The Healer in the Motel

Mother stamps on the floor above me and I awake from a dream of dying.

I am in room number 3 in the Bevonshire Motel on Beverly Boulevard and Mother is in room number 12, above me.

I look at my watch on the night table. It is eight o’clock.

Hurriedly I get out of bed, dress, leave my room, and climb the stairs to the second floor.

“Who is it?” she asks suspiciously from behind the closed door, though the stamping has been her signal for me to come to her room for breakfast.

“It’s me,” I say, and she opens the door.

“You sleep late these days,” she says. “You never used to sleep late.”

In truth, I have lain awake much of the night wondering what I’m going to do if she is the way she was when I arrived the night before. I was stunned to see the change in her from three months earlier. On the phone each week, she has given no indication of any difficulty. But the moment I entered her room I saw how she slumped at the table, her glasses awry, how she struggled to get up, then sat down, then got up, then sat down. You should have paid more attention, I berated myself. You know how good she has always been at hiding anything about herself.

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