by Michael Seidel
Hoyman’d never wanted babies, and he’d heard this thing from a friend who had an accent. You could, the friend had said, from sitting on cold rocks, have the misfortunate of sterility.
Years passed, winter caving into winter. As his woman stayed in bed, quilts dangling tender warmth over her ready womb, Hoyman woke early. He walked to the lake in thin pants to sit on the big rocks and watch boats filled with cars come from the other side.
One morning Hoyman’s woman was already awake when he returned. She was holding a thin white stick, looking at it, saying joyful things.
Seven months later, early, a baby. Doctor said to Hoyman, “It’s yours! Catch it!” And the thing slipped right out of Hoyman’s hands. Hitting the floor, it shattered and began melting immediately. The nurses couldn’t return with the mops quick enough.
The friend’s accent, he remembered, had been so bad it rotted the skin around her face. But that had mostly retreated with time. Her cheek was smooth and white now, and Hoyman leaned over the hospital bed to kiss it. He said, “We can try again.”
To which she replied, “Jaa,” and “Jaa,” and “Jaa.”
Michael Seidel writes in a former boarding school for Catholic girls overlooking Lake Michigan. Recent stories have appeared or will soon appear in publications like decomP, Dogzplot, JMWW, Kill Author, and Metazen. He blogs athttp://oldstandby.tumblr.com/