“Granddad is at the bottom, but I can see him,” says Yusuf, enunciating in a way that has taken him all his three years to arrive at, extra babyish, dragging the words.
We are making our way down the slippery dock. I am pushing the double stroller with the baby in it with one hand and have Yusuf’s hand in the other.
Granddad is at the bottom, if lack of oxygen is any indicator. Still, everyday, we navigate the treacherous dock to assess Granddad’s current state. Granddad, Dad, is at the end of the dock on the right, his and the one across from it are the last of fourteen houseboats split evenly between the two sides. There are sure-footed animals on all sides, but no resident children here.
The wooden dock and the wooden stairs which lead down to it are slippery and slow-going. I will never get the hang of how to do this with a small boy and a baby.
Today, the baby was asleep. Because what awaits us at the end of the dock makes me willing to take risks to keep a child asleep, I tried doing what I call the bumpety-bump in the double stroller down the stairs, and we started bumpety-bumping fast… It had not occurred to me until just then that they could plunge into the water while bumpety-bumping, and if they plunged, strapped in that stroller, that’d be it for them. And, alternately, possibly worse, what if only one fell in? Dive in instantly, leave the other completely alone on a slippery dock with a railing too high for a child to reach let alone be held back by? It’s like imagining being on the Titanic with various horrific options presented all involving snap decisions and the loss of at least one child.
“Granddad is low on oxygen, Mama” says Yusuf. “But Granddad has a tank. He can go under the water to the bottom.”
I nod and squeeze his hand tighter. Fuck oxygen. We think about oxygen all the time now that Dad’s lungs are filling up without it, full of carbon dioxide. His lungs aren’t working properly—duh. He has advanced emphysema. The tank only helps a little.
“Ha! Maybe he can.” I try to present an upbeat world to my son where most things tarnished can be rubbed to a different state. Or at least your rubbing finger will be interestingly hot.
As we walk along this time, I do my best to admire the fat spiders’ huge corner webs in the angles formed by the railing and the posts that support it. Yusuf finds a stick leaning against a post which he uses to take out a couple empty webs. He swings to knock out a third. Though I know the damn spiders are just hiding, I let him. I’ve long abandoned protecting bugs.
We scan the dark water for turtles and beavers and the chunks of floating wood that can pass for either. We notice swarms of little fish that I believe are called “white clouds.”
Yusuf examines them as I hang on tightly to his little wrist, figuring the little hand might not be enough to hold onto if he slips, just five fat little fingers.
He leans over further, waving his stick. “Can I stir them?”
“Let’s stir the ones in front of Granddad’s.” I realign the stroller, so it’s on a straight course. The houseboat floats while the dock is stable, grounded somewhere down there in the murky lake. Depending on the water level, the houseboat is usually lower, about a foot lower now, at the end of the summer. To prevent its grinding against the dock, they are kept almost a foot apart by buoys, so we have to leap over or take a big step across. I will buck the stroller up to the dock on my way back but now I have to lower it down awkwardly. Luckily, it’s too big to fall through a foot wide crack, not so for Yusuf. I put the brakes on baby and stroller, leaving him just beside us on the dock while I lower Yusuf across first. I have him ring and ring the frog doorbell.
Dad won’t answer. Every move costs him. I use my key to unlock the door but opening it is another matter. The wooden door is swollen from moisture. I have to push it with my shoulder, ram it hard before it gives.
“Dad, it’s us,” I holler as cheerfully as possible. He grunts in reply. I dash into his room just to show my face, see his face. His face looks terrible, but I rush back to the kids anyhow. Next I tape up pieces of paper over the sun carved into this side of the door. The “sun” disturbs Yusuf. He won’t stop crying if it’s “watching” him, so he covers his face until I’m done. It’s starting to creep me out too, actually. Why don’t the pieces stay up? Maybe Dad finds the sun cheerful or its being covered up, not. It would take a lot out of him to unwrap the sun day after day.
I allow Yusuf to wiggle around a little bit with me keeping an eye on him before he’ll have to be trapped, strapped into the stroller beside his sleeping brother. Yusuf presses his nose against the wall of windows facing the water.
A houseboat, always the one at the end of the dock, is a cliché Seattle middle-aged divorced male fantasy. It’s a place to romanticize and savor loneliness, bad weather and water. This one, like most, is small and cramped with most of the space absorbed by the main room, and no wonder, with its lake views on three sides. The best view is facing what I’d call forward, across the lake, the way we walked along the dock, the way Yusuf now faces, gently tapping the glass with his stick. This view is interrupted only by the thin lines of the sliding glass door. There’s a deck out there but it has no railings. Instead, it is mostly encircled by flowerpots full of mangy herbs and failing attempts at potted vegetable crops. There’s a long weathered wooden table out there as well.
Other times and occasions we have sometimes just sat out there surrounded by midnight blue lake, ate lobster and pasta with asparagus and cream, always seafood and pasta, drank Prosecco. I have felt it was a film of an Italian feast for the benefit of the tour boats that pass by. It seemed unreal then, as now, but the opposite extreme of unreal—too charmed. The tourists waved to us, but we, tipsy and lazy and full, did not do more than look over. It felt like we were part of an amusement park ride like Pirates of the Caribbean and nothing more was required of us than to keep doing what we were doing, the same motions, as the boats passed by. It now seems more like It’s a Small World in my memory, cardboardy and fake. Also gone is the little curly-furred terrier who used to beg for the shrimp tails and run from the live crustaceans.
Now that I have children, now that my Dad is sick, these moments are completely gone, as irretrievable as the dog. Other than the absolute glory of its location and all the contact with the lake, there is nothing much else to it. You are tossed by storms or illegal wakes or the lake is subdued, soothing, lapping, calm. But it is always out there, surrounding you on all sides, lurking. I get tired of things. Something that once seemed so fantastic eventually fails me, seeming dull and foul and drained of something essential, even draining me of something essential. I have no sense of how it really is. I have no practicality. My Dad lacks it too. He chain-smoked for 40 years, never really expecting the blow. And has the blow hit yet? Or is this our precious time to be savored, this time before the blow? I don’t know exactly how he feels about the houseboat anymore, but I know he doesn’t plan to budge. He accepts this watery grave.
Now I turn on the cable, to cartoons, something about a tuna, possibly a commercial. I plop Yusuf in the front (so he won’t pull the baby’s hair) and strap him in. I move the stroller so the side’s facing the TV. That way they both can see the shows.
Kids, babies even, forced to watch TV, they start to kick and fuss right away as if they grasp the adult horror of doing this to children. Yusuf pulls the stick out of nowhere and flings it over his head to the back seat. The baby grabs it and chews, then drops it on the floor. The wailing never ceases.
I have to do this. There is the lake. There are spilled pills around, bright and shiny ones. These two can’t be left alone together, regardless. Yusuf could poke the baby’s eyes out. Just like that. Y would. There are thin lines of oxygen crossing each other all over the floor. Even I get tangled in them. The boys, unattended, might unplug Dad.
“Gimme my stick! You promised I could stir the white clouds!” Yusuf’s reaching for it with his feet. I forgot. I push it further away with my own foot.
Dad is propped upright on pillows. He’s not asleep but this is how he sleeps now, a position allowing for more lung capacity. He’s connected to a tank the size of a garbage can by a long line that he can travel around the house with. This is the line that ends up tangled in the other room. Here it comes up behind him, splits, goes over his ears, then comes back together under his nose. There’s a hissing sound of escaping oxygen and clicks which increase in frequency the higher he has his oxygen flow adjusted.
“How are you?” I say casually. I don’t exactly need to know everything. I know. But then he looks up and I recognize he’s worse. He has a huge bruise from the middle of his forehead down past his eye on one side, a black hole of a black eye, worse than the black eye on the other side.
“Did you fall, Dad?”
“I didn’t sleep well. I think I fell out of bed.” All the while he’s gradually moving himself out of bed, he’s furtively pushing something behind the headboard, dark red wrappers. His underwear is yellowish, and his feet and legs are so swollen he can only wear slippers, no socks. He struggles to put on the slippers that resemble loafers. His body’s swollen because his heart’s got extra duty now. Circulation suffers. It’s harder to pump. I lay out the jeans and the flannel shirt he asks for. Then I turn around while he struggles with the clothes. I am thankful in this moment not to have the kind of relationship that would have me helping him pull up his pants. And then I wish I did, wish I could. I rush and check on the kids, not sleeping, still alive.
“Krispy Dreams,” Dad mutters when I return, “please.” This I can deliver. And, actually, I suspect far beyond other fathers, he has always provided the foods I craved, made them or bought them, shared them. We eat well together. Until recently, we had just about the same taste—foreign, spicy, salty, elaborate. Lately, though, Dad’s developed an insatiable appetite for sweets. This is fairly new, and kind of strange since he never had a sweet tooth before. But I indulge it, of course, noting his swelling belly as I note all changes in his physical condition. I locate the box already on the bed. Half a chocolate glazed is all that remains. He can’t be discouraged. In fact, he finds another partial doughnut, this one plain glazed, his favorite, on his bedside stand. He eats both with his shaking hands. Then he clips to his finger his oximeter, a cool little device that looks like a bandage and apparently costs more than a lifetime supply. It provides his oxygen saturation, as it’s called. Important word, somehow, saturation. I record his as 76 and record his breakfast as well . A normal saturation is in the upper 90′s. Mine’s always 99.
Dad finishes the doughnuts and begins writing something down on a notepad, likely a note for the doctor. Dad is pretty fond of his doc.
“I like him,” he always says, stifling objections. Dad has agreed it would be better if Dr. Maramoto returned our emergency calls on those not infrequent occasions when Dad’s oxygen’s so low he might be dying. On such occasions, it’s essential to know whether we ought to take him to the hospital which is, as specifically directed by my dad, only if he’s dying.
His hands are shaking as he holds his fancy fountain pen. Dad loves pens, and he always keeps several vintage ones in his pocket. The part of getting dressed I help him with is transferring them to the new shirt. He’s scratched, almost illegibly, Krispy Dreams on the notepad. To that brief list, I add parameters, a word I expect to matter.
Dad loves making lists. Me too. We also share the love of pens. Unfortunately, though, I lack his physical/technical/spatial know-how. I can’t fill my pens without getting ink everywhere. And that is nothing beside loading O2 canisters which I am now attempting. I am like a drunk version of my Dad—I am like my Dad drunk doing this…loading up his O2 canisters. However, he was often a drunk version of himself and now is not himself. He’s an air-deprived version, though he still gets drunk.
Of course, I happen to know, he smokes too. It’s flammable, though, this compressed O2. It’s all marked up like a tank of gasoline.
The scary diagram is about all you get for guidance. There’s no gauge on any of these oxygen tanks. Nothing to indicate when it’s running out. As I fill the portables up, I’m supposed to tell by the sound when it’s full. It starts to bubble then it bubbles more. That’s when you stop it, I think. Or just a little more bubbling. I stop now. Fill it too full and it freezes up. You can’t use it for a while, how long I don’t know. The one thing you can tell, that’s obvious, is when it’s overfull. I’ve done it now. It’s frozen, frost’s all over it. You also can’t tell exactly when it has run out of oxygen either, no indicator lights up or anything, but you might not hear it clicking anymore. But listening for the light click of it, straining to hear it would be silly because your patient will already be crumpling over, all floaty and confused.
Dad cranks it up for exertion then back down again when he’s recovered. But he forgets and the oxygen goes fast on the high settings. And, speculation has it, your lungs get used to its being easier, so they work less hard, grow weaker. That seems true because until recently Dad was not on oxygen at all and now he can’t get by without. I have become saturated with oxygen facts and observations and intuition lately. Breathe, breathe, breathe, slow down, speak slowly, think slowly, recollect not-so-fast…. Your body gets used to less oxygen like those of mountain people’s. Still, studies have shown that full-time oxygen use extends the cardio-pulmonary diseased patient’s life. But then, with the smoking, best to have kept away from that flammable tank as long as he could hold out. Under his bed, I know there to be crunched up wrappers that particular dark red shade belonging only to Pall Malls. I peek under the bed when Dad hits the bathroom, booze under there too, vodka in a plastic bottle.
Dad needs something light, so he can carry it along with the O2. He’d drink moderately good stuff otherwise. I could swipe it and drink it like water in the doc’s waiting room. I would in a film certainly follow this course. But I’m nursing and it’s all so precarious with Dad. I just wish that he would figure out whether he was fighting to live or die. Of course, I know. I know my Dad. He’s not giving up. He just might take himself and other’s out in the process of having everything how he wants to play it. Though I’m already dizzy, I take a swig from the bottle after all. Then I dump it out the window, straight to the white clouds. It was satisfying to take that shot, Dad-like, selfish.
“All set, Dad?” I hug him and we set off for the doc’s office, but first to visit all the same creatures, the spiders, the turtles, the clouds of clouds, so Dad can catch his breath.
We wait through one tank in the doctor’s office (luckily by now, the other has defrosted). Yusuf visits the water cooler every chance he gets. I remember, as a child, being warned by my mom that you can drown from drinking too much water. But he’s spitting his out into the little catch basin below which has got to be overflowing . The next time he attempts a visit, I try to catch him between my legs as I hold the baby in my lap, trying to comfort him. Yusuf wiggles free, ducks under my chair, comes out from under Dad’s with a closed hand stretched forward “Here Granddad! This will make you better! ” He opens his fat little fist and drops a purple pill into Dad’s hand. Dad reports it has a “w” on it but I don’t know if it’s for Wellbutrin or Warfarin or Wonka.
“Oh, Yusuf! That’s good you gave that to Granddad, but never touch pills! They’re dangerous. That’s so sweet, taking care of Granddad, but…” Who knows how long I would have continued in circles if I hadn’t noticed a strangely familiar noise I think for a second is the baby in trouble…No, it’s Yusuf, exactly replicating the hiss and click of Dad’s oxygen. Is Dad still making his clicks as well? Yes. Dad seems too low to appreciate the drama.
I used to be a surgical sales rep, by a bizarre sequence of events befalling me as I am entirely unsuited and disinclined towards sales. I was lured into it by Vikram, a sexy Indian sales rep who wore friendship bracelets. When I spent time in doctor’s offices, it was entirely different. I had a scared but thrilled feeling of not really belonging which had nothing to do with not being a patient. Me sell something? Not likely. I was just playing at it. Nothing was at stake. Before that I was temporarily employed at a world-renowned Cancer Center in the OR Materials Management Office (in fact, this was where the surgical device manufacturer recruited me from, through Vikram, not realizing I was a temp). So there I was temping, in scrubs, ordering emergency fake bones and brain spatulas and rib crackers and such. And it was like on TV, all fantastic emergencies. I’ve always liked doctors, liked their offices and their fish tanks, but I have this thing for heroes, so particularly the surgeons. Besides, I love the dramas and absurdities of hospitals. I seem to belong there. It is life and death thrilling, war, as they say, but war with proportionately far more heroes to enemies, life always in the right, the foreigners on your side too, for once. I’m as fond of foreigners as I am of heroes. All the sex and drama and anguish of war, all the heat and heroes with no foreigner-killing. Yes, I liked it. No need to be a double-agent or defect to the other side where my allegiances likely would lie. Also, I am somehow unsubdued by hospitals. I am unsubdued by sadness, I think. I know how not to get trapped there, in the hospital. It’s all instinct anyway. Wear the scrubs not the gown, for damn sure. Avoid everything but the surgeries. Flirt as if your life’s at stake. Sex not death.
I watch as Dad switches to the second canister (now sufficiently defrosted). It’s not just that Dad’s time is under attack, of uncertain remaining, dwindling duration, yet almost certainly running out, running out faster than the rest of ours. All the same’s true of his oxygen. How long will it hold out? I switch back and forth between sports and fashion magazines. I am hunting for anything that might be of interest to Dad or Yusuf, but these magazines are the most boring magazines ever.
I nurse the baby every time he cries, just to shut him up. What was that about literally drowning in liquid? He looks ready to bust in the tummy and cheeks.
He’s sleeping for the moment but Yusuf takes up the slack by jumping up, racing around and hollering, “Need a doctor!”
I pursue him, stopping at the desk to inquire about the queue. How long now? Will they be able to give Dad more oxygen if he runs out? No, they won’t. Someone with perfect hair says it wouldn’t be “compatible” with the tanks they have. Another with other perfections believes it’d be a violation of the law. Obviously, oxygen is a controlled substance, dangerous and coveted, over which so many wars will be fought.
“What if he goes into a coma while waiting in your lobby?” They can’t say, but apparently my kids are too loud, all over the place and disruptive. I walk back to Dad, depleted. I stuff both boys in the stroller and let them holler.
I had a life once, you know, before this office visit that was about more than this lobby and this water cooler. One time I was in DC where despite my awkwardness, I had clinical trials going with all the urologists in DC (or so it seemed, anyhow). My product was a nerve-sparing device used during radical prostatectomies. One doc, deliberating about whether to use it and whether he wanted me around, asked me in front of his students, “Let’s start with the most basic of things…is the current AC or DC?” To his students, he explained that AC is plug-in and DC, battery-operated. I took this in.
Then outta my mouth popped “AC current with a DC soul!,” astonishing me most of all.
“You’re in the surgery, girl.”
It was surreal, surgery after surgery. Out of my mouth came the wildest oddest things. But the energy does not get any zanier than in surgery. It is manic. I’ve seen surgeons dance to hip hop in between cuts and cauterizations and sutures.
And then we get the go ahead. In Maramoto’s office at last, Dad and I are both dreamy, the boys strollered, asleep.
“You look terrible,” he says to Dad, barely nodding at me.
“We’ve been waiting an hour and a half,” I say. “He shouldn’t have to come here and wait that long.”
He looks right at me now, finally. “I agree.” Then he says, “He shouldn’t be coming here at all.”
I get it. I get several things. First that we must ask what do you mean? After everything he says like he’s the master sensei, that he’s not on our side, the side of heroes, and that Dad and he don’t really communicate. Dad likes the sensei master crap. While vague, it sounds wise, works for him.
“At this point we should focus on his comfort.”
Pause for the sensei. My silent what do you mean?
“He should stay home.”
I find this comfort word distasteful.
“I don’t need to come see you?” asks Dad, delighted.
“Right,” says Maramoto. I see the appointment could be over right now if we let it…
“But…” say Dad and I together.
“My office can arrange for hospice caretakers who can visit you at home.”
Dad looks stupefied, black-eyed and stupefied, confused but alert. “And they can…supervise my care? That’s enough?”
“They can make you comfortable.”
I determine right then not to mention Pall-Mall slip-ups, even under oath. He has given up on Dad.
“But,” I manage, now finding it suddenly hard to find room to speak in this conversation. I want to head it off somehow. I pause, remembering something I’d written down. On my sheet, in my hands, near the illegible Krispy Dreams, there it was, that excellent word, parameters. Numbers, numbers, numbers. “But can you tell me at what point we need to go to the hospital. The other day his oxygen saturation was in the 60′s and you didn’t call us back. We need a number where in an emergency, we can leave a message and you’ll call us back. And we need parameters. We need to know when to call and when to just take him to the hospital.”
“It’s not about the numbers—it’s about how he’s feeling.” This seems wrong. This doc’s the robot. We’re the ones with hearts and guts.
“How he’s feeling? But he’ll be delirious? Do you mean how he’s acting—because if he’s delirious and hallucinating from lack of oxygen, he won’t want to go.”
“First of all, ” says Maramoto, “it’s not about oxygen.” He sighs at the ignorance, the misconception. Carbon dioxide is what causes hallucinations. Dad’s lungs aren’t expelling it. He’s filling up with this bad gas.
Why tell us it’s not about oxygen now? It has become all about oxygen for us, all my imaginings. I never considered the bad gas.
Maramoto stretches his lips into a smile and delivers, “And he doesn’t have to go to the hospital.”
“I don’t?” Dad’s mouth drops open.
“But what will happen?” I ask.
“If he goes to the hospital, they’ll put him on a respirator. He doesn’t want that.”
“I don’t like those,” says dumb Dad. I know that, how he fights to pull it off, how he begs for help with his eyes and desperate mumbling, the terrible odds every time that he’ll never make it off. I know the longer you stay on the respirator, the more likely you’ll never come off. They blow out your lungs or something. Lungs are fragile and his are in tatters. I know with his stats, his numbers are such, so terrible, he could walk into a hospital right now and they’d force it on him. But somehow he breathes and his heart doesn’t collapse or whatever hearts do under that pressure. It will, of course. Something will happen, time and numbers, floating out there, out there but unknown to us.
“But what will happen?” I ask.
The boys of all miracles are still sleeping. Their fat sticky angel faces press against the sides of the double-stroller, E sleep nursing, O breathing deeply of the air.
Maramoto’s face is absolutely blank again. “It will be comfortable, even pleasant. Then there will be a little discomfort, but this will pass quickly.”
“Discomfort?” I say. Dad is just sort of nodding.
“When he suffocates, you mean?”
Dad rhythmic nodding ceases. His eyes move frantically from one to the other of us. Maramoto’s eyes upon me make brisk contact.
“Yes,” says Maramoto.
“But he doesn’t want to die.”
Maramoto says nothing. Dad keeps looking from one to the other of us as if between us we are determining his fate, his “outcome” in doc parlance. I feel that too, that we are bitterly negotiating the specifics, the unfolding of Dad’s “comfortable” outcome.
“No!” howls Dad, my dispassionate Dad. His bruised eyes at last absorbing everything. “Put me on the respirator! I don’t want to die.”
He looks right at his doctor. “I didn’t think we were there yet. You didn’t tell me.”
I burst out, “You didn’t check his stats. How do you know where he’s at?”
“I don’t need to,” says the doctor, “I can tell. He looks bad.”
“You look bad,” he adds to Dad.
“How long?” asks Dad.
Maramoto shrugs. “I’d guess a couple weeks, but I don’t know precisely.”
Dad gets up and stumbles out.
As I follow with the stroller, I think I hear Maramoto whisper or hiss something or maybe he’s washing his hands, but when I turn around I see he is signing something. Of course, he doesn’t need to wash his hands. He didn’t touch us or anything else or come near us even. He doesn’t make mistakes about things like this. He has perfect recollection and perfect control. He never intended to touch anyone today. And he didn’t.
My Dad is full of crap and denial, but that’s okay. I feel him. He wears his tenacity like a perfect old robe. Anyone ought to be able to tell what he wants and doesn’t want. Who knows what all they failed to communicate in previous sessions.
Dad’s hands are shaking. I’ve never seen him look worse. He dragged himself here. We’ve all dragged ourselves here to discover Maramoto’s ready for Dad to say no to the respirator and die with a dignity Dad lacks.
“I don’t like him after all,” says Dad.
Damn, I used to love doctors, but I never never loved them all. I don’t have so many air pockets left, or rather CO2 pockets, the dreamy escapes.
We get Dad back home—God knows how—I’m not hearing the clicks and hisses. I doubt he has oxygen but there is some kind of hope or prospect of momentum that we’ve got now. The boring part of dying has receded. Maybe that’s the worst part even—the part that keeps you smoking. Now there’s a project—find a doc Dad respects, a doc for Dad to die with. The reverse may be the trick though, find a doc who respects Dad.
Since I’m not practical and don’t get practical, I keep going over it in my head. Is this practical? Is there any such thing? If not, is it wrong to do an impractical jig of denial with my old man? I have never really done much of anything with him. I have never danced with my Dad, for instance, been whirled around in his arms. Or been interrogated about whom I was dating or even had him inquire. No, I’ve not been overprotected or even held very tightly, as least so far as I can recall. He never seemed to particularly notice or care that I was a girl or later, a woman. To his dubious credit, he was never really there for his son either. This is our only dance, me propping him up as he dies his way.
Anything can be made to seem practical and anyone tricked who wants to be. I can run circles round the practicals. There are infinite arguments.
At last, for once, finally, I am proud of my bad dad. Obviously I’ve been reading too much Seuss as into my head it comes Oh that Dad is bad, that Dad is a cad, but at last, at last, I am proud of that bad bad Dad.
The only thing I like about cigarettes besides the occasional beauty of the smoke is that they are little fuck-you-to-life instruments, mortal spites. Fuck you to life that we can and do smoke them. There’s a coolness in it no divine being like Doc M can achieve. If you never get sick and die, nothing’s at stake. You can’t say fuck you like we can. Fuck you with everything at stake. Fuck you, Doctor Maramoto. That’s what I like about cigarettes. But I don’t smoke ‘em. And that’s not why Dad smokes them either. He’s just addicted. He was still smoking because he thought he could get away with it, not to kill himself. It’s obvious he’s a coward. He just got the wrong cocktail of denial from his doctor. He didn’t want a deadly one. He wanted the one that would ease but not kill him, not the suicide cocktail, no matter what, not even two weeks early.
My brother rushed to death so early at 21. Is that cowardly? Dad’s too cowardly to go even a little before his time. But even that cowardly course begins to look brave. It’s all unavoidably brave. I feel—right now—won’t last—that we are all heroes. We’re all fucked, we’re all brave, the smokers, the neglected daughters, the tenacious parasites, the suicides, the shitty moms and shitty dads.
Once I succeed in getting the boys and the stroller to the top of the stairs, I give myself a quick little squeeze and breathe out the bad gas.