You Are Not Your Own
Beth Thomas

If this one fails to thrive, as they say, Lula will beat it out of here on a northbound train tomorrow at 8 a.m. If this one can't get its act together, she will be done with the whole business. It's my turn now, she thinks, pulling her shirt up a few inches in the front and reclining on the bed, the paper scrunching up beneath her. Damn this whole thing; I will just live for me and do what I want and give other people the runaround for once. I will be the shady character, the bad influence. I will be the mistress, the temptress, the silk-stocking-wearer, the gypsy the traveler the nun.

"Will anyone be joining you?" the technician asks, closing the door behind him and dimming the lights.

"No," Lula says, "it's just me." Isn't that the damn truth, she thinks. Four tries, four babies without the strength to get their hearts pumping. She knows the routine well. She knows the feel of a belly carrying the dead.

Without Rex here, she clasps her own hands over her chest. She wishes the technician would take her hand. She wishes she had called her mother.

Again, the gel is cold and thick. Her hands ache for other hands to hold them. In her purse in the corner, a train ticket to Boston, the start of a new life in a new city. She closes her eyes and turns away. In the dark room, on the screen, a tiny half-moon in the night sky of her womb, floating there so pale and so still.

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