By Christina Rosso
Sometimes, like now, I find my hands resting on my stomach, on the lower area, you know, that part where your thumb presses into the softness of your belly and your pinky grazes your hip bone. I call that my sweet, tender, fleshy spot. I picture it like dough ready to expand.
I don’t like my hands being on this spot though. Every time I notice my hands here, I jerk them away, hoping no one has seen my moment of susceptibility. I don’t want this dough to rise.
The possibility of something filling my belly’s chambers, growing like a child stretching gum on its pink tongue to form bubbles, is so abstract and alarming. I’m not comfortable with such a possibility. It’s not just the strangeness of the idea, but the implication that it could mean some part of me—secretly, subconsciously—wants that. A swollen belly, a seedling growing, spreading into existence within me.
There’s no time for such thoughts, such desires. Not today. I already signed the form, withdrew the money from my debit account, and had a psychiatric evaluation. I had an unfortunate volunteer use her body as a human shield to protect me from protesters outside the four walls of this center. Even she couldn’t hide their words from me. Baby killer. Murderer. Sinner. You’re going to hell. I accept their words. I accept that they and I exist in one another’s worlds. In their world, their belief-system, they’re right. But since our worlds co-exist, they’re also wrong. In my world, they don’t get to make a decision, a judgement, about this. About me.
I assure you, as I did the psychiatrist, no one is pressuring me into this decision, no one even knows. Certainly not the father. Sometimes, when my hand rests on that sweet, tender, fleshy spot though, I think about it. A baby. Just for a moment. About what it would be like to be a mother, to hold the seedling in my arms. But I know I’m not ready, not yet, maybe not ever. Definitely not now.
“Miranda.” At the sound of my name, I blink and turn my head in the direction of the voice. “The doctor is ready for you,” the nurse says. Her face is kind and lined with deep grooves by her eyes and mouth. I nod, knowing it’s time, and quickly move my clammy hands away from that sweet, tender, fleshy spot, hoping she didn’t notice. Though of course, she did. She sees all the ones like me with our hands on that spot. I look down at my sweet, tender, fleshy spot one last time and see small round beads of sweat that remind me of a lima bean. I feel my cheeks grow hot, but manage to press them into a smile and stand up. “I’m ready,” I say, and follow the nurse into the procedure room.
Christina Rosso is a writer, educator, and dog mom living in South Philadelphia. Her interests include puppy snuggles, baking, feminism, fairy tales, and cheesesteaks. You can find her previously published work at https://christinarosso.wordpress.com/ or on Twitter @Rosso_Christina.