John Minichillo

Brad was born in the middle of the night. Cindy slept off the epidural and showered. They checked out of the hospital and drove the Mazda home in the pale dawn. Mama stayed at the house to field phone calls and was awake for the duration. She not only cleaned Coach and Cindy's house but she took the liberty of rearranging the furniture. When Coach and Cindy came home, Mama knew she'd overstepped her bounds, and so she apologized.

"A woman's quarters are an extension of her," Mama said. "I didn't mean to intrude. It was my adrenalin. I had to do something."

"I appreciate it," Cindy said. There were times she blamed Coach's Mama for the way he was and times she gave Mama credit. "Thank you, Mama."

"Can I hold him?"

Cindy handed over the newborn. Mama set Brad on the kitchen table that she'd moved into the living room. She'd mopped the kitchen floor but hadn't moved the table back yet. She undid the diaper. "I knew I couldn't insinuate myself into the delivery room," she said. "But I must see him as he came into this world." Cindy was used to Mama's eccentricities. All Cindy wanted was to lie horizontal. The kitchen table cluttered the living room and Cindy felt slow confusion before she located the couch.

She lay on it and drifted into sleep, thinking, "How did Mama move this thing?" The davenport held a hide-away bed and was surprisingly heavy. Cindy dreamt of playing a card game with McDonald's hamburgers and cheeseburgers for gambling chips, the cheeseburgers wrapped in yellow paper and worth more. Mama was there, Coach, and Cindy's parents. Except Cindy's father was played by the famous actor Tony Randall. Her father was nothing like him but it made sense in the dream. For a moment Cindy awoke, feeling disoriented and hungry, she had no idea how long she'd slept, but Coach and Mama still stood at the displaced kitchen table staring down at the unswathed miracle. Cindy felt the weight of consciousness and the dream reeling her back in. Coach had on his team jacket and Mama held her son's hand deep in his pocket.

"He has such sweet small fingers," Mama said.

She reached down and pinched the baby like bread.

John Minichillo has stories in or coming from Mississippi Review, Third Coast, Dogzplot, Gigantic and others.

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