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“Look at the way that woman’s carrying her baby! No softness. No support. Her arm’s hooked around its middle. No wonder it’s bawling.”

Jill’s drinking iced tea through a straw. Her chin moves in an inconclusive nod.

“Those are formative experiences,” I say. “She’s ruining that kid’s life.”

Jill glances up. “You love to exaggerate.”

“I know what I’m talking about,” I say, scowling.

But Jill’s back to focusing on her tea.

“You never validate anything I say,” I fling at her. “I might as well be talking to a shrink.”

A little life seeps into Jill’s expression. She looks offended.

It’s shaping up to be one of those conversations: murky, pointless, flooded with emotion. I need to stop before the guilt begins, before I started begging to be forgiven. Forgiven for what? I wonder. Forgiven for seeing that baby? Forgiven for caring?

I look back at its unprotected limbs dangling like small pink twigs. A burning tear trickles down my cheek. I hastily wipe it away.

Jill is back to communing with her tea. Noisily, she sucks the last few drops. “Hits the spot,” she says, sounding happy.

“Carrying a Baby” was published in MacQueen’s Quinterly.


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