i’m standin’ here wonderin’, baby

Fiction, 1/17/09

“Let’s make a baby,” she whispers, her breath hot in my ear as she pulls me into the bedroom and softly shuts the door. I almost laugh—she’s never used that line before—but I like where this is heading. Somehow she’s already turned off the lights, already shed her clothes, already stripped me from the waist down. I can hardly say no. I take her as she lies on her back across the bed, her legs pointed toward the ceiling in a voluptuous V. It’s incredible, ineffable, electrifyingly impromptu—and illusory. I wake up suddenly, shaking and alone.

Well, not exactly alone. Jacob the cat jumps off the bookshelf onto my chest, purring and kneading away. “Damnit, ouch. Sharp claws.” I push him aside and throw the covers over his grey, slinking form. Damn cat. Always pounces the minute I wake up, as if he’d been waiting all night for me. What a sneaky little bastard. It’s 6:08 a.m., seven minutes before my alarm goes off, so I might as well get up.

I swing my legs over the side of the bed. The frisson still lingers, though I can’t picture the girl’s face anymore. Perhaps I never could. Too many sex dreams, I sigh—better lay off the porn for a while. But this one was strange, different than the others. What she had said—“Let’s make a baby”—wasn’t the usual come-hither enticement murmured by my sleepy-time strumpets. I don’t know what to make of it. Somehow I feel sort of dirty, or maybe guilty, about having the dream. But then I remember the unfinished geometry homework on my desk.

Twenty minutes later, having bullshit my way through some acutely obtuse area problems, I amble downstairs to the kitchen. Mom’s on the phone, evidently listening to a voice mail, and Dad’s munching Grape-Nuts while reading the newspaper. I’ve got maybe ten minutes to devour a bowl of Lucky Charms before Mom and I have to leave—me for school, Mom for work. Dad likes to be up early, even though he doesn’t work until 9.

I pour a gigantic bowl of auspicious, sugary goodness. The marshmallows are the best part; I love how they squeak and squeal between my teeth. Mom snaps her phone shut, looks at me, and says, “Grace left a voicemail. Your Aunt Phoebe went into labor at one o’clock in the morning last night. The doctors had to give her injections to try and stop the contractions.”

I stop chewing for a moment. I must really be out of the familial loop, because I didn’t even know she was pregnant. “Whoa,” I stammer. “Is that bad?” I look at Mom, but she’s looking at Dad now.

Dad nods thoughtfully, eyes never leaving the paper. Apparently he feels our collective gaze bearing down on him, because he looks up and asks congenially, “How far along is she?”

“She’s barely six months in,” Mom replies, a touch worriedly. “Everyone had been talking about the potential complications—her doctors, friends, Lisa and I…”

Dad meets her eye. “How old is she again?”

“She’s forty—way too old to be trying to have a baby, especially through in-vitro…”

I almost want to interject and tell them about my dream, how I never dream about babies but last night I did, but I realize this is probably unwise.

Later that morning, in the car, Mom’s on the phone again, this time talking to Aunt Phoebe. She appears to be doing alright, judging by what Mom’s saying. I’m still thinking about babies and that dream. I don’t know if I like it. Trying to tune Mom out a bit, I turn the radio on and start scanning for music. Unbelievably, incredibly, entirely coincidentally, I come across Notorious B.I.G.’s “Big Poppa” on KUBE. This is almost too good to be true. My uneasiness vanishes; I turn the song up and start spittin’ verses. Mom looks over at me, aghast. “If you got a gun up in your waist, please don’t shoot up the place/Cause I see some ladies tonight who should be havin’ my baby…baby.”

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