He struggles, floored, sweat-soaked while dogs dream the night away and cats prowl, eyes green spotlights fixing small animals that skitter in fright, and cows remain placid and a warm breeze riffles grass. She arrives, senses his panic, somehow knowing he had left their bed. She uses common sense words but with a breathless catch to her voice, soothes his fear, fumbles the tablet from its silver cell, balances water as he writhes. He has not had time to empty his bladder. She brings blanket and pillow, sees sweat patch his T-shirt, trickle down his temple, notes details for the questioning time later. She wraps something warm around her shivers then empties her own bladder fast, the door ajar, listening for any cry. She checks the time and traces over what they ate and drank, what they did, then considers possible effects of general issues and events so she will be ready when he analyses this, his old foe, when he is strong and rational, when he seems in control. He realizes he has cried out like a frightened child, remembers as though another person had cried out and he had been a witness. She asks his advice in case she has forgotten anything. She wants to nurse him but feels useless nursing the sick. Her confidence lies in other fields but she cares. This caring is what is important. He smells carpet dust, feels safer on the floor, concentrates so hard on his struggle the walls and roof could collapse and he would not see. Only when he knows he is safe again, recovering, does he relax. He is not going to die this time. She sprawls, leaning against the wall, fights off sleep’s inevitable pull, her own fear.
Ian C Smith’s work has appeared in, Amsterdam Quarterly, Antipodes, cordite, Poetry New Zealand, Poetry Salzburg Review, Southerly, & Two-Thirds North. His seventh book is wonder sadness madness joy, Ginninderra (Port Adelaide). He writes in the Gippsland Lakes area of Victoria, and on Flinders Island, Tasmania.
Regards, Ian C Smith, P.O. Box 9262, Sale, Vic, 3850, Australia, firstname.lastname@example.org.