by JC Reilly
Like that cow-mother we saw once on our Grandpa’s Pennsylvania farm, straining with her calf that warm November day, you too lay impatient and writhing for your boy to come. Late, it would be the first of many times he’d defy you. “No drugs,” you’d said.
Tied to machines and IV, the nurse-call button strangled in your right hand like a dead mouse, you were trussed as the turkey your in-laws would roast ten days later on Thanksgiving. Something tar-like and unholy lurked in your all-pupil eyes. Curses no devil dare speak steamed from your mouth like poisoned milk.
“Out! Out!” you screamed at family and staff, especially—that bastard who ruined your life. The doctor, used to such orders, smiled. Our mother, your one concession to company, toweled away the sweat from your forehead, winced only the first time you shouted. Nineteen hours like this. Your cervix, no wider than a walnut, hadn’t dilated further.
“Walking might help,” she coaxed. A nurse had said that too, earlier, and narrowly missed the cherry Jell-O you flung at her for the suggestion. You didn’t answer, but hefted yourself from the bed, as our mother snagged a nurse to disconnect monitors, make you mobile. With help, you lumbered out the door beside her, tubes and cords trailing behind you up and down a ward walled with turquoise tiles meant to soothe.
Hoping to hurry the process, you walked in silence, so you could “focus.” But in the end, concerned for fetal distress, the doctor pumped you full of pitocin. Thirty-six hours total, and your son, pink as a peony, howled in your limp arms, the “Congratulations!” of the new Grandma and staff floating around you like mist.
A nurse approached the man, still banished in the lounge, said, “Come meet your son.” That bastard who ruined your life kissed his wedding ring and wept.
JC Reilly writes across genres and is particularly interested in hybrid pieces. She has work coming out soon from Arkansas Review, Imperfect Fiction, Riding Light, and Rabbit: a Journal of Nonfiction Poetry, and serves as the Managing Editor for The Atlanta Review. Read her blog at jcreilly.com, or follow her @aishatonu.