Like a House
Kim Chinquee

She'd been up all night, walking loops around the flightline, trying to waste her energy on something. She'd gone out barefoot, her dog Buster on the leash. Poor Buster was tired, and she brushed his hair back from his eyes. It was eighty-degree weather, humid, and they sat next to the bay and bugs bit at their ankles. She didn't want to go home. She didn't want to go and find her husband absent -- that was why she left in the first place -- it had been two a.m. and where was he? It was nothing unusual.
She'd worked all day, poking patients with needles, her belly sticking out, the baby doing tricks inside her tummy. Her feet were swollen, her body constantly hungry, so she kept a stash of butterscotch candy in her pocket, always sucking. Her co-workers said to her in passing, "How much longer?" and "You're like a house!" and she laughed a bit with them. Her physician's wife was pregnant too, and they'd come into the phlebotomy lab, where this woman worked, and the wife had to recline, terrified of needles. This woman drew the physician's wife's blood as he stroked his wife's head.
But now she thought about the night, about the darkness and the lights and the airfield. No planes were flying in. Everything was calm and it was pretty. The colored lights glowed in the dark like a present. Her baby kicked and she felt his being inside hers. She started crying.
It was four a.m. She didn't know what would wait at home, but she had to be at work at six for rounds. She thought maybe she felt a contraction, so she took a little puff. She would stay there until the feeling went away. She'd stay there as long as she needed. Buster ran in circles. He was barking. She told him it was too early. It was too early, she said. It was too early for anything.