The moment she knew she’d conceived she made two decisions: no doctors, no birth.
“Baby,” she said to the cluster of 15 cells adhering to her uterine wall. “Forgive me. It’s a harsh world. I can only think of one way out.”
Every cell of their collective body agreed. At the end of nine months there were no contractions, no birth.
By the end of the first in utero year he slept through the night and drummed on her lower left rib if he wanted a shot of caffeine. He liked reruns of Myron Floren on the Lawrence Welk Show and did not care for Chinese food.
She filled with song. He learned to crack his thumbs in time to her voice, a double-jointedness which ran through the family on her father’s side.
By the third year she began to thin. Lying nude in the backyard dosing them both with Vitamin D, she noticed how translucent her flesh had become, the centerline full of white striations pulling and stretching like a seam coming undone.
In the dome of her belly, two small hands pressed, and then between them, a face. Even pale and waterlogged, his hair a floating nimbus, he looked exactly like her uncle Vinnie. She smiled. The boy smiled back.
His finger with its long curled nail followed the path of a crow over the dome of his world, leaving a flush of pink in the fluid.
She called her sister, said she was leaving a present in the backyard. The sister said she’d be right over.
When the sister arrived, the boy, sitting upright in the pelvic girdle, was playing patty-cake in a small puddle of amniotic fluid, tears streaming down his face from the pure brilliance of the day.
by Karen Stromberg
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