We had recently arrived home after dropping Andrea off at the airport. The children were all weeping with exhaustion and mourning the fact that their mother was going to be gone for close to a week. I had struggled through the door with a child under both of my arms, and we all collapsed onto the couches and chairs surrounding our living room. Andrea’s plane hadn’t even taken off yet, and we were all ready to have her back. How would our family survive without her motherly instinct to guide us?
It was somewhere in this half sleeping nightmare of screaming children and dry rubbing of eyes that I realized that my stomach was very upset. I leaned my head back onto a pillow and groaned my own low fatherly moan to complete the chorus of agony that was echoing inside the room.
Clara was able to sense my pain, and in that moment she had the mercy to stop wailing for a brief moment and come to my side to ask what I was feeling.
“My stomach is just upset,” I told her. “Don’t worry about it. I’ll be alright.”
I forced myself to my feet, scooped up the younger two children, and dragged them up the stairs in the direction of pajamas and the quickest possible end to the day.
As I was stuffing Gideon’s kicking legs into a pair of something soft that he could sleep in, I noticed Clara was a once again standing patiently at my side. She had disappeared for a few minutes and I had never questioned where she had gone.
“Here!” she said, sticking out her hands. She was holding a glass of water in her right hand and two small grey capsules in the palm of her left.
I stared at them tiredly, and then looked up at her face to see if she was serious.
“What are these?” I asked, pointing at the pills.
“I don’t know. But they will help you.”
I poked at them with my finger. “I’m not going to just swallow a bunch of pills. Could you maybe bring me the bottle you got them from?”
She sighed and ran off down the hallway. In a few seconds she was back holding a small pill bottle.
I turned it over in my hand. “Corn Silk?” I asked. “Why do we even have corn silk pills?”
She shrugged. “Because they will make you feel better.” She thrust the capsules towards me again. “Just take them. Trust me.”
Trust me, said the doctor who can not read a pill bottle. I took one of the pills and held it in my teeth, and then washed it down with the glass of water. “Corn silk…” I mumbled. I swallowed the second one.
Maybe we would survive after all. Maybe we didn’t really need Andrea and her motherly instincts. We still had the apprentice witch doctor in the house.
I woke several hours later to a screaming little boy, and as I gently rocked him back to sleep I realized that my stomach felt fine again. In a half waking dream I saw an image of Clara floating above my bed in spirit form, shaking a rain stick, and dancing rhythmically on a blanket of hot coals. She smiled down at me, and blew a cloud of green smoke into my face as I fell back asleep.