Our breaths made trails of smoke in the air, floating up until theydissipated into nothing.
“Want a cigarette?”
“Yeah,” he said with a small laugh. “I really do.”
We passed one back and forth without speaking. After putting it out,
he said, “Roz is pregnant. There’s a heartbeat. We saw it last week, but
I’m waiting for it to end. I’m waiting for another death.”
“Maybe it’ll live,” I said. “Congratulations, Daddy.”
His face twisted, almost ugly. “Don’t tease, Laura.”
“Pete. I promise I’m not.”
“We made it to sixteen weeks once. That’s a lot, you know. Most peo-
ple start telling others after week eleven, but Roz didn’t. She wanted to
wait till twenty weeks, even though she was already starting to show, just
“That sounds wise.” What else could I say?
“I wasn’t home that day. Weekend job. She never called. I got home,
and she was in the kitchen, just sitting in a puddle of blood. I thought
she’d been stabbed or something. She looks up at me, and she says, ‘Pe-
ter, look. There’s our baby.’”
I tried not to see what he was saying. I willed Rosalind to get up off
of that floor, to pull it together, goddamnit. Find her way back into that
perfect, polished shape.
“Do you know what a fetus looks like at sixteen weeks?” He con-
tinued before I could answer. “Ours was still gift wrapped. Trapped in
plastic. En caul is what they say. I could see his face, teeny tiny. He had
arms and legs, wrapped around himself. The only one who would ever
hold him. He looked so complete. Self-contained.”
“God’s love is sufficient,” I intoned.
“But for who? What about us? Roz needs that baby. She was made to
be a mom.”
“She has another chance now.”
Pete shook his head. “Our babies realize who their dad is and they get
the hell out. Skip town before they even get here.”
“Oh, Pete. Don’t say that.”
“Do you know? I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to be a dad. Even now.
It scares the shit out of me.”
“That’s okay. Rosalind will be a good mom. She’ll be enough.”
“What were we made for, do you think?”