Her head hurts, my dad says. It's okay. Go back to sleep.
Mom, what's wrong? Are you okay? Where does it hurt?
As I approach, she flinches, as if afraid to be touched. She continues to wail, cry, scream. She does not answer. Cries and cries. More tears dropping out of her now closed eyes. Her arms wrapped around her head. Crouched on the sofa, her feet bare. Rocking like a caged monkey.
I step back, afraid to cause her more pain.
Go back to sleep, my dad repeats. She'll be okay.
Okay? What do you mean she'll be okay? She's not okay. Look at her. How long has she been crying like this?
Not too long. It'll go away. Don't worry.
My father and brother continue to stand there. She'll be okay, they repeat. They do not budge. Just stand there as if they are waiting for their sandwiches at the deli.
Throughout, my mother is wailing, crying, screaming. Face scrunched, mouth open, tears dropping. Gripping her head, her arms a vise.
The sound of her pain fills the room. It is a maddening sound. I am trapped in her cry, a cry I cannot stop.
Dad, we have to take her to the hospital. Something is wrong. We have to get it checked out. Let's go.
Just go to sleep, my father says again. It's just a headache. Go back to sleep.
I'm screaming. Do you hear me? Get the keys. Let's get in the car. We have to go to the hospital. LET'S GO. LET'S GO. Why are we just standing here?? LET'S GO. I'll drive her. I'll drive her myself. Give me the keys. Where are they? I'll call an ambulance. I'll pay for it. How much can it cost to get this checked out? We have to take her to the hospital.
They are silent, my father and brother.
And I'm screaming and crying. Tears dropping down my face. Me clutching my head whirling in the madness of it all. LET'S GO. LET'S GO. WE HAVE TO TAKE HER TO THE HOSPITAL. Mom, let's go. Let's get in the car. LET'S GO.
And as I'm screaming, crying, and wailing, my mother looks up and pauses long enough to whisper, "It's okay. Go to sleep. It's just a headache."