You gasp for air with all your might. The light is blinding and unkind. You scream and scream until a warmth envelops you and you fall into a dreamless sleep.
Your hands are chubby. The flesh is soft and ample; it folds onto itself stubbornly. There’s nowhere else for it to go. Your mother calls your fingers “little wursts”. She fake-bites them and laughs when you shriek. Her smile illuminates the room, like she hides a sun in it just for you. When she holds you in her arms you fly. You don’t know it yet, but this is the happiest you’ll be in a very long time.
There is a boy in your class who makes fun of your curly hair. He draws pictures of it: crude, zig-zaggy lines that spill uncontrollably onto the paper like slithering snakes searching for a safe hiding place. He scribbles “Frizzhead” on the drawing and laughs with the other kids when you walk by.
When you come home and your mother strokes your head, you wince and turn away. She thinks you resent her for working late every day. You both cry when you lie in bed that night.
He said he loved you. You should’ve known better than to trust someone like that. Someone with hordes of friends and shiny hair and a smile that seems to be more angles than curves. When your mother knocks on your bedroom door, you hide the test behind your back. “Dinner is ready,” she says, and lingers at the door for a moment before she closes it with a timid click. She keeps hovering, like she’s waiting for you to tell her your secret. Maybe she just wants you to tell her anything, really. You stare at the little plus sign and hold your breath. Then you remember. Breathe. No matter what happens, just breathe.
She cries and cries and the sound tugs at your core with a force stronger than gravity. “Where is she?” You search for her in the room; you follow the trail of her working lungs. Your mother holds your hand and speaks softly in your ear. “You did it, honey!”
When they place her in your arms, you trace the softness of her tiny nose, the pout of her miniature lips, the blissful ignorance of her closed lids. “She’s perfect,” says your mother and plants a kiss on your head. She looks at you, and you finally know what she sees for the first time. “No she’s not,” you say. “But I’ll love her anyway.”
E.N. Loizis is a Greek writer trapped inside the body of a technical translator who lives in Germany. She writes poems, flash fiction and short stories, while trying to conquer the ultimate beast: her first novel. She blogs at enloizis.wordpress.com.