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Story by Sabrina Stoessinger (Read author interview) July 26, 2010

art by April Matheson

I let her hold my baby. It seemed a harmless thing to do at 30 000 feet. The others tried and rocked and shushed and bounced and sang and yet my baby screamed and screamed. So I gave away my baby.

After the panic of frantic hands and crooked legs.

After the planes wheels turn to tar and sludge.

After I remove my oxygen mask, I dig.

My elbows touch each other now so I can only use my eyes. They shovel through the layers of disco lights and emergency hats. The smoke makes my eyes sore and I rub them on whatever I can find. I rub and rub until they are wet and swollen. I stumble through these pink slits. When I fall I float. I float over bumps and days too fast to count. When the nurse changes my flowers I tell her to stop and she forgets the vase she is holding. Everything drops and crashes. My hair is longer. The scars still fresh and raw.

They tell me I didnt have a baby, that I only have a trauma. I know I didnt give away my trauma way up there, above the clouds. But the doctor insists that there were no lost babies, only suitcases and maybe I am missing one of those. I take that taxi that waits every morning to the left of the automatic doors. I ignore the drivers questions and sing my favourite song over and over and over again because it is Thursday.

The moustache at the counter asks me to describe my carry-on. He wants to know if maybe I can pick it out of the line-up full of suspects. I tell him it looks like that one there except with ten fingers and ten toes. And three teeth. My baby had three teeth. The moustache laughs awkwardly at what he thinks is my joke. I grab his yellow tie just above the snowman coffee stain and pull hard and quick. I use words from movies that are foreign and thick on my tongue.

If we go back to the days when there were no babies everything locks. Everything fits. Babies complicate this reality, redefine those existences. If I remember my baby, fixtures and seasons evaporate into those very clouds that stole her.

About the Author

Sabrina Stoessinger has many useless talents, among them constructing paper hats from IHOP placemat menus. Her works have appeared in Skive Magazine, Tuesday Shorts, decomP, Word Riot and Wilderness House Literary Review.

About the Artist

April Matheson grew up in Fort Frances, Ontario, and is currently living in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She studies sciences at the University of Manitoba although she also holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from this institution. She has given up all hope on trying to make this bio remotely funny or clever in any way.

This story appeared in Issue Twenty-Eight of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Twenty-Eight

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