We don’t talk about how long it’s been, or who hasn’t called whom,
or why. I tell her what’s what. I’m surprised when she suggests we come
“wait out this whole shebang.”
Patty may be a cold, bossy Capricorn who sold me out for fame, but
in emergencies she is unflappable. Like when our dad crashed the car
into a pine tree and she broke her arm—she didn’t even cry. Patty shook
our father awake with her working limb, herded him into the backseat to
sleep it off, and drove us home herself. At fourteen, she was an excellent
driver. I never learned how to drive.
“We’ll be there in an hour or so,” I say. I’m still watching the hole for
a sign of George.
I can hear her breathing through the phone line. She will tell me
that George and I will be fine. She will help us. And I will accept this
kindness as if it is an apology for exposing the tender, raw parts of our
history. I do want to be a person who doesn’t hoard resentments as if
they’re porcelain collectibles.
Patty says, “You’re not bringing that damn cat, are you? You know
“You have a deviated septum, not an allergy.”
“Don’t patronize me,” she says.
“Well I can’t very well leave her here.”
“Fine,” she mutters and hangs up. Patty’s become a real wench since
she got divorced.
Beanie shudders in my lap as I watch the house. The baby kicks. I was
always one of those people who said, “Why would I bring a child into
a dying world?” Then I got off birth control because it was making me
crazy, and within a month I was pregnant. George was so happy. He will
be a good father. What about me? Even though I’m not an alcoholic like
my father, not that long ago I was doing lines with a semifamous rock
star in her dressing room, inventing climate intervention protocols for
blue whales. You think you sound so smart on drugs. You don’t.
When I found out I was pregnant, I cried and researched how long
the earth had to live. The Internet says we could have a hundred years.
Sometimes it’s only fifty. Even if we change everything, dismantle capitalism, toss all the cars in a junkyard, compost every banana peel, become vegan witches and live beneath plastic domes, there are no guarantees. I got to thinking: I don’t want to be alone in the apocalypse. So
what if the world’s turning to salt? My daughter and I will swim in the