In the drug store, she waits in a blue molded chair for her prescription. The clerk had said thirty minutes, but it’s been more. Coming in, it was raining, she’d had to hurry across the open parking lot, pushing the stroller through gathering puddles. But she can tell by the shoppers, their coats unbuttoned and the leisurely way they walk through the store, that the storm has passed.
The baby is finally asleep: he lies in her lap, one hand lifted to his forehead dramatically, and his small mouth moves in a dream. Good, because she had to walk him up and down the aisles, her hands circling his tiny ribcage, and maneuver him back and forth, back and forth, so he wouldn’t tumble over, her little drunken sailor, her miniature buccaneer, his chubby forefinger pointing out the cold remedies and aspirin bottles, cotton balls and Q tips. Mine? Mine? Mine? he asked, looking up and grinning as each bright package came into view.
More people have come and gone from the small pick-up window. Wasn’t she here before them? She turns in her chair, strains to see the sky and, yes, there’s a glimpse of it: one big cloud, pinkish and high up, comical almost, with waves of wind dispersing its bottom in tufts. A giant Pampers she thinks and she smiles in spite of herself.
Sleeping, the baby’s heavier- a weight that pulls her down, an anchor that fastens her to the floor-but without him she worries she might float off, just disappear and she remembers that game in junior high: stretched out as if dead on the waxed wooden floor of the gymnasium, surrounded by serious faced girls, pairs of hands slipped under her legs, her shoulders, her ankles, the small of her back; most of those girls in college now, she’s sure, most of them on their way to somewhere good; Think of something sad, they’d said, Think of nothing at all. Then One, Two, Three they’d lifted and how her body floated up and her arms opened wide as if trying to embrace it all: the high ceiling, the florescent lights, the sky above the town, the randomly tossed stars, her future, as if everything was there for the taking.