I feel like I’m giving myself permission to write about All The Things in a way that is neither deep nor lyrical. Because I am, lately, a creativity camel. My urgent need to write and world-build and daydream is by necessity put off by diapers that need changing (and washing and drying and folding), block towers that need collapsing, toothless smiles soaked up and baby giggles bottled. When I get my figurative drink on, however, I drink deep.
So I am excited about reading and writing when I can, and presently, this. I’ve made a concerted effort to read women in the science fiction and fantasy genre (and all books ever, really), and I love a good reading challenge. I’ve had Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker on loan from the library and am anxious to dig in. I only wish I hadn’t just finished Julianna Baggott’s Pure, because, my goodness, what a note to begin on that gritty gem would’ve been.
Reading is such a cornerstone to writing that even when I’m reduced to a blubbering, unproductive mess by the spectacular imaginations of others, I can’t regret the hours lost in another world. Because lost isn’t even really the right word.
It’s more like lust.
A good book is about what can’t be had, only dreamed. And I can’t hope to write one if I haven’t read a whole hell of a lot of them.
Elinor Anna abducted an alien.
He was hiding in a tree in her backyard, too-green between the leaves. When he wouldn’t come down she climbed up, taking his too-many fingered hand in both of hers and leading him into the house.
He didn’t like her Legos or her coloring books. She was worried he might eat the cat (he licked his lips and said a whole lot of words Elinor Anna didn’t understand), so she hid him in her toy chest and fed him cheese crackers to keep him quiet.
“What’s that noise?” Asked her dad from the kitchen when the alien burped the biggest burp Elinor Anna had ever heard.
“It was me!” She shouted, and thumped her belly.
“What’s that smell?” Asked her mom from the hallway when he took off his rocket boots and wiggled all seventeen of his toes in Elinor Anna’s face.
“It’s me!” She said, pinching her nose.
“Time for a bath,” said her dad, scooping Elinor Anna up in his arms. She shut her toy chest just in time.
When she had her bedtime story, Elinor Anna hoped the alien could hear, too. And when she filled her water glass, she filled it extra full so she could share if he got thirsty.
After her mom turned out the light and shut the door, Elinor Anna hurried over to her toy chest. But it was empty. The stars that danced out of her night light lit the faces of her favorite dolls and the skins on her toy drums, but her alien wasn’t there. Her window was closed but she could see the stars out there, too, shining just like the stars in her room.
They must’ve shown him the way home.
Elinor Anna’s bicycle has training wheels in the fourth dimension.
She pedals up one side of the street and down the other before she squeaks through a crack in spacetime.
“Be careful!” Says her Dad.
“Be carefuller!’ Says her Mom.
Even if Elinor Anna melted a whole box of crayons together she couldn’t make the colors here. She gathers them in her arms like wildflowers: purgurple, azureal, magentish. She brakes in a puddle of worange to say hello to her fourth dimensional friend, a grinning girl reflected in an extrasolar wind.
“Hi!” Says Elinor Anna.
“Hi!” Says her friend. Their smiles are just the same.
When Elinor Anna chases a rogue comet, her friend does, too. When her handlebar streamers attract a host of galactic butterflies, they both try to catch them. She shares her tangerine, and they take turns throwing the rind into a baby black hole.
Through the crack in spacetime Elinor Anna can see that the sky is growing dark. A lightning bug has found his way through and she pockets him gently.
“It’s time for us to go home,” she says. But Elinor Anna isn’t sad. Because in the fourth dimension, it’s already tomorrow and tomorrow and yesterday, too. Because in the fourth dimension she’s always already at play.
Wait until he is asleep.
The needle should be sharper than his tongue. Like a cat creeping under the covers for warmth your hand must be, fingers whisker tickling his toes before you strike. There. Pinning the biggest ragged nail to the biggest callused toe to the shred of trouser sock until he howls himself out of bed.
They don’t call it whip stitch for nothing.
If you don’t like his railing, consider anesthesia. Or a gag. Proceed in even stitches as small as you can make them, smaller even than his esteem of you, bigger than his heart. Machine knits will repair easily, but their absorbency is poor. Take care the thread doesn’t become clotted with blood.
When the petty hole, so little compared to the one he tore in you, is closed, knot the thread and trim the ends.
Wash your hands.
Pack a bag.
Call the police.
How can I begin to tell the story of my daughter’s birth? With the end.
After more than an hour-and-a-half of pushing and six-and-a-half hours of unmedicated labor, my eyes boiled shut as canning seals, the midwife said to me, “Reach down and take your baby.” My baby. Mine. Reach down and take your baby. So I did.
And there she was, only, I didn’t know yet that she was a she. I observed her slick head, plastered with dark hair, her roaming eyes and slowly pinking limbs. So profound was M’s wonder that he nearly forgot that we wanted him to announce her sex after waiting so long to find out, these last hours the longest. He lifted her leg, surprised, delighted, and told me, “It’s a girl!” We’d been so sure we were having a boy. During my pregnancy I’d had only one dream where our baby was not a ravenously toothed animal, and in that dream, she was a she. It seemed this was the wicked smart and lovely gal I’d conjured in my sleep.
I lifted her from my belly to my chest and marveled at the little person we had made. We named her Elinor Anna. Already she is a passionate and pensive girl, sweet even when her howling mouth fusses at my breast or wordless wails to change and dress her as quickly as possible, please and thank you.
I find I miss her after a particularly long nap, that I need to see her face or risk mine running with tears only to begin to cry when she wakes anyway. I am overwhelmed by her existence. There are such depths in her steel blue eyes, darkening and deepening with every new day we spend together.
I really, really, really love her.
I like mysteries.
This isn’t the answer I can give to the many questions I’m getting lately about baby (am I making any progress, how big is baby, will baby be late or early or emerge with just enough time to be enrolled in kindergarten), but it’s the reason behind why I haven’t got any answers. Contrary to the amount of preparatory reading I’ve done for labor and delivery and the number of sensory play activities and ways to manage challenging behaviors I’ve pinned in anticipation of being a parent, knowing less in this instance seems best. I don’t want to spoil the surprise of baby’s arrival, and I don’t want to get myself wound up over nothing.
While I’m certainly and sorely tempted to ask at recent appointments with my midwives, I’m also a bit of a romantic. In novels and generally more interesting times, a woman had only her intuition and the stories of mothers and aunts and sisters to guide her, astray or otherwise. I imagine she awaited her baby’s birth with only as much fear of the inevitable as is reasonable. I’ve wanted for the same things, and tried to experience pregnancy as naturally as possible and as woman-centric as possible, which isn’t to say I don’t enjoy the menfolk (and won’t be relying tremendously on M, as I have and always will). But this is the place where our bodies are wondrous and strong and capable, when I’ll know how to ask for what I need and when.
And I believe that what I need now is to find a little something to celebrate each day, to rest, to dream, and to let my body and my baby do what they already know how to do. Baby will be born whether I know what station he or she is in now or a week from now, whether I have weekly growth scans or whether I’ve scheduled my induction. I don’t need to control this. And I like not controlling it, like not knowing in the same way I like not knowing whether baby is a boy or a girl, the way I like not having yet seen his or her face. We’ll meet serendipitously, hopefully the way we were meant to, after so many months of strange intimacy.
The buzz of your beard trimmer before we go to bed is
the closest I come to cricket song.
The kind that kept me up at night when
at eleven and twelve and thirteen years old
I didn’t dream of someday sharing my bed with
an (extra)ordinary man, but an elf.
We read together, stealing half hours from sleep
as I once bribed my mother, promising
just one more chapter before lights out.
This is a chapter in our own lives coming to a close:
your breath white noise I follow soundlessly to sleep;
our baby squirming in my belly between us
when we try to make love,
before us in every future we might occupy.
Until your whiskers shake out sparse and gray, and
I haven’t the bone strength to make babies anymore.