She’s A Head Case

A Gods of P B & J Story

I stood on the top rung of the ladder holding the garden hose in one hand while the other hand pulled gunk out of the gutters. My face contorted in disgust at the mushy mixture of decomposed leaves, pollen and what looked like deceased insects; although, I didn’t try very hard to confirm the last one. My children playing in the yard below me were the only thing keeping me from vocalizing the string of curse words circling in my head.

This was a job my ex-husband had normally taken care of, and one I couldn’t afford to outsource. I had already relied too heavily on my BFF/single dad partner in crime/angel of mercy Adam, (whose daughter Katie was in my Noah’s kindergarten class) to help with these “manly” chores. As a newly dedicated feminist I was determined to do this one on my own. I just had to keep from puking my lunch up and I’d be fine. Or at least I would eventually recover from the emotional trauma of dead bugs under my fingernails. In a day or two. A week tops. SO GROSS!!

“Mommy, can I ride my bike?” Noah had recently gotten a new bike for his birthday and I could barely keep the kid off it. I also considered buying stock in whichever company makes band-aids. I was pretty sure they would make a killing on me by Noah’s eighteenth birthday.

“Sweetie, you have to wait until I’m finished and I can watch you.” I yelled the words over my shoulder since I was somewhat precariously balanced. “Hannah, are you down there?”

“But I don’t need to be watched. I’m a expert.” He yelled back at me and I heard the sound of his feet on the concrete driveway and pictured him running to get his helmet. Hannah hadn’t answered me so I wasn’t certain if she was watching him. “I promise to be careful.”

“Noah Alexander Pierce don’t even think about riding that bicycle!” I turned slightly on the step to get a look at him, forgetting about the water gushing from the hose in my hand. I lost my traction and my feet slipped off the ladder. I let out a shriek as I free fell a few rungs down before grabbing onto the ladder for dear life.

My heart raced and I took in a deep breath. Whew, that was a close one. The gods of peanut butter and jelly must have been looking out for me. I almost . . . unfortunately that thought never got completed because my wet hands couldn’t maintain their grip on the ladder and I fell the rest of the way to the grass below.

I woke up in the ambulance, groggy and confused and strapped to a backboard. I felt wrapped up like an Egyptian mummy. Minus the cool makeup. I still managed to put up a good struggle and the paramedics had to subdue me. “Where are my kids? They’re alone. I need to be home.”

“It’s ok ma’am. (Ma’am?!?!?) Your neighbor has your kids. You took a nasty fall and we need to get you checked out. Just relax.” I fell from a ladder, lost consciousness and I was in an ambulance alone while my children were home with Jessica, probably scared out of their minds. It’s not like I was in a freaking day spa. Relax? Seriously? What kind of pep talk was that?

Five hours, one CT scan, one MRI and 3 X-rays later and the doctors boiled it down to a concussion and a sprained wrist. A $6000.00 concussion and sprained wrist. The nurse brought the discharge papers and trailing behind her was a tall figure, my angel of mercy, Adam. “My babysitter is at your house with the kids. We’ll get you out of here and safe at home.” His voice was soothing and comforting and I was relieved he had come to my rescue – again. Then I realized I was in a flimsy hospital gown that didn’t leave much to the imagination. I pulled the sheet a bit higher across my chest. “Right, I’ll just wait outside while you get changed.” I noticed the red tinge on his cheeks as he ducked out of the room.

Once home I changed into a comfy pair of pajamas and brushed my teeth. Adam got me settled in my bedroom. “The kids are sleeping. Katie is in Hannah’s room. The doctor said I should wake you every hour to check on you. I’ll be on the floor in Noah’s room if you need me.”

“Adam, you shouldn’t sleep on the floor. You should . . .” my voice trailed off since I couldn’t think of exactly where he could sleep. My mind was too fuzzy to come up with an alternative.

“I’ll be fine. Don’t worry about me, just get some rest.” He reached down and his hand brushed my hair. Waves of warmth radiated through my veins. “I’m glad you’re okay Kim. When Jessica called, I was so worried. It’s a good thing you have such a hard head.” I smiled at his attempt at a joke and the actual distressed look on his face. It was kinda nice to know he cared.

“Goodnight Adam. And thank you.” He turned off the light and I drifted off to sleep dreaming about ladders and bicycles and dead bugs and angels dressed like dads.

I woke up with a jolt, feeling a large presence next to me. Slowly turning my head, I saw the chiseled features of my very own angel of mercy, softened by the early morning sun peeking through the window. Holy peanut butter and jelly. I sat straight up, instantly regretting the rapid movement. What was I doing in bed with Adam? And why was my head throbbing so much? It started to come back. A ladder. An ambulance. A concussion. But why was Adam in my bed? Or actually, on my bed.

Next to me, Adam stirred and his eyes slowly opened. “Morning. Kim. Oh no. Kim.” He rolled off the bed, easily since he had only been lying on top of the comforter, and stood over me, face flushed and absentmindedly running his fingers through his tousled hair. “Kim, I’m so sorry. I came to check on you and I must have fallen asleep. Sleeping on the floor all night wasn’t very comfortable, well I thought I would just rest a bit on the bed before I went back to Noah’s room. I didn’t intend to fall asleep. I’m so sorry. Nothing happened I promise. I would never take advantage of you in this situation.” He was rambling which I might normally find adorable but with my throbbing head I just wanted him to stop so I lifted my hand in the universal STOP sign.

My voice came out very quietly. “It’s okay. Really. Just, could you get me some aspirin?” He nodded and rushed to the bathroom and I heard him rustling through the cabinets. I didn’t even care about the messy room or what he might find in the cabinets (except maybe the flavored condoms that Heather gave me as a joke when my divorce was finalized). I let out a silent prayer of thanksgiving to the gods of peanut butter and jelly. I was alive and for the first time in over a year I hadn’t slept alone.