Groceries

By Molly Fessler

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Buckle up.

Yes, ma’am.

We backed out of the driveway, coasting into the street. The leaves had just started to turn, piling in the gutter like lost mittens.

I gotta get to those when we get home.

Wednesday snorted.

I can do it.

She rolled through the stop sign, earning a reproachful eyebrow from a jogger at the corner.

I can.

I said it to myself this time, turning my head away from her. The road cut an asymmetrical slice down the face of the neighborhood. Two lines of identical houses painted on an ocean sky with crayon green lawns and loud red mailboxes.

The trees spilling leaves into the road were young, apologetically so. Their arms were skinny, like mine, but their slightness could be attributed to youth.

I pinched the skin gathered on the tops of my knees.

Do you have the list?

Yeah.

I pulled it out from the loose pocket at my hip.

Wednesday wrinkled her nose.

Don’t read it.

While I shrunk, Wednesday grew. It was as if she and the baby were trying to compensate; keep the overall weight of our family triad at equilibrium.

It was perplexing — Weds was still as nauseous as I was. We took it in turns to kneel on the terry cloth bath mat, occasionally elbowing one another out of the way in the first throws of hot, bulbous panic.

In the beginning, we tried to comfort the other. I pulled back her hair, grown coarse with hormones. She pressed a cool washcloth to the thin, peeling skin on my head.

We’d given these habits away, in favor of simple, roommate-esque kindnesses.

Leaving the toilet seat up.

Swiping slugs of puke from the lip of the bowl.

Flushing.

Turning into the parking lot, Wednesday cut off a mini-van to secure a spot near the doors. The woman behind the wheel honked. My wife lifted a ragged middle finger in her direction. I gave her a high five.

What if we didn’t do the grocery shopping today?

We have a jar of cocktail olives.

She parked, pushed the seat back, and tried to wiggle down over the middle console to rest her head on my lap. She made it inches from my shoulder before she got stuck, her belly wedging firmly between steering wheel and door. I leaned into the cup holder to break the distance, stretching my hand out to rest on her distended abdomen.

Planet baby.

We looked out the window together at the carts traveling across the lot. The woman Wednesday had flipped off stalked past, glaring.

Weds stuck her tongue out.

We can do this​, I said, taking her hand and squeezing it, grip weaker than the baby’s kick. We won’t be able to smell anything, probably.

She nodded. I could feel her head bobbing at my shoulder.

We slipped two blue hospital masks over our mouths and noses. She pulled on a pair of surgical men’s gloves, her hands swollen with fluid.

Ready?

Ready.

About Molly Fessler

Molly grew up on a llama farm outside Detroit, and studied at Bryn Mawr College. She is currently a graduate student at the University of Michigan. Her work has been published in Real Simple, NPR.org, and Cicada Magazine, among others. She bakes a fierce carrot cake. Her favorite type of berry is blue and she believes the best poems are written when stopped at a traffic light.

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