Sylvie

Clare watches the weather map, and then presses the off button on the remote and holds her legs out in front of her, tightening her quads, wondering if they’ll stay strong forever. She pulls her legs under her in the chair. She’s so ready to go. She has her suitcase packed. She’s had it packed for a month. She put in enough clothes for a week—two weeks if she washes her underwear. And a china cup for the baby. A book of Beatrix Potter. A silver dollar. A black and white toy that’s meant to be educational. A lavender dress with eyelet . . .She’ll have to give it away now, that perfect, little dress. Clare clasps her hands to her ears, her neck. It is such a stunning thing that this child is a boy. The only child that Sylvie will ever have is a son. It’s a crystal-clear fact that dazzles Clare with its strangeness: the line of mothers and daughters, descended from some misty savanna and running to Madelyn Wheatley and Clare McHenry, stops now with Sylvie and a baby named Damien. A boy. A demographic likelihood, as she knows, and far too commonplace and fine to be an occasion for grief. Yet grief, in a small way, is what she feels. For eons, that vessel was whole, balanced carefully on the head of a woman who passed it to a daughter who passed it on. And now, what’s this—Humpty Dumpty time?

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