I put my just-turned-six-year-old in the bath and went to make dinner. Twenty minutes later I went back to say hello. She, still able to stretch without bending her knees or touching the sides, lay straight and still with eyes closed, hair fanned out like seaweed, and face jutting above the water like a heart-shaped island.
She opened her eyes and asked, “Is this real or am I dreaming?”
I know that feeling–submerged and disconnected, an utter bodiless encapsulation, the sensation of being enveloped in a pocket of liquid warmth, how it fills your ears and snuffs every sound except that of your own lungs breathing in, out. I sat on the footstool at the side of the tub and said, “How do we know?”
Her body hung motionless under the water, arms pale and inert, only her eyes and lips moving: “If it’s real to you then it might be real to me too.”
Her words spilled into me and surged up behind my eyes. I took one finger, dipped it in to the water, and touched her forehead.
She said, “Or maybe we’re dreaming each other.” She closed her eyes and added, “It’s a very good dream.”
Later, I helped her slippery body from the water and wrapped her with a towel. She dropped heavily into my lap and I held tight, feeling her warmth seep into my lap, flow into my arms, and fill my chest. When I close my eyes, I can still feel it.