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Sadie’s mom was a kindergarten teacher at the same elementary school that she attended, which made summer breaks all the more sacred. During previous summers she and Sadie spent hours in their backyard pulling weeds and planting seeds, which usually devolved into a day at the “waterpark,” courtesy of the garden hose and her mother’s good aim. But this summer was coming to an end, despite the lack of waterparks. Sadie was to start school soon, and was told by her father not to expect to see her mother in the hallways this year. On the first day of school her new teacher, Ms. Evans, assigned her a seat next to Eli Smith. Sadie sat down and studied her new neighbor. Eli had eyes too big for his face and an uneven buzz cut that his mother had given him in an attempt to combat the heat. He breathed through his mouth and still gripped his pencil with his entire fist. Eli looked at Sadie for a while, then finally said, “Sorry about Sid.” “Who’s Sid?” Sadie asked, but there was a familiarity with the word. Eli’s big eyes got even bigger, and his face turned scarlet. “Oh, um, you know... your baby brother?” “My brother’s name was Gabe.” Now it was Sadie’s turn to feel embarrassed. “Oh, really?” Eli murmured, perplexed. “I just heard my mom talking on the phone about it. She said something about a baby named Sid, I thought. Sorry.” “His name was Gabe,” Sadie repeated, and then quickly turned her attention back to her times tables. When she got home that day, Sadie checked to make sure that her mother was upstairs and then headed straight for the kitchen. She found what she was looking for in the cabinet underneath the sink. Sadie held the hot water bottle that her mother had used as a cure for backaches while she was pregnant. Sadie quickly retreated to the bathroom and locked the door. Running the tap as hot as it would go, she placed the bottle underneath and watched as its belly swelled with water. Then in the confines of her room, with a hand towel thrown over her shoulder, she slowly rocked her water bottle baby back and forth, and gently patted it on the back while humming a tune. But it was only a matter of time before its warmth faded, and after a bit she was forced to walk her baby to the sink and pour its life down the drain. She performed this routine when she missed Gabe. She performed this routine when she missed her mother. Sadie couldn’t help but think of that night, the night when her mother breathed panic into the phone. Her dad had been away on business. “He’s not breathing—” “He’s cold—” “He’s blue—” What followed were bright lights of the same color, sirens, a shoebox sized coffin and then two weeks at her grandparents house. That’s where she heard the word “SIDS” for the first time, as the adults tried to give a reason for something so meaningless.




Profile for Oakland Arts Review

Oakland Arts Review Volume 4  

Oakland Arts Review Volume 4