Potted Bleeding Heart
The sticky, humid heat seemed like the most oppressive thing in all the world and under its weight she felt like one of Newton's apples being inevitably dragged to the ground by unseen forces against which she was powerless. So, she sat back-to-trunk under the dogwood tree digging her toes into the red clay until she unearthed the freeing coolness of years past. She liked that thought, the thought that digging was time travel. If she kept digging it wouldn't be China where she'd end up; it'd be the same place as now but lifetimes away. She'd have no context there, heavy belly and swollen feet would be a vague idea left far behind in present time. Gravity and humidity wouldn't be conspiring against her with such force. In the world in the dirt she was still free to choose any of many futures and nimble enough to bring those futures to pass.
Startling, her head twitched as the dog licked her toes. She looked at his pink tongue and rusty dirt covered snout. “He must be a time traveler, too,” she thought and gently laughed out loud.
“Okay, boy. We'll get you something to bury.” She rolled over to her hands and knees in a motion more like a heaving ship than that of a woman -buoyancy and gravity fighting an epic battle. As she caught her breath and prepared herself for the final effort to assert victory against the axis of downward forces, the dog cocked his head as if to ask what new game this was, barked, and rolled over playfully several times. He looked at her as if to ask if that was what she was trying to do.
“Show off!” she grumbled and stuck her tongue out at the dog. Smiling she reflected how she must look to him suspended in time there stuck on all fours. She put one foot flat on the ground , she steadied herself and she walked her hands closer to her feet. With a deep groan and monumental effort, she stood up. “Let's see you do that!” , she teased the dog. Slapping her thigh, the dog followed as she stiffly walked to the house to get him a bone.
The little white house was a few miles out of town, far enough that there was a sense of isolation, yet close enough that a Saturday morning cup of coffee or a midnight taco was only ten minutes away. It wasn't exactly a nice house, the term “modern conveniences” would need to be applied loosely to describe how the house was equipped, its fixtures and flooring and appliances being several decades old. Old enough that it left a small lump inside where throat meets stomach when thoughts about just how much grime had accumulated weren't dismissed or overlooked quite fast enough, but not old enough that it was considered to have character and intrinsic value simply because it was old. However, it was not like some of the places she had lived. She felt safe here; it felt almost like a home, filled with glimmers of something that felt almost like love. It had a yard with flowers planted by unknown hands for unknown reasons which bloomed unexpectedly throughout the year. Little hooks and shelves in random places hinted that there was lots of living done here. The little white house kept out the wind and the rain, and most importantly right now to her it contained the cold air pumped into the one bedroom whenever the air conditioner was in working order.
After filling an old jelly jar with slightly egg smelling water from the tap in the kitchen, she paused for a few moments to stare at the brown stains in the porcelain of the sink. She wondered about the other people who had filled their glasses with their slightly egg smelling water and whether any of them had ever been pregnant while living in this tiny house. Full of these musings she made her way to the Palace of Cool, which was what she called her bedroom in the midst of the late summer. Her whole body covered in sweat, she flopped herself down, exhaling, on the thrift store recliner next to her bed. It felt so good to be off of her feet, and she laughed to herself that she had only been on her feet for about five minutes. She thought about how as her belly grew, time expanded and contracted , as though going through it's own labor pangs. Something like standing at the sink felt as if it had been a marathon of time, whereas the past nine months felt as though, when she looked back, that they had passed in but a few moments.
The chair was itchy on her damp skin, but it was too much work to get up and move to the bed, so she stayed on the orange brown slightly off center recliner. Taking a big drink of her water, she thought about how everything she touched had been touched by someone else before her. Her life was constructed out of other people's discarded stuff, in a house that other people had left. Her body, too, a dwelling which other people always left , which they renounced and replaced it with something newer and more beautiful and less rough and without the slightly off kilter feel to it. The only thing in this house that was new and untouched by anyone except her was the baby growing within her. Yet, that being, too, would be jettisoned , fleeing her life for something better ,for someone better suited to motherhood than her. She breathed deeply and turned her face so that the stream of frigid air would now dry the hair around her temple on the other side of her head . The cold was at the same time painful and everything her body craved to feel.
She must have drifted off to sleep, and piece by piece information filtered into her consciousness. She was absolutely freezing. It was much darker than when she has sat down. Her abdomen was hard and tight. She had to go to the bathroom. She really had to go to the bathroom. Having brought herself to full awareness, she waited for her stomach to relax before attempting to get up. Her body was stiff from the cold and from sitting so long in one position. Awkwardly she pushed herself out of the chair, belly first so as to give the rest of her body the momentum it needed to overcome its inertia. As soon as she stood, she felt a pop inside her and water ran down her leg. Confused for a moment she wondered how a woman who could pay her own rent could pee on herself. Slowly, like the puddle gathering around her feet, the realization spread over her that this wasn't pee. Her water had just broken! The baby was getting ready to move on out of her life.