In Exchange for the Final Pudding Cup, We Offer Our Inner Thoughts
A Letter to My Breasts
Dear Teagan and Margo,
Tomorrow, I’ll show you to a stranger. Not on purpose, of course, but we know the changing rooms at the gynecologist’s office are never private. We’ll wear a Pepto Bismol gown and Margo will stiffen because of the draft caused by observational rooms, their doors left open just a crack to see the glow of ultrasound screens. Because of the one white vent blowing out dust particles, sounds competing with the murmuring of nurses while they flip through charts contained in Manila folders with rainbow lettered stickers.
Teagan, I know you will remember our college days, sleeping on the front lawn of the Kappa house wearing bed sheet togas smelling of piss colored beer from glass bottles. Waking up next to Jim, Robbie, Henry and Robbie, Kyle, Robbie, or Mortimer. We loved to watch their chests rise in their sleep, never telling them about the ants that made these boys their Everests. We only asked ourselves who names their kid Mortimer and we should have told Robbie…something.
At that time, only Margo knew what the two of us felt for him. I’m sorry Margo and, maybe after our appointment tomorrow—
Tomorrow, at our appointment, the stranger will lick her thumb and turn the page of a magazine she pretends to read. I know how to pretend to read because I pretended to read the essays our son wrote about his heroes, why the sky is blue, and his compare/contrast essay about bumble bees and Stalin.
Do you two remember teaching our son how to tie his shoes? He came home from kindergarten, Velcro straps in his hands. Our clever son figured out a way to cut them from his shoes with safety scissors because the children at school teased him for not having laces. He cried into Teagan while you, Margo, grew jealous so I pulled him away from us and smiled. I told him I would teach him how to tie a perfect bow, to tie a tie and a bow tie if needed which made him laugh while snot dried on his upper lip.
I didn’t mention that we were terrible at tying knots. The four of us put the rabbit through the hole but he kept escaping. We’d tie his ears tight but, somehow, the rabbit wouldn’t stay. Yet, we didn’t mind, because our son was in my lap, head leaning against Margo until he fell asleep between the two of you. We held him as long as we could because we knew we didn’t have many more moments left where the four of us could just be, where our son would just nuzzle against us.
I wish we knew then that he would teach himself how to tie his shoes, how he would learn to call us out on our shortcomings, call us gross, squirm from our arms, or toss a love you too over his shoulder.
Tomorrow, I’ll compare the two of you to the stranger’s breasts. I’ll see them through the loose sleeve of her gown but I already know they’ll sleep above her stomach without the shadow line of a wire bra. Not a spot or vein or hair in sight and, I’m sorry, but I’ll be jealous. When our son was born, Margo, you were so happy you volunteered to feed him first.
Then he clamped and sucked—which is far worse than suckling—and you bled every time he cried.
Teagan, we all know you were selfish during this time, producing milk for a pump and not for the half hour wails of a baby who needed you.
Not for the blood stains Margo left in my lactation bras or for me when I pleaded and massaged and held our son’s lips to you. Maybe you refused to lower your standards to the hungers of a child when—for years—you’ve satisfied men. You, the larger of the two, the first these men reached for on the surface of trampolines, in mirror houses, and from the neighboring seat on an airplane while Margo and I slept.
I don’t know about Margo, we know she’s sensitive about being smaller than you, but I’m sorry I asked are you sure when you broke out into chills despite the sweat building beneath you. When the flight attendant stopped by our aisle, her eyes flitting towards the man pretending to be asleep next to us then, while holding the three of us in her gaze asked can I help you?
I’m sorry I spoke up for the three of us and said I’m fine.
Maybe tomorrow I’ll ask the stranger sitting next to me if I can help her, though, I’ll probably just show her pictures of our grand baby. She’ll compliment our grandchild, say look at that smile and, maybe, I’ll believe her.
And that’s when she’ll see the two of you.
You’ll both lean against my Pepto-gown, tugging my failure of a rabbit bow loose. The gown will fall and Teagan, you’ll flex, while Margo attempts to retreat.
The stranger will stare at our veins. How our skin sighs around our weight. I’ll consider reaching for my gown—but I won’t. I won’t because then this stranger will see the two of you kiss my stomach, my knees, the trace of my C-section scar.
Or maybe I’ll think about Robbie. How he held you and kissed you equally. Of our son nuzzling between the two of you, giggling because he tied his shoes and ours. I’ll think about telling this stranger why the three of us are here, nothing serious like cancer, just more Fiberoptic Cysts that need to be pinched and biopsied.
And maybe I’ll ask this stranger why she’s here and, maybe, she’ll slip off her gown and whisper something serious, like cancer, and we’ll sit together pretending that we’re comfortable in this cold waiting room while nurses flip through their Manila bound charts and the screens of ultrasounds light up dark rooms.