Again I lose the soap in the world’s dirtiest bathtub.
My mother rests her head on the edge of the tub, her head the only part of her above water, and barely.
“Lou,” says my mother. “Do you remember the day we bathed together in Molly’s Pond? I didn’t want to but you pressured me into it anyway.”
“Those were good days,” I say.
My mother was once a woman pursued by men and their brothers, and now the water pooling against her brain pressures her into believing I am my father’s brother Lou.
She’s shown me how as you get older there’s little difference between the loves you lost and the loves that lost you.
Nights, I’ll walk her to bed and she’ll say something like, “You’re as handsome as ever, Lou,” and I’ll say, “I better be,” because I’ve always liked to tease her, and these days I feel it’s important to pressure her into playing along with whatever makes her happy.
I pull up my shirtsleeve and keep searching for the soap. “Where did you put the soap?” I say.
“Did I have it last?” she says.
“Of course you did,” I say, when of course she didn’t.
I am always the one with the soap and she is always the one being soaped.
When I was younger and she was the one washing me in the tub, she would say,
“There will never be a day when bathing you will be out of the question,” and I knew she was trying to pressure me into saying the same.
But I never did.
I think all I said was, “Okay.”