Something about her – her quiet concern, or maybe her sheer resemblance to her mother – gave me the space to offer smoething further, an explanation of why I couldn’t eat that came out as a thin echo of my old words of complaint: “I cain’t. I don’t feel good.”

Even that simple statement took a little time and effort, and Candace was almost to the French doors when she turned, her chin lifted, not like Gabe’s old audacious smile, but simple interest. “Really?” she said. “Maybe we need to get you some Tylenol or something.”

“I cain’t,” I repeated, trying hard to make her understand the weird limitations of my life: the lithium and the pregnancy, the sickness and the cure, but it was no use. It was nearly inexplicable, making me stand there a moment, groping, then finally tell her bluntly, “I’m pregnant.” Which was the reason I couldn’t take Pamalor anymore. Dr. Williams said the lithium was enough of a risk, any other medication, simply not a possibility, if I intended to keep the baby.

At this simple announcement, Candace’s eyes widened to the size of quarters. “You’re what?” she breathed.

But her shock scared me off, making me drop my eyes and turn away in confusion, gathering plates and cups and busying myself with straightening the kitchen, while she marched back to the phone and started making another round of calls. She stretched the cord as far as it would go to stand in the privacy of the living room, though she was speaking so loud I could hear her openly combatant tone as she told someone, “Yeah? Well, I don’t care what he’s doing, I need to speak to him right now.”

I gave her a wide berth, though snatches of her aggrieved voice occasionally drifted out the open doors: “— didn’t somebody tell me?” There was a pause, then she spoke with even more heat, “What’s not to notice, Michael? She must have had bruises on her the size of Nebraska – he almost had to rebreak it.” Then a final silence, and a massive sigh, “Yeah, well he doesn’t sound like much of one to me. Sure. Bye.”

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