Dawn on Sunday morning of Reunion Weekend
(May 27, 2018)
Her daughter had just fallen back asleep in the crook of her elbow when Mariam noticed the man on the bench in the courtyard below.
It was very early morning. She’d been up for over an hour, rocking her toddler as if she were a baby, mumbling snippets of lullabies, her eyes slowly growing accustomed to the dark outside. Her arm had gone numb from the weight of Eva’s head.
From the attic room in Kirkland House, she had a view of the enclosed garden quadrangle, which all the windows of the elegant redbrick undergraduate residence faced.
Mariam smiled to herself when she saw the awkwardly angled silhouette of the man’s upper body. He was going to have a very sore back later today, when he awoke from his drunken stupor on that bench. They were almost too old for these antics. Behind her, in the narrow single bed they were sharing, just as they had through their years of dating in college, Rowan was passed out with the same oblivion, clutching a pillow to his chest as if it were a life raft, his hot rum-and-Coke breath making the air in the small room smell tropical.
In the other single bed, her older daughter slept the enviably deep sleep of a 5-year-old. Ah, to sleep like a child, or a drunk!
Mariam was dying of thirst – the post-alcohol kind, which no amount of water can satisfy. Normally Rowan would be the one settling Eva; with both girls he had taken on the diaper changes, the soothing, the settling. They’d made a commitment to divide the night load straight down the middle, but he had always tried to do more than his share, aware that during the day, as the stay-at-home parent, Mariam carried the full burden.