The Summer of Waiting for You by Sarah Busching

The trees are screaming in the most incredible way: cicadas released. The ground rumbles with frogs, who are the only ones happy about the flooding in our county.

We’re isolated here with the bugs and the frogs and the flood. The tropical storm fell through the roof and into the den after a stop in the attic, and the mud on which our house is built swells with rain. Your almost-father’s foot steps into six inches of water in the crawlspace. He siphons the intrusion with the garden hose. Our neighbors dig trenches down the slopes of their lawns. Homes rain into the gutters. (But again, the frogs are happy.)

This is the summer before the summer of forgetfulness. I have made no expectant “mama” friends, have gone to no workshops or classes or gyms. No new friends but the birds, the squirrels, and the rabid raccoon that fell off our fence and curled up against the house like a drunk.

The whole world is drunk. Everyone is drinking, holed up in apartments and in houses and not holed up at all but still drinking, except your almost-parents who watch as the officer captures the raccoon with a pole and carries it away by its neck.

I think about an infant’s neck, about your soft small tiny neck growing inside me. You’re the size of a peach, a squash, an eggplant. When you’re born, you hardly have a neck, your turtle head sunken into shell shoulders.

I hadn’t called animal control. It was the neighbor. He’d rung the doorbell, which he’d never done before and will never do again, to tell us that the raccoon was wandering our yard, acting funny. Acting off. We are all a little off, but he was wild.

 One night I tell your almost-father to go ahead, get drunk, we’re so bored and scared our bodies are cracking around our brains. I resent the six bottles. (My dinner is an ice pop.)

The pharmacy stocks only two nausea relief products safe for pregnancy. Ginger has dissolved in my mouth so frequently that now it makes me ill all on its own. I breathe open-mouthed into my mask and buy the other product, a bracelet, which provides no relief. There’s no cure.

They take the roof off our house and don’t replace it. Now the owls are louder than the trains. Two summers from now, when the isolation has lessened but not dissipated, when we are waiting for your sister, I will forget the three months the den was separated from the house. But the home you enter for the first time is half-tent.

 The world is screaming, and I hope you will be screaming when you come into this world. I hope you never stop. But when you emerge, you’re silent.

 I don’t realize for how long until you scream, finally.

Sarah Busching worked as a writer and editor in various industries for over a decade. She received a degree in English from the College of William and Mary, where she won the school’s top award in fiction, the Glenwood Clark Prize. She wrote the column “Lest We Forget” for the Yale University Press’s blog from 2011 to 2013. She also served as the managing editor of a trade journal from 2016-2018.