She has questions about her mother. She sees the bedroom door closed, the depression, the woman behind it obsessed with money and the skin on her face and nothing else.
She wants to know why this woman lies to her about almost everything. She wants to know why the refrigerator is near-empty in that house. She tells me about the memories she has of the three of us living together, and a specific fight one summer day. E remembers holding my neck and hanging off of me as that woman was screaming and how I took her outside and we had a long walk down by the river until the sun went down. E knows I told her some important things that day, but remembers none of them, just the look on my face, and the hoarse, embarrassed whisper of my voice after the argument.
The hot water has returned and we breathe relief. It is the time for putting things behind us. I make sure she takes a good long bath. She has a black ring around her neck even after the skin on her fingers has pruned up. I put the red plastic bucket behind the sink. The arc of avoidance swings hard today. This is the cleansing breath.
She wanders through the house on tiptoes, the towel wrapped tight around her.
The next morning she tells me she had a good dream.
"What was in it?" I ask.
"Well, it was you and me and we were in a house." She says.
"This house?" I ask.
"No, a house we never went to." She replies. "And there was a swing from the roof and I was on the swing and you were pushing me."
I nod and sip some coffee.
"And there were some grasshoppers in the street, and they were all walking in a line." She says, smiling. "They were all carrying a piece of corn."
"Really!" I say.
"They were smiling." She says. "All of them."