Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Feeding Time

Emily gripped her left beast in her right hand, worked the nipple between her long fingers and squeezed. As the first few drops of milk appeared she leaned her body forward and edged the nipple between the baby's cold lips. Tears were tracing a circuitous route through the imperfections and lines of her cheek and dripping down to mix with the thick milk coming from her breast. The baby's mouth filled with the warm liquid, but he did not move. He had not, in fact, moved in three days.

The baby had stopped moving during the night. Emily didn't know why. When she had put the baby in the crib he had been fine, smiling (at least, making one of those baby faces that parents pretend are smiles) . She had rocked him, stroked him, and laid him down. She had watched as he drifted off, then gone to be herself. Around midnight she had slipped back into the room to check on him. He didn't move. Not when she touched him, not when she said his name, not when she lifted him in her arms. He didn't move when she started to scream. All that night, and the next day, he was still. Emily screamed until she had no voice. Then she screamed without making a sound.

She sat like that: holding the corpse of her child and trying to remember how to breathe. Finally, she unbuttoned her shirt and began to feed him.

Nathan Tyree

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