A handful of days

I take seven pills every night. Don’t worry, I’m not sick. I’m just trying to stay healthy. A multivitamin. Three glucosamine tablets, for my joints. An aspirin because of that one a-fib incident a couple years ago. Two melatonins to help me sleep. There are too many to take all at once, and so I have to swallow them in three big gulps. Some of these things are huge.

“Horse pills,” I joke, every night.

When I travel I count out tablets into a ziplock bag. Three nights away means twenty-one pills. Seven nights means forty-nine. It looks like a lot of pills. It feels like a lot of time.

Our days are filled with activity: biking, swimming, hiking, a museum visit, even a horseback ride. Good thing for those horse pills, I laugh to myself. We stay up late; we sleep in. We hardly know what time it is. We don’t bother to count the days.

Tonight I weigh the bag in my hand. It’s light: only seven pills left. Seven pills between me and the end of our vacation. Seven pills between me and time’s inexorable pull.

Melatonin won’t help, I can tell. My brain is already tracing the route home, counting loads of laundry, making a grocery list. I reach for my glass of water anyway. The rattle of the pills sounds like the winding of a clock.


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