A DAUGHTER NEEDS A NAME LIKE AN AMULET by Sara Comito

She wakes up laughing at her dream that she is a chest of drawers with a single knob in the middle. She wakes to find her belly button has popped like a Butterball turkey thermometer. She dreams she is eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. She wakes and makes a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. She drinks from the milk carton and guzzles down half its contents. She dreams she is a milk carton. She wakes to find her nightgown is wet with her first milk. Mmmmmm she breathes. It smells delicious. She dreams she is weighing grapefruits in her palm at the supermarket while making sure the other customers aren’t looking. She wakes to find her breasts painfully engorged. She takes a long, hot shower. She dreams her boyfriend is drinking at the bar. She wakes to find he has not come home. She calls the bar. The bartender who knows both of them says, Ummm, nope, haven’t seen him. She gets up and sits on the couch, falling into a slumber. She dreams she is leaning against a vibrating washing machine. She wakes to find the cat purring, curled up on her belly. She starts upstairs and notices snowy boot prints on the carpet. The boyfriend is open-mouthed and snoring on the bed. She returns to the couch. She dreams she is eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. She writes “milk” on the shopping list on the fridge. That evening she dozes on the couch, book falling closed on her belly. The telephone startles her awake. She had just had her tests that day and all is well, but the midwife tells her to come outside to watch the northern lights. The midwife has brought a pot of soup. She dreams she is a moon with an elliptical orbit. When she is at her closest point to her huge planet, she is squeezed so she might burst. She wakes to find she is having Braxton Hicks contractions. She feels her belly and is surprised at how strong and tight it is. This makes her smile. She dreams she is a tree being chopped down. She wakes to her boyfriend beating on the door. She has locked him out. It will be a long night. She dreams she is a tree whose roots gently surround a squirrel sleeping in a hollow. Roots penetrate the earth and even come out of places they’re not supposed to, like her branches and leaves. She sees the veins of the leaves, pumping red, illuminated from behind by the sun. She wakes to a loud pop she can both feel and hear. The contractions leave her breathless. She stumbles to the phone and has to stop halfway there. She calls the midwife, just down the street. The midwife says, Shit, it’s sounds like you’re transitioning already. She drops the receiver and lurches to the bathroom. Her bowels empty spasmodically while she vomits soup into the sink. The midwife uses her own key and runs up the stairs to find her on the floor of the bathroom. A second set of heavy footsteps up the stairs – the doula. Oh, thank god. She delivers after four hours from precipitous start to precipitous finish. The baby is fine, better than fine. Perfect. A girl, which she did not dream but somehow knew. The snowy villas are lit up in ambulance red while green aurora dances overhead. On the gurney down the stairs she is being pulled from her body the way the baby was. All she sees is red. She thinks about primary colors. The midwife’s voice somewhere up above calls her back, You have a lot of work to do here, young lady. Don’t you dare leave us. She feels the way she does when she’s trying to ignore an alarm clock. At last her sense of obligation brings her back. It is snowing. Each snowflake shimmers pink. The most beautiful thing she’s ever seen. In the emergency room, a doctor reaches in and pulls out the placenta, turning her inside out. She hears fabric ripping, the kind of thunder that sounds like the sky is zipping apart. You’ve lost most of your blood, the doctor tells her. The midwife holds her hand. She dreams about holding a bowl of red Jello. She can’t steady her hands so it will stop wobbling. She wakes up kneading her belly. So empty, so loose. A haunted house. This is the one thing they don’t tell you about, she says to nobody. The baby is warming in a compartment near the bed. The companion chair is empty. A nurse walks by and notices she’s awake, approaches the bedside. She smiles. Good morning. Are you ready to hold your baby?


Sara Comito is author of Bury Me in the Sky (Nixes Mate). She lives in Florida with some small backyard livestock, two indoor cats, and an indoor-outdoor husband.

Art by Bob Schofield @anothertower

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