Your Baby’s Mother from Issue 89
Junior year you and Mora have a baby together. When Mr. Renola draws her name with yours from the bin Innis winks at you: Mora has a reputation. You go up to get your baby and Renola asks, “boy or girl?” Instantly you get how stupid this is.
“Boy,” you say.
“Girl,” says Mora.
“Off to a great start,” says Innis.
“I’m the man,” you shout, because the guys are watching. “I pay the bills!”
“Honey,” says Mora, because the girls are watching too. “You don’t want to be so stubborn before we’ve consummated our relationship, do you?”
“Consumated?” says Innis. “You got a baby!”
“Adopted,” says Mora, reaching past the blue eggs for the pinks.
You and Mora take turns carrying around your baby girl. In public school they get real eggs but at academy you get plastic. Mora hides contraband gum in the egg and keeps the egg in her bra. You are jealous of your baby. You also worry that many guys will have opportunity to steal her.
But it’s you who loses the baby. You leave her on your desk in history and when you come back from the bathroom she’s gone. You look all over. Eventually Mr. Saffo makes a joke about the Eggmancipation Proclamation and you get wise.
“Can I please have my baby back?”
Saffo says, “Do you see a lesson here? Never leave your baby with someone you don’t trust.”
“I didn’t! I left her with a teacher!”
“The lesson,” says Innis, “is don’t trust your teachers.”
Still, you could’ve paid Saffo’s ransom: You live so much better than the other couples because Mora gets a job stripping. Renola is pissed but Mora played by the rules: she found the job in the classifieds; she has the requisite level of education. She works five nights a week, $2,000 a night. You find a house with a pool in a good district and you don’t even need to work.
Innis says, “feminism!”
Renola says, “Innis, stop talking.”
You show Renola your spreadsheet; the numbers add up. All he can do is give you an A and clarify the guidelines for next year’s parents: no stripping to support the baby.
Of course the next year at graduation Mora is pregnant. She’s the only one not going to college and you wonder if she held on to that classified ad. During the valedictory you and Innis try to guess the dad, though probably he’s from public school. Innis jokes that you paved the way, but you both know other guys paved it long before you never did. Her stomach swells under her robe and you get a little hard. Remember how you refused to name it, how when she proposed Ella or Sarah-Lynn you came back with Over-Easy or Cadbury. Remember you caught her under the art stairwell. Not when she was topless with Brian McInnity. The other time. From the doorway she looked flushed. Humming to the egg, pressing it to her cheek.