“What size jacket: thirty-four?” Pink cuticles expertly retrieve a black suit from the rack.
“Oh no way,” I reply, confident my last born son would be devoured by the girth of material.
“No, I think so. Let’s try,” she smiles her best retail grin.
It slides perfectly onto his shoulders and settles into place. His shoulders arc back and his chest puffs. Long piano fingers tentatively emerge from the cuffs.
That’s how old I was when he finally slipped from me, bruised, bloody, silent.
I cried with relief and then waited to hear his answering cry.
Nurses hustled, towels rubbed at the soft down on his back and suction tubes slid into his throat, till finally an answering squall and I could breathe again. Newborn screening score: 4 out of 10.
“What do you think Mum? The black tie with the purple and pink flowers. Her dress is like pink or purple or somethin’. Reckon this matches.”
He slides it to his neck and I remember.
“Breathe. Push. Stop. Stop. Pant. Pant. Pant. The cord is around his neck. You must stop. Just pant and we will get it loose. Nearly there. Pant. Pant. Pant. OK got it. Push.” The midwife conducts my labour.
“No good. Wait. Pant. He’s big. Very big. Stuck.” The doctor leans in at my face, his eyes wide behind his glasses. “We will have to try something else. You will have to stand, let gravity help.”
The midwife crouches beneath me as I sag against the tussled bed sheet. I see them. Waiting. A movie. Field of Dreams? Ready to catch. If you build it, he will come.
And he does. Finally.
The tie is black like his hair used to be. A dark thatch of soft down from his forehead to the nape of his neck. The flowers are purple and pink like his face was. Bruised. We did not see his eyes for four weeks when the swelling receded, then a golden light began to shine and stayed. A ten-pound brown-eyed boy with jet-black hair, the child of a blue-eyed blonde and a green-eyed redhead. A wonderous example of recessive genes.
“I like it,” he proclaims, his chest puffs out, and his shoulders pull back. A lock of chocolate brown flops over black eyebrows and hovers above the down on his upper lip. “What do you reckon out of ten?”
“High school formal score: 10 out of 10.”
“Cool, can we get lunch now? I’m starving.”
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