May 14

Mother’s Day

 

The woman is you, or someone you love. Society’s last hope, on a hospital gurney.

A pregnant belly swells beneath a sterilized sheet. Childbirth is a miracle, but never so much as it is now. For eighteen years, after the radiation bombs, no child has been carried to term. Most died in the first trimester; a few lasted into the fourth or fifth month, and when they died they took their mothers with them.

You know this pregnancy will be different. It is worth the risk.

It has to be.

A bump pushes up the sheet, the triangle of a small elbow gliding like a shark fin across the belly’s circumference.

You scream, and it’s the healthy scream of joy and determination that sounded in all delivery rooms in days long past. Your child is alive. You shout encouragement to young Adam or to little Joy. Whether you are the woman or her spouse, in this moment you are one, experiencing the agony and bliss of bringing new life into this too-barren world.

The last child to be born on Earth howls as it pushes its way from the womb. It is a monster.