NOW he yelled with his big horse’s mouth she was not a steak, he could not just order her fine—June went over to that poor child and held his arm together while the doctor set it and wrapped it. She tried to ignore that knocking on the other side of the door, it was insistent but not loud but constant, she just wouldn’t stop, that woman—how could she not get it? You can’t take care of your child you don’t get to, that would be her law anyway I mean they’re not born evil, they are children—what was he doing wrapping his arm up like that like he wanted to squeeze all the blood out of it, the boy’s fingers were practically turning blue and now he told her to cut off his shirt it was in the way, the cast had to go farther up to keep the elbow stable.
So she did, and her hands were a little cold so they were shaking but he didn’t have to glare at them like that, the shirt was flayed away and for a minute June couldn’t breathe because she had never seen skin like that, so pinched with ridges of stark white that shone like plastic and those raised spatters that were stretched and glossy, some still gently tensile pink like newborn skin when she touched it, not tough and unyielding like the others almost completely covering his back, his arms, as though he’d been daubed and decorated with slashes of white paint—
“On farms,” he said, he had the gall to say, he had the…fucking gall to say then, “On farms they sustain a lot of injury at a young age, being around all of that heavy machinery and large only relatively domesticated animals, it’s really nothing unusual,” and the woman outside would not stop knocking, it’s like she wanted to wear away only that portion of the door with her flat sharp knuckles so she could just see in, so June told him, she couldn’t believe she heard this come out of her own mouth and wondered if it even was her when she asked him, why don’t he just shove it up his ass, and then she left. June stood up and walked over and flung open the door with that woman in mid-knock and left, because even though he just sat there watching, his mouth gaping open and closed like a fish, she knew he’d make her leave so she did, and in doing so let in, gave proximity to, that dangerous, dangerous woman.
—done thank god there he was, his arm looked almost completely fixed up now. He looked just limp, like when he was a sweet sleeping baby— NO, Kathy told herself, she may not be this way, this willful forgetting won’t work any more she knows this, that’s why she’s here, she will not go to him. She thought on some level Eugene knew too, because when she went into his room early this morning, even though it was dark and even though she inched open his top dresser drawer not making one sound, he sat up like a shot, fully upright straight out of sleep and ran before she could even react. Kathy caught up with him downstairs working the lock on the back door and grabbed his hand when he ran through. She heard that snap, and saw his arm twisted like ribbon candy though he still loosed himself from her, shook his hand right out of hers, and was outside in just bare feet and old flannel pajama bottoms in the deep snow and freezing air. Luckily Eugene stopped at the edge of the field with those severed stalks jutting up through the snow, he must have remembered slicing his feet last time, so she was able to throw the blanket around him and half-drag, half-carry him back to the house. He was getting far too big for her to fully carry now. Too big and almost stronger than she was, she knew that time would come. She sat him down at the kitchen table, then climbed up the kitchen stool to remove her husband’s vial from behind her mother’s good china on the top shelf. A wave of hot air hit her up there and for a minute she thought she might fall but it passed. She climbed back down slowly. She crushed one tablet with a knife and mixed it into a spoonful of jelly. His mouth flapped open before she was even fully back across the kitchen so she could easily spoon it in. Eugene swallowed, and they waited for it to take effect. One-half tablet no longer worked. He was getting too big, and the few that were left rattled like teeth when she wedged the vial into her purse, realizing it was time, it is that moment right before the final tiny grain of sand falls the wrong way on the sloping, mile-high pile, and it all just collapses. She washed his face and brushed his teeth and carefully dressed him, taking care not to jar his injured arm. She slipped on his socks and tied his shoes and slowly led him out to the station wagon.
She lowered Eugene into the back seat and slipped the safety belt over him and clicked it closed. He did not fight her this time, she was relieved because insurance said they would not cover another pair of glasses. She had to wait almost an entire week last time for the swelling to go down before she could go anywhere and no one would ask questions. She had tried, no one could accuse her of not. She would drive him to those programs but they were all at least two hours away and Eugene would be beside himself by the time they got there, being cooped up in the car for so long he couldn’t follow the rules. They would always make him leave, and they would have to drive back two more hours. Once he put his hand straight through the window. Luckily Kathy found her husband’s pills worked because the programs would always shut down anyway, nothing survives with no money. So today she shut his car door and locked it, got behind the wheel and slowly backed down the snowy driveway to the empty grey lash of highway. It was time.
Kathy watched the doctor and the orderly put Eugene in a wheelchair and wheel him out to the front desk and point at some papers for her to sign, so she said, “I am here to invoke the Safe Haven Law of the State of Nebraska,” and dug the two packed plastic bags and the rusty orange vial out of her purse, it felt much lighter now, and left them on the counter. He was no longer hers so she left him.