Summary: Chapter 13
Doc Hata recounts a dream that he had around the time he thinks Tommy must have been born. In this dream, he was a physician who ran a free clinic out of a tenement building in the city. One day, an adolescent girl entered the clinic. She was in labor, and the baby was already coming out but feet first instead of head first. With no time to turn the breech baby around, the nurse handed him a scalpel to perform an emergency C-section. But he’d received no training as a surgeon and didn’t know how to proceed. He felt like a fraud who didn’t deserve his reputation as “good Doc Hata of Whatever Street.”
Doc Hata interprets this dream as a sign of his guilt about Sunny, but he also notes that he truly felt concerned for her, as a “real parent” would feel. He explains that took comfort in the pain he felt when he knew Sunny was about to become a mother, partly because he hadn’t felt a similar kind of pain after she left his house.
Doc Hata recently started taking Tommy to a pool in Bedley Run, where he is teaching the boy how to swim. He also took him to the natural history museum. The exhibitions about dolphins and whales fascinated Tommy, and he declared he wanted to be like these mammals that live in the sea but breathe air. To himself, Doc Hata noted that in his focus on the joys of leaping, Tommy neglected to consider how difficult it would be to have to continually leave one’s element for another and be dependent on an environment that was not one’s own. Also to himself, Doc Hata thought about how he sometimes fantasizes about breathing underwater. He recalls that when Sunny was pregnant, he had tried to inhale a little water, but his body reacted violently. He wonders whether this incident represented a longing for death or a wish for transformation.
Doc Hata arrives at the Conifers, the rental condominium complex in Ebbington where Sunny and Tommy live. Despite its location in a nicer part of Ebbington, the grounds still look drab and in disarray, and Doc Hata suspects that most of the people who live there aspire to a more privileged life they’ll never attain.
He has come to look after Tommy. Sunny has an interview for a new managerial position, and her babysitter cancelled at the last minute. Sunny explains that the company she’s interviewing with plans on expanding into the southwestern states and that she might have to move to Arizona.
Doc Hata professes his desire to keep helping out with Tommy. He knows he could have done better by Sunny and that he’s still on tenuous ground with her. Yet he also senses that Sunny is warming up to him, and he thinks to himself that he wants to focus only on the fact that “I am here and she is here, and that there is a glimmer of gentle days ahead.”