by Michelle Geoga
Penelope was already thinking having some babies would make her feel better then she found one at the Kmart, a sleepy one with long dark lashes, tiny fist balls clenched to its ears, and brought it home in the same buggy she found it in. Just one did not make her feel better, it cried like a fire engine, winding down to an old Chevy with a bad starter. She went out for another then found one at the corner park, also sleeping, head turned to the side, thumb in its mouth, tiny black hairs posing like eyelashes along the edge of its ear. But two did not make her feel better, more crying, more whining engines. Then she gave herself some sage advice, wait it out before going for a third, see if things improve. They did. She fed This and That the best stuff: wiggly fork-flattened strawberry Jell-O, swirled mashed Yukon potatoes swimming in yellow butter and melted vanilla Ben and Jerry’s ice cream plain, without nuts, because they had no teeth. She sang them TV songs: “New York is where I want to stay!” she sang in Zsazsa’s voice; “You are my wife!” she sang in Eddie’s stern voice. They quietly loved her singing and fell asleep after the Brady Bunch twice. So did Penelope. In the morning, the babies talking woke Penelope. She pointlessly complained to This and That she couldn’t understand and felt left out but later, she noticed they started to love her and she began to feel better. They had a sparkling day, singing ‘Meet the Flintstones’ over and over, eating bowls of milky banana pudding. She woke on the floor between the babies the next morning without the usual weight, the every morning weight: a black, bloody-headed, razor-toed, hissing heavy turkey vulture crouched on her chest, looking into her face, pressing down, shifting its weight from side to side, all before she even opened her eyes, when it would be gone. On this morning, she might be feeling glad instead. When the police banged at the door, the babies cried and cried like sirens again, the door flung open, her lungs sucked the air from her uterus and they snatched the babes away. “This! That!” she screamed again and again. Officer Thomas held her arm hard, asked, “you mean, this and that?” “No,” she answered, “that’s another thing. It’s always the other thing,” she cried, wrapping her arms around her waist twice, trying to squeeze the air out.
Michelle Geoga is an Illinois writer with an MFA in writing from the School of the Art Institute. She has work in Ekphrastic Review, Five on the Fifth and forthcoming in *82Review and Cleaver Magazine.