He said, “Come in tomorrow and pass the fetus.”
As if it wasn’t a baby.
As if it hadn’t been a baby all along. As if I hadn’t made up a cozy walk-in closet and fingered crocheted booties and refolded soft doll-sized blankets for months and months in between throwing up in toilets and gutters.
She was a wiggler. The mountain of her back and head rose and fell and rose and fell, her tiny hands tracing imaginary lines within me.
I matched line for line, fingertip to fist.
She clung to my ribs like a gymnast gripping the uneven parallel bars, giving me indigestion.
Her heart beat steady, fast, strong.
I listened through a borrowed stethoscope, loving her, eavesdropping on her small world.
Her heart beat out the rhythm of expectation.
Her heart beat out mother music—till it stopped.
Then the dark whisperings—
those dark whisperings in my ears made my hands sweat.
“She’s just turned, waiting to be born,” I said. “I rebuke you, Satan,” I said.
“Please, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,” I said.
“Come in tomorrow and pass the fetus,” he said.