About the Book
Cat burglars to aging divas, a therapeutic massage to a medical emergency, revenge fantasies to “what is art?” discussions to ramblings on the meaning of life. These stories bring to life a collection of fascinating women as they find, explore, and recognize their human frailties and strengths.
Today, the headache is stronger. There’s an internal pounding keeping rhythm with my heart, making everything I do unbearable. Yesterday’s wasn’t that bad, but still, it hampered my work a little. And the one the day before wasn’t too bad either. Today, I really can’t concentrate. I can’t even focus. My eyeballs hurt so much.
The heat from the open-fire pit intensifies the nausea, and the smoke getting in my eyes is all I can take. I can’t even breathe. I can’t understand why the heat and the smoke are so nauseating today. I have been taking turns at cooking under these conditions since Gema and I were assigned by the Institute to supervise the new excavations at this site near the Yupca Indian settlement.
That was over a month ago.
Now I’m feeling this awful headache, like a stake has been driven full force into my brain. If I bend down or move from side to side it pounds. The throbbing just won’t subside. It’s like a hammer on an anvil. Worse, it’s a sledge hammer.
Sweat pours down my temples. My short hair, tied in a little ponytail, is damp. The temperature outside is a good ninety-five degrees, and inside this blessed hut, with the wooden fire in the middle of the mud-caked floor, it must be nearing one hundred. No windows, just the opening at the very top to let the smoke out. That’s the theory. In practice the whole room is rather smoky.
But the pain . . .
I gasp. I try to get a lungful of air, but instead I gag. I can’t see, I can’t concentrate anymore on making supper. I don’t think anybody will eat tonight, though. Thank God I’m on kitchen duty today. I can’t even think what it would be like to be out there, in the sun, supervising all that work. I feel so nauseous.
My stomach turns. I want air.
I stumble outside into the dusty, dry, hot breeze that the locals call wind. I breathe in deep.
One, two, in . . . one, two, out. Again. One, two, in . . . one, two, out. Again.
My eyes are closed. I’m holding my limp body against the mud wall of the hut while my lungs fight to get more of that stifling air into my system.
I hear Gema and our three students approach. I hear them part—they to their hut, she to ours, the hut we share, which lies just behind the communal kitchen-slash-living room, the wall of which is now propping me up. The heavy leather boots fall into rhythm with the pounding of my head as they tread over the dry, dust-covered ground. She heads in my direction, the only direction she would take if she wants to go to our hut. Then she is next to me.
“Honey,” she whispers concerned. I feel her arm slipping around my waist. “Are you okay?”