Dollhouse This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   She is slow these days, slow and heavy. It is so hot, and now she has more skin to sweat with. She likes nothing more than to walk down to the YMCA and swim in the pool. Back and forth, languid and lazy, with the water caressing her body and the laughter of children making her smile. In the steamy locker room, she looks at herself in the mirror. Her stomach is swollen, and her skin is pulled taut across. She traces slow circles with her fingers, smaller and smaller until she reaches her belly button. Sometimes the life inside kicks when she does this. She loves to feel him move, restless, unsure.

Sometimes other women look at her strangely. They seem embarrassed by her nakedness, her unabashedness. But this is the first time in her life that she has ever felt beautiful, complete. They think her ungainly figure is ugly, unattractive, but they are jealous, too. They would like to be as content, as proud, as she is.

She hums to the child inside her as she dresses and walks home. Her wet hair hangs heavy on her neck, and her clothes are uncomfortable after the soothing coolness of the water. But she is happy.

The impatient sun glares off the sidewalks, and with little drops of sweat bursting out on her forehead, she feels the beginnings of a headache. She gets them a lot, now that she is with child.

Thinking of him, she pauses and rests her hands on her stomach. Feels him moving inside. Smiles. She is glad she didn't listen to her boyfriend. She could never have gotten rid of her baby, like he had urged. To do so would have killed her, for sure. He has since left her, but it was worth it. Now she would have a baby, to love and to play with. Babies are even better than dolls; they love you back.

She climbs the stairs to her apartment, grimacing at the pain in her back and resting every few steps. Stairs are definitely the hardest. She is lucky, though, that she only lives on the sixth floor. Old Mrs. Franklin lives all the way up on the ninth, and she's fifty-one, not so young anymore.

She reaches her door, finally, and nudges it open with her elbow. The T.V. is blaring, and her brother Greg is sprawled across the couch with two of his buddies. They pass a joint back and forth, its smoke heavy, sweet. She tries not to breathe; she heard that it can make the baby stupid.

Pinching her nose, she slinks into her room. Well, it's hers and her sister's room, actually, but she's hardly home during the week. She lies on her bed and thinks of her baby. They'll have so much fun together. Going to the park. Swimming at the YMCA. And when he's older, she can teach him about girls, and math, and driving. She's almost old enough to drive herself; Greg says she can maybe borrow his car once she gets her license, and that's in less than three years. Then she can take him to the zoo. And the mall. And the movies. Yes, life is going to be grand. She smiles to herself, and a few minutes later is asleep, her fingers still tracing slow circles around her swollen stomach. n


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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Artistic_whirlwind said...
Apr. 25, 2011 at 2:35 pm
Your writing and story construction is beautiful. The ending made me want to cry. Please keep writing! (maybe even more on this storyline)
 
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