No way in, she writes—she writes it neat, in script that's almost but not quite Palmer method: no way in. Pike jostles her knees and the in goes south, the "n" become a rivulet of blue ink that disappears into white. "Mom," he whines, "Mom," and looks at her with that expression she has come to loathe, that says "I want," that says "you got," that says "I know you'll give it to me." Just once, she thinks, fumbling in her bag for the baggie of oat circles to keep him quiet, just once I'd like to reply, "No. No you can't, no I want, no for once I need." But what—what?—does she need or want other than to keep him quiet in this minute, this small time the library gives her to write something, anything?
She comes here every week to journal class, and each time she gets the feeling, she knows it's wrong but still, the feeling they've been given one last chance to write. Like what they tell cons in death row, "You got anything you want to say? Anyone to contact?" But she's got no one besides Jasmine next to her with the twins, and Eloise the fat who never speaks. The librarian tells them to find a "way in" to what they feel and write about that. She finds the cereal and Pike grabs the baggie and shovels oat circles into his mouth, greedy as always; when he was on the tit he drank her dry. There were nights it felt nothing was left; no milk, no spit even, no juice between her legs. Just dreams of sleep. And that's when his dad was still around.
She wads up the hem of her blouse, dabs at the corners of Pike's eyes where sleep has gummed, and only then realizes what she's doing, the gesture that fast and thoughtless. He fends himself off her knees, then turns and waddles toward the twins. No one is crying now. She picks up her pen and reads what she has written.
Slowly, with some care, she clicks the ballpoint shut.