I turn the card over and scan the list of tasks my kindergartener is supposed to have mastered: Prints Letters and Words: E—Experiencing Difficulty. Uses pencil/crayons properly: E. This does not come as a surprise.
One spring, our dog chased off a mother deer minutes after she had given birth. For two days, we kept our dog tied up and listened to the fawn crying out in a voice that sounded human, “Mama! Mama!” Finally, the mother came back and the woods quieted. I started to wonder, how much damage could one family do?
You notice it first at work, rising from a chair. A sharp pain on the right side of your lower abdomen immediately makes you sit down. The third or fourth time it happens that morning, you call your doctor. They have an opening during your lunch hour.
Only one wall separates us. In my Lower East Side apartment, I can hear his every move as if we are in the same room. Three taps on a table, and I know that he is packing his cigarettes. There is the clanking of silverware, the banging of drawers, the soothing rush of water shooting from the showerhead. I’m amazed at the intimacy of these noises.
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.