Mother - by Kathryn Hill
Well, you see, she drowned the child. There was very little sound at all, no splashing really, just eighteen breath bubbles, rising popping dead. Just a baby, just a pink and fatty baby,and its face was kind of flat and it didn't have eyebrows yet, or fingernails worth clipping. She ran the water like normal and put in the plastic bear. She knelt down over the tub, water shallow,looking beige because the ugly tub was beige. She held it in her forearms, the child. She held it out, the child, deep pink against the flat white undersides of her forearms. The mirror started to fog. Her sleeves were rolled up her arms. She watched the tiny wisps of hair float out from the baby's soft head, imagined its bones still fusing under her fingers, still becoming, becoming two hundred and eighty bones, two hundred and forty, two hundred and six. She made sure the water didn't get in the baby's ears.
Steven wasn't home, so she could say that it was an accident. She could say that she had left the room, that she had heard no sounds, that the child was just an accident. She could say I didn't know it would be like this. I didn't know it would hurt. She could say I hate this thing. I love this thing. I don't know who I am.
And she did. You know, she talked to the baby in the tub. She let its feet slip between her elbows, little legs bending in. She let its bottom touch the ugly tub and she spread her forearms farther so the water could swaddle its back, its arms, its shoulders. She had her hands behind its head, her hands above the water just a little, just a little. Under the water the baby's body looked like liquid, like wavering, loose liquid, like those babies sucked from stomachs before they really were. She had asked Steven, had begged Steven, had told him she couldn't have it. She could not look like that in pictures. She would not look like that in pictures. She told him tailoring white lace and white beads was expensive, adding hem length, adding darts. She told him the dress is already bought, my mother would absolutely kill me. There is only one ring on my hand. There can't be any babies in my body.
The baby sneezed. Sneezed again. Two clear lines leaked out its nose. The mother flipped it over, pressed the hand with two rings to its back. Counted eighteen bubbles. Counted only those eighteen micro-second sounds. She lifted her hands from the water, from the body, from the body’s brown halo of hair. She would say it was just an accident. She would say but I was its mother.
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