“I don’t know how much more of this I can take
She’s filing her nails while they’re dragging the lake”
That’s what she’s thinking about; those two lines from Elvis Costello are twirling around and around in her head. Savannah lay on the couch, her belly ridiculous now on her tiny body, her feet alone looking too small to hold even one person upright, let alone one plus. It’s no wonder she has to lie down all the time, Madeline thinks to herself. Between her goddamn gigantic boobs and her Ripley’s Believe It Or Not belly, and her teeny tiny itty bitty midget feet, no wonder she can’t stand up. AND her razor-cut, rainbow-striped hair and the wad of neon fucking blue gum that never fucking leaves her mouth…FUCK YOU, Madeline thinks. FUCK YOU. She’s not entirely sure exactly whom she is addressing in her head. Nobody. Everybody.
“Savannah,” Madeline says in a casual, even tone. “Have you thought about…what happens…after this baby is born.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, It just seems like all the focus here is on…getting ready for this kid to be born. Getting all the clothes. The equipment. The stuff.”
“It’s like the birth is the big event. The end point.” Madeline pauses for a response. Savannah cracks her gum. “You know: that’s all she wrote, the die is cast; the train has left the station; the little bird has flown; the ship has sailed; the gun is fired; Elvis has left the building.”
“MadMad, what are you talking about?”
“I mean, are you thinking about…are you aware, let’s say, that there is going to be an actual baby that you bring home from the hospital?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean that there’s going to be a baby, a real baby, that you will have to take care of, every day, every night, every minute, all the time.”
“I try not to think about that,” Savannah said.
“For eighteen years. At least. Three years longer than you’ve been here on the planet so far.”
Savannah moves the neon blue wad from one side of her mouth to the other. “Geez, Maddie, I try not to think about that!”
“Yeah, I think that’s my point here. I know you’re not thinking about it.”
“GEEZ, Maddie! What do you want from me? You’re making me feel bad!”
An intense pain gathers force on one side of Madeline’s head. My head is gonna explode, she thinks to herself. It is going to detach from my body and fly apart into a million icky gooey oozy little pieces. What’s the movie where that happens? It’s going to splatter against the walls and slap Savannah upside the face.
“I just think,” Madeline says calmly, “that the person I see lying on the couch in front of me doesn’t seem like she is ready to have an actual baby. Not one bit ready.” Silence rains down into the room like a vapor.
Middle photo: Dorothea Lange