Jack came when he could. We made a joke about that, using that same line. He’d get off work and show up late at night. Eleven, twelve. “I came when I could,” he’d say, and I’d reply, “that’s what she said.” It was funny because it was like it was two weeks later, and that lady never stopped working on herself, because her man couldn’t get it done, she was determined to get there. That’s just more life stuff. “Hyperbolic,” like Delia said, another word she learned at school. I do science, she’ll probably do something with English. I told her she could be a surgeon, because she’s smart and good with her hands and she really likes cuts, she’ll look at photos of gashes on her computer that almost make me throw up.