By the time I spin you a tale about the first time I heard your heartbeat, there will be several pains so far receded, they’ll seem glitter on the fronds of talking trees. Do not worry; all my hurt will be myth, when you’re old enough to hear about it. I will sail us to a safe harbor. I will insulate you from the fire-tongued darts I’m never quite quick enough to duck and not absorb.
But now, these wounds are open, the sinew and nerve exposed, and nowhere seems entirely safe from the salted sentiments being poured into them.
I can’t find you a story here.
I have tried, over days, to begin one: in the nurse’s office, where the girl in aqua scrubs with the pink stoned ring asked me questions about your father. I told her as little as I could, to keep the levees from breaking and the tears from seeping through their cracks, and I thought it strange how willing I am to protect him, how incapable I am of protecting myself.
There, I remembered a hollow joke I told, two weeks before he was gone, about what I’d do after he left. I said that I’d tell you he was noble and courageous, off in some wild, avenging an evil too large to conquer, if he divided his time between us and its towering darkness.
He laughed and said this was why I wasn’t ready to have you. I was still too dreamy, too many parts little girl.
I didn’t tell the nurse any of this. I just told her how long he’d been here and how easily he’d gone. When she asked his name, I concealed it.
I’ll omit the indignity of pee in a plastic cup, of writing first initial and last name on the lid and sliding the specimen into a wooden cubby so a cubicled technician could deem me fit enough to feed you.
I’ll omit the thick, dark blood siphoned into five vials and how I looked at the harsh flourescents in the ceiling and forgot all the things I was told to remember.
I’ll omit the anxiety, the doubt that you even existed. I thought you might be an elaborate ruse, a parlor trick my body had played for its own amusement. I readied myself to hear that you were hysterical. I nearly expected them to tell me you were ectopic.
I won’t tell you how often I wondered whether you were alive or imagined.
Instead, I’ll talk about the static and how it sounded alien, how I felt like I was listening to a broadcast from outer space. I’ll tell you I pretended you were skipping rocks across Saturn’s rings. I thought of you scooping cheese from lunar craters. I thought of the red tint of your skin or your hair and how I’d tell you it came from Mars.
I’ll tell you about the wand gliding along my waist and how desperately silent you were, till we found you, just above my right hip, with a heart like the charge of a thousand tiny colts. You were a miniature stampede. You were the sound of every dream my own heart houses.
This is the part of the tale we will preserve.