Why did I ever think leaving the AC would be OK? Ninety-degree weather will be the death of me. We were leaving the yard, headed for the beach. I prayed for a wind; maybe there would be some near Lake Superior. Who has the energy to pack up kids on humid days like this? I couldn’t. I couldn’t even imagine the torture. They’d be whiny. “Mom, we’re hot. Mom, let’s go. Mom, hurry up.” I’d have to pack all the hydration, snacks, towels, sandals for when they reach the hot sand and have to run like wild to the water, my tanning lotion because I want to be brown-er, and sunblock for their dad’s and their light skin. I would need my own fold-out chair, my go-to huge white thermos that I fill to the brim with ice, and large blankets that get too sandy, too fast. Sand in the snacks; sand in my cup; and sand in my butt. Their feet tracking sand over everything. I’d go insane. Maybe having a boy first means he will grow to be more independent; I could train him to be unlike his dad. Then he can train his dad to not be like he currently is, does that ever work though? They’ll grab their towels, wrapping them around their necks, and I won’t have to say a word; they’ll find their flip-flops without asking where the second one is seven times, getting in the truck themselves.
Why did he take the running boards off? I saw why they were so important now that I carried twenty-eight extra pounds. I slid across the tan leather seat; if they were black, we’d be taking the little white Impala, but the leather has little holes spewing AC from them (fancy, but a weird sensation that made you think you were peeing yourself). It was nice. I looked out at his many burnbarrel marks on the lawn, indecisive on where to burn the boxes.
“Couldn’t you pick one spot?”
I gestured, one at a time, to the three black charred-grass rings polka dotting the yard. A painted masterpiece, where he added brush strokes of mud from the truck, plow, and dirt bike.
“Oh, I liked it better there.” I’m glad he tested a few spots first. Moving fire seemed to be a hobby.
My meticulous garden occupied the other half of the yard—just big enough for our growing family. He watered my babies daily.
“Did you water my babies?” I questioned all sassy, even though I knew he probably did twice before we left the worst driveway on the Rez. We win with the Rez for biggest cracks, most uneven potholes.
“Yes.” He mowed, watered every plant every day, and made sure the garbage was out every Wednesday night.
“And you’re taking the neighbor’s land!” I said, one more thing to nag about.
I still had to hold my belly, supporting Baby Adams through the rollercoaster past the last big hole. I stared at our too-tiny, one-bedroom Rez home. How are we all going to fit? Where’s Baby Adams’s spot? Evan’s back yard was claimed by too many junk cars and piles of organized tools and sharp-looking things. Cameras mounted on every side of the house to keep watch for the Rez bandits and burglars who want nice socket sets, $100 rachets, and Milwaukee impacts. I looked to my side, the front yard that held my hanging flowers from my soon-to-be Mother’s Day, my hanging flowers for being a professor, and my hanging flowers from my mom because she knows I like hanging flowers. Our little Rez home would manage, it always did.
We pulled into the marina, finding our campsite at the rocky shoreland. Heavy heat on a hazy day, we made seats beneath the blanket of humidity. Heat near the deep fresh waters of Lake Superior is the only heat I can handle. Crisp water and heat versus Theo, I’d make it to the third round, but ask me in a day or two and I might turn into that pregnant summer stereotype “crabby, huge, and miserable” and don’t dare question me in this heat: “How are you pregnant during summer?” I’d punch someone today. We forgot firewood. I smelled the fire from the neighbor’s as they sat around peacefully, staring at their flames. “Who needed a fire on a hot day?”
Our chairs pointed toward the empty fire pit with a grill on it. I was hungry now. I forced myself, barely getting up to turn my chair to face the lake. Everything hurt.
Beep. Beep. A car pulled into our site, #33. I cringed at the thought that I might have to get up again. Probably his mom, she always finds us. Or my mom, cousin, or sister.
The sweat held me to the lawn chair, sticking me to the earth, stuck staring at the shore. It was his mom, and I thanked the wetness, a wet grip holding me in place. He would have to be the one to settle her because she always has to be settled.
The sun setting near us was our cue; the blues turning red and yellow. I don’t really like to camp. I don’t like bugs or rustic settings to sleep in. But I do love Evan near the lake. I’ll soak in the dusty vibrancy for him a little longer. Baby Adams squirmed near the evening every night like clockwork. Little wiggles like soggy towels thudding around a washing machine in my womb. “Evan feel,” I grabbed his hand fast, “I thought this was his head poking me in the upper rib, but the doctor said nope, it’s his butt. A cute little butt.” We pat his little booty, and feel morse code back. Baby Adams telling us it’ll be okay.
Baby Adams and dad settled me, and I always have to be settled.
We all needed fresh water. His black, scorched holes, my precious plants, and our heated bodies.
Tashina Emery is a student at Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College.