“I’m so sorry!”
At first I thought apologizing might be enough this time. She’s always so kind and gentle under normal circumstances, after all, and she responds to my words with a gracious nod and a reassuring smile.
And then she moves toward the mask.
It is not a decorative piece, but an important tool for her—a ventilator covering mouth and nose, with a small attached canister containing what she needs.
I know what’s coming. I feel myself shaking already while her steady hands affix the straps to her head.
Under normal circumstances, she is kind and gentle. When she twists the valve to open the flow, when she breathes in her medicine, however…
She inhales deeply, and I watch the mournful expression slowly fade from her eyes, to be replaced by an intense sharpness.
Her eyes fall upon me. I recognize the look with dreadful intimacy.
Her medicine fills her with the capacity for cruelty she ordinarily lacks.
Under normal circumstances, she could never bring herself to hurt anyone, but now I cower in fear of my imminent punishment.