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.
3 thoughts on “A handful of days”
Really like the meditative aspect of this. It has an echo of T. S. Eliot’s “I have measured out my life with coffee spoons…”
Loved this line especially: “It feels like a lot of time.”
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Thanks, Stephen. That’s the tone I was aiming for. Glad it came through.
I get this. For me, it’s watching the marked days on my Google calendar disappear, or the pile of washing growing.