What Belongs to Us

We didn’t go there with the intention of stealing my cousin’s baby. But he looked so sweet in his high chair. And I’d been having trouble conceiving. He smiled. We smiled. He smiled some more. Ashton handed him a crunchy baby snack. Sweet-potato-flavored. He seemed to like that. I noticed his dimples were symmetrical. People seem to like symmetrical people. He held his hand out for more crunchies. I handed him one after another. He gobbled them all down. We taught him to grab them out of the can on his own. A first! In the moment I forgot he had a mother. We both did. Looking at him, we became his mothers. I saw forever in his eyes. In hers, too. The dog paced like she knew something was up. Back and forth, back and forth. Tail between her legs. Clumps of fur scattered about the kitchen. I picked one up with my toes and showed it to the baby. Do you like me? I asked him. He bounced up and down and grinned. An emphatic yes. You’re a sweet, sweet boy, said Ash. She brushed his thin blonde hair out of his eyes. Some babies aren’t cute, but he is, said Ash, turning to me. It was a question. She was asking my permission without asking. It’s true some babies look like goblins, I confirmed. I tiptoed down the hallway to the bedroom where his mother was napping. She was on her back, snoring. Something about her seemed unwell. I thought she may die soon. I carefully closed her door then tiptoed back to the kitchen. Our baby was asleep in Ashton’s arms. I’ll start the car, I said. I kissed them both on the face. Outside the sky was falling but I couldn’t feel a thing.

Marisa Crane is a queer writer whose work has appeared or is forthcoming in Wigleaf Top 50, Jellyfish Review, Hobart, Pithead Chapel, The Rumpus, Longleaf Review, Barren Magazine, and elsewhere. She is the author of the poetry chapbook, Our Debatable Bodies (Animal Heart Press, 2019). Originally from Allentown, PA, she currently lives in San Diego with her wife.