The first parts came through the faucet: fingers, then the ear. The baby came to us in pieces.
It was nice having time to prepare ourselves. We were much older by the time we’d collected enough to buy a bassinet. You learned to crochet and made an afghan in stripes of pink and blue. I drank less and moved my free weights and one of the bookshelves from the corner of our spare room. The bassinet fit nicely in that corner and you swept around it almost every day to make sure it didn’t become another thing that caught dust balls and got ignored. The corner received the late afternoon sun and it comforted me to see the pieces all golden and laid out: the firm mollusk of the knee; the tiny, starfish hand.
We got sloppy. When your belly started to swell you said it would be nice that they would have a brother or a sister, but I knew right away which one you would prefer. From then on, I did it on my own. Searched the cracks near the casement window, the dark spaces beneath the claw tub. When I found the curve of the soft back, dimpled and complete, I brought it to you cupped in both hands. You waved me away and asked for water.
We’re getting closer every day. At night I leave you to stand near the window and place my hand on the afghan, feeling warmth. On moonless nights, I worry that I will miss it, the sight of that first, perfect breath. I silence my own lungs to listen harder and I think I would give anything, everything, just to hear that howl.
Caitlin Corrigan studies fiction in the MFA program at Rutgers’ Newark campus. Her writing has appeared recently in Word Riot, Necessary Fiction, and The Review Review.