“Labor” by Kim Chinquee


Found in Willow Springs 86

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I got off at four, he'd come on at three, we overlapped a bit, but he'd be there until eleven. He worked chemistry, I worked phlebotomy, drawing blood all day, mostly veterans on Coumadin, pregnant wives and babies.

He'd come say hi when he got there, looking fresh in camouflage or whites, smelling like the cologne I'd bought him.

This day he told me our dog was probably hungry, and I kissed his cheek, asking what he wanted. He gave me the keys, said he'd parked in the usual.

I went home, meeting Burster, who barked first. I put his food down, then unloaded groceries, feeling the baby in my tummy. Easy, I said, stroking my middle.

I lit the burners, opened windows. It was a hot March in Biloxi. I put the beef on the pan.

I got back in our Camaro.

There were enough helpings for him and his co-workers. I was never big on food, especially what he ate, so I dropped it off and watched them. He was there and a guy he partied with, and another guy who worked hematology. They were tight. And also the supervisor, who was in her forties, who was into nude beaches and swinging with her husband.

They all ate my food, and then said thank you, and my husband kissed me, telling me what a good wife I was. Our baby kicked, so I said, Honey, feel this.

They went back to work, and I cleaned their plates, then left the keys to my husband, since he needed a way home and didn't want to have to wake me. He said he'd bring the plates.

It was a couple miles, and I got to walk along the flightline. The sunset was pretty, shining on the lake, the moon. I liked to smell the fumes, watch the planes landing and descending. I could barely see past my tummy. I tried to watch the tips of my shoes, kind of counting, like in basic training. I kind of started marching.

Halfway, my baby started doing more than kicking. I told my baby easy. I said it wasn't time yet.

When I got home, finally, I sat on the toilet, seeing more than blood, the plug. So I called work, asking for my husband.

The woman answered, saying he'd left early.

"Where is he?" I said.

I went down on my own and breathed hard.

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