A short piece of fiction I wrote as a character study a few weeks back and am now dedicating to all the mothers out there (and most especially to my own mother). You’re each more courageous than I can dare to imagine. Happy (belated) Mother’s Day.
The word echoes in my head and I almost forget what it means.
Suddenly that word to which I had dedicated so much consideration trembles on the tip of my tongue — just another confused collection of consonants and vowels.
I’m supposed to be happy. After all, we’d decided it was time to start trying.
But as I stare at the pregnancy test quivering in my fingers I can’t seem to move past the word.
I realize that I’ve no idea how to be one. Or how I got to here: alone in my bathroom, clutching the test and all I can think is that I’m not ready to be a mother — that I might never be ready.
And how is it possible that I would only discover this now — in the moment when life has already been planted, seed sprouting into embryo — a tiny clump of cells dividing and differentiating.
Becoming not-me. Becoming other.
I smooth my palm over the flat planes of my belly. It seems unimaginable that soon I will swell with new life.
“Gravid” — from the Latin “gravis” meaning “heavy”.
I have never felt so grave, so heavy, as I feel now, in this moment in which my life seems to be pouring from between my fingertips, even as life is re-born of a single flickering spark — poised on the brink of bursting into flames.
I fear that there will be nothing left of me but ashes when that flame has burned its way into the world — borne out from between my blooded thighs.
The word rattles around inside my head and I can feel my atomic structures reassembling to make room for some newer, bigger person I must be becoming.
My hand presses firmly into the flesh of my belly, knowing that there is nothing to feel. The baby (baby!) is not yet bigger than a grain of rice — hardly larger than a dream.
I roll the word across my tongue, stretch it out over my skin and am surprised to find that it threatens to fit — just barely — around the size and shape of what it already means to be me.
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