CHEZ JIM
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 KNOCKING

	Once, when I was ten and she was twelve, I had a headache.  I went to 
see the school nurse, but her door was closed.  She always did that.  We used to 
call her 'Nurse Not-In.'  Finally, I gave up and went to Allie's class.  I was 
crying by then.  She asked the teacher - didn't ask, exactly, but the words were 
right - if she could be excused, then she got up and came outside.
	As soon as I said what was the matter, she took me by the hand and 
charged down to see the nurse.  The door was still closed, but she just 
kepthammering at it until Nurse Not-In stepped out.  'Why Allie,' she said, 
'I'msurprised at you.'  But Allie just drew herself up until she looked a head 
taller than she was and said, 'Don't you give me that!  You're always hiding in 
there!  People have to practically die before you'll open the damned door!'  My 
head was still hurting, but still it made me laugh, the way Nurse Not-In stepped 
back.  After that, she gave me my aspirin and she was nice as pie.
	That's what Allie was like then.  You wouldn't know it now.  She's 
still a spitfire sometimes, but mostly she's just given up.  Daddy's death was 
part of it.  And all those lousy men.  She just kept choosing the wrong ones to 
take care of.
	Suddenly, I don't know when, I became the strong one.  I'm the one 
with the good job, the nice place.  The one thing that's the same is, she won't 
ask for help.  She's the one with the headaches now, and the one closing the 
door, too.  Don't even think about saying she drinks too much.  When I'm home, 
she always gives me a hug and screams how happy she is to see me. And then 
she just wants to be left alone.
	The funny thing is, she still intimidates me, even now.  But one 
daywhen I've gotten stronger, when I've really become as brave as I look, I'm 
going to start knocking, good and loud, and I'm not stopping.  I'm not stopping 
until she comes out.

COPYRIGHT 1997, Jim Chevallier

  


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