Gail, though, persists in cooking, and she pays its price in water. When she prepares dinner for her daughter, grandchildren, and their other grandma, she goes through two cases, by my count—double the allotment of free water she receives. Then there’s bathing and tooth brushing, cleaning the sink and the counter, watering houseplants. When Felecia describes the work required to bathe her three children in warm bottled water, Tammy counsels her: “I tell myself, ‘Back in the day they just had to go to the creek and take a bath,’” she says. “They had to creek it.”
Before I leave, there’s another disturbing conversation that passes for normal. For months, Felecia, who’s currently raising her children alone, has been eyeing the house next door to her mother’s as a possible place to buy. But that’s changed.
“What’s the point of moving into a house where the water is messed up?” she says. Earlier in the day, she’d gotten called about a job interview an hour south, and she’ll move if she gets it. Gail listens to her daughter talking about taking the grandkids and trying to raise them on her own, 40 miles away. Like Kaniya in the morning, her face is blank.
“I do want the kids outta this,” she sighs. “We been talking about it, and if it takes ‘em longer than a year, then we’re all for her leaving with the kids. And you see for yourself it’s going to take longer than that.”
Kick is a fish.
She loves her bath. She lays down in the tub and says, “I’m swimmin’!” She pours water over toys and herself and me, catches pretend trout on a pretend line, giggles while she scrubs her toes with her little brush. She jumps up and down when it’s time to take a bath and she cries when I take her out of it because it’s bedtime. I can’t wait for this summer. I can’t wait to take her to the community pool, with its foot-deep splash pad for young children, and let her soak and learn to float. She’s a fish.
I don’t think there’s a hole so black or full of centipedes I wouldn’t throw Rick Snyder in it right now. These are BABIES and we are making them wash with water dearly bought and heated on the stove like something out of a Little House book, because the water that comes out of the tap, that they paid for, is poison.
In 20 years we will have a court case, maybe, and people will discuss if reparations are due, and we will say why no, of course not, we can’t afford that, probably some people are faking or exaggerating their symptoms to cash in, and we will forget that America poisoned babies in their bathwater and there is no repair for that, only punishment.
I want serial killer prison for Rick Snyder and everyone downward who touched one of those horrifying e-mails about let’s not tell anyone about the poison. I want Supermax, Unabomber, you’re-only-alive-because-beheading-is-messy prison for anyone who knew and did nothing. For anyone who saw and stayed silent. For anyone who let a mother pour water over her baby’s head thinking in perfect safety and, it turns out, doing irrevocable damage.
Poisoning babies in their baths. I want them seeing daylight one hour out of 24. I want us to keep Gitmo open just for these people.