Vivian lies down as Susie injects morphine into her IV. Vivian says, “I trust this will have a soporific effect.” Susie says, “Well, I don’t know about that, but it sure makes you sleepy.” Vivian finds this funny and starts to laugh. Susie is confused, and then Vivian explains it and Susie starts laughing too. Susie thanks Vivian for explaining, and Vivian says, “I’m a teacher.” They giggle together for a while until the morphine kicks in and Vivian falls asleep.
The word “soporific” calls back to Vivian’s reading of The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies, as once again she finds a childlike comfort and “unlearning” with Susie. She is also returning to that simple enjoyment of language, and her basic identity as a teacher—no longer constructing her sense of self based on academic achievements or a sense of rational superiority.