- 31 July — 1 August
It’s a very hot afternoon. The traffic through the tunnel and all the way to Quincy is miserable. The two conditions always seem to coincide. At home, I unlace and remove my boots on the enclosed porch, where they’ll stay for the night. I give Kieran a quick hug and kiss in the living room, then walk through the back hallway into the laundry room, where I peel off damp, filthy clothes. I dump them in a soggy heap on top of the dryer instead of into the hamper. I don’t want these clothes, soaked in creosote fumes and diesel exhaust and who knows what the fuck else, to contaminate the normal T-shirts and shorts and bras and onesies. I walk through the kitchen to the bathroom in my underwear. Sarah is holding Declan, the baby. I kiss him on the forehead. He scrunches his face, annoyed. Sarah giggles and makes a joke about my extreme farmer’s tan. She does this more days than not. Her favorite joke. She’s pale, chained inside because of the heat and the baby. She’s already lost twenty-five pounds because she’s breastfeeding. I shoot back with a crabby, self-pitying comment. This is what I get for having this job. This is what I deserve. Sarah titters, tells me to relax. I step into the shower and I let the cool water pour over my head. I’m [End Page 57] too tired to jerk off. I leave the bathroom in nothing but my underwear and shuffle into the bedroom, where the air conditioner is running. I fall onto the bed and stay there for ten minutes. I don’t want to leave. But finally I get up and get dressed and I help Sarah wrangle Kieran and I hold the baby so she can make dinner. She scoffs as though I’m joking or being lazy when I call to her from the couch and tell her that Declan is not happy. As I hold him, he is looking at my face and screaming out of fear. Declan is never thrilled if someone besides Sarah holds him, but this time is different. I rock him and use a soothing voice to no avail.
Sarah comes out of the kitchen, apron tied around her waist. She peeks at our red-faced, screeching baby. “What’s wrong with him?”
“You aren’t holding him,” I say.
“He sound like he’s kidding?”
The screeching dulls into whimpers the second she takes the baby from my arms.
“Now what am I supposed to do?” she says.
I fall back onto the couch. Kieran is pleading with me to play superheroes with him. I’m having trouble keeping my eyes open.
“Let him cry,” I say.
“I’m almost done with dinner.”
“Whatever.” I lift my arms. Screaming fills the room.
The mind drifts, clouds on a day of stiff winds racing through the atmosphere, changing shape. If I stay at this job, I’ll need to buy a house on the beach. Or very close to the beach. Close enough for the cool ocean winds to pour in through the windows. With views of whitecaps and small boats tied to moorings listing up and down with the outgoing tide. I need a new job. Teaching. Something indoors. A climate-controlled space. Maybe I can finish a novel, sell it to a publisher, and hustle writing jobs. With what time? What are you doing to yourself? Cut it out.
Sarah enters the room carrying a plate of food. She trades the plate for the baby. Declan quits his screaming instantly.
It isn’t long before I’m back in the bedroom, the air-conditioned [End Page 58] wonder of it, darkness closing in around me. The frenetic shuffle of my brain goes dead for a few hours, finally, thank fucking god.
My eyes snap open in the dark. According to the glowing numbers on the alarm clock it’s a few minutes past one in the morning. I alternate between dozing and staring at the...