We were coming out of the school

Jacqueline Goldfinger

Photograph by Michael Howarth (2022)

We were coming out of the school and there’s this big
street in front, speeding cars, no one slows down. The
school crossing light’s flashing but fuckers fly right
through. And I just keep thinking, if we can get to
the, just get across town to - Doctor’s office at the
hospital and they can tell me, clarify, explain what the
hell the nurse meant on the phone, just get to the car.
So, I’m holding his hand, tight, we’re near the road
and he likes to count the cars, one red, Mommy, one red
one. And two blue, two blue ones.
So I’m holding - maybe
squeezing a little bit, I’m thinking, I have a breast
exam every year or two, every three at least. Maybe.
The road’s coming closer, okay now, hold his hand,
hold it tight. Tight, tight, tight. Ow, Mommy! Tight.
Better safe than sorry. Focus on our car. Almost
there. Then we will get him into the car seat, throw
his book bag in the trunk, slide the key into the
ignition, and head over to Doctor’s office. Must’ve
heard the nurse wrong. Rushing all day. 5AM-Up-
Dressed-Email-Breakfast. Cereal and milk all over the
floor-throw a towel over it. Go go go out the door.
Forgot keys. Back into the house. Fuck-Keys! Now,
gas. Please have enough-Yes! School-drop-off-hugs,
hugs, hugs, hugs-gas station-coffee-grocery store-
shop, local for us, canned for shul-library-shul-home.
Laundry! Shit! Should have put it in this morning.
facebook. Late lunch-dishes-swiffer wet. Phone call.
Late, late for school pick-up. Sorry. So, so sorry, ma’am.
Won’t be late again.
Get a life, you fuckin’ bitch. Oh,
hugs! Big hugs! Squeeze! Hold my hand. Hold tight. I
got you, the street’s right there, I got you. But I still
hear the phone ringing in the house-ringing-
answering-the nurse confused. She has the wrong
number. I know she has the wrong-but it’s gonna be
okay because I got you. I’m holding your hand. I’m
not going to let you run into the street. I’m holding-
squeezing-looking at the parked cars. Where did I?
Where did? There! Something wet. Wetness in my
hand-between my fingers-holding tight-getting
slippery. Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god. Broken
hand. Little pinky bone poking through the skin. And
blood-his screaming-screaming heard for miles. Why
couldn’t I hear it? Why couldn’t I-fast, move! Click to
unlock-car seat-key. Screaming, Mommy, Mommy,
Mommy, Mommy! You hurt me, Mommy!
And I can hear
him now. Drive-Doctor’s-Crying-I’m so sorry-such a
bad-nurse accidents happen. But I don’t believe her. And
she says what I called you about earlier. And I say, No.
Not now-not today. There are doctors-gauze-
lollypops-instructions, No bath tonight, buddy. And
finally painkillers knock him out. She says, I’ll call you
as I carry him out the door. And we’re back
in the car. He’s already asleep in the car seat. I put my
head against the steering wheel and I sit there. I close
my eyes. Because the Doctor can only fix one of us.
And she’s going to call again tomorrow. And I can’t
ever pick up the phone ever again

Jacqueline Goldfinger

Jacqueline Goldfinger (she/they) is a playwright, poet, and librettist. She won the Yale Drama Prize, Smith Prize, Generations Award, Barrymore Award, and Opera America Discovery Award (with Composer Melissa Dunphy). Her theatrical works have been produced at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, BBC 3 Radio (UK), Contemporary American Theatre Festival, Voces8 (UK), Gate Theatre (New Zealand), Oberlin Opera, St. Martin in the Fields (UK), Decameron Opera Coalition, and others. Her work has been supported by YADDO, National Endowment for the Arts, Millay Colony, The Orchard Project, Drama League, among others. For more information: www.jacquelinegoldfinger.com

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