“Correction—you were way too uptight for that. Now you’re the picture of zen.”

I laugh way too long at this. “I am one with the pink laundry. Ommmmmm. Am I convincing you? I am totally not convincing myself.”

Celeste just laughs.

“You know what my dream is?” I go on. “My dream is to be the kind of mom that’s ok with pink laundry. To enforce the chore chart even if it’s more work than doing it myself. To get Happy Meals for my kids without shame, but also to sit down and eat our McDonald’s together like a family sometimes.”

“That sounds utterly doable,” Celeste says. “I’ve got your back on all of that.”

“What’s your dream?” I ask her.

“My dream is healthy adult offspring who can figure out what makes them happy and then make it happen. And when they’re not happy, I want them to believe they can weather the storm until it passes, knowing full well that it will.” She sighs. “But that dream is taking less and less from me every year, as it starts to pass out of my hands.”

“It will be years before Joy is out of your hands.”

She shakes her head. “Just the blink of an eye. It will happen in the blink of an eye.”

“All the more reason to slow down and savor it,” I hear myself say. And then, “Oh my god, I can’t believe I just said that. This vodka is crazy stuff.”


“Yes, please. What’s the first thing you’re going to do when we switch back?” I ask her.

“Plant a huge kiss on Hugh,” she says. “And tell him how much I love him.”

I get quiet.


“It’s just . . . that is not the first thing I’m going to do,” I say.

“I would hope not. Hugh would be very weirded out.”

“I mean Seth.”

She sighs. “I know you do. I was trying to be funny and distracting.”

I give her a wan smile. “You’re a good friend, Celeste.”

She shakes her head and holds up the bottle of birch-sap vodka, saying, “What is in this stuff?!” with a big laugh.

“Whatever it is,” I say, “it’s powerful as hell.”

“After this is over, I’m keeping it behind lock and key.”

“After this is over. Can you believe it’s been a week?” I ask her.

“It feels like it’s been a year,” she says, at the exact same time as I say, “It feels like it’s been a minute.”

We look at each other and laugh.

“Exactly,” I say.

“Exactly,” she agrees.

There’s a long pause. Then, “What if we don’t swap back?” Celeste asks.

“We’re going to swap back,” I tell her.

“But if we don’t?”

I pause and think. This is the longest I could have ever considered lasting, these seven days away from my real life. Tonight will be a milestone, the end of an entire week, and even the slightest consideration that this could go on longer feels like an actual stone dragging on my soul. I recognize this feeling from every single December 31 I’ve ever had: the idea that if I don’t start doing whatever resolution it is I’ve decided on now, maybe I never will.

“We just need to be very sure we drink enough of this stuff,” I tell her, with finality, because I need my answer to be final. I cannot stand the alternatives.

“In that case, would you like another glass?” she asks me.

I grab the entire pitcher. “Don’t mind if I do.”




I wake up the next morning, and my head is throbbing and my mouth is dry. I pinch my eyes shut as tightly as I can and hope with all my might. Then I open my eyes, slowly. Slowly.

Shit. With Celeste’s crystal-clear vision I see her bedroom and her body and her pretty cream nightgown. I’m still her. She’s still me. It’s Sunday and a full week has passed, and if I haven’t gotten my body back yet . . . will I ever? Before I can even begin to start sobbing hysterically about that, my doorbell rings.

Who could possibly be ringing Celeste’s doorbell at this hour? I wonder. And then realize it’s daytime and the sun is streaming in the windows and Hugh is gone, so I pound down the stairs in unison with my throbbing brain and try not to vomit on Celeste’s front rug.

“Hello?” I say before the door is fully open.

“I AM STILL FREAKING YOU!” Celeste says, and just that most minor of curses is enough to get my attention. “AND WE ARE GOING TO BE LATE FOR THE GAME!”

I squeeze my eyes open and then shut and then ask her to give me a moment. She stands there in my body, tapping my toes and saying, “Are you going to put on pants or what?”

I put on pants, noting as I do a thoughtfully written note on my side of the bed from Hugh telling me to meet him and the kids at the game, and follow her to my beloved Jeep, heading right for the driver’s side out of habit. “Sorry,” I start to say, but she says, “No, seriously, you drive. I’m still too traumatized that I’m not me again. No offense. I really, really wanted to be me.”

I nod and gladly take the wheel—I’m in the mood to drive like a NASCAR racer. “Do you think . . .”

“We’re stuck like this forever?” she completes. “I don’t know, Wendy. I just know I want my life back.” Tears start to leak out of her eyes.

I want mine back, too, but Celeste is spinning out. “Ok,” I say, because I don’t know what else to do. “Try not to freak out.”

“‘Freaked out’ doesn’t even begin to explain it. I stress ate all your kids’ leftover Easter candy before I drove over here,” she admits, showing me a tote bag full of empty wrappers. “I don’t know how to make this right. I know we’re not supposed to fix things for each other, and I put all my faith in that stupid artisanal vodka . . .”

I shake my head. “That was my idea,” I admit. “I didn’t know what else to think.” My own tears rise up again. “All I know is that I miss my kids so, so much. I miss my stupid house with the messy pantry and the hole in the wall. I miss my routine and my hustle, and I even miss my crazy sister!” The tears break out, and I frantically try to blink them away as I pull into the parking lot of the softball field.

Celeste puts her hand on my arm, comfortingly. Kindly. I’ve misunderstood her, underestimated her, and overruled her at every turn. And even after all that, she’s been there every time the chips are down.

Only, when I put the car in park and look over at her, ready to tell her thank you for all her good intentions, even if they didn’t work out quite right, I realize she’s not patting my shoulder to comfort me. She’s trying to get my attention. She’s wheezing. Gasping like something’s wrong with her windpipe. “Celeste?” I say. “Are you ok?”

Her face is red, and she shakes it no, violently. She starts to creak out a scary, airless sound. “Are you choking?” I ask her.

She shakes her head again and starts scraping at her neck, the skin over her windpipe. She’s leaving bright-red marks, and her eyes are watering violently. She starts to cough, and then, when her hands move, I see them. Hives on her chest. Hundreds more popping up on her arms. Appearing right before my eyes, like she’s being stung by a thousand invisible bees.

Immediately I understand.

“Celeste!” I shout. “What did you eat?”

She shakes her head but points to the door. I jump out of the driver’s side of the Jeep and come around to look on the floor by her feet. There’s nothing there. In fact, it’s cleaner than I’ve ever seen it, but she keeps pointing and gasping, at the tote of food for the game, and at once I remember the candy wrappers. I dump them, and there it is—the wrapper I would know anywhere. Yellow, square, pleated sides.

Peanut M&M’S.