I am floating on the blue carpet as Mommy puts Dexter to sleep. The carpet reminds me of the ocean Mommy and Daddy took me to last summer when it was fire hot outside and Mommy still had Dexter in her tummy. We drove a long, long ways and finally we turned a corner and I saw the big ocean for the first time. This is what the carpet reminded me of.
Mommy holds Dexter and softly lays him down in his crib. I jump up out of my ocean carpet and peek over the railing at him, like I’m playing peek-a-boo. He is already asleep so I say in a very small, inside voice, “Good night, good night, sweet baby brother” and kiss my hand so I can give it to him without waking him up. I reach out and touch his forehead and he wiggles a little bit. I laugh and Mommy shushes me, then pulls me out of the room with her. Mommy goes to the bedroom to do laundry, but I don’t want to go with her.
I go to the living room, swimming through the blue carpet all the way to the sandy kitchen. I get all of my sand toys and start building another sand castle. I can hear Mommy singing like the little mermaids from her bedroom. Daddy smiles at me as he cooks my favorite Saturday night chocolate pancakes.
“How tall is the sand castle today?” he asks.
“I don’t know yet, Daddy. It might all fall down like it did yesterday.”
“Well,” he says as he comes over to me and squats down on his knees, scooping into the ocean carpet, “if you take some of the water and make that sand wet, it'll help it stick together.”
I know that, but I don’t tell Daddy. I tell him “thank you.”
“Don’t make it higher than your head,” he says. “That’s a sure way for sand castles to fall over.”
I shake my head yes and continue building. He doesn’t know that I can make sand castles as tall as the moon. They go right through the roof. Daddy worries a lot. When we went to the ocean, he told me about the drowning and how the water gets all the way in your breathing until you can’t breathe anymore. But it was ok because I didn’t want to go too far in and all I wanted to do was make sand castles.
As Daddy is putting the plates and cups on the table, Mommy comes out from the bedroom with a pair of underwear in her hand.
“What is this?” Mommy says. I can tell she’s angry. I don’t know why.
“Mommy, it’s underwear,” I say. I get up to go to the table after making sure my sand castle isn’t going to fall. I can tell this one is going to be a big one. I pull out my chair and sit down, waiting for Daddy to serve the pancakes, but Daddy has stopped and is staring at Mommy.
“What is this?” she asks again. And that’s when she did it.
She rushes towards Daddy, knocking over my big sand castle. They start yelling about the underwear. The sand is all over the floor. Mommy pushes Daddy. My sand castle is broken.
“It’s only underwear,” I whisper as I swim away. I’m not getting my pancakes tonight. I hear the crashes start in the kitchen. Dishes are breaking. Their voices are outside voices.
I know what to do. I have done this before. I reach in and carefully pull Dexter out of his crib and go to their bedroom. I set him down on their bed and go back to the door to lock it. I go back to him and lay down next to him, holding him close as he cries.
I tell him about the ocean that he missed while he was in her tummy. I tell him about the blue water and all of the sand. I tell him about the sand castles I made. I tell him about my sand castle I made today. I tell him how she made it all broken. I tell him it’s only underwear. I tell him that this will be over soon like last time.
I tell him this over and over until he is asleep and soon I am too.
She wakes me up and tells me to hurry up and get a jacket. I ask her where we are going. She says she doesn’t know. She picks up Dexter and takes him out of the room. I go to my room and find my jacket. I go out to find her and it’s hard to swim in a jacket. I can see from the living room she is putting Dexter into his car seat. His truck isn’t in the driveway next to hers and I know he is gone gone this time. As I fight to swim to the front door I trip over something she has dropped and fall into the ocean carpet.
I think this is what the drowning is like.