Alex checked in to the hospital when the labor pains started. Legs swollen, back on fire, huge and ungainly like the hippos in Fantasia.

“You’ll have to have a Caesarean section, of course,” said the doctor, her eyes cool and remote behind her glasses. “You shouldn’t have waited so long.”

“Yeah,” said Alex, “I kinda figured.”

They knocked him out, so the birth was a large blank space bracketed by weight loss. When he came up out of the drug, the light had changed and he was alone in a small white room with a television. There was a pamphlet on the bedside table, Your Baby and You, and a video game paddle.

“Oh, you’re awake,” said one of the nurses, bustling into the room. “We figured you’d want to see your baby as soon as possible.”


And then he was alone with this tiny stranger, both their skins loose and empty. It sniffled and he gave it his finger to suck on. Outside the traffic was miles away but he could still hear it, like the ocean, like tidal waves.