by Travis Dutchman
She turns down the volume on the television and sets the pint of pistachio ice cream on the table, spears the spoon into the top, and answers the phone.
“Hello? This is she. How far apart are they? Ok, head on over to the hospital. I’ll be there in ten minutes.”
She slips her feet into sensible athletic shoes and pulls on her hooded sweatshirt, then exits her apartment and locks the door behind her. She lifts off into the sky, sparks raining onto the unswept sidewalk.
In five minutes, she is at the teahouse, where she selects a bolstering gunpowder green. It will cool in the jet stream. In five minutes more, her left hand grips the windowsill, and she throws a leg over, the recycled paper to-go cup held aloft to the stars and fates.
The mother is using rhythmic breathing while controlling her posture atop a large inflatable ball. The father administers comfort techniques: hand massage, sinus compression, cooing.
The doula surveys the bustling medical staff; they move in stop motion. She steps between gusts of nurses and specialists, her path nonexistent to shrinking relatives and residents.
“How are you feeling?”
“Good. I feel good, confident,” the mother replies. She high fives the dad. They all high five.
The doula rests three fingertips on the mother’s taut tummy tumtum. “This little girl will be one hundred and thirty six ounces, nineteen inches, with hazel eyes and webbed feet. Her name will be Beauregard.”
The mother recoils, looks at the father. They confer. “I have to say, the hazel eyes are a surprise.”
“Understandable,” she says. “If you don’t want hazel eyes then you should face east for the next nineteen seconds.” The mother pivots. The doula squats by the inflated ball, rummages in her bag. “This is the book on thermodynamics that we discussed.”
She hands it over, then produces a red and white checkered handkerchief and spreads it over the mother’s girth. The effect is reminiscent of a picnic at the Arctic Circle. The doula pulls a jelly jar from her bag and spreads marmalade on the handkerchief, throws an egg against the wall and it shatters, releasing a mourning dove, glitter, and a pleasant lavender aroma. The parents look to each other and the doula stands.
“Hey doc,” she says. A nearby physician looks over. “Dude’s crowning,” she says, lifting the hem of the mother’s gown. The doula claps her hands and the room fills with fog. When it clears, the child rests in the crook between her exhausted parents’ shoulders, the marmalade has turned into a college scholarship, and the doula has disappeared. She hovers just outside the window, watches for a moment and is gone.
About The Author: Travis Dutchman
Travis Dutchman earned his MFA at the University of Pittsburgh and recently began teaching at Bethany College in the northern panhandle of West Virginia. His work has been published in Short, Fast, & Deadly; Dew on the Kudzu; Exclusive Magazine; and The Kinder Anthology. He currently is developing a collaborative project with visual artist Tate Hudson.
Fast-Paced Author Interview (at high speeds! risking dire consequences!)
The Squid: Who would you invite for a roadtrip on SHIELD’s hovercarrier?
TD: His holiness the Dali Lama, country western singing and acting legend Jerry Reed, and a bear on rollerskates. No one else.
The Squid: Now, say you’re a science fiction/fantasy action hero — a pretty sweet gig, by the way. Tell us which one you are most like, and why:
a) Conan the Barbarian
b) Han Solo
c) Captain James Tiberius Kirk
d) Buckaroo Bonzai
e) Rick Deckard
TD: I am most like the film version of Conan the Barbarian because I look great in headbands. Also, I live in a cave.
About The Artist
Artwork by audreysdesigns on Fiverr.