“Stop,” I said. “There's nothing to be gained.”
Martha left the quilt untouched, and stood back up. “You're right,” she said.
“Just open the door,” I said, but she couldn't just open the door. She had to take the curtain down from the bedroom door too, lest I trip. But then she opened the door. “And just get out of the way,” she said, speaking for me, and moved aside.
The quilt on the floor, where Kiki had been examining it most closely, lay half over a throw rug, giving me a glimmer of hope. I reached my gloved hands to the far side, rapidly bundled the quilt together, and lifted the whole of it up in the throw rug, a cradled bundle. Quickly but smoothly I trotted out of the room, out of the house, out into the depths of the yard. Dropped the bundle and lifted the quilt by one corner.
The edge of my eye glimpsed the rat in flight – a young one, I suppose, for she had an extraordinary length of tail, which curled and flew like a whiplash in a Disney cartoon. She ran like a squirrel, bound after bound, her tail describing elegant curves the while, and then vanished into the shrubbery toward the street. She was slender and black and beautiful: and she seemed improbably fit and sound, for a creature who had – presumably – been carried inside, through the open window, in Kiki's jaws.
The peach was not quite ripe: though sweet, it was dry and tart, more of a piece with its skin than a peach is supposed to be. And the sweet potato too, though I've gotten much better at microwaving tubers, was a little unsatisfactory. But the salad was good, and the chicken was salt but delicious. I was so hungry, when I got home. I'd let myself get hungry and stupid. Bad planning. But I stuck to it, and cooked, and ate real food. So there's that.
My client last night felt suddenly sick, at the end of the massage, and horribly thirsty. I helped him up and he took a couple steps and collapsed on the couch. I got him a drink. I didn't like the look of him at all: pale and sweating. I took his pulse. Strong and regular. (I didn't bother to count, I just wanted the reassurance of a good beat.) Asked him questions about how he felt, mostly to see if his speech was slurred: it wasn't. Then he measured his blood sugar with (to me, who had never seen it done before) incredible rapidity. 48. Good Lord. Coma range. Luckily – or rather prudently, luck had nothing to do with it – he had fruit handy, berries and an orange. I helped him walk to the kitchen to get them. Within a few minutes he was looking better, though he still felt horrible. By the time I left, his blood sugar was over a hundred, and his wife was with him. I'd never seen hypoglycemia before, though of course you learn about it in school. They tell you to have candy handy, in fact, because massage typically lowers blood sugar levels twenty points or so. (I have no idea why it does this, actually, or how. Ignorance.)