About the Author
Read an Excerpt
February 2, 1990. That’s what the header on the newspaper says. Still a new decade, but one that’s already feeling tired. Half the world has just shrugged off its chains and here she sits, starting to feel the weight of her own.
As she pours herself another coffee, Reggie wonders if the groundhog has seen his shadow. And if he has, whether that means spring will come soon. Although really, she thinks, bending again to the crossword, who could put their faith in a rodent.
Twenty-eight down: A six-letter word for protrusion.
It can’t be ‘growth’. The R is in the wrong space. But then, maybe the word crossing it is wrong. Still, ‘strains’ or maybe ‘sprains’ are the only words she can think of that fit that clue: results of violent exertion.
She puts the pencil down and looks out the window.
It isn’t that Randy’s a bad guy. He’s got lots of friends, is always being asked to parties. He just doesn’t seem to like his women getting fat on him. Not even when they’re carrying his baby.
She knows he’ll be home from work soon, and she still hasn’t started supper. He’s been crabby enough since she’s had to quit her job – since the manager told her she’d be “better off” at home. Reggie knew the truth: her hugely pregnant belly was making customers nervous about coming to her check-out. She knows that quitting has meant she’ll have to go back to work sooner, that her pogey will run out a little faster. That’s all.
Or that’s almost all. It also means she’ll have more time at home with him – just the two of them being a couple on their own.
She hopes that when the baby comes, and she can slim back down to her old self, he’ll start being nice to her again. But considering everything he said last night, she isn’t sure now whether that will ever happen.
And today, she hasn’t even been able to go out because of the damn bump on her forehead. Too bad she’d gone and trimmed her bangs so short the other day, they might have helped camouflage the bruise. But when he’d told her she looked like a fucking sheepdog, she’d done what she could to improve things.
She rubs the mound of her belly through the tightly stretched T-shirt, avoiding the sensitive navel, wondering how much longer the baby can stay in there before her belly button explodes. She pictures it popping off, flying across the room, landing with a splash in somebody’s bowl of soup, like a fly in a cartoon.
She knows she’ll have stretch marks afterwards, another thing that probably won’t thrill him. Once upon a time, he’d loved her ‘perfect body’. She remembers how, laughing and half-drunk, he’d made his voice all raspy, rubbed his penis between her breasts, and croaked in a Leonard Cohen sort of way that he loved ‘her pale white body with his mind.’ Asked if she would always love his little mind. Then stuck his little mind in her mouth and gone on singing while she was supposed to hum along.
She heads for the bathroom to take yet another piss. Tries to think of something for supper that will put him in a good mood. Eases down onto the toilet seat, pulling down her pants. Lets go the driblets of pee into the bowl – all she can hold these days. She sighs and then the word for the puzzle appears, popping into her head from God knows where: ‘hernia’.