portion of the artwork for Tiff Holland's fiction

Snow Globe
Tiff Holland

Upstairs, I can hear Ray telling Lauren to be gentle with me, that I’m not feeling well. I can still taste the Valium under my tongue, but I no longer feel like I’m moving when Lauren walks, instead of runs, over to the couch and sits beside me.

“Daddy says you’re dizzy, that everything you see is moving around.”

She looks at me hard for some external confirmation.

“Am I moving?”

“No, sweetie. It stopped. You’re still. Give me a good night kiss.”

She keeps her distance, looking me up and down, examining me, then she starts to wiggle her feet back and forth.

“Are my feet moving?” My ear is still ringing that odd sodium ring it gets when I’m most dizzy, and every word Lauren says echoes.

“Yes, you’re moving your feet. Of course they’re moving. Now how about that kiss?”

She leans in and kisses me, backing away slowly to look at my eyes which are too dark to see anything in although I imagine the pupils to be quite large after the Valium.

Lauren starts moving other parts around, asking if they’re moving.

“It’s still things that seem like they’re moving,” I finally explain.

She stiffens.

Hard as a board, light as a feather, I think.

“Am I moving now? How about the television? Is it moving?”

I’ve been looking at the TV and then away and back again trying to “reset” my vision, to get the universe realigned. I think about how I should have kept up with my eye exercises and how it never ends, how even when it’s been a while, months even, the worst of it always seems to make its way back to me.

Lauren moves closer as if proximity will allow her to see what I see. I sigh. I have never explained the vertigo to her, and she was too little to understand what was going on those months I stayed in the chair, moved with the walker, and finally ended up in the hospital. Three years is a long time when you’re eight.

“It’s over now, Lauren, but what happens is … I feel like everything is moving when it’s still. Things bob around and spin.” There is no longitude, no latitude. It’s like being at the equator and the north pole at the same time.

“What’s ‘bob’”?

“You know, bounce.” Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.

She starts nodding her head while she looks around the room, trying to simulate the experience.

“It also feels like you’re moving,” I add.

She stops. “Like how?”

Usually, she doesn’t talk much to me. Some days, I barely see her face. She spends all her time playing games on the computer, but she always comes down for this kiss, and sometimes we watch TV together.

I grab the back of her t-shirt. “It feels like something has grabbed you by the back of the neck, yanked you up, and spun you around.”

“While things are spinning? And bobbing?”

“Yes, things are spinning and bobbing and you’re flying around the room and then thrown back into your chair, pushed back so you feel like you’re falling backwards.”

I lightly place one hand on her chest and push her toward the cushions.


“Yeah, wow.”

“It makes me feel like I have to throw up.”

She nods thoughtfully. Ray has come down the stairs and is listening with one foot on the bottom step and his hand high on the wall as if to stabilize this house.

Lauren gives me another kiss and another.

“OK, OK!”

I kiss her neck where it meets her shoulder, where she still smells most like the baby she once was, and then she’s off to the kitchen where she explains it to Ray while he gives her an allergy tablet and a glass of water, and I go back to watching and not-watching the television, thinking and trying not to think what it feels like, like being in a snow globe, a live person in a snow globe, knowing there’s no rescue, who feels the thing get picked up and shaken, and then set down harshly on the table, and the snowflakes keep spinning in the water that holds them.

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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 31 | Winter 2011