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Help is a take it or leave it kind of thing, and if you can’t take it like it comes, might as well leave it cause it’s gon be more trouble than it’s worth. No matter what else was goin on, we had to sit down and eat breakfast together every day unless one of us was sick, and I mean so sick you couldn’t get yourself up out of the bed.

Mama fixed food for me and April while I got ready to go to work.

But I wish to God they’d stop flitting around like spring butterflies, like I ought to be overjoyed at the prospect of somebody feeding me every bite I eat and changing my clothes like a baby. I didn’t ask to be here, surrounded by linoleum, blinded by fluorescent lights, or left alone in pure black darkness. You might not know it to look at them, but they traipse up and down these hallways, all hours of day and night, listening in at your room. I think they want to know one of two things: if you’re crazy and need to be put somewhere else, or if you’re dead and need to be put somewhere else.

I think she also might have saw my eyes all swelled up, I’d been crying some. Etonia’s sister came up to me on the playground, and she said you wasn’t a real nurse so why didn’t I stop pretending like you was. God knows I tried to raise that girl up in spite of everything. Althea’s probably already back home by now if she didn’t get herself a speedin ticket.

She said she might not go to church so much if it wasn’t for me, it takes so much time out of a Sunday.

I told her, Althea used to decorate cakes for a livin out of her own kitchen ’til it ’bout killed her it got to be so much work.

It was like she made a contest out of beatin everybody to the start of the day, even though she wouldn’t admit it, like she was racing to an invisible finish line.

You couldn’t have caught up with her if you was a jackrabbit. She was expecting to see butter and syrup, and instead there wasn’t even a plate. I tried to fix breakfast myself on Saturdays since April didn’t have school. Sometimes I made em plain but usually I put in a little somethin extra like some overripe bananas or pecans I picked up out of Althea’s yard, anything I could put my hands on.

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