"Heyyyy! So you landed? You’re all safe?"
"Yup. What did your message say? I haven’t listened to it."
"Nothing. Just, I love you. Work is on the other line… I have to go. See you soon."
Normally, this would be, well, normal. But there was a hesitation in his voice, as if he were planning something at home. Maybe some kind of celebration with cake or streamers that needed to be taped to the ceiling. I listened to his message. It was just as he’d said. Short. But it said, "Call me when you can." So that meant he had something to tell me. Usually, if he just called to say he loved me, wanted to make sure I landed, all that, he’d just say so. This wasn’t that message. I pulled into a gas station and put the car in park. I checked my email. Nothing unusual. My editor letting me know the cover for Moose should have arrived. Maybe Phil saw it and thought I’d hate it or something. Maybe that’s why he was being so short with me. He’d called to warn me, perhaps, but then figured, I’d just see for myself.
I picked up the phone and called him back. "Why did you leave that message?"
"What, I can’t just call–"
"You said to call you back. Did my book cover come?"
"And it’s awful?!"
"No, what could be awful?"
"Then what?! What the hell is going on?"
He paused, as if he were about to release something heavy. And then he did.
"I had to take Lucas to the hospital."
That’s how long it took for me to feel sick, just that word: hospital. I felt it in my stomach in three syllables. I wasn’t there. I was on an airplane. What happened? Is he still there? I don’t understand. Talk already!
Then Phil explained that he’d been playing with Abigail, flipping her around over his head as he usually does. She giggled, he said. Then he did the same with Lucas. But when he put him down, Lucas fell onto his side. "Come on Lucas, buddy, sit up." But he wouldn’t. "So I put him into a seated position, but he just fell back down again. Something wasn’t right." Oh my God. "Everything is fine," he says.
"What do you mean ‘everything’s fine?’ It’s not fine!" I was shouting I think. I don’t know.
"He was absolutely fine by the time I got to the hospital. He was crawling around, smiling at people, pointing at things. Normal. They ran tests–"
"What kind of tests?"
"They took his temperature and checked his oxygen levels, but there was nothing else to do. He was acting totally normal."
"It doesn’t sound normal. What did the doctor say?"
"Well, I decided he didn’t need to see a doctor, or to get a shunt series taken."
"I don’t understand."
"It was an equilibrium thing. You know, like when you play Dizzy Lizzy, and you can’t walk straight."
Had it happened to Abigail, had she been the one who couldn’t sit up, we’d have thought this right away. But with Lucas, we’re always on high alert. May 12, he goes for another MRI to check the progress of things, and until then, I’m going to focus on the upside of down.