I’m bulbous. My belly button sticks out of my inflated stomach. I’m looking down. My parents sit on either side of me, I can see their feet. I think they’re talking to each other over me, but I don’t look up. As I watch, something presses my skin out and then disappears in one motion. A little ripple. “Oh look,” my mother says. It’s the first time, I think to myself. Thus far in my pregnancy, I haven’t seen it move. I look up. We are in a hospital waiting room. The floor is black and white squares, checkered and shiny. The front desk is a large box with a window that protrudes from one of the walls, but I can’t see the person inside. The entire structure is wooden, painted a light blue, faded and chipped. There is a flower pot with red and yellow flowers right outside the window. The chairs are wiry, squishy and cushioned on the seated part and the back. They line the waiting room in rows, back to back. “Thanks for supporting me,” I say to my parents.
I’m partying in a water park. I’m laughing. I’m drunk. I’ve gotten greasy chicken tenders, and I’m eating them without tasting them. I’m surrounded by friends, but none of them have faces. We’re in the part of the park with pools. There are levels and levels of unnaturally blue pools of all kinds, each separated by white tiled stairs: deep pools, shallow pools for babies, and pools that start shallow and then suddenly drop off. I’m aware of a greater sense of filth. Everything is dirty. The white tiles are muddy and I only go into pools up to my knees because of the invisible grime. But I am laughing and drunk and able to easily suppress any awareness of the filth. As I watch, one of my friends runs along the edge of one of the pools. He’s trying to catch a football. He’s going to fall, I think to myself. He slips. He falls backward on the tiles and then his body keeps going. He melts into the floor until I can’t see him anymore.
My father has appeared. I go to him and he leads me out of the park to a large black car we don’t own. The door is open and he reaches inside and pulls out a towel. He places it in my arms. Swaddled in the cotton is a baby alligator. It’s the length of my forearm and very thin. I’m disappointed. I know deep down that it isn’t the worst thing, that plenty of people give birth to alligators. I feel guilty for my disappointment and I’m aware that my father is watching me, so I make a big show of cooing over the baby. How am I supposed to love this, I think to myself. Then I reprimand myself: it’s my child, I have no choice but to love it. It moves in my arms, wiggling a bit. As I look down, the mouth opens slightly and I see rows of little teeth. I hold it tighter, hoping that it doesn’t cry.