The Likelihood of Life
My stomach has ripped open. I am young, I weigh only one hundred pounds, but my belly swells and aches like my father’s beer gut used to. I cup my flesh, rubbing it for good luck. I could be pregnant. I know that I am not. If I was pregnant, I would have felt the small flash of light inside my womb, the pinch of soil patted down around seed, the demand for foods I typically refuse: thin, bloody steaks sliced with a knife, deli meat, any kind, smeared with cream cheese and rolled around a dill spear, pork tamales dipped in green salsa.
I am not pregnant, though, so I hold my stomach closed with one hand and wrap a thick comforter around my frail, frigid frame. As I fall asleep on the floor in front of the space heater, I dream of a son I once had. Sandy-haired, he is half-white and cherub-faced. I hold his hand as we walk out of a parking garage. He smiles at me, pokes his tongue through the gap from a missing tooth.
I have seen him before in my dreams, the dreams that pull me back to bed when I ought to be out in the sun. I divide my dreams into categories: premonitions; alternate realities; subconscious manifestations of extreme emotions; and remembrances--which is split into two sub-categories: moments from this life and moments from lives I possessed before. I decide this based on my gut, as painful and swollen as it is, it gives me the truth. So if I was pregnant, I would know. If I was pregnant I would eat and eat, until my upper arms thickened and my nose spread across my face. But I am not, so I won’t.
Angelica Esquivel is an Ohioan writer and artist who recently graduated from the University of Michigan, where she received three Hopwood Awards as well as the Quinn Prize for Best Creative Thesis. Her writings have been published in Obra/Artifact and Soundings East.