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After she got the car she and the baby went out every day. Before, they used her bike and even though it was nice seeing how people stopped and smiled as they rode by, pointing at the baby's crash helmet and laughing delightedly, the weather often kept them indoors. Now that she had the car they went anywhere they liked, anytime.
They started by going shopping. She took the baby to the grocery store for extra milk and eggs, a bottle of seltzer water, yogurt, cereal, green peppers, tomato sauce -- whatever they were out of at home. The baby rode on the special plastic seat for babies that was built on to the grocery cart.
But these trips were so brief and so mundane. They accomplished something -- the getting of food -- but that was all. Soon she was taking the baby to the Mall. The Mall was on the south end of town, a longer drive and when they got there, an experience that was more complex. There were buggies for rent at the Mall. Heavy contraptions with stout wheels and steel seats. Baby was strapped in and they toured the stores. There was never any need to buy things. They searched through the plate-glass windows, studying mannequins, the colors of clothing, displays of chocolates, eyeglasses, perfumes, gold and silver rings. None of this really interested her, the baby was interested by everything. They returned home exhausted.
The car was a wonderful force. It was ocean blue and rusted in places but the steering wheel was thick as a sausage and good for gripping. The engine ran quiet and clean. She bought a carseat for the baby that was blue like the car and cushioned on every side like a test pilot's pod. The baby learned to lift his arms and seemed to welcome the safety straps that held him.
They began going for drives. There was no purpose, no destination. There was nothing she wanted to spend her money on and nothing in town attracted her. She drove beneath the flickering light of trees, stirred tall grasses by the side of the road, through heavy gusts of wind. The sky darkened, rain fell, she turned on the windshield wipers.
Her husband, home from work, asked her what she did.
Nothing, she said, we went for a drive.
From the bedroom where he changed his clothes the husband asked what was for dinner. That soup again, she said. Baby clapped his hands and shouted. The empty wineglasses on the dining room table trembled against each other, vibrating musically as traffic passed on the street outside.