by KJ Hannah Greenberg
In response to Thijs’ complaint,
Isabelle had hastily pulled her clothes back on and had taken their dog for a
fortnight-long walk. Her side adventure lasted past the morning when Thijs
“Dogs make better companions than men,”
she cried into King’s fur. Isabelle had merely declared, to her lover of half
of a decade, that she was pregnant.
In turn, he had answered, merely, that
they might as well enjoy the woo-hoo while their couplehood lasted; he was
repelled by the thought of intimacy with a mother.
When Isabelle and King had returned,
Thijs’ clothes, smartphone, and other possessions were gone. Isabelle had known
when he was due to leave port. What astonished her was that he had taken the
babaco fruit, with which he had gifted her, with him.
In consolation, she had eaten an entire
bar of spicy chocolate and had given King a new rawhide bone. Isabelle craved
sharp tastes, but had limited her consumption of alliums and capsicums since
she enjoyed Thijs’ kisses. As for King, although an assemblage of partially
chewed rawhide toys littered the floor of Isabelle’s small apartment, Isabelle
had felt a need to grant her dog a treat.
That act of grandiosity had taken place
a month ago. What’s more, Isabelle had last seen Thijs six weeks ago. Further,
he was not due to return until she was days away from labor. He might not be in
Isabelle had refused his tweets and
texts, and had removed herself from his WhatsApp group. Plus, she had closed
her Facebook account, had deleted herself from Instagram, and had otherwise
rebuffed all of her social media outlets.
If Thijs wanted her attention, he would
have to invest effort, meaning, he would have to reach beyond contemporary,
instantaneous channels. Sadly, he had not. No letters had been posted to
Isabelle’s snail mail box. Additionally, a short span before her sweetheart was
due home, she had received a call from him, but since it was collect, she had
When, at last, her man approached her
doorway, King barked excitedly. Isabelle merely peered through the keyhole and
then reseated herself on her sofa; Thijs could use his key.
Thijs came home not with flowers, exotic
perfumes, a new babaco fruit, or jewelry, but with a duffle bag full of dirty
laundry. He reminded Isabelle that it was his mom, not his love, who gave him
nightmares and that all could be swell between him and Isabelle.
With great effort, Isabelle threw his
duffle bag out her door. Next, she indicated that Thijs ought to follow. She locked
and chained her door behind him and then cried, again, into King’s ruff.
Isabelle’s mom accompanied her to the
hospital. Had she thought it over, Isabelle might have opted for a home birth.
As it was, Charlene arrived in the world mere hours after Isabelle’s labor
began. Besides, since Isabelle had had no prenatal care and had taken no birth
classes, no licensed midwife would have accepted her as a client.
A stack of babaco fruit caught
Isabelle’s eye as her mom was wheeling her, and a well-bunted Charlene, out of
the hospital. Bright balloons, too, adorned the hospital’s lobby. Thijs sat
among his offerings.
Isabelle asked her mom to wheel her
closer to those gifts.
In his palm, Thijs held a pearl ring. He
extended that palm to his child’s mother. “My furlough’s only four days. Do you
think it’s enough time for me to learn to do diapers?”
“Well, someone has to walk King while my
“Your mom’s not staying?”
“She only has two days left of vacation.
You know, if you can walk King, she could go back to work earlier and then she
use her time off for the lake trip she had planned.”
“Your mom deserves a lake trip!”
“You deserve to learn how to change. I
don’t know how to put them on since the nurses did them, here.”
“Sleep on the sofa?”
“Until my stitches are out.”
“Maybe, I could get my mind around
things. I’ve been working on it. I’ve rethought you as a M. I. L . . .”
“Shhh. Mom’s right here.”
“. . . tuck in bed and watch over. I
think, given the circumstances, I could get permission to extend my leave. After
all, going to City Hall will take up part of one day.”
“You’ll leave your polka dotted tie
Greenberg captures the world in words and images. Her latest photography
portfolio is 20/20: KJ Hannah Greenberg Eye on
recent poetry collection is Mothers
Utter Only Niceties (Unbound CONTENT, 2017). Her
fiction collection is the omnibus, Concatenation
(Bards & Sages Publishing, 2018).