This Is How I Love You

9 Apr

Something I’ve been working on for a while. Trying to get it right. Offer constructive to critique if you are moved to do so.

This is How I Love You

Amy and Ray sat on the hood of her white Oldsmobile in the liquor store parking lot. He popped the champagne she’d just bought, tried to convince her to take a swig.

“It’s bad for the baby.”

“So is smoking,” he said.

“I’m going to quit.” She threw the still burning cigarette onto the grass beside them. He shrugged, slipped the open end of the bottle between his lips. The syrupy bubbles moved over his tongue, made his throat swell.

They were five hours married, two days babied. When Amy was seventeen, a doctor assured her two out-of-order ovaries meant she would never conceive. She’d cried right there on his desk. Her face staining the papers swept across it in waves.  He petted her shoulder with sharp raps of his palm, reminded her of all the unwanted children in the world who would need good homes. When she was ready. She was more concerned with the kind of man that would want someone like her now: a baroque woman who would never bear the fruit her curves swore would come easily.

Ray hadn’t cared about dating a barren woman. He hadn’t cared about too many things that wanted him. He smiled up at the night, convinced that something had finally answered his disjointed prayers. He was damaged, but now he would be daddy. Somebody’s version of perfect. Kids don’t know what poor is, they don’t care. They only know that you love them, and they love you back for it. Babies can fix broken things. They promised to tell their baby about this night, about their hopes for her, but really for themselves.

They sat scared and happy and wrong. This baby was not a savior, and she would not be blind. She was not a miracle. She would not see them as Gods, and she would not want to be them. She would see their tarnish, waste, and their ugly. She would learn their shames from bitter family members when everyone else was three eggnogs past crying.

Her father would leave and that baby, now a young woman, would find it is possible to miss what you never had. She would grow up and away from her mother. She would love her, but she would hide. She would lie to her often and without guilt.

Some days, never at the same time, they would all think back to the night spent on the hood of that car. They would consider who got the story wrong. They would wonder about driving away, drinking themselves to death on a cold wet pavement, black as an empty womb. Their faces would get warm, their throats would swell.



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