I’m driving at dusk with one hand on the wheel. The baby is screaming. My right hand, stretched backwards, rocks the car seat while I chant aah and ohm, matching the volume of the screams, for as long as my breath will allow, trying to fill the car with white noise. My four-year-old looks out the window, tuning it all out. At any moment, a deer or chipmunk might bolt in front of my car, or I might turn a corner to find a semi veering into my lane, head-on. Last week, flash floods washed red earth over every road in the area, so it’s impossible to make out the yellow line, to tell where one side ends and the other begins. Every so often, the baby stops crying for about 60 seconds, and I wonder if he’s gone to sleep, or if he’s died, but then he pipes up again full-force.
I am obsessed with bathing. Some days I bathe three times—once upon waking, once with my daughter (we play mermaids, drink seaweed tea from plastic stacking cups, squeeze the lemon from the mouth of a rubber duck), and once again in the late evening, the house quiet, her asleep.