Cain, Caleb, Cameron
Matt Bell

The doctors promised twins but delivered only one baby from my wife's pummeled womb, her troubled cavity. First there was the push, push, then the blood, then my mistake-toothed firstborn howling in the nurse's arms: chubby, too chubby, too covered in mother's gore.

And then my wife continuing to push. And then the doctor's begging her to stop. And then what came next, what loose hair, what loose skin, what loose son or daughter! What delta of destruction flowing! And then my eyes, and then my wife's nose, swimming small and recognizable in the flotsam, and then what tiny arms, what tiny legs covered in bite marks, what expired flesh taken off clean to soft baby bones!

At home, my wife cries while our firstborn sucks her tit dry, while the ring of his too-young teeth puncture her skin, pock-mark her areola. But look how tall he’s grown, I say. Look how strong. Look how he walks, only a month old. Look how he lifts the icebox lid, how he opens the packaging with his teeth. Look at his mouth, stained now a ring of red, just like the day he was born.

Matt Bell's debut collection of stories, How They Were Found, will be out next year from Keyhole Press.

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Detail of photo on main page courtesy of bensonkua.

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