Pregnant? the fairies ask me on New Year’s Day, tap my belly, flat as a girl’s, but pudgier given all the free food. I’m not. My sister is. At nine weeks and an inch long, the fetus danced, waving its arms. At twelve weeks it wiggled, shimmying against the placenta. At fifteen, I ask her what she feels when her belly presses against her hand, if she’ll let me reach out and touch, as if we both need proof this one will stay, won’t slide from the tunnel of her womb, DOA. She tells me about bleeding gums, nausea, pregnancy brain. Fairies don’t know how fairies are born. They arrive, flying out as specks from a cave. It’s warm, mossy. A pool glitters nearby, fed by thermal springs. The speck fairies are collected by the speck fairy keepers who feed, tend, teach, and let them grow, but the fabulous idea of a creature growing inside a belly delights them. How did it get in there? they ask. I shake my head, say, I’m not pregnant, counting my resolutions to be good, trying to count back to my last blood.
Laura Madeline Wiseman is the author of seventeen collections, including Some Fatal Effects of Curiosity and Disobedience (Lavender Ink, 2014). She teaches English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. www.lauramadelinewiseman.com