The Doctor asks have you ever thought about… and drifts off and She says, once, before the baby, I dreamt that I put twin babies in the washing machine on accident. And when the Doctor asks her about tears and sleeping and sex and the woman thinks much too much, much too little and never again please, she flashes her teeth under chapped lips and stammers fine fine fine all is fine because the baby is beautiful and happy and healthy and she shouldn’t ask for more, can’t ask for more. Because when women lose their babes in their sleep, when they drift away like a storm cloud, moving towards the coast, she cannot be sad, cannot grieve over the death of the 20 former versions of herself and she joyfully falls asleep while leaning over the side of a crib, pat pat patting the tush of the bundle of love that she created, housed and birthed and it's amazing, a sleep deprived acid trip of soft skin fat rolls and toes that curl over her fingertips. She doesn’t tell the Doctor or her sister or herself about the pain of never being the same, never running away even though an hour trip to the grocery store feels liberating and suffocating and a panic attack in the parking lot is normal because he is alive and loved and she can never leave him.
Danielle Donaldson writes from Southern California. Her work can be found in Welter, Scissors & Spackle, Words Dance and others.