Past sagging triple-deckers where she had roomed as a student and
older, prouder houses high on the hill, up to the stone-and-granite tower
marking Revolutionary War battles and Civil War training grounds.
Then back down by the pubs and pizza joints and “oriental places” (as
her downstairs neighbor, Maxine, called them) to her own increasingly
unfamiliar neighborhood, with the bakery that sold eight-dollar loaves
of bread, a “luxury” apartment structure where the methadone clinic
used to be, and a new, separate, protected lane for “damn bikes” (
Talia’s route rarely varied. Except that on this cold gray spring day,
after heading out for her morning jog, she instead found herself in the
hospital, with little understanding as to how she had come to be there.
By the time all the tests were done, over a day had passed and Talia had
been transferred to a tiny room on an upper floor. The clothes from her
jog were bunched in a lump on the windowsill. It seemed ages ago that
she had worn them—stepped into the nippy May air with no great worry
about dying. But she was forty-five years old; lots of people died in middle age. She wondered where her sneakers were.
The neurologist, a disconcertingly young woman with a posh Indian
accent, explained what the MRI had revealed. No tumors—that at least
was good news. What appeared to have caused the seizure, as far as Talia
could comprehend, was a small hole in her brain. It probably had always
been there, the young doctor said, her elegant inflection making this appalling fact somehow acceptable. Medication would keep it under control.
“Well. Shit.” Talia tried to stay calm. But beneath her shock lay a familiar, simmering panic. Even if this small hole did not kill her, she was
pretty certain she couldn’t afford it.
The doctor was saying something about a prescription and to con-
tinue on the blood thinner and that she would like to see Talia in one
week. “And it’s best if for the time being you refrain from running.”
“Jogging. Really, I barely even sweat. I don’t see how it could set off a
The doctor allowed that the seizure might have been mere coincidence.
“But let’s wait a week or so. Now, what questions do you have for me?”
Talia asked if there might be a cheaper room available.
“I’m pleased to report that you’re being discharged.” Little gold earrings bobbed from the doctor’s earlobes. “Have you got someone to accompany you home?”