I am 7 years old and lying under the covers on Dad’s side of my parents’ bed. I am watching my mother in the far corner of the room, on the phone with our pediatrician. “Oh, scarlet fever? Yes, mmhm… ok.” Before she even hangs up I am already crying.
She comes back to the bed, sees my tears, looks shocked and asks what is wrong. “I don’t want to die,” I whisper. The scene of Beth’s collapse in the front hall from the old version of Little Women is playing in my mind.
Once I explain, my mother looks relieved. “Monika, people don’t die from scarlet fever anymore. They have medicine for that now. They’re called antibiotics.”